The mother of a child who's been missing for 34 years hopes a new AMBER Alert system will stop others suffering like she did.

Facebook and New Zealand Police have teamed up to launch the new system, which can be activated if a child is missing and considered at serious risk of harm.

Once it's activated, people within a 160km radius of the search area will receive a notification at the top of their news feed, which they can also choose to share with their friends.

The alert will include a photo of the child and any important information about the circumstances in which they went missing.


Robyn Jensen's 14-year-old daughter Kirsa went missing on September 1, 1983.

She was last seen riding her horse to a Napier beach.

Robyn said the AMBER Alerts were an "amazing innovation", which she wished had existed when Kirsa disappeared.

"It's just amazing that so many phones are within that radius, and straight away all of those alerts going out.

"I think it will have a reverse effect too on perpetrators, that they know they're not going to get away from it very easily. So a two-way blessing."

Robyn Jensen, mother of Kirsa Jensen, hopes the new alert system could spare another family from going through what hers did. Photo / Frances Cook
Robyn Jensen, mother of Kirsa Jensen, hopes the new alert system could spare another family from going through what hers did. Photo / Frances Cook

She said she didn't hesitate to help promote the new alert, as the instantaneous nature of it could be what saved another child.

"What I said at the time is that I want to help any other parent from going through what I have endured.

"I just beamed when I heard this because this is so good."

Facebook director of trust and safety Emily Vacher said all it took for police to activate the alert was sending an email to a dedicated Facebook email address that was monitored 24/7.

"As soon as we get the alert from the police, we prepare the notice.

"People care so deeply about the children in their communities, that really, this was just something that Facebook could assist with by building a tool".

Vacher was an FBI agent on the child abduction team before leaving to work for Facebook. She said Facebook was the perfect way to deliver messages that could be life-saving.

"We wanted to create a tool where the maximum number of people who would be able to help, could access the information.

"So rather than sharing by individual people, it's a more formal system."

New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush said that while child abductions were rare in New Zealand, there were more regularly situations where a child went missing from home and was at serious risk of harm.

"When these sorts of incidents do happen, police take them very seriously and will consider every option available to us to locate a child we have extreme concerns for.

"Having the AMBER Alerts system means we now have another useful tool to quickly contact the public in emergency situations.

"If we can use it to help save even ... one child, then it is a system worth having."

The new tool was launched at 10am today at Police National Headquarters in Wellington.