Minister of Civil Defence and Northlander Peeni Henare is heartbroken over the damage caused to his home region after significant flooding over the weekend.
Described by MetService as a once-in-500-year storm, 220mm of rain fell on Whangārei from Friday evening to Saturday morning, causing major disruption with slips and landslides that closed roads and limited water supplies across the region.
Henare, who grew up in Moerewa and Whangārei, arrived in Whangārei this morning to meet with representatives from local councils, fire service, police service and Civil Defence to understand the scale of the damage inflicted on the region.
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Henare, along with Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, is travelling to Kawakawa at midday today, before continuing to Moerewa to witness some of the damage to Northland's isolated rural communities.
"If I'm completely honest with you, it's heartbreaking," Henare said of the flood damage.
"My family live up here, my loved ones. My mum lives in Moerewa, my brother lives here in Whangārei and I drove around Riverside Drive and the CBD and it was sad seeing doors shut and sandbags in the front.
"I'm a one-eyed Northlander and I'm biased in that respect, so whatever we can do to help and support these people is important."
The Whangārei Boys' High School alumnus believed it was important to get boots on the ground and meet with those directly effected by the flooding to understand the extent of the damage.
Henare said it was "too soon" to indicate how much financial assistance would be provided to Northland as local councils were still doing damage assessments. However, he suspected it would be significant.
He said a commitment of assistance had been made to local councils and further discussions around financial support would take place after two to five days when they had a better assessment of the flooding's impact.
Henare urged people to come forward if they had experienced any flood damage.
"If you and your property have experienced damage because of this event, make sure you come forward to Civil Defence and the council to make sure that we are aware of it and that helps us with our assessment."
Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said his concern was the health and wellbeing of Northlanders, especially those in rural communities such as Moerewa where he had heard of issues with multiple septic tanks and potential water damage at the local marae.
While he was aware more rain could fall, Davis said he had been informed by Whangārei District Council's chief executive Rob Furlong that Whangārei's drainage infrastructure had coped well with the flooding.
Davis, a Kawakawa boy, encouraged people to look after themselves and their whānau, and to use the support services such as Civil Defence if they needed to.