Defence Force stands by to help with flood damage in the Wairarapa


The New Zealand Defence Force has deployed a Unimog and crew to Wairarapa to support local emergency response staff.

The 20 soldiers will be based at Featherston and working with the local Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) which is looking at how best to help across the district.

Eastern South Wairarapa has been particularly hard hit in the last 24 hours, but at this stage there is no suggestion that a state of emergency will be called across the Wairarapa, as it has been in much of the North Island due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

Aidan Ellims, the chair of South Wairarapa District Council’s infrastructure and community services committee, said it was a smart decision for the Defence Force to forward deploy equipment and troops on this side of the Remutaka Hills.

“We are expecting 100mm from midnight and certainly that will impact those isolated communities in the eastern hill country.”

Cr Ellims said up to 200mm of rain had already fallen in some areas by early this morning. Families he has contact with had decided not to evacuate for the moment, but many roads were closed and pastures under water.

“Rivers on the eastern side heading out to the coast have breached their banks and are flowing through farmland and across roads.

“The damage is still being assessed but locals have suggested there are washouts and slips, both in the Hinekura district which already has limited road access, and through Tuturumuri, Tora and White Rock.

“A lot of damage which occurred in January has occurred again, which is heartbreaking for the contractors and staff involved. It’s been an exceptionally wet year.”

The Wairarapa EOC said emergency services were coping well with the current situation but would continue to monitor should it change.

This was especially given the heavy rain warning overnight and extended heavy swell warnings along the coast.

Steven May, the EOC Controller said all three councils were grateful to the 5/7 Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and the Defence Force for their support to our community. Questions around their response should be directed to

Wellington Free Ambulance is also putting an ambulance in Martinborough for the night shift to be available for the southern South Wairarapa community. The ambulance is double crewed and will be available until 5am Thursday 16 February at this stage.

Media contact:
Sheil Priest, General Manager, Communications & Engagement
Mob: 027 252 2863

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