Around the Whanganui and South Taranaki the bucketing rain and rising rivers were met with resilience, support for one another - and smiles.

Nine children who were evacuated from a remote school north of Whanganui yesterday morning left "with big smiles on their faces", their teacher says.

Michael Bieleski, the sole teacher of the nine-student Ngamatapouri School, said the Waitotara River was rising alongside the school by 20cm every five minutes when he made the decision to close at 10am.

"It was, 'Sorry kids, you'll have to go home'," he said. "They all rushed out the door with a big smile on their faces.


"We followed our standard flood policy protocol by contacting parents, who collected their children and took them home," he said.

"The reason we do this is because the roads that lead to school eventually become flooded. The school is always above the flood level.

"We have sent home students a number of times before. Last time was during the 2015 flood.

"It's covering the road outside the schoolhouse by about half a metre," Mr Bieleski said.

"If that's all we get, we have dodged the bullet.

Flooding on SH4 3 Km south of Raetihi. Video by John Chapman

"But, with more rain to come, who knows what will happen tonight?"

The school was closed for three weeks in 2015, but Mr Bieleski said the community accepted the road would be closed sporadically.

"There's nothing you can do about it," he said.

"You could shift the road, but it would be hugely expensive."

Two parents rang him to discuss closing the school before he made the decision to close.

Despite its remote location, the school has wireless internet and students can access resources online from their homes.

"We have wireless through Inspire Net, so it's pretty fast, and most people in the valley now have got it, thanks to Inspire," he said.

"But, of course, if the power goes off you can't use it.

"If it keeps raining we'll get slips as well. They take out power poles."

As it unfolded yesterday ....


The South Taranaki District Council was considering evacuating residents, Whanganui District Council Emergency manager Tim Crowe said mid-afternoon.

Waitotara residents were being told to prepare for the possibility of flooding as the Waitotara River rose rapidly.

Taranaki Civil Defence swung into action earlier in the afternoon to monitor rising river levels.

The Waitotara Valley Rd was closed yesterday afternoon and Ngamatapouri School, near the top of the valley, was evacuated.

South Taranaki District Council's civil defence controller Shane Briggs said that evacuation of Waitotara township was not currently considered necessary.

"But residents are urged to be prepared if the situation changes, and to keep survival items and getaway kits handy. Some may wish to self-evacuate as a precaution, and go and stay with friends or whanau elsewhere," Mr Briggs said.

He said if the situation changes those in the township will be told to leave.

"If there's a knock on the door at 10'clock, it will be because the situation has become serious."

Mr Briggs said there had been a few minor flooding events in the district.

Some may wish to self-evacuate as a precaution, and go and stay with friends or whanau elsewhere.


A truck crash had left the northbound lane of SH3 blocked at Waverley.

Police said the truck had rolled just after 11.45am.

There were no reports of injuries.


State Highway 4 was closed between Whanganui River Road and Raetihi due to multiple slips and flooding.

Detours were in place.

A slip on the Whanganui River Road between Jerusalem and Ranana was cleared, but care on the road was urged.

There was minor surface flooding in Raetihi as the rain continued.

Blocked stormwater drains caused flooding at the junction of Duncan and Queen streets in Raetihi.

There was surface flooding in Grey Street and Queen Street. Grey Street had a pump and was under control. Queen Street had issues with sewerage.


Road had bad flooding at 3km mark.


No issues reported.


Mangamahu farmers should get stock to high ground. Water was washing over some roads.


State Highway 4, about three kilometres south of Raetihi was closed due to flooding.

Contractors Higgins were to close the road and start to deal with slips which had been occurring along the highway.


The Whangaehu River was expected to rise rapidly.

"People in that valley need to be prepared."

Emergency staff had phoned some at-risk residents directly.

Whanganui District Council chief executive Kim Fell said Whangaehu valley will be inundated with water and emergency staff would keep a watchful eye.