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People living in Aotearoa, and those who visit, love to get outdoors. They enjoy a range of activities in, on and around the water including gathering kai, exploring tracks and trails on land, and climbing mountainous terrain. When something happens, New Zealand’s search and rescue services are there to assist people in distress.

Recreational safety activities, such as information campaigns and websites that help people prepare for outdoor activities complement the search and rescue system, by supporting the public to become more informed, responsible, skilled, and able to avoid and survive adverse situations.

Our search and rescue system provides assistance to anyone who is lost, missing or in distress, including domestic and international air and sea-going traffic across the New Zealand Search and Rescue Region (NZSRR). New Zealand is part of an international system, working with partners in the Pacific and further afield to ensure 24/7 response capability across the NZSRR.

It is important that we think about the approach we take to recreational safety and search and rescue in New Zealand. Te Manatū Waka is working with the recreational safety and search and rescue sectors to understand the people, assets, and systems in place to support the delivery of recreational safety and search and rescue today and into the future. This includes the work of government agencies and non-government entities like charitable organisations and local government. Together with these sector participants, we will consider the policy settings, governance, workforce capability and funding for recreational and frontline safety services and search and rescue which are key to supporting people’s wellbeing in the outdoors.

The Review is an opportunity to make sure the systems are well coordinated and are making the best use of resources, capacity, and capability, so that they can continue to serve New Zealand well into the future.


We have confirmed the outline and scope of the Review (see Terms of Reference) and have been undertaking a range of research, engagement, and analysis to inform any potential changes that may need to happen to improve and streamline the systems. This work will continue over the coming year.

Te Manatū Waka will be holding sector-based consultation on its draft recommendations in 2023 before final recommendations are provided to Ministers. But any changes to the systems will take time and we would expect to see potential changes starting to be implemented in late 2023/2024.

In the meantime, frontline safety and search and rescue services will continue uninterrupted.

Updates on the progress of the Review will be provided on this page.

Terms of Reference

Recreational Scope Explainer

Search and Rescue Explainer


Get in touch

For more information, please see the links below or email us:

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