Elephants Hate Tigers

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Despite the headline, this blog is not going to be talking about elephants, hating, or tigers. It’s sometimes very hard to remember acronyms, we are exposed to so many on a daily basis. Elephants Hate Tigers is one way of remembering EHT, or Escape Hide Tell. These words are used in relation to crowded places if some form of violent attack happens or there is a threat of an attack.

It’s a pretty heavy topic of conversation, but necessary, and one we all need to consider. Many kiwis have travelled all over the world, and have seen first-hand some of the security measures that are considered normal overseas, but are not even considered here at all. For example, if you catch the subway in New York, London, Singapore or trains in Sydney or Tokyo, and you leave a bag unattended, it will cause an immediate and significant response. If you try and chain a bike up against some buildings, you may find your bike has been extracted and destroyed by a specialist bomb squad. There are very real risks in some overseas settings.

According to the Global Peace Index, out of 163 countries, in 2022 NZ has been recognised as the second safest in the world (Iceland takes out the number one spot). This is an enviable accolade. However, as we know, times are changing, and the more sinister realities of other countries, are also occasionally the realities of this country.

Apart from a couple of significant events like the horrendous bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985, and the utterly shocking mosque shootings in Christchurch in 2019, New Zealand hasn’t had much exposure to terror attacks. We did have a lone wolf event in 2021 at a West Auckland supermarket. So the chances of a terror event happening seem low, but the terrorism threat level for New Zealand is assessed as MEDIUM at the moment. Which is described as “a terrorist attack is feasible and could well occur”.

Our government has developed a strategy “Protecting Our Crowded Places from Attack” to help owners and operators of crowded places be prepared. The strategy’s premise is to preserve the public’s use and enjoyment of crowded places, while ensuring that their safety has been considered.

The strategy enables a consistent approach to protecting crowded places throughout New Zealand and uses responses that are in proportion to the threat.  New Zealand is a partner of the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) and meets regularly with Australian authorities to coordinate and maintain effective counter-terrorism arrangements.

NEWMARKET. is a member of the Crowded Places Business Advisory Group and we are committed to the security of our town centre, and sharing information with other town centres to ensure we are all kept safe.

So whether you’re at a rugby match, concert, movie, shopping centre, busy street, transport station, airport or large event, these are all crowded places. We are all in them, every single day of the week. So remember this:

  • ESCAPE - If you see a safe way out leave the area immediately.  Move quickly and quietly away from danger if it is safe to do so. Take your mobile phone with you if you can, but do not go back to get it if it puts you in danger. Leave other belongings behind. Encourage others to go with you, but don’t let their hesitation slow you down. If you cannot escape completely…hide
  • HIDE - stay out of sight and silence your mobile phone. Secure your environment by locking doors and windows and barricading entries where possible.  Stay away from doors and be as quiet and still as possible so you do not give away your hiding place. Note any potential exit points. As soon as it is safe to do so… tell
  • TELL - police by calling 111 when it is safe. The more information you can give about your location, surroundings, the attackers and the events that have occurred, the better.

It is the responsibility of everyone to be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious or unusual behaviour to police. It’s not something we generally have had to think about, but the world is changing.

So next time you’re out and about, just think about the environment you’re in, and don’t be the one who causes the airport to go into lockdown because you left your laptop bag on a chair by mistake!

And actually, I really don’t know if Elephants Hate Tigers, I’m sure some of them get along very well.

Mark Knoff-Thomas