Māori family feared for their lives during Hawai'i missile scare

By Leah Te Whata

A Māori family were among the 1.5 million Hawaiian residents who were scared for their lives after receiving warning of an impending ballistic missile which was declared false thirty-eight minutes later.

The University of Hawai'i at Manoa students scrambled and families sought shelter in drains after receiving an emergency alert for an impending ballistic missile.

A phone alert was issued and warnings were seen on television with an automated voice message saying, "The US Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawai'i a missile may impact on land or sea within minutes. This is not a drill."

Te Arawa man Kingi Gilbert and his family live on the island of Maui and were left in a state of panic for thirty-eight minutes before a receiving a second alert, declaring it a false alarm.

Gilbert says, "My first thought was about my family, where are my girls and wife. Very scared, powerless and then angry. And then a long time for a response to come through."

In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said it was an emergency management exercise. However, the Governor of Hawaii David Ige said human error caused the alert to go out.

"It was a procedure that occurs at a change of shift where they go through to make sure a procedure is working and an employee pushed the wrong button."

Hawai'i resumed warning siren tests last November due to the North Korea threat. Kingi Gilbert says he's deeply disappointed that a mistake this big was able to happen and is considering moving back to New Zealand.