Residents of the small Waitotara township in South Taranaki were evacuated last night as rising river levels threatened their safety and their homes.

Last night a state of emergency was declared in Taranaki due to the flooding threat to the township. This remains in place this morning.

Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management urged the 60 or so residents in Waitotara to evacuate last night due to rising river levels and the prospect of flooding after yesterday's heavy rain.

A Civil Defence Centre was opened in Waverley for those from Waitotara who needed shelter at the Waverley Community Centre and Waverley Rugby Club in Chester Street.