NZ weather: Hawke's Bay flooding closes school, State Highways, homes evacuated

Heavy rain is causing havoc in Hawke's Bay on Wednesday morning with at least one school closed, State Highways shut and homes evacuated.  

MetService said the Wairoa region has seen 129mm of rain overnight plus high winds.  

Footage has now emerged of the downpour that has lashed the eastern part of the North Island overnight.  

Footage sent to Newshub by Nuhaka School taken on Wednesday morning shows the playground and school flooded.  

Flooding at Nuhaka School.
Flooding at Nuhaka School. Photo credit: Supplied

Nuhaka School principal Raelene McFarlane told AM on Wednesday the rain started late on Tuesday evening and was "pretty heavy" overnight.  

She told AM the wild weather is "devastating" as the drains in the area can't handle the significant rain.  

"We've been off the Nuhaka School site since Cyclone Gabriel because the flooding looked exactly like what you're seeing today," she said.  

"What's really hard is it's exactly what happened at Gabriel, so the water table is so high that nothing can seem to escape at the moment. We've been out of school since then. We're living on State Highway 2 in a beautiful chapel that belongs to our local Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints, but to see this again, it really does hurt. It just sort of brings it all back, if that makes sense." 

She told AM the community is struggling with this latest downpour, which brings back memories of Cyclone Gabriel.  

"I think that's really hit today is seeing it happen all over again. It just brought back so much of that loss, that hardship. We are really resilient, but there is a human toll that comes with that as well. We've got an amazing community, brilliant parents and staff and teachers," she said.  

The Wairoa District Council said two evacuation centres have been opened at the Wairoa War Memorial Hall and at the Tanenuiarangi Marae in Nuhaka. 

"Roading crews are deployed across the district," the council said.

Roads have started to reopen on the east coast after heavy rain batted the region. Waka Kotahi said State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Whirinaki, just north of Napier, is expected to reopen to traffic on Wednesday morning.

"Roading crews are currently clearing slips, debris and fallen trees caused by flooding overnight," Waka Kotahi said.

SH38 between Wairoa and Lake Waikaremoana has reopened after heavy rainfall and flooding.
Waka Kotahi System Manager for Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti Martin Colditz urges motorists to take care on the roads.

"There may be areas which are down to one lane and there may still be debris on the road, so please take care, drive to the conditions and adhere to the lower speed limits and traffic management in place," Colditz said.

"Closing the road is always a last resort and I want to thank the communities living on and around the road, and those who use it, for their patience while our crews have been working to reopen the road.

"More heavy rain is expected further north today and I want to remind everyone using the network throughout the region, including SH35 to take care and delay your journey if possible."

NZ weather: Hawke's Bay flooding closes school, State Highways, homes evacuated
Photo credit: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) told Newshub crews attended weather-related callouts in Wairoa, Nūhaka and Mahia.  

A FENZ spokesperson said at least three homes in Nūhaka had been evacuated, with those residents sent to the local marae. Four houses had flooded in Nūhaka and one in Mahia.

The spokesperson said two people were rescued from vehicles on State Highway Two because of flooding.

Nuhaka School will be closed on Wednesday for the safety of residents with the principal describing it as a "rough night".  

"We send our love and thoughts to everyone affected by the flooding last night in Nuhaka, Wairoa and around our farming district," the principal said in a Facebook post.  

Te Mahia School also confirmed it would be closed on Wednesday. 

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence urges locals to "take care" amid the ongoing wild weather.  

"If you are concerned about any surface ponding in your area please contact your local Council," Hawke's Bay Civil Defence said in a Facebook post.  

The wild weather comes as MetService has issued weather warnings and watches for the region.  

The forecasting agency said a slow-moving trough over the North Island brings unsettled weather to northern and central parts of the country, with heavy rain expected to lash Hawke's Bay and Gisborne. 

An orange heavy rain warning is in place for the Wairoa District of Hawke's Bay until 7am on Wednesday.  

"Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous," MetService said.  

A heavy rain watch is in place for Gisborne south of Tokomaru Bay, Hawke's Bay between Wairoa District and Napier.