The man in the worst-hit house in the worst-hit street in Moerewa is philosophical as he shows a Government minister and TV crews around the muddy lake that used to be his garden.

Skip Kidwell said his Pembroke St property flooded in every big storm, though this was the first time in years water had been inside the house.

With his family's help he moved as much as he could out of the water's reach but they couldn't save the washing machine or drier.

''When the water comes that fast there's nothing we can do. We prepare as much as we can — we fill up water containers and fill up the cupboards — but we just get used to being flooded and being ignored.''

Advertisement
Skip Kidwell surveys the flooding around his home, the worst-hit property on the worst-hit street in Moerewa. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Skip Kidwell surveys the flooding around his home, the worst-hit property on the worst-hit street in Moerewa. Photo / Peter de Graaf

While they waited for the water to subside they didn't want to use the toilet or shower because the septic tank was also flooded.

''But the thing that really pisses me off is the rubberneckers who drive past. They push more water down here into the house.''

Like the last big flood, in 2014, locals met this one with stoicism and self-reliance.
Almost all who evacuated did so without waiting for instructions or help.

Isabella Ngawati evacuates her Otiria Rd home with baby Elijah, six months, while Gwen Ngawati stays behind. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Isabella Ngawati evacuates her Otiria Rd home with baby Elijah, six months, while Gwen Ngawati stays behind. Photo / Peter de Graaf

They included Isabella Ngawati, who left the family house on Otiria Rd at 6pm on Saturday with six-month-old baby Elijah and partner Mark Watene when water on their driveway was knee-deep and rising.

They spent the night with her mother on higher ground in town; they tried to go back at 8pm to pick up some baby gear but by then the water was too deep.

''We're used to it. Sometimes we get a bit nervous that it might come into the house but so far it hasn't.''

Moerewa was a town where everyone just got in and helped each other, Ngawati said.

The family returned on Sunday as water levels dropped, finding the only damage was to some items stored in the shed.

Advertisement

''But it's all good,'' she said.

Otiria Rugby Club captain Hone Townsend at the flood-damaged clubrooms. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Otiria Rugby Club captain Hone Townsend at the flood-damaged clubrooms. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The Otiria Rugby Club, on nearby Kingi Rd, wasn't as fortunate.

Captain Hone Townsend said the club had planned a big day on Saturday with a family gala, a big game against Kaitaia, and the unveiling of a carved scoreboard.

Instead 30cm of water washed through the clubrooms, leaving a slimy layer of silt.

''It would have been a great day for us as a club, and great for the community, but it is what it is.''

Members managed to lift most of the club's property above the tide but the fridge and freezer had been wrecked and he wasn't yet sure about the dishwasher.

Advertisement

The club was uninsured because the premiums were so high, he said.

Floodwaters stream through the grounds of Otiria Marae on the outskirts of Moerewa. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Floodwaters stream through the grounds of Otiria Marae on the outskirts of Moerewa. Photo / Peter de Graaf

A few hundred metres away one of the few fully carved marae in Northland had a lucky escape.

Otiria Marae was entirely surrounded by fast-flowing, knee-deep water on Saturday evening but chairman Mike Butler said the flood stopped rising about 20cm short of entering the wharenui.

The mattress room, toilets and kitchen had been flooded and the septic tank was underwater, so he had closed the marae for seven days while it was cleaned and aired out.