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New Zealand declares a National State of Emergency

Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty February 14, 2023 (RNZ Screen Grab)

Radio New Zealand

Wellington, February 14, 2023

A national state of emergency has been declared after Cyclone Gabrielle unleashed fury across the North Island.

There has been widespread power outages, flooding, slips and damage to properties.

Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty says both the prime minister, and the Opposition spokesperson for emergency management are supportive of the move.

He says this is an unprecedented weather event impacting much of the North Island.

This is only the third time in New Zealand history a National State of Emergency has been declared.

Read more:

Cyclone Gabrielle: Flooding and land slips isolate some Auckland regions

Firefighters trapped, injured in Auckland’s Muriwai house collapse

By the numbers: Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact

Cyclone Gabrielle: Who to call, what to do if the roof comes off or windows smash

Video Courtesy: RNZ

Follow the latest weather updates on RNZ’s live blog below:

Feb 14, 2023 9:44 AM
RNZ Live

National state of emergency: What you need to know

  • The New Zealand Government has declared a National State of Emergency, to assist in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle.
  • The declaration will apply to the six regions that have already declared a local State of Emergency: Northland, Auckland, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawkes Bay.
  • A National State of Emergency gives the National Controller legal authority to apply further resources across the country and set priorities in support of a national level response.
  • Put safety first. Don’t take any chances. Act quickly if you see rising water. Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.
  • Stay at home if it is safe to do so. But have an evacuation plan in case your home becomes unsafe to stay in.
  • If you have evacuated, please stay where you are until you are given the all-clear to go home.
  • People should stay up to date with the forecasts from MetService and continue to follow the advice of civil defence and emergency services.
  • Do not try to walk, play, swim, or drive in floodwater: even water just 15 centimetres deep can sweep you off your feet, and half a metre of water will carry away most vehicles. Flood water is often contaminated and can make you sick.
– National Emergency Management Agency
UPDATED FEB 14, 2023 10:34 AM
Feb 14, 2023 6:45 AM
RNZ Live

What you need to know:

  • A national state of emergency has been declared. It is only the third in New Zealand’s history.
  • Auckland, Northland, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty Region, Ōpōtiki, Whakatāne district, Waikato Region, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki district, Waikato district, Napier City and Hastings District are under states of emergency.
  • Cyclone Gabrielle is expected to continue moving southeast, tracking close to the east coast of the North Island, before moving away to the southeast from late Tuesday, MetService says.
  • MetService has issued multiple severe weather warnings and watches. Check the latest updates here
  • Air New Zealand cancelled all domestic flights from or through Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Taupō, until at least midday Tuesday. Some international flights are also either cancelled or diverted to another NZ airport.
  • Some communities on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula are cut off
  • Auckland trains are cancelled until at least mid afternoon on Tuesday.
  • In Auckland there are 27 civil defence centres and shelter sites open.
  • The government on Monday unveiled a $11.5 million package to support NGOs and community groups.
  • Interislander cancelled Cook Strait ferry sailings until 2am Wednesday, and Bluebridge suspended crossings until at least 8.15am Wednesday.
UPDATED FEB 14, 2023 9:24 AM
Feb 14, 2023 10:45 AM
RNZ Live
Interislander fault fixed in seconds
Interislander says the fault that caused the Aratere ferry to lose power last night was diverted by back up systems in a matter of seconds.
Excecutive general manager Walter Rushbrook says the incident is not related to the fault that saw sister ship, Kaitaki drift for nearly a kilometre without power two weeks earlier.
Rushbrook says Interislander will be following up the incident with an investigation.
All Interislander sailings today are cancelled due to high winds near Picton.
Feb 14, 2023 10:44 AM
RNZ Live
Flights to resume
Air New Zealand plans to go ahead with putting flights back into action today.
Almost 30,000 Air New Zealand customers have been affected by the cyclone, with 10,000 of them being international passengers.
Chief customer officer Leanne Geraghty advises customers to keep an eye on flight updates.
Feb 14, 2023 10:42 AM
RNZ Live
Flooding in Kaipara this morning.

Photos: RNZ / Soumya Bhamidipati
Feb 14, 2023 10:40 AM
RNZ Live
Rivers high in Hawke’s Bay
Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence says river levels across the region are very high and people should stay away from them.
In particular, heavy rain has filled the Mangarau detention dam in Havelock North, with the excess flowing into the Mangarau Stream.
The Waiohiki Bridge is closed and the Tutaekuri River is very high.
The Esk River is in flood and residents are being assisted.
Feb 14, 2023 10:38 AM
RNZ Live
Insurance claims
The country’s biggest insurance firm IAG says it is progressing recent flood claims at pace – and standing by to support customers affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.
The insurer through its AMI, State and NZI brands has received more than 21,000 claims for recent North Island floods.
About 57 percent are home claims, 21 percent for contents, 6 percent commercial and business, and 16 percent were motor vehicle claims.
In the last two weeks, the insurer paid out more than $23 million in claims.
Insurer chief executive Amanda Whiting says the size and scale of the events are something not seen since the Kaikoura earthquakes.
Feb 14, 2023 10:37 AM
RNZ Live
A farmer in Tolaga Bay says the region is entirely devastated with forest waste and sediment everywhere.
There are reports of stock losses, crops entirely wiped out with silt and logs,and flooded land.
Bridget Parker says the damage is far worse than Cyclone Bola.
She says there are logs as far as the eye can see and fences down everywhere.
Parker says it is total carnage.
credit: Supplied / Bridget Parker
Feb 14, 2023 10:33 AM
RNZ Live
Taradale and Omahu residents should evacuate immediately.
Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence says people should stay with family and friends.If this is not possible, Omahu residents are being asked to go to Hastings Sports’ Centre.Taradale Community are being asked to go to St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ School.

UPDATED FEB 14, 2023 10:33 AM
Feb 14, 2023 10:32 AM
RNZ Live
Telecommunications update
On Monday the telecommunications sector activated its Telecommunications Emergency Forum to prepare for Cyclone Gabrielle. We are working closely to support NEMA and regional Civil Defence operations around the country.
Our networks are largely undamaged but there are outages due to a lack of power supply. Each telco is working to ensure cellsites operating on batteries are optimised for power saving. Network teams are working to get generators out to the key nodes around the networks to ensure they will continue to operate.
Chorus reports two fibre lines are damaged in the eastern part of the North Island – the Taupo to Napier line and one running across the north of the region. This is affecting mobile coverage in the Hawke’s Bay region for all providers on top of the power situation. Teams are working to locate the fault or faults on the line but this work is hampered both by the weather and by access to the lines. Staff safety is of paramount concern in such situations so the teams will be proceeding carefully.
The situation is developing and as power is brought back in areas that were offline yesterday we can re-allocate resources into newly affected areas. However reports from Northland suggest the weather, particularly the wind, is still causing trouble for the teams on the ground.
Customers are advised to keep their mobile devices charged if possible and minimse their use for non-essential communications. Calls to 111 are prioritised across the mobile networks so if you have coverage, even from another provider, you should be able to make an emergency call.
2degrees
125 cellsites are offline mostly due to power cuts.
Gisborne and Taupo offline for both fixed and mobile service due to fibre cuts.
Spark
136 cellsites offline due to power cuts.
Emergency generator has been sent to Muriwai to assist emergency services and restore cellphone coverage there.
For Spark customers who are impacted, these options for assistance are available on our website, where you can point them to if you need: https://www.spark.co.nz/help/internet/manage/get-support-during-cyclone-gabrielle/
• Connection Promise: Customers who have both broadband and mobile with Spark can get extra data loaded onto their mobile if you can’t access your broadband at home right now. Find out how to access Connection Promise
• Dedicated phone line: If you need extra support, please message us at spark.co.nz/messageus or call us on 0800 800 123 and press option ‘9’. We ask that you please only use this option if you’ve been impacted, so that those most in need are served first.
• Stay up to date: For live updates on the status of our network, please visit the outage page on our website. Or via the Spark app by going to Menu > Help > Scroll down to ‘Outages’. View Spark outage page
Vodafone
Approximately 115 cellsites are offline
46 in Northland
18 in Auckland
30 Central North Island
Rural Connectivity Group
Approximately 96 cellsites are offline (impacting all 3 mobile operators)
34 in Northland
9 in Auckland
53 Rest of North Island
Affected customers can contact Vodafone via website, call centre, or where safe to do so – in store.
Feb 14, 2023 10:21 AM
RNZ Live
Debris and trees have fallen onto the road to Muriwai.
Debris and trees have fallen onto the road to Muriwai. credit: RNZ / Marika Khabazi
Feb 14, 2023 10:20 AM
RNZ Live
A Tokomaru Bay business owner says the highway through Tairāwhiti has sustained incredible damage.Peter Cunningham, who owns the Highway 35 Cafe – famous for its paua pies – spent last night sheltering at an uphill marae with dozens of others.”We got a Civil Defence text last night just to get to higher ground and then other than that, there’s no communication at all.”Our street all went up, and some other people around lower-lying areas all went up to the marae,” he describing a “wet and windy” night.

“The power and communications is a big problem. And the roads of course,” adding he has heard State Highway 35 sustained damage along much of its length.

He said Tokomaru Bay has been flooded, power was out and communication was difficult, with the call from RNZ this morning the first contact with the outside world.

But Cunningham said, for him specifically, Cyclone Gabrielle hadn’t been as bad as previous disasters.

“I can’t speak for other people, but we’ve had several of these floods now and this one is no worse than the others.”

“[The cafe] didn’t flood this time, which is a great relief. We put some precautions in to stop it from flooding again and they seemed to work.”

Cunningham said Uawa/Tolaga Bay appears to be the worst-affected area on the coast.

“I’ve heard Uawa, it’s really bad down there with all the slash. We don’t get the slash the same way they do, I saw some in the river but they get really hammered with it.”

“There’s no groceries available here either, no water. Usual story,” he said, of the latest large-scale flood for Tairāwhiti.

Reporting by Jamie Tahana

Feb 14, 2023 10:14 AM
RNZ Live
McAnulty acknowledges slash in the Tairāwhiti region has been a repeated concern during extreme weather events over the past few years.

“I think the minister of forestry has indicated a willingness to look into it and see what might be able to be done but it is a real concern that every single time there is an event like this that is a factor that is particularly affecting that community.”
Feb 14, 2023 10:11 AM
RNZ Live
He says NZDF have been extremely cooperative and he can’t speak to their operational limits or not.

McAnulty says the defence minister has been in contact and every request for assistance by the NZDF has been fulfilled.
“At no point has it been indicated to me that there’s been concern around allocation of resources to the need.”
He says the assessment is the worst of the weather has passed but it’s still serious, and the experience of Cyclone Hale which swept to the east then came back means the situation is being monitored closely.
“We’re still urging people to take this incredibly seriously and remain vigilant.”
Feb 14, 2023 10:07 AM
RNZ Live
Ball says people are fleeing their homes in Hawke’s Bay and formal evacuations are taking place, and some have asked for immediate NZDF support.
“That is being provided right now, so that would be a good example of where the difference is being made immediately.”
McAnulty says it might be a national state of emergency but it only applies to the specific areas affected. Places like the South Island are not affected, as was the case during the Christchurch earthquake.
Ball says they will be in close consultation with Civil Defence groups as to what their needs are, and if they need communications made at a national level “then that will happen”.
Feb 14, 2023 10:03 AM
RNZ Live
“This isn’t the sort of thing that we want politicians to be doing without sound advice. It is significant, it is a significant legal instrument, and so on Sunday I asked NEMA to provide the prime minister and I with regular advice as to whether it was needed.

“At regular intervals we received advice that it was not needed. This morning after meeting with local Civil Defence officers, we received advice that it would likely be required. Once we received the advice, I signed the papers.”
Feb 14, 2023 10:03 AM
RNZ Live
Ball says there was not a particular event which prompted the national declaration, but consulting with Civil Defence groups as well as emergency responders like police, FENZ, and others, the recommendation was to declare.
“We can still deploy those resources and have been proactively … those resources are out in every single region, particularly Auckland.”
He says the national declaration is more about the coordination and efficiency of allocation of resources according to priority.
McAnulty says it’s a “pretty high bar” to declare a national emergency. He says it’s not a question of resources.
Feb 14, 2023 9:58 AM
RNZ Live
He says if people are feeling unsafe they can go to Civil Defence centres and if relocating should let friends and family where they are going.
“In impacted areas if the advice is to stay at home or to minimise travel, please follow that advice.”
“Drive to the conditions, watch out for flooding and debris on the roads. Do not enter floodwaters, do not play in floodwaters.”
He says it’s important to stay informed even if power is out.
RNZ is the Civil Defence broadcaster and is available on AM and FM frequencies.
UPDATED FEB 14, 2023 10:00 AM
Feb 14, 2023 9:56 AM
RNZ Live
He says the government has already been surging support and resources to regions affected for many days.
“What this declaration does give us is the ability to set overall intent and to respond to multi-regional needs, to allocate critical resources in a coordinated manner across the country.”
He says no effort will be spared.
“It’s not our intent to start micromanaging the operational response on the ground, we continue to have confidence in the Civil Defence emergency management groups, in the emergency services and in the responding agencies to do the job in the support of their communities.”
Feb 14, 2023 9:55 AM
RNZ Live
“Under a state of national emergency, myself as the director and my national controller have authority to direct and control the response under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act including allocation of resources and setting priorities.”

He says the government has already been surging support and resources to regions affected for many days.
Feb 14, 2023 9:54 AM
RNZ Live
Acting Civil Defence Director Roger Ball says we have multiple weather warnings and watches in place and the effects of the cyclone will continue to be felt across the country today.

He says if other regions or areas declare local states of emergency, they will be added to the national declaration.
Feb 14, 2023 9:51 AM
RNZ Live
McAnutly said he wanted to acknowledge the missing volunteer firefighter “who is a professional and highly trained but left their family to work for their communities and the search continues”.

“Our thoughts are with the FENZ staff and their families.”
The above report has been published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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