State of emergency as cyclone hits New Zealand

Cyclone Gita hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji and Tonga last week, packing winds up to 275kph and causing widespread destruction and flooding.

Of that $500,000 would be given as immediate relief to Tonga and another $500,000 would be allocated to it from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund (I-UNDPF), the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) announced Monday.

Cyclones of that intensity can have gusts between 225 and 279 kilometres per hour.

Gita then skirted the south of New Caledonia, but caused no major damage, before curving to the south and running towards the land of the long white cloud.

Christchurch, Buller, Grey District, Selwyn, Westland, Tasman and Taranaki were the worst affected areas. "These will not reopen until the risk of flooding has gone".

Even before the storm hit in full force, heavy rains in the centre of New Zealand brought floods in Christchurch, prompting a warning from Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Mr Howard said: "This is not a good time to be trying to do this safely".

Cyclone Gita is pounding New Zealand with torrential rain, damaging winds and large waves.

Residents have been told to expect winds of up to 150 km/hour and to avoid travel.

She urged residents in low-lying areas to leave, stating that "We are expecting homes to be flooded". Passengers are still able to fly in and out of Blenheim, Kapiti Coast and Palmerston North airports, but the airline has said it is monitoring the situation.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, directed troops to be deployed in areas are expected to be hit the hardest.

What is Cyclone Gita's status?

MetService meteorologist Peter Little said the impact of the storm was slowly easing.

"The environment it's moving into will mean it will actually speed up, get a bit faster, and the central pressure will drop even more".

  • Jon Douglas