Regional News & Alerts


Tornado – Levin – Updates

Levin was hit by a Tornado at approximately 6.30am this morning, causing havoc, taking down trees, impacting power lines and taking off roofs.  Horowhenua/Kāpiti is under a severe weather watch. Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) urges people to stay home unless travel is critical.

Minor injuries have been reported as a result of breaking glass.  Fire and Emergency have activated an Urban Search and Rescue team, which will work alongside Council’s Building team to prioritise assessment along all the roads and streets that have received damage or are closed.  The Palmerston North City Council Rescue Emergency Support team has been deployed to assist. Rangitikei District Council has offered assistance to capture drone footage, to understand the extent of the damage.

Welfare needs:

If you have urgent welfare needs please ring Council’s main number on 06 366 0999, as support is available.  Please keep pets and animals sheltered.

Powerlines down and/or damage reported on:

  • Parker Avenue
  • Victoria Street
  • Tawa Street
  • George Street
  • Adkin Avenue
  • Skye Street
  • Cambridge Place
  • Mako Mako Road (Lake Horowhenua end).

Streets/roads currently closed:

  • Oxford Street
  • Cambridge Street (from Liverpool to Bath Street)
  • Tawa Street
  • Wilton Street
  • Gladstone Road
  • Winchester Street
  • Tararua Road
  • Parker Street
  • Sterling Street.

A traffic management has been put in place for North and South Bound State Highway 1 (SH1) traffic.  North is being diverted to Mako Mako Road – Tiro Tiro Road – Kawiu Road.  South is being diverted to York Street – Weraroa Road – Mako Mako Road.  Contractors are working to clear SH1 of tree debris.

The following schools are closed while we assess the damage:

  • St Joseph’s School
  • Learning Adventures
  • Levin School
  • Levin Intermediate School
  • Horowhenua College
  • Ōhau School.

Infrastructure:

Water treatment plants at Shannon and Tokomaru are currently offline due to turbidity.  Water storage capacity is sufficient, but as a precaution tankers have been activated for Tokomaru.

The CDEM Incident Management Team has been called in to assist emergency services throughout Levin.  Police, Fire and Emergency, St Johns, Contractors, Electra and Arborists have all been activated to assist.  We will keep you updated as we know more.

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Heavy rain for parts of the South Island and the upper North Island, also severe gales possible for central and southern New Zealand

A series of fronts embedded in a moist northwesterly flow are expected to affect the country through to late Thursday, bringing periods of heavy rain to the western areas of the South Island and the upper North Island. Heavy rain warnings and watches are in force for these areas.

Additionally, strong west to northwest winds are expected ahead of the front that moves north over the country later today (Wednesday) and Thursday. Strong wind watches are in force for parts of central and southern New Zealand.

People are advised to keep up to date with the latest forecasts in case any changes are made or more areas are added.

 

Heavy Rain Warning – Orange

Impact: Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.

Area: Ranges of Bay Of Plenty east of Opotiki

Period: 15hrs from 7am – 10pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Expect 70 to 110mm to accumulate. Peak rates of 15 to 25mm/h.

 

Area: Westland about and south of Otira

Period: 16hrs from 11pm Wed, 18 May – 3pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Expect 70 to 100mm to accumulate about the ranges and lesser amounts near the coast. Peak rates of 15 to 25m/h, especially in thunderstorms.

Area: Fiordland

Period: 13hrs from 5pm Wed, 18 May – 6am Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Expect 70 to 90mm to accumulate. Peak rates of 15 to 25mm/h, especially in thunderstorms.

Heavy Rain Watch

Area: Northland

Period: 34hrs from 9am Wed, 18 May – 7pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Periods of heavy rain. Rain amounts may approach warning criteria for short durations during this time for example 70mm in 12 hours. Note, rain is expected to ease for a time overnight tonight (Wednesday) and during Thursday morning.

 

Area: Buller, Westland north of Otira

Period: 14hrs from 5am – 7pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Periods of heavy rain. Rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria, especially about the ranges.

 

Area: Headwaters of Canterbury lakes and rivers

Period: 9hrs from 4am – 1pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Periods of heavy rain with thunderstorms. Rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria.

 

Area: Headwaters of Otago lakes and rivers

Period: 12hrs from 10pm Wed, 18 May – 10am Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Periods of heavy rain with thunderstorms. Rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria.

Strong Wind Watch

Area: Canterbury High Country

Period: 14hrs from 11pm Wed, 18 May – 1pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Northwest winds may approach severe gale in exposed places.

 

Area: Central Otago, Southern Lakes, Clutha, Southland, Stewart Island

Period: 10hrs from 9pm Wed, 18 May – 7am Thu, 19 May

Forecast: West to northwest winds may approach severe gale in exposed places.

 

Area: Wairarapa, Wellington and Marlborough Sounds

Period: 7hrs from 9am – 4pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Northwest winds may approach severe gale in exposed places.

 

Area: Marlborough excluding the Sounds

Period: 9hrs from 5am – 2pm Thu, 19 May

Forecast: Northwest winds may approach severe gale in exposed places.

Issued: 9:19am Wed, 18 May
Next update: 9pm Wed, 18 May

Ministry of Education logo

Budget 2022 invests to keep Kiwi kids in class and learning

The Government is committed to improving student attendance at school and kura, Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said in a pre-Budget announcement today.

“It’s clear that young people need to be at school, and yet attendance rates haven’t been good for a long time. It’s a complex issue which has to be addressed right across Government, through social and economic policies that meet the needs of our communities,” Chris Hipkins said.

“There are many reasons why students disengage from learning and this has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we are putting measures in place to help turn that around.

“Funding through Budget 2022 will support changes to the system and more targeted investment to make schools a place where all young people want to be, where they can access the support they need and where there are ways back into learning for those who have disengaged.

“A regional response fund of $40 million over four years is being established to meet local education needs, with a strong initial focus on ensuring students are going to school and are engaged in their learning.

“Funds will be provided through Te Mahau, which works closely with the sector and communities, as well as hapū and iwi to ensure frontline support is getting where it needs to in the way it needs to. Te Mahau was established to support all schools to succeed following the reform of Tomorrow’s Schools.

“Some of what the regional response fund will be used for is ensuring pathways are there for disengaged youth alongside iwi, schools, councils and community groups and providers. It can be used to support whānau-led responses to break the cycle of disengagement, or brokering services with other agencies to ensure students have the level of support they need to stay in school. It’s important and complicated work, which this Government is committed to funding and fixing,” Chris Hipkins said.

Read More >

Ministry of Education logo

Nominate a Local Legend for Bullying Free NZ Week

Bullying-Free Week NZ from 16-20 May is celebrating the positive mahi happening in schools and kura across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Graphical icons for 'Take the lead, Spread the word, Make a change'

We’re on the hunt for Local Legends, with everyone invited to shine a light on the actions – small or big – that people are doing to make a difference and inspire others.

The theme for this year is He kōtuinga mahi iti, he hua pai-ā rau: Small ripples create big waves.

Nominations for Local Legends can be made through the Bullying-Free NZ website, where teachers and kaiako, and students and tamariki, can also download Action Packs.

Activities have once again been organised in conjunction with Pink Shirt Day on Friday, May 20.

To learn more, go to Bullying-Free NZ Week 2022

Te Awa River Ride: A sneak peek at NZ’s spectacular new cycle trail

One of the newest bike rides in New Zealand will get you up close with this taonga – the Te Awa Great New Zealand River Ride stretches from Ngāruawāhia to Lake Karāpiro.

The 65km trail is expected to fully open in the second half of this year, but most of the track has been completed, offering some spectacular day trips that you can do now.

And best of all, this cycleway is perfect for families and beginners. It’s grade 2, meaning it’s mostly flat with gentle climbs. An e-bike can help if you’re doing big distances, but isn’t essential.

The Te Awa River Ride follows the Waikato River.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION – CLICK HERE

At 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 April 2022, all of New Zealand moves to Orange.

Aotearoa is moving from the red traffic light setting to orange from 11.59pm tonight. The next review will be in mid-May.

Key Points:

  • At Orange, you can continue to do everyday activities, but we need to protect our vulnerable communities.
  • You must wear a face mask in many indoor locations. You do not need to wear a face mask outdoors.
  • You can visit cafes and bars, attend gatherings and events, and go to the hairdresser and gym. There are no capacity limits or distancing requirements at venues.
  • Workplaces and schools can open.
  • To protect yourself, your whānau and your community, keep up healthy habits.

For more information on life at Orange

Coastguard urge caution with ex-tropical cyclone Fili approaching

Coastguard is urging boaties to take a moment to secure their vessels and closely monitor weather conditions as ex-tropical cyclone Fili passes over much of the North Island this week. Metservice are currently warning of coastal floods, heavy rain, gale-force winds reaching up to 100km/h in places and rough sea conditions across much of the North Island. 

Coastguard Head of Operations Rob McCaw: “The ex-tropical cyclone has the potential to impact a large part of the North Island, creating largely unsafe conditions out on the water for the majority of water-users. Best rule of thumb is ‘if in doubt, don’t go out’ and to check your vessel is secure before the storm hits,” he said. 

“Our Coastguard volunteers remain on call 24/7 to provide urgent assistance to those in-need on the water. For on-water assistance call *500 free from your mobile phone or use your local Coastguard VHF channel. For marine emergencies please call 111 or VHF Channel 16.” 

Coastguard advice for ex-tropical cyclone Fili: 

  • Regularly check your local marine conditions on both the MetService and the Coastguard app. 
  • Before the weather hits, check your vessel is on a reliable and secure mooring. 
  • Avoid being at anchor if at all possible. If you’re at sea, ensure you have a plan in place in case conditions worsen, including identifying areas you can seek shelter. 
  • Make sure your vessel is weather tight and that your bilge pumps work. 
  • Marine conditions can be disrupted for a time after the initial cyclone has passed through. Check your local marine weather forecast before heading back onto the water, if in doubt, don’t go out.

For more information, contact: 
Ben Parsons
Coastguard New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor
ben.parsons@coastguard.nz

North Island to get brunt of ex-Tropical Cyclone Fili as it races towards New Zealand

Heavy rain is forecast to start falling in Northland on Tuesday morning as the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Fili head towards New Zealand.

MetService is also warning of heavy rain elsewhere, as Fili tracks close to, or across, eastern parts of the North Island Tuesday and Wednesday.

MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said most parts of the North Island would feel some impact from Fili on Tuesday and Wednesday, coastal conditions could be dangerous on the east of the North Island, and Tairāwhiti could be in line for more heavy rain just three weeks after massive flooding.

The most recent forecast track from MetService for the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Fili

Although Fili was no longer a tropical cyclone, as a deep low pressure system, it still posed a big risk. “Around that, we’re going to have very strong winds, the potential for very heavy rain, with some isolated downpours,” Ferris said.

Read More >

Pre-Easter dousing for North Island as Cyclone Fili nears

The North Island can expect a pre-Easter battering from the remnants of ex-tropical Cyclone Fili.

But despite strong wind warnings and heavy rain watches in place, the worst should be gone for the long weekend.

In what Metservice is predicting as an exclusively North Island event, there are strong wind and rain watches or warnings in place from Northland down to Wellington.

Cyclone Fili is approaching New Zealand from the northwest and expected to land on Tuesday.
It has been slow-moving just south of New Caledonia for the last couple of days. However, it is going to deepen and accelerate towards New Zealand later Monday.

Metservice meteorologist David Miller said there is potential for Cyclone Fili to cause some damage.

Read More >

Covid 19 Update 23rd March

Covid 19 Omicron rules changed: Outdoor gathering limits scrapped; vaccine passes and some mandates end April 4 – Jacinda Ardern
23 Mar, 2022 02:40 

The Government is scrapping the limit on outdoor gatherings from Friday and has revealed the end of vaccine pass use and mandates for some industries from next month.
The number of people allowed to gather inside increases from 100 to 200 under the changes to the red light traffic setting.

Masks will continue to be used, but today’s move means outdoor concerts, sports and other outdoor events would be able to resume under the red setting from this weekend.

The traffic light changes will kick in from 11.59pm this Friday.

Vaccine passes will no longer be required to be used from 11.59pm on April 4.

The Government is also ending the controversial vaccine mandates in education, police or Defence Force workers and those workplaces using them from April 4.

Asked if she could rule out lockdowns in the future, Ardern said there was a lot of work going into looking at future variants.
“There are tools we will keep in our back pockets. The truth is we don’t know what the pandemic will produce next.”

She said examples of those tools included reintroducing scanning and vaccine passes. She advised people to not delete the CovidTracer app from their phones.

Ardern said most countries would be reluctant to completely rule out such things, but that was not what was being predicted.

The timing for easing on these restrictions was because there was a clearer picture of when Omicron would peak.

“I consider this to be a cautious moving forward.”

It meant removing restrictions that carried least risk, while keeping those such as isolation and mask use which did make a difference.

Vaccine passes would likely be updated in May or June – when they are due to expire – to require three doses of the vaccine for those workplaces still choosing to require them.

 

What it means for schools: ”Cautious moving forward’
Asked if school boards could require all teachers to be vaccinated, Ardern said she needed to check.

“But we are no longer requiring a mandate across all of education,” she said.

On removing the teachers’ mandate and whether it would put immuno-compromised children at risk, Ardern said the vaccination rate and immunity from having had Covid-19 had made it a safer decision and mask use and improved ventilation systems in schools were also safety measures.

On greater access to N95 and P2 masks, Ardern said there was yet to be more discussion about whether they needed to step up Government provision of them, and surgical masks were also a good option.

 

Red light setting review on April 4
The red light setting that currently applies to New Zealand would be reviewed again on April 4 – and would be reviewed again regularly after that point.

On whether the moves would put vulnerable communities such as Māori at greater risk, Ardern said there remained a focus on lifting vaccination rates in those communities.

Verrall said the early decision to delay a border opening to allow seniors to get vaccinated was one of the key reasons New Zealand had a low death rate.

Verrall said the chance of global elimination of Omicron looked impossible.

 

Mandate refusers could get their jobs back
Asked if people who lose their jobs because of mandates would now get their jobs back, Ardern said some probably would – especially those who had been on extended leave.

The Defence Force would go through its own processes, because there were often vaccine requirements for international deployments.

For businesses or organisations that wanted to maintain mandates, Ardern said they would update the advice but businesses needed to undertake their own health and safety checks to decide whether they needed to keep them in place.

On the decision to remove outdoor gathering limits and increase indoor limits to 200 at the red setting: “There is no question that this is likely to be welcome news, because we can see from the body of evidence that it is safe to be outside.”

Ardern said they had only done things that were “necessary” to get through as safely as possible.

“I know it has been tough but I absolutely stand by the decisions we made.”

She said they had worked to get vaccination numbers up and protect people.

At the orange setting, more gathering guidance would be coming. Close contact was a high risk, so larger events of more than 500 people would be encouraged to provide more capacity or seating.

On vaccine passes, Ardern said Omicron had changed things since vaccine passes were first introduced.

From 11.59pm on Monday, April 4, vaccine passes will no longer be required to be used.

Some venues and events may still wish to use them, but they will no longer mandated – that could change if a new variant meant they were needed again.

The 180,000 unvaccinated Kiwis are likely to appear to have Covid or catch it in the future, she said, meaning a much higher level of population immunity beyond those who are vaccinated.

“We may need them again, but for post-peak, that will no longer be the case.”

On QR codes and scanning, Ardern said there was less need to contact trace as widely. From this weekend, no longer required to scan wherever you go.

However, she said if a new variant did come along and contact tracing was needed, she asked people to be ready to adopt it again,

On vaccine mandates, she said Cabinet had always been cautious about their use.

As vaccination rates increased, they asked David Skegg for advice – that advice was that the case for and against was more finely balanced with high rates of vaccination.

On mandates, those workforces could choose to require vaccination if they wanted.

They would continue to be used for health, aged care and border and MIQ workers – because they either dealt with the more vulnerable or on the front lines so were at higher risk of new variants.

The Ministry of Health had been asked to assess whether the use of the mandates in the health sector could be narrowed.

Ardern said being highly vaccinated would continue to be critical.

“Two years ago we had very few tools. Now we have plenty, But we cannot do it alone, and it wouldn’t work if we did.”

 

Two years of Covid in NZ

Ardern says it is easy to lose sight of how far New Zealand has come – two years ago today there were 36 new cases of Covid-19 and we could only contact trace 50 cases a day.

She said she would always remember one of the community cases on that day – the Wairarapa case – because they could not find a link to any border cases.

“It was the first sign we had community transmission. Within days we were in a nationwide lockdown.”

She said in her mind that lockdown was not a hard decision – there was no vaccine, no anti-virals.

“We built our own defences. But those defences were blunt … and they were temporary.”

She said the transition had not been easy, but it had been effective. “Our actions saved thousands of lives.”

Economically New Zealand was also holding up, “But while we have been successful it has also been bloody hard.”

She said some people have had to give up more than others and most families had confronted difficult discussions about vaccines, mandates or other Covid-19 response elements.

Ardern believed New Zealand was “tired” but still together.

She said the next steps were designed keeping in mind that Covid was here to stay.

For most in the Omicron outbreak, symptoms were mild. Experts believed we had peaked in Auckland now, and that would be reflected in hospitalisations soon. The rest of the country would follow, given Auckland was first to get the outbreak.

The ongoing presence of Covid in the community for the foreseeable future meant tools were still needed to protect the most vulnerable and to try to slow the spread.

That meant keeping the traffic light system in place.

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