Kiwis Keep Dialling 911 Instead of 111 and Here’s Why

You know something? I’ve lived in New Zealand for sixteen years and I still think the emergency number is 999.

“I mean I know it’s 911…” I said to my partner the other day, to which he replied:

“No, Abby, it’s 111. 911 is America.”

Oh. I mean I knew it was 111, but… come on! I’ve lived in New Zealand since I was ten years old – how can I still be making this mistake?!

Well, maybe it’s because 999 was the number I had drilled into me as a child. As for 911, well, we get a lot of American TV shows in New Zealand.

So, I’m screwed, right? If I’m ever in an emergency where I have to dial 999 – I mean 911 – I mean 111 – oh, f**k it! See what I mean?

Or am I screwed? You know what? I’m going to google what happens when you dial 999 in New Zealand.

*A short time later…*

Well, I googled what happens when you dial 999 in New Zealand. Apparently, it goes straight to a recorded message telling you to dial 111. There must be a lot of British immigrants in New Zealand who are just as useless as I am!

According to this article from 2013, however, if you dial 911 in New Zealand, it goes straight through to the 111 emergency line. But, wait, I thought there were significantly more British immigrants than American immigrants in New Zealand? To Google!

*Another short time later…*

Yes, I was right. (Although US immigration enquiries increased significantly after the 2016 presidential election. LOL.) So, the question is why does the US emergency number work in New Zealand? Why doesn’t it just go to the same recorded message as when you dial 999?

The answer seems to be simply the influence of the US media on New Zealanders. Too many Kiwis have been corrupted by American movies and TV shows. We hear 911 quoted way more than we hear 111 and, well, in an emergency our brains go to custard. Oops.

Of course, I’m including myself as a Kiwi in this, given what I said to my partner the other day.

So, folks, remember that the New Zealand emergency number is 999 – oh, f**king hell! I swear that was accidental and not a feeble attempt at making this article funny. 111. F**king 111. The New Zealand emergency number is 111.

Healthcare in New Zealand

10 thoughts on “Kiwis Keep Dialling 911 Instead of 111 and Here’s Why

  1. oohshinythoughts says:

    Every single time someone mentions it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. TimeTraveller says:

    Heh, I thought the english emergency number was 000.


  3. I believe the reason the NZ number is 111 is because in the days of rotary phone dials, 1 was closest to the stop – so you could dial it very quickly and not wait the eternity for the rotor to click back to the stop again. In the UK, the rotors were the other way around – but the reasoning was the same. I don’t know about where the US got 911 from though. (Well, not without googling it, which of course I am going to have to rush off and do now…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • kiwipom91 says:

      I didn’t know they were the other way around in England.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ian in Camberley, Surrey. says:

      Not the other way around in UK.. Kiwi rotary dials were marked for “complementary dialling”. 0 = 10 pulses but 1 = 9 pulses, 9 = 1 pulse ! When you dialled “111” the dial was actually dialling “999” in pulses ! This was done because of the type of exchange equipment in use in NZ many years ago. It does not matter “a fig” with DTMF dialling as you are sending “111” in tones to line. Ian in England.


  4. captyid says:

    In America they use 911 so that a child playing with a phone doesn’t trigger an emergency.


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