Cyclone Cook hits NZ: No vehicle access for 20 homes after Northland slip

By Peter de Graaf, Mikaela Collins -
Vehicle access was blocked off and a house was condemned after a 20m section of road slumped. Photo/Supplied
Vehicle access was blocked off and a house was condemned after a 20m section of road slumped. Photo/Supplied

A Northland house has been condemned after a large section of road slumped after the impact of rain brought by Cyclone Cook.

While Northland escaped most of the wrath of the cyclone there was some flooding and road slips caused by the weather.

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The largest damage was done to a house on RauhomaumauRd, near Tutukaka, which was condemned after rain caused 20m of road to slump, blocking vehicle access for residents of about 20 houses over Easter weekend.

Simon Weston, Whangarei District Council infrastructure general manager, said the road had slumped 1m and the condemned home, which was unoccupied, appeared to be riding on the slip.

Lisa Forester, who has lived on the road for about 20 years, said she had to walk across the slumped road to get to her neighbour's property to hitch a ride to work.

"I was lucky I had left my car parked in town.

"The road had dropped down to knee height. When you walked over you could hear pebbles fall. The roading guy told us to be very careful," she said.

Mr Weston said WDC were trying to organise a parking area close to the slip where residents could park their cars and then walk to their properties.

Families living past the slip were contacted and some decided to stay put and use foot access in or out. Others decided to stay with friends and family.

Mr Weston said it was difficult to ascertain when the road would be repaired.

He said the decision on how to repair the slip will depend on engineering reports once the slip has stabilised, the weather has dried up a bit and experts can get in to investigate.

Meanwhile, Kaitaia was cut off from the rest of the country on Thursday morning after a slip dumped clay and vegetation onto State Highway 1, north of the Mangamuka Gorge, while the other route, State Highway 10, was closed by flooding near the Whangaroa Bridge north of Kaeo.

The floodwaters subsided quickly, however, and SH10 was passable shortly after high tide at 9am.

Work to clear the slip on SH1 was due to be completed by Thursday afternoon.

State Highway 11, near Opua, was partly blocked by a slip that came down around 11pm on Wednesday, while Omaunu Rd in Kaeo, which links SH10 and Whangaroa Hospital, was passable only to four-wheel-drives all day Thursday.

Kaeo residents such as Noble Tua, who was on his way to stock up on essentials before Cyclone Cook's landfall, were undeterred by the flooding.

He left his car at home and walked through the thigh-deep floodwaters between his Turner St home and town.

"This happens every time it rains. You just gotta do what you gotta do," he said.

One of the worst-hit places by Thursday's flooding was Karangahape Marae at Matangirau, near Whangaroa Harbour. For the second time in a month the swollen Te Touwai Stream swamped the wharenui, this time to a depth of more than 30cm.

Marae committee member John Tua said the floodwaters peaked about 3am then dropped quickly. More than a dozen volunteers mopped silt and water out of the wharenui, kitchen and toilets.

The marae had been due to host an unveiling on Friday but that would have to held at someone's home instead, he said.

The Matangirau community is planning to rebuild the marae on raised piles out of reach of floods.

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