Civil Defence teams are continuing to make progress in getting people back into their homes in Whakatane but authorities say power outages in some areas will continue to affect water and wastewater services throughout the district until electricity networks can be restored.

Whakatane District Council said about 4.30pm today that all coastal evacuation areas from Matata to Ohope were reopened this morning, and residents from 216 properties in the southwestern area of Edgecumbe were able to go home this afternoon, most to stay.

Updates on the reopening of the remaining cordoned areas - categorised as Zone 4 - will be provided this evening.

Power outages are still placing pressure on water and wastewater systems throughout the district and all residents, including those in areas with restored power, are asked to conserve water and avoid flushing their toilets as much as possible until advised otherwise.


District-wide notices to conserve water and minimise use of wastewater facilities are likely to be in place for several more days.

"Horizons Networks are working hard to repair power lines damaged by wind and tree-fall as quickly as possible but it will take some time, and this is affecting the water and wastewater systems," a council spokesperson said.

Boil water notices also remain in place throughout the district.

The notice applies to residents of Taneatua, Te Mahe, Ruatoki and the Rangitaiki Plains - including Te Teko/Mapou, Edgecumbe, Awakeri, Braemar, Onepu, Otakiri and Thornton.

"Residents should bring water to a rapid boil for at least one minute to make it safe to drink," said the spokesperson.

"A tanker of potable drinking water is on its way to Taneatua for residents to fill their own bottles from.

"It will be stationed at Jack Knowles Park in Taneatua by 5.30pm this evening."

Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack is reminding people about the importance of maintaining excellent personal hygiene during this difficult time.

"The relevant practical measures include attention to frequent hand washing, safe disposal of waste and following the advice contained in any boil water notice," he said.

Whakatane District Council. Bay of Plenty Times Photograph by George Novak
Whakatane District Council. Bay of Plenty Times Photograph by George Novak

In Edgecumbe, residents have been provided with information packs as they return to their homes.

And, an information and welfare centre has been established at Edgecumbe Hall for residents to drop in and discuss any further needs or questions they have with relevant civil defence and support services staff.

Portaloos are also on site at the hall.

Edgecumbe residents are also being asked to temporarily cease all use of wastewater and portaloos have been erected in Zone 3 for residents' use.

A generator is on its way to the area to help the sewerage situation and bottled drinking water is available at Edgecumbe Hall.

Police going door to door in Ohope telling residents to evacuate. Photo / Alan Gibson
Police going door to door in Ohope telling residents to evacuate. Photo / Alan Gibson

"Drinking water is currently available from a tap at the Fonterra plant and Fonterra are sending two tankers of drinking water to Edgecumbe, as an interim measure while power outages prevent residents from being able to boil their water," the council spokesperson said.

"The tankers are expected to arrive by 4.30pm today and will be stationed at Kauri St, by the Edgecumbe Hall, Hydro Rd.

"Residents should bring their own containers to fill."

The council is asking that residents do not remove trees from public areas themselves.

They are responding to reports throughout the region and encourage residents to report windfalls that need attention to Whakatane District Council on 0800 306 0500.