Wairoa residents don't want Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to 'forget' about them as rain lashes down on town

The rain has begun falling in Wairoa and it was bad enough to stop Prime Minister Chris Hipkins from making it there on Thursday.

The Prime Minister's absence has left locals bitterly disappointed because they had something they wanted to say to him - they don't want to be forgotten about. 

It's the dampener no one in Wairoa wants or needs. The rain settling in on Wairoa is expected to last for a few days.

It's halting the cleanup for Leah Puncheon and her whanāu.

"It's just one thing after another," Puncheon said.

Their possessions have piled up across the road.

"We've got no property, no lawns, nothing. It's just completely filled with silt. We've practically lost everything," Puncheon told Newshub.

Wairoa is broken and its people are too.

Jean Anne Tamati and her sister are living at Taihoa Marae after their home was flooded.

"We don't know if we'll be able to go home," Tamati told Newshub.

At seven months pregnant, the future is scary for Tamati and her sister.

"It's not long, hoping we're not going to be here in two more months, or living in a cabin. It's not really healthy for my baby," Tamati said.

There are big questions for the whole community too. 

"We've got a lot to do to work out what the hell went wrong," Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said.

One theory that's been rampant around town is that Genesis Energy opened the floodgates on the Waikaremoana Dam, letting all the water rush through the town.

Genesis Energy said that's completely inaccurate.

The Prime Minister was supposed to see the devastation in Wairoa for himself on Thursday. But because of the bad weather, the helicopter he was in couldn't land.

"Really disappointing the PM couldn't get here. Not his fault, but we need him here," Little said.

They wanted Hipkins there because the locals need to ask for money.

The people of Wairoa are so desperate a Givealittle page has been set up for the town.

"It's huge, just huge mate. The only way we are going to fix this is money," Little said.

Talk has already begun about what to do next with the town.

Whether that's creating a channel for the river, moving some parts of the city or lifting up dozens of homes.

But it is all just talk until more Government assistance arrives. 

For now, they're relying on each other.

One group is cooking 600 meals three times a day for whanāu in need.

There are a lot of people in need and that will last for a long time.

"Even after all the family have uplifted their lives, there's still going to be a lot of people that need help," Puncheon said.

Little said he has one message for those in Government: "Don't forget about us."

Because Wairoa will need all the help it can get.