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Food, water and fuel at critical levels for region

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Tairāwhiti residents are being asked to conserve water with the region’s supply classed as critical with limited amounts available for the community.

“Multiple breaks in our water pipe supplying the city are being identified by our staff,” says Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Controller Ben Green.

“We are on level 4 restrictions, this means for hygiene and drinking purposes only. The Waipaoa Treatment Plant is being geared up to bring some capacity to our region but this will take time.

“We all need to come together as a community to avoid taps running dry.

“The other key message is to please stay home to conserve fuel and keep our roads clear for emergency services.

“The supermarkets remain closed as we are working to restore access with data and power.

“Petrol stations are working with limited supplies until access to the region is restored.

“Please don’t panic buy as there is enough supplies for everyone if we remain sensible. The fuel is needed for emergency services.”

As at 3pm the region remains isolated without access, power or internet after Cyclone Gabrielle brought gale force winds, heavy rain and record-breaking river levels to our region.

Waka Kotahi have advised the following situation for State Highway into our district:

  • SH35 will be closed at Okitu from 7pm
  • SH35 Tolaga Bay to Tokomaru Bay is closed with flooding across the road
  • SH35 Tokomaru Bay to Te Puia Springs – road is lost
  • Te Puia north to Opotiki - status is unknown at this stage
  • SH2 between Ormond and Otoko closed due to flooding
  • SH2 closed at Opotiki
  • Two ambulances being brought through from Opotiki to this region
  • SH2 south closed to Napier.

The 111 line is operational again and based at the Gisborne Police Station but this is only available to people who have landlines.

Mr Green says Tairāwhiti remains without power due to a Transpower issue and multiple faults across Eastland Network caused by the cyclone.

“Eastland Network has provided some coastal townships generators to provide them with power and is assessing faults where access allows.

"There is limited supply into the region for the CBD.

"Communities are being asked to prepare for the possibility of several days with the limited power supply.

"There are multiple major faults across Tairāwhiti, with poles and lines down due to floods, wind, trees and slips. The Eastland Network crews are assessing the damage as access allows, and planning a programme of repairs that they will undertake over the coming days.

“In the meantime, we advise everyone to treat lines as live at all times.

“If you have a landline you can still call through faults on 0800 206 207.”

Mr Green says trees are being assessed around the region and the advice is to stay away from all trees in parks and streets as many will be vulnerable after the high wind.

“Chorus is still trying to identify the breaks in the fibre cable to restore internet access to the region.”

Welfare centres are still accepting people who need to leave their homes due to flooding.

Mr Green says the House of Breakthough had around 60 people staying there and Ilminster School had around seven people.

“Some whanau have been able to return home.”

The region remains under an Orange Heavy Rain Warning with 50 to 80mm rain still to come on top of what has already fallen.

The Hikuwai River reached around 14m in the early hours of this morning, for context Cyclone Bola level was 14.3m.

Other rivers in the region did break records including the Te Arai, which reached 4.9m – the highest since records began in 1983 – at 10pm last night. The previous high was 3.5m.

The Waipaoa River got to 12.8m at 7am this morning – this is also the highest recorded level since records began.

The Waiapu – the region’s biggest river in Ruatorea reached 8m at 7.30pm last night, this is the highest on record since 1975.

Over Sunday and Monday Cyclone Gabrielle brought 547mm Raparapaririki (Waiapu) – this was the highest rainfall in the district and 500mm to Mangapoike, which is by the water supply dam.