Plain English Awards

celebrate New Zealand's clearest communicators

Winner: Best Plain English Turnaround 2017

Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management

Anne-Marie Masgoret, right, from sponsors Immigration New Zealand, with winners Anthony Frith and Bridget Cheesman.


Website name

happens.nz


Judges’ comments

This is a terrific turnaround from a dull, wordy website to one that is lively, engaging, and easy to navigate. This organisation has done a great job of using multimedia, and their restructuring of the content works really well.

The scenario-based navigation on the home page is friendly, colourful, and relevant, and this flows well into the more text-heavy pages further down in the site. The scenarios capture the reader’s attention and the short videos are hilarious — a great way to get people involved in thinking through how to be ready for a disaster or emergency.

The layout and formatting are much cleaner, with good use of white space and headings to focus the eye. The tips are helpful and the key messages are brought to the fore much more than in the original. Great work!


Media statement

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management is honoured to receive the award for Best Plain English Turnaround.

Last year we launched the Never Happens? Happens campaign, which takes a fresh new direction in encouraging people to get prepared for emergencies. With the Happens website, we’ve taken a simple, appealing approach to make preparedness real, relevant, and easy, and make it as simple as possible for people to learn how to get prepared for an emergency. A big part of that approach was using plain English to communicate with people about hazards, impacts, and tips. We know that it can be a turn-off if important safety advice is made more complicated than it needs to be. Plain English, we believe, is a vital means to an end — it helps to keep people safe.

We’d like to thank WriteMark and the organisers of the Plain English Awards for their wonderful work in promoting the value of communicating in plain English.

Sarah Stuart-Black
Director