Wairoa, Tairāwhiti locals 'absolutely over it' after more heavy rain, slips, flooding

A person has died and another is seriously injured after driving into a landslide on State Highway 2 near Wairoa overnight.

It comes after huge amounts of rain were dumped on Hawke's Bay and Gisborne over the weekend, resulting in rivers bursting their banks, people being evacuated, and yet more piles of slash.

Authorities say that as the sodden hillside came crashing down, it took a life with it, leaving behind a mangled road barrier and a torn-off sun visor.

"It apparently happened very early in the morning," said Wairoa Mayor Craig Little.

"So it sounds like they tried to get through the slip and got caught," he told Newshub.

"It's very sad, you know, our hearts go out to the family."

Parts of northern Hawke's Bay have received 250mm of rain since Friday, which caused the Wairoa River to burst its banks.

That swamped several properties, including Jason Smith's home.

"We got about up to here this morning, so we managed to move the truck and all vehicles up to the back of the section and save them," Smith told Newshub.

"So we were a bit lucky there."

Lucky, because Sunday's flood came up higher in this location than Cyclone Gabrielle did in February.

"Very worried this time, not so much at the start of the year with the first floods, but this was significantly worse down here," Smith said.

At least 20 roads have been cut off in Wairoa.
At least 20 roads have been cut off in Wairoa. Photo credit: Supplied.

Wairoa's civil defence centre was on high alert all night, and although no one needed to leave, there were multiple slips and surface flooding, cutting off at least 20 roads and causing localised problems.

"There has been reporting that the damage is in excess of what Gabrielle actually caused," said Juanita Savage from Wairoa Civil Defence.

"There's going to be a lot of people that are really hurting in this one, and we're absolutely over it," said Mayor Little.

So too are people in Tairāwhiti/Gisborne, who woke to a familiar scene.

Paddocks and plains were underwater.
Paddocks and plains were underwater. Photo credit: Newshub.

"We've had enough. It's just so expensive to clean it up every time, [we] can't afford to keep doing it," said one local woman.

"Everyone has worked so hard to clean up the beaches for Christmas, and the rain yesterday, and the day before has just finished everything. It's tragic," another told Newshub.

Tragic and risky for infrastructure.

So council contractors quickly moved in to clear the mountains of slash building up against Gisborne's bridges.

"It's becoming the norm now, unfortunately. I'm disappointed and disgusted," said a local man.

The deluge also threatened the town of Te Karaka, plus the Waipaoa River reached seven metres, and 11 families self-evacuated.

The Waipāoa River reached 7m high and nearly burst its banks.\
The Waipāoa River reached 7m high and nearly burst its banks. Photo credit: Newshub.

"It was a busy, long night," said Ben Green from Gisborne Civil Defence.

And the risk of further damage isn't over.

"The amount of groundwater saturation we've got out there - it wouldn't be surprising to see land movements and impacts on roads," Green told Newshub.

"We just don't need this," Mayor Little said.

But it just keeps coming - with more rain on the radar for next week.