Weather: Chris Hipkins' message to Kiwis as forecasters warn of potentially 'most serious storm to impact NZ this century'

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government is monitoring the weather amid warnings of a storm that one forecaster is predicting could be among the "most serious" of the century.

Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is barrelling southeast across the Coral Sea in the direction of New Zealand. 

MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris told AM on Thursday morning that the chances of it impacting the northern part of the North Island by Sunday were "very likely" and "extreme weather" could be expected on Monday.

That could include huge amounts of rain, flooding, possible power outages and really dangerous coastal conditions in the eastern part of the North Island.

Prime Minister: "Be prepared"

Although Weatherwatch has said there are no official warnings yet, if the current modelling was correct, "this will likely be the most serious storm to impact New Zealand this century – especially with Auckland being in the mix for a potential direct hit."

"The South Island isn't immune either – the upper South Island has a chance of heavy rain around Kaikoura, and gales."

Prime Minister Hipkins was asked on Thursday whether he'd been briefed on the storm and if he had a message to those who could be affected by it. 

"We're obviously keeping a real watching brief on weather, even more so at the moment," he said.

"As we've said, we do expect that there are going to be more extreme weather events and we all need to be prepared for that. So at a Government level, we're making sure that we're ready to respond quickly when called upon to do so.

"But also my message to New Zealanders everywhere, is that this is something we're going to see more of, so we want families and businesses to be thinking ahead. If this is going to happen in your area, because by its nature, weather can be unpredictable, sometimes these extreme weather events can hit parts of the country we weren't necessarily expecting them to hit, we want everyone to be prepared for that."

The Prime Minister said that included New Zealanders getting emergency supplies ready and having a plan in the case of flooding. 

Weather: Chris Hipkins' message to Kiwis as forecasters warn of potentially 'most serious storm to impact NZ this century'

Support for those already affected

It follows the catastrophic floods which submerged parts of Auckland and other North Island areas nearly two weeks ago. That weather event also caused significant slips across the super-city, blocking off roads and at one point leading to the closure of schools.

The Government on Wednesday announced a $5 million business support package for those affected by that weather, including money towards mental wellbeing and business continuity advice. 

In a statement, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the recent flooding has had a "devastating" effect on many business operators in the region. 

"The flooding was sudden and could not be reasonably prepared for so it is expected that it will take a long time for many businesses to recover and start operating again."

Other money from the Government has been allocated to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help with the recovery.

Hipkins said on Thursday that while the focus was on the immediate response to the flooding, lessons would be learnt in the same way New Zealand learnt from the Christchurch earthquakes. 

"Out of the flooding events that we've had, undoubtedly we will make sure that we're capturing the lessons from those, that we're doing as much as we can to combat the challenges of climate change because we want fewer extreme weather events," he said. 

"But we also have to accept that there are going to be more of them even despite that work. We've got to make sure that we're prepared for those. So that will include looking at where we build, how we build, and all of those things."