A 2-month-old baby boy and his mother were seriously hurt in wild weather that lashed the country yesterday.

A piece of plywood blew off a construction site in central Christchurch yesterday afternoon, striking the baby, his young mum, and a middle-aged man.

"It blew off the building because of the wind," said St John Ambulance spokesman Ian Henderson. "This is a very unpleasant incident."

The mother and the man, aged in his 50s, suffered serious head injuries.


The building where the accident happened was under construction, behind the Baby Factory store on Dundas and Colombo streets.

A Baby Factory staff member, who did not want to be named, said she heard a big bang and was told a plaster wall had collapsed.

Southern fire communications spokesman Brent Dunn said firefighters joined police at the scene to help secure loose material. The baby and the two adults were in a stable condition in Christchurch Hospital last night.

Weather also brought havoc to other parts of the country: flights, ferries and even a Christmas parade were cancelled after winds topped 100km/h in Wellington.

Air New Zealand said at least 19 flights in or out of the capital were cancelled, most in the morning but passengers went on later flights. A morning ferry service between Wellington and Eastbourne was also cancelled.

In Auckland, high winds in the afternoon toppled trees and cut power.

Ranui residents Alan Dickey and his neighbour Derek Judge watched anxiously as a 20m high tree cracked and leaned above their homes yesterday evening, threatening buildings and power lines. "If the wind gets up I can imagine it going," Dickey said.

They said neither the Fire Service nor Auckland Council could remove the tree.

Vector spokeswoman Sandy Hodge said the north Auckland suburbs of Belmont, Waiwera, Greenhithe and South Head were the worst affected by power cuts, but crews restored electricity to most customers before dark. A crew also isolated power to parts of Glenfield after fears live wires could be exposed.

Bluff fishermen's radio operator Mary Leask said high winds were stopping boaties going out. She said Friday and yesterday's weather was the worst locals remembered in a long time.

Summer's soggy start will continue today with showers forecast for most of the country. Brief heavy falls are expected north of Waikato this afternoon or evening and heavy showers are expected in Canterbury and Otago. Fine weather should return tomorrow.