For only the third time in New Zealand’s history a national state of emergency has been declared, as a result of the devastating flood events that continue to wash through large tracts of the North Island.
The declaration comes after seven regions – Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Te Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and most recently Tararua – had already declared local emergencies.
Announcing the national declaration, Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty said more rain and strong winds are expected.
He said declaring a national state of emergency allows the government to support regions through co-ordinating national resources, and to provide local councils with additional support and resources.
“It is a significant legal instrument,” he said.
“This declaration will enable the government to support the affected regions, provide additional resources as they are needed, and help set the priorities across the country for the response.”
The two other times a national emergency was declared were after the Christchurch earthquake and during the global covid pandemic.
McAnulty acknowledged the tireless commitment of volunteers and community groups during the weather event, and the fact that a volunteer fire fighter is currently missing after an event on Auckland’s west coast at Muriwai.
Acting director for civil defence Roger Ball said Tararua is the latest area to be added to the local emergency regions, taking the total to seven.
With multiple weather warnings in place, the effects of Gabrielle are likely to be felt through the remainder of today with Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay currently bearing the brunt of it.
Much of cell phone coverage and internet contact with Hawke’s Bay has been lost due to damage to fibre optic cables.
Ball said civil defence shelter centres are open in all regions and urged residents to make contact through their local civil defence channels.
He cautioned people against entering flood waters.
“This is an unprecedented and dangerous weather event, do not take chances.”