Amber Alerts launched in NZ

The Police have partnered with Facebook to launch a new alert system to help find missing children.

It's called 'Amber Alerts' and it has the backing of Robyn Jensen, who knows first-hand the pain of a missing child.

In 1983 Ms Jensen's 14-year-old daughter Kirsa left their family home in Napier to ride her horse. She never came home.

All police ever found was Kirsa's horse Commodore, tied up.

Ms Jensen says the pain of not knowing what happened to her child was "very, very overwhelming".

She is still determined to find the truth, even after 34 years.

"A year is a number. My daughter is my daughter forever."

She says Kirsa's case might have turned out differently if there had been a system in place like Amber Alerts, launched today by the police and Facebook. 

Detective Superintendent Tim Anderson says the system will assist officers when investigating the disappearances of children.  

"When they think there is an imminent threat to that child or they have really serious concerns for that child, they can then contact Facebook," he says.

New Zealand is the 14th country to use the tool, which can send location-targeted alerts to Facebook's 2.9 million Kiwi users. 

Facebook's Trust and Safety Director, Emily Vacher, helped launch Amber Alerts today. 

She's a former FBI agent who specialised in child abductions. 

"What's really important when you're talking about child abduction is finding that child within the first few hours - that's the critical time," she says.

Amber Alerts was originally launched in 1996 to notify US media of missing children, following the abduction and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman.

"That system that's been in place now for many years, nearly 900 children have been safely recovered because of it," says Ms Vacher.

Police will have the final say over whether or not an alert is sent out. 

They stress that there are few child abductions, so they hope the alerts will be rare.