Two thousand residents in the small riverside town of Edgecumbe in the Eastern Bay of Plenty are being evacuated.
The Whakatāne District Council says there is the threat that the Rangitaiki River will breach its bank.
Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne said in a live interview this morning, "We are in a fairly serious situation at the moment. We are asking everyone in the Edgecumbe Town, if you haven’t evacuated, to self-evacuate. We have police arriving at the town. We’ve got the breaches on College Rd at the stop bank and water is going through.
If you can get to the fire station, there’s going to be buses there to help bus you out and there’s welfare centres set up in Kawerau at the events centre and Whakatane District Council War Memorial Hall.
If you know of anybody that needs help and can’t evacuate themselves, please phone into Whakatane District Council immediately and we’ll get help to them as soon as we can. The police are coordinating the evacuation."
The Rangitāiki River in Edgecumbe. Video/ Karyn Rogers Facebook.
"If you are on low lying land, please just move off that land and get to higher ground. The situation should be relieved this afternoon.
Just to stress- there are welfare centres open at the Kawerau Events Centre in Kawerau, which is easy access for Edgecumbe and also if you can get into Whakatane, the Whakatane District War Memorial Hall is open for welfare as well. Also just go to friends and family that are on high ground. We’ll have more messages coming through in a few minutes."
Civil Defence Information Manager Ross Boreham says people were self evacuating throughout the night, making their way to families and respective evacuation centres.
Civil Defence is urging residents to go to emergency evacuation centres in the area including Whakatane and Kawerau.