Weather: Homes evacuated in Gisborne after 'intense rainfall' overnight

Gisborne is cleaning up after another bout of intense rainfall closed roads in the region and saw the evacuation of 15 homes after flash flooding in the suburb of Mangapapa.

Newshub understands the first call for assistance came just before 3:30am after several houses were affected.

Aerial shot of Valley Road in Mangapapa.
Aerial shot of Valley Road in Mangapapa. Photo credit: Supplied

Gisborne Civil Defence Controller Ben Green said there was quite "intense rainfall" in Mangapapa on Tuesday morning and some residents chose to evacuate.

"There was quite an intense sort of rainfall, particularly from about 2-3am this morning and if you look over the northeast of the east coast, you can see the culprit," Green told AM co-host Ryan Bridge on Tuesday.

"What we've seen, particularly in the Mangapapa area ... anywhere near drains or the waterways particularly, there's certainly been a number of whānau that have either self-evacuated or required to move, just given how quickly the water came up in those areas."

Weather: Homes evacuated in Gisborne after 'intense rainfall' overnight
Photo credit: AM

Green said about 15 houses have flooded and some households evacuated, but he warned "that's not an accurate snapshot" and the true figure will become clear during the morning.

"So really from 3am onwards I would say, there would have been a number of people who were at least cautious around what they were hearing on their own roof and then that's when you start seeing surface flooding," he said.

"It's not the case of the drains being blocked or anything, the drains and storm waters can't handle the intensities that you're seeing."

Green said he lives in Mangapapa and the worst of the rain came at around 3am.
"I tell you what, I had a concrete strainer post and I was lifting that around at the bottom of the driveway and that got blown out like a toothpick," he said.

"It wasn't until I went further down the street that people had a couple of cars floating in their section."

Gisborne Civil Defence Controller Ben Green.
Gisborne Civil Defence Controller Ben Green. Photo credit: AM

Roads around Gisborne are closed after the latest downpour.

State Highway 35 from Tolaga Bay to Ruatoria remains closed following Cyclone Gabrielle while to the south, a section of SH2 Whakaki to Nuhaka, near the Blucks Pit Road intersection, is closed because of flooding.

State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Opotiki has reopened after slips and flooding had previously closed the road. 

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz told AM it's a distressing time for everyone in Gisborne and they're sick of the bad weather.

"This started for us on January 10 with Cyclone Hale, where communities were cut off," she said.

"We had severe damage to farms, maraes and there's a urupā that flushed away - just so much going on and then we went straight into Cyclone Gabrielle.

"Our community is tough like you say, we're a very, very hardy bunch but people are tired. The cumulative impact of event after event is starting to take its toll and we do need a break."

Stoltz said it's "ridiculous" water in Gisborne remains at the high alert level.

"It's ridiculous because for water to be able to be drinking water standard it needs to go into our treatment plan. Going forward, we need discussions.

"Every household needs a water tank, so resilience is what we need to talk about.

"How do we make sure each township can look after themselves and events like these? How do we make sure the Gisborne community can look after ourselves better going forward because our connectivity, our electricity and our welfare, everything needs that security going forward and we are seeing more of this, so we need to step up and be prepared."

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz.
Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz. Photo credit: AM

About 40mm of rain fell in one hour in the Mangapapa area, according to council data. 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) told Newshub half a dozen homes were evacuated after a couple of creeks burst their banks and water started flowing fast in some areas. 

FENZ added an evacuation centre has been set up at the House of Breakthrough Church near the hospital.

Search and Rescue and local Surf Life Saving clubs are helping with IRBs while FENZ said they are assisting police.

Car in a creek on Mangapapa Road.
Car in a creek on Mangapapa Road. Photo credit: Supplied

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence said on Tuesday heavy rain has caused drains to flood and creeks to rise to about 2m.

Civil Defence said there is "severe surface flooding" for the whole of the Mangapapa.

"Police are going door to door checking on people and advising of their evacuation centre," Civil Defence said.

"Fire and Emergency have closed roads in and around the areas from Lytton High School to Winter Street."

Civil Defence urges locals to put their safety first when navigating flood waters.

"Don’t take any chances. Act quickly if you see rising water. Never try to walk, swim or drive through flood water," Gisborne Civil Defence said.

"Always assume that flood water is contaminated with farm run-off, chemicals and sewage. Contaminated flood water can make you sick. Make sure you wash your hands, clothes and property after contact with flood waters."

Flooding in Mangapapa, Gisborne.
Flooding in Mangapapa, Gisborne. Photo credit: Supplied

Photos sent to Newshub show severe flooding at people's properties with backyards and cars underwater.

Flooding at a section in Makaraka, Gisborne.
Flooding at a section in Makaraka, Gisborne. Photo credit: Supplied

Speaking from Gisborne, Newshub national correspondent Amanda Gillies told AM locals are hardy, resilient and resourceful but they're over the wild weather.

"A lot of people have self-evacuated, it's not looking pretty at the moment. People are just tired, anxious and they're over this.

"They want a summer, they want it to be calm, it's simply not happening," Gillies said.

Justin Martin from the local Surf Life Saving Search and Rescue squad told Newshub the city's drainage couldn't cope with the intense downpour.

"Just surface flooding everywhere, people standing outside in their pyjamas and a lot of concerned people too and fair enough," Martin said.

"It was rising quite fast at that stage, so we've got a lot of checking on people to do and giving them a bit of reassurance that we are going to be there to assist if needed."

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence said it is also getting reports of surface flooding in parts of the region.

It urges residents to avoid driving through any floodwaters and to keep off the roads if possible.

"Check the Waka Kotahi and your local Council's website for any updated conditions before heading off," Hawke's Bay Civil Defence said.

It said a section of State Highway 5 - the Napier to Taupō Road - has reportedly slipped away near Te Pōhue, north of Eskdale.

State Highway 5 between Te Pohue and Glengarry.
State Highway 5 between Te Pohue and Glengarry. Photo credit: NZTA

An orange heavy rain warning Gisborne is in place for Gisborne from 6am to 1pm on Tuesday.

MetService said a complex trough is over the North Island, which is bringing heavy rain and isolated thunderstorms to parts, but it should weaken on Tuesday while moving away to the east.

The Wairoa District has been added to the heavy rain warning with MetService saying the warning is in place from 7am to 2pm on Tuesday.

A free-call helpline has been set up for people in the Hawke's Bay region to access the welfare services they need in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The number is 0800 117 672. It will operate every day, from 8am until 8pm on weekdays and from 8am to 4.15pm during weekends. 

It is specifically for welfare needs such as health and well-being including mental health, accommodation needs, ongoing food, household goods and services support, animal welfare and rural support.

"People who [are] already having their needs assessed and met through a local marae, welfare centre, or other service, should continue to go there. This 0800 helpline is an additional service, not a replacement of existing ones," Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management said in a statement.

"The helpline is not for accessing financial support - in those cases, people should continue to contact the Ministry for Social Development directly."

Road Closures

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is urging motorists to drive to the conditions around Gisborne and Hawke's Bay following heavy rainfall.

Here is a full list of road closures in Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti:


  • State Highway Update as at 7am
  • SH35 from Te Puia Springs to Tikitiki CLOSED
  • SH2 north between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne OPEN
  • SH2 south between Gisborne and Wairoa OPEN

Hawke’s Bay:

  • State Highway update as at 7am
  • SH2 between Wairoa and the Eskdale turn off CLOSED
  • SH38 between Lake Waikaremoana and Wairoa CLOSED
  • SH5 between Napier and Taupō CLOSED
  • SH2 south from the Esk Valley turnoff OPEN
  • SH50 south from Napier OPEN
  • SH51 south from Napier OPEN
  • Napier-Taihape Road CLOSED