A formal reporting system and specific guidelines have been developed for people who observe unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in New Zealand.

The system provides people with step-by-step advice on how to document what they saw, the circumstances in which they experienced the sighting, and if it had an effect on them.

Reporting system developer Mr Graeme Opie, a Hamilton air traffic controller and pilot, said the reporting program was created in line with overseas models developed by leading global UFO researchers and scientists.

Mr Opie, who is a sighting report investigator for the nationwide UFO Focus New Zealand Research Network (UFOCUS NZ) states, The system is based on a scientific approach where witnesses can go to our website (www.ufocusnz.org.nz) and obtain advice on sighting documentation, and complete a comprehensive report format.

Essentially, the single most important factor is for a person to write down and sketch as many details of what they observed as soon as possible after the event, he said.

Mr Opie said the formal documentation of sightings will enable more efficient investigation to take place on the subject, which will lead to more comprehensive research into these intriguing phenomena.

He said the system was developed following an increase in sightings and witnesses wanting to know what to do during and after a UFO sighting.

In the last 12 months, UFOCUS NZ has received 48 reports of strange objects in New Zealand skies, said Mr Opie.

While some of these reports were explained by natural phenomena or other conventional causes, the majority could not be similarly explained, he said.

Mr Opie said his own experience with unidentified flying objects first took place in 1995 when he was on duty in the Hamilton Airport control tower.

I sighted a very bright silver object with a sparkling orange tail.

It was travelling extremely fast as it crossed my field of vision.

The event was witnessed by people across the central North Island as it sped from seaward of Tauranga before disappearing south of Waitomo in the Waikato, said Mr Opie.

Mr Opie said the sighting resulted in comprehensive investigations where witness interviews proved conclusively that the object was not a meteorite or a fireball as proposed by a spokesperson from the Carter Observatory.

The ATC radar centre also confirmed that there were no aircraft in the area at that time, he said.

I consider that what I saw from the control tower was a UFO definitely some form of controlled UFO-type craft of unknown origin and technology. I just happened to be looking in the right direction at the right time. I found it most interesting that it didnt appear on our radar screens.

Mr Opie said New Zealand has a rich history of UFO sightings, including such renowned events as the Kaikoura lights, the Ngatea landing site mystery, and the Gisborne UFO flap that took place in the late 70s, complete with sightings of silver-suited humanoids in the Waimata Valley.

He said UFOCUS NZ, the organisation which collects material on UFO sightings, is hosting a first ever International Future Perspectives Conference on UFOs and related topics, in Rotorua on September 29 and 30 this year.

Leading international and New Zealand researchers will be speaking at the conference and responding to participant queries and experiences, said Mr Opie. The latest research and photos on UFO sightings in New Zealand and from around the world will also be shared.