The family of a man suffering strokes and seizures worry he will die if his faulty landline connection isn't repaired because it's connected to his medical alarm.

At 79, Richard Mackay lives alone in rural Northland without cellphone reception or internet.

He relies on his Spark landline to keep in contact with friends and family, and to connect to his St John medical alert pendant.

But the landline has been unreliable for years and last week it became much worse when Mackay found he was unable to receive inbound calls.

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His pendant had also started beeping at him periodically, something it did when there was no landline connection at all.

Spark confirmed "a small number" of faults had been reported on the line since June last year, including one reported on Saturday.

The problem was with a Chorus-owned copper line and a specialist technician was expected to fix the issue later today, a spokeswoman said.

Mackay's children all live several hours away from him and his nearest neighbour is 10km away.

When Mackay starts to feel unwell, he presses his alert pendant, which sends a call through to St John via his landline.

Staff call him back, and if they receive no answer send an ambulance to his 100 acre farm in Tinopai - something which has happened four times in the last five months.

Richard Mackay, pictured with his granddaughter, relies on his landline to keep in touch with family and friends - and to connect to his St John medical alert pendant.
Richard Mackay, pictured with his granddaughter, relies on his landline to keep in touch with family and friends - and to connect to his St John medical alert pendant.

His daughter Shiree Mackay said it was awful not being able to call her dad for days at a time when she knew he was unwell and scared.

"We're terrified .... Dad could die," she said.

"This telephone line is absolutely vital to him being able to get help."

Both he and Shiree were scared he'd have a seizure or stroke while the phone line was on the fritz, leaving him unable to call for help.

"It's not a fair go really is it," Mackay said.

"You pay for something, you expect a service. I'm not getting it."

A St John spokesman confirmed the medical alert service would still work if Mackay could make outbound calls, but said the fact the pendant at times had no landline connection at all meant Mackay was right to ask Spark to fix the issue.

A Spark spokeswoman said Chorus had identified a fault with the copper line and was taking full responsibility to fix it.

Chorus owns and operates most of New Zealand's copper network infrastructure and is a separate company.

Spark had asked Chorus give regular updates on the job and apologised to Mackay and his family for the inconvenience.

Chorus had diagnosed the issue as being with outbound calls but spokesman Nathan Beaumont said it was possible this particular fault could affect calls in either direction at different times.

A technician was on site shortly before 4pm and both companies said repairs were expected to be completed later today.