Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
AREC is the public service arm of Amateur Radio who's members provide communications for Search and Rescue at multiple levels.


The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications organisation is a network of amateur radio operators throughout New Zealand, who provide communication services to emergency services at incidents.

AREC was founded amid the disasterous Napier earthquake of 1931, in which the only form of communication available to people was via Amateur Radio operators in Napier to Wellington. The mode of transmission was Morse code.

This was the only system operating for several days until the French Navy arrived in port. After that traumatic event, it was seen that there was a need for the establishment of a more co-ordinated approach to disaster communications.

So a group was established under the parent umbrella of the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters. This group was then called the ARES, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, later to be renamed the Amateur Radio Emergency Corps, AREC. Recently AREC has again had a name change to Amateur Radio Emergency Communications.

Over the following years it was expanded throughout New Zealand with the establishment of sections of the parent group, formed along para-military lines with an Officer in Charge and Deputy, followed by Area Officers and then section leaders, and last but not least, the members. This group plays a very important role of supplying specialised communications where required.

The objectives of AREC are:

  • To train and provide competent radio communications personnel, who are suitably skilled in assisting organisations during emergencies.
  • To maintain a close liaison with the N.Z. Police and LandSAR NZ for Search and Rescue.
  • To maintain a close liaison with Civil Defence in New Zealand.
  • To maintain liaison with other community organisations.
  • To provide and maintain suitable equipment appropriate to the emergency situation

SAR Role

AREC is involved in providing communications support to the New Zealand Police and to New Zealand LandSAR. In most areas AREC provides the communications equipment and operators at the search headquarters, support for the setting up of equipment, and training for the search teams who communicate back to the search headquarters.

As well as communicating between the search teams and the search headquarters AREC may also be required to provide communications back to a town base if the search is in a very remote area. Communications to air support is also sometimes required.

In most parts of the country High Frequency communications is required, but the use of VHF handheld equipment in conjunction with portable repeater equipment is becoming more common.

Copyright 2020 by NZSAR
Tuesday, May 26, 2020