Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune 29 December 1980 – Flood Issue

The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune

Monday, December 29, 1980

Uneasy truce with River

Floodwaters were receding on the Heretaunga Plains today, but with further heavy rain showers still expected a close watch was being kept on the Ngaruroro River which yesterday burst through a stopbank at Twyford forcing a dozen families to flee their homes.

Most of the owners were back on their properties today, faced with a massive clean-up and the loss of thousands of dollars of income from destroyed crops.

The flood inundated 1000 hectares of some of the world’s most fertile land which is intensively farmed with a wide diversity of crops including peas, beans, tomatoes, onions, fruit, small pockets of sheep and cattle and two small deer farms.

About 750 sheep and lambs died in the floodwaters, but the major loss will be from crops.

Hawke’s Bay Catchment Board workers today were halting the trickle of water still coming through the breached stopbank and will continue building it up as the weather and conditions permit.

The board’s deputy chief engineer, Mr David Hamilton, estimated that the 120 metre breach would take 10,000 cubic metres of fill and two weeks to complete.

The Ngaruroro yesterday was running at its highest level for 43 years, but by this morning had dropped 1.8 metres from yesterday’s peak.

Water poured through the gap and spread in a huge lake in a kilometre-wide path which by yesterday afternoon had crossed Pakowhai Rd between Ellwood Rd and Ruahapia Rd.

Pakowhai Rd was closed and by late last night the floodwaters had spread across the top end of Ruahapia Rd to a depth of 0.75 metres.

However, shortly after 11pm catchment board workmen succeeded in cutting a gap through the old Ngaruroro stopbank in the Pakowhai Country Park to divert some of the flow into the Clive River.

This, and the falling river level, resulted in a dramatic fall in the floodwaters. By 8am today all major roads were open.

Mr Hamilton said the weather office had forecast that the weather would clear, but that the whole of Hawke’s Bay could expect large bursts of rain later in the day.

Drains throughout the area were working to capacity. The water still coming through the breached stopbank was being largely confined to the Raupare Steam [Stream].

Orchardists in Morley Rd said it was the biggest flood in memory – bigger than the one in 1938.

Mr Doug Yule, Ormond Rd, said it was the first time the stopbank had ever burst.

Pakowhai Rd was re-opened early this morning and Evenden and Nicholl roads were also clear of water.

Mr Lance Peterson was the worst hit at the Morley Rd end of the flooding.

About a metre of water flowed through his house while he was out helping a neighbour.

Mrs Meg Peterson was at home with her two young children when the catchment board phoned, told her to grab a change of clothing, and get out immediately.

They left as the water lapped at the door. Mrs Peterson did not even have time to switch off all the electrical applicancs [appliances].

Mr Petersen had been exporting fresh asparagus spears to the United States, but he now fears his beds might be ruined by the silt.

The clean-up operation has been hampered by the number of people still on holiday.

Mr John Trotter, Nicholl Rd, arrived home from Taupo last night to find his home under water.

Mr Brian Walker, from Walkers Nursery, arrived back from Ocean Beach to find his neighbours had shifted electrical equipment out of his house and stacked all his household possessions on tables away from the flood.

He was lucky – the water lapped at the doorways but did not come inside.

Further down Morley Rd, a county councillor, Mr Selwyn Begley, was not so lucky. He had about a metre of water in his home.

Pernel Orchard, Pakowhai Rd, was underwater and five vehicles were caught in the flood.

On Garrick Rd, Grenside orchard was under water and the packing shed and three houses flooded.

Opinion on the extent of crop damage varied. Mr Brian Walker, Walkers Nursery, said most would survive if the water drained away within 36 hours.

Others said most ground crops would be ruined.

Mr Mike Aveling lost about 250 sheep and other farmers on Raupare Rd reported stock losses of around 20 and 30.

More flood reports and pictures on pages 3, 4, 5 and 6.

More flood reports and pictures on pages 3, 4, 5 and 6.


Christmas Deluge

More than 146mm of rain have fallen in the Napier and Hastings area since Christmas Eve in one of the wettest Christmas periods in memory.

Napier recorded a higher total rainfall than Hastings in the past five days, with 146.8mm falling in Napier and 130.4mm in Hastings.

Though Napier recorded 29.0mm overnight on Christmas Day and Hastings 25.3mm, the heaviest overnight recordings came on Saturday when Napier had 32.5mm and Hastings had 19.5mm.

Saturday night’s downpour added another 63.6mm to Napier’s total and Hastings recorded 62.0mm.

Last night another 16.4mm fell in Napier and 10mm in Hastings.


‘Lack of action’ angers farmer

Twyford farmer Mr Brian Rohleder wants to “get to the bottom” of what he calls lack of action by authorities in the Twyford flood.

“I rang the police at about 8.30am yesterday and they said they would have someone out immediately to help us. I never saw them.

“If it hadn’t been for our neighbours we would still have been on the roof of our house,” he said.

Mr Rohleder’s neighbours took the family from the property.

Mr Rohleder said he had punched a hole in his roof after phoning the police.

“By the time I had put the receiver back onto the phone, the phone was floating.

“I didn’t know how deep the flood was going to be so I punched a hole in the roof in the laundry and put the family and the dog up there,” he said.

“We were taken to the county council rooms but they didn’t keep a register of people who were evacuated so we didn’t know if we could contact people of if the telephones were still connected,” he said.

“I guess I panicked. But I felt I had to do something quickly because the water was rising so fast,” he said.

Mr Rohleder was disappointed with the rescue exercise, as were his neighbours Mr Bob Galloway and his wife Diane.

“I don’t know what they were doing but we didn’t see them,” said Mr Galloway.

Mr Galloway and his family were busy tidying up their house and orchard today.

Silt covered the floor of their house.

Mr Rory Smith, whose farm, along with Mr Rohleder’s, took most of the initial force of [the] flood, would not comment on the damage to his property.

He and a group of neighbours moved back on to the property at about 9.30am today to clear the fencelines of sheep carcasses.

One bridge on Twyford road collapsed in the flood ahd [and] neighbours erected planks across the gap to take out possessions and cars which had been stranded

Photo caption – A television set lies on its back on 150mm of silt in the lounge of Mr and Mrs Brian Rohleder’s home in Twyford Rd.


Baby is born after rescue

A front-end loader was called to the rescue of an expectant Kereru woman yesterday afternoon.

A former Miss Highland Games, Judith Tresidder (left), was loaded into the bucket of a Hawke’s Bay County Council loader to cross a flooded stream in front of a farmhouse.

She was met by friends and taken to Havelock North and to the Hastings hospital during the night, where her 8lb 2oz son was born at 5am today.

Mother – Miss Highland Games in 1977 – and baby are both well.


Co-operation was ‘first-class’

The chairman of the Hawke’s Bay County Council, Mr M. E. Groome, today praised the co-operation of all those involved in yesterday’ flood emergency.

Co-operation between the county, Hawke’s Bay Catchment Board, Hastings City Council, police, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and civil defence personnel “was absolutely first-class.”

Even more important was the co-operation received from the flood victims and it was because of this that the situation had been handled without the necessity of declaring a state of emergency.

Mr Groome said a state of emergency would have been declared if it had become absolutely necessary, but it was better if this could be avoided.

“Once you declare a state of emergency you start ordering people about and they don’t like that,” said Mr Groome.

Mr Groome said the people of Hawke’s Bay could rest assured that the civil defence system in the region had proved to be 100 per cent.

He said the county, with its radio equipped vehicles, could bring a civil defence operation into use immediately a disaster occurred.

Mr Groome said the flood also demonstrated the knife-edge the people of the Heretaunga Plains lived on.

Flood protection work by the catchment board has removed many of the flooding dangers from the plains – “but we have been taking from the plains for years and every now and again nature is going to take something back.”

Damage to farmland would be considerable, but Mr Groome said there would be some beneficial side-effects in the future, although these would probably not be appreciated by victims at the moment.

The hard-worked farmland would be rejuvenated by the silt and valuable elements spread by the floodwaters, said Mr Groome.


Key men behind operation

Two meetings yesterday, and another this morning, of key personnel co-ordinated the flood emergency operation on the Heretaunga Plains.

The meetings, all held at the Hawke’s Bay County Council’s Omahu Rd depot, were chaired by Chief Inspector John Perring, Hastings Police.

Also in attendance were Mr M. E. Groome, chairman of the Hawke’s Bay County Council, Mr Doug Walker, chairman of the Hawke’s Bay County Council, senior police and traffic officers, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries staff, senior engineering staff from both the county, catchment board and Hastings City Council, and reporters.

Under them were at least 75 other people directly involved in various aspects of the operation.

The county had between 15 and 20 men out in the field, the catchment board about 25, the police 12 and Ministry of Transport 10.

Each meeting assessed the situation, based on the reports from all the various agencies, and planned the next phase of operations.

Many of the men worked long hours on Saturday and Sunday night, checking on river levels, manning roadblocks and helping with rescue of people and stock.

This morning’s meeting was also attended by Sir Richard Harrison, the MP for Hawke’s Bay, who praised the efforts of all concerned.


Workers hampered

Sightseers caused a major problem for emergency services during yesterday’s flood.

Their cars blocked access to areas which emergency service, workmen and residents were trying to reach and added to the workload of traffic officers.

Despite appeals for sightseers to stay away car-loads of people were still trying to get into the flooded area late last night.

Chief Inspector John Perring said today some of the people were trying to reach friends to help them, but others were just out sightseeing.

“If they are going into the area they should leave their cars well away and walk, he said.

From Wellington today, the executive officer of the New Zealand Catchment Authorities Association, Mr W. M. Golden, said the flooding must highlight to the public the vital and continuing need for finance to maintain and, where necessary, up-grade river works as defences against such natural disasters.

“Although everyone knows that available funds are in short supply, as an agricultural nation in the main New Zealanders must accept and meet the need to protect the farmlands and those on them. This means money.

“My association has to battle every year to have this vital fact accepted and although the Government made further funding available recently it is imperative that adequate funds be provided annually.”


Photo captions –

The spirit of the Twyford Rd farmers during yesterday’s flood held together well as this sign in the downstairs window of Mr Frank Curd’s house shows.

Tonnes of floodwater pour through the breach in the Ngaruroro River stopbank. The breach widened yesterday morning to be about 120 metres across.

Foaming brown floodwater swirled through the stopbank and on to farms on Twyford Rd.

Three Twyford Rd farmers returned to their properties this morning along a flood-damaged road. Water had ripped up tarseal roads and damaged a bridge.

The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune
Monday, December 29, 1980

Flood-control scheme proves that it is value for money

LAST NIGHT, sitting in the comfort of their homes, Hastings people watching television saw rampaging flood waters only a mile or two from their homes. It needed only a moment’s thought to realise what would have happened to the city had the flood-control system failed – or worse, if there had been no control system at all.

Some people have suffered, but they are relatively few. The Heretaunga Plains has escaped the sort of disaster which is suffered regularly by other parts of the country and has emerged in a shape which only a few years ago would have been considered extremely fortunate.

The river-control scheme stood a tremendous test well. The system of stopbanks, diversion channels and other flood-relief schemes did the job for which they were designed and largely contained a flood which could have been of disastrous proportions.

That one fault developed when a stopbank was breached, was a tragedy for the people of Twyford who lived in the path of the released flood waters. The sympathy of all will go out to those whose homes and possessions are ruined, and to those who have lost stock and crops.

The flood then was simultaneously an example of how a community can protect itself and a warning of the frailty of man-made barriers against the elements. Stopbanks are necessary along many waterways but when they are breached the resultant immediate flood can be devastating.

An element of luck, if it can be called that, is also involved and in the case of yesterday’s flood a break in the banking system further back toward Fernhill could have poured the river into the west side of Hastings or Flaxmere.

But by good fortune and sound engineering Hastings and surrounding districts escaped lightly from a catastrophe which in the old days would have surrounded the city with silt-laden water and flooded many suburban areas.

Every year there is some resistance to the catchment board rates which are devoted to flood-control works, but if ever a community has been given a demonstration of value for money, that demonstration was given yesterday.

The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune, Monday, December 29, 1980   3

Engineer sails away from flood

Hawke’s Bay Catchment Board engineer Mr Peter Simons has plenty of water to contend with –

but it is in no way connected with the disastrous flooding in his catchment area.

Mr Simons is skippering his 30-foot keeler through drizzle and choppy seas somewhere off the East Cape, probably oblivious of yesterday morning’s emergency at Twyford.

Mr Simons left Napier on Wednesday but, when about 12 miles into Hawke’s Bay, rough seas and deteriorating weather forced his return. He regained port on Christmas evening.

Yesterday, about 5am, he took his keeler Elysium, accompanied by the keeler Rangimanu, out into the bay again, bound for Whitianga.

Two hours later the fresh in the Ngaruroro turned into flood and at 8am the stopbank at Twyford had been breached, causing a full alert of catchment board engineering and other technical staff.

It is possible that Mr Simons might be unaware of the Hawke’s Bay flooding until he makes port at Whitianga – or unless he picks up a news broadcast.


Disaster for crop farmers

Rain-battered crops on the Heretaunga Plains have sustained disastrous losses.

Ripening crops of peaches and nectarines are splitting, substantial areas of vegetable crops are ruined and losses in berry-fruit crops are put at up to $7000 a hectare.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t have had a worse situation than we have at the moment,” said berry-fruit grower Mr Graham Velvin, Oak Rd, Twyford.

“Ripe boysenberries that haven’t been picked because of the weather are rotting which is going to be prevalent. In weather like this morning, without sunshine and wind, even the green fruit is rotting.”

He estimated that about 50 per cent of the remaining boysenberries would be ruined. About one-third of the crop had been picked.

“This should be a lesson for would-be berryfruit growers. It’s not all beer and skittles, Mr Velvin said.

“We are facing an element which we cannot control, which is the hardest thing to do in business,” he said.

One newcomer to berryfruit growing, Mr Stephen Brockett, Bridge Pa, estimated that 80 per cent of his boysenberry crop, without the benefit of mature shelter trees, was lost.

Before Christmas the crop was looking good and coming to its peak. Now he has lost $6000 to $7000 worth of berries, he said.

Mr Ian Tuston, Hastings, said he was fortunate to have a mechanical harvester to pick good crops of blackberries and raspberries.

The machine was able to work until Saturday night and harvest at the equivalent rate of 50 pickers.

“Nothing can get on this land now. It even pulls your gumboots off,” he said.

Vegetable growers with crops flooded by rivers or surface water are also expected to suffer losses.

Losses in tomato crops in Hastings and Gisborne would be substantial, said the managing director of J. Wattie Canneries Limited, Mr Ray Wattie.

He said the full extent of the losses was not yet known but was being assessed by field staff today.

Losses in  green beans and peas would be smaller, he said.

Watties’ agricultural manager, Mr Stuart Thomas, said waterlogged paddocks made harvesting of peas impossible, and pea processing had been stopped at the Hastings factory.

Unilever was experiencing similar problems, although pea harvesting was proceeding in Central Hawke’s Bay, said agricultural manager Mr Clarrie Napier.

The Hastings factory had previously been forced to stop processing peas when the harvesters had been unable to work.

He predicted crop losses in carrots and sweet peppers, in addition to the other crops.

Strawberry growers, in contrast, have been fortunate.

“Our losses are virtually nothing,” said Mr Neil Manning, Ormond Rd.

His pickers, whom he praised, had worked through the rain and harvested ripening fruit which, since Christmas, went to processing factories.

He had, however, lost out on fresh market sales.

“There is no noticeable deterioration in the fruit because of the rain, but its shelf life is shortened,” he said.

Rains have damaged early crops of nectarines and dessert peaches, but most growers have been fortunate.

Mr Norman Hope, Twyford, said early crops of nectarines were not major crops.

“Our full force of nectarines comes in two or three weeks. The rain shouldn’t affect them at all.”

He said nectarines that were ripening were also swelling and splitting, which allowed brown rot to set in.

One grower of peaches said most growers were fortunate to have pickers taking fruit off trees before it became too damaged.

Another grower said apricots had split badly and splits were appearing in the early peach varieties of Dixie Red and Red Haven.


Rain triggers alarm – twice

Heavy rain triggered the fire alarm at the Pacific freezing works twice at the weekend.

Firemen were called to the works at 1.53pm on Saturday and at 7am on Sunday.

A brigade spokesman said water had got into the alarm system and set it off.


River found ‘weak spot’

The breaching of the Ngaruroro River stopbank near Twyford yesterday was the result of an inherent weakness in the structure, according to the Hawke’s Bay Catchment Board’s deputy chief engineer, Mr David Hamilton.

Routine inspections had failed to detect this weakness, he said.

The river had not gone over the top of the stopbank, but the swollen waters had found a way through the weak spot.

The stopbank was breached about 8am and within minutes it was 20 metres across. An hour later it was 60 metres wide and by 11.30am it had increased to 120 metres.

After an aerial inspection of the board’s region with other engineers Mr Hamilton said all the Hawke’s Bay rivers had been swollen by the prolonged rain which had fallen since Christmas Day.

The Ngaruroro had risen to its highest level since the 1973 June flood.

During the 24 hours up to 9am on Saturday an average of 150 millimetres of rain had fallen in the headwaters of the catchments.

Larger rainfalls if between 150 to 160mm were recorded in the subsequent 24 hours up to 9am yesterday.

The highest rainfall was recorded at Kaweka Forest where 185mm (7½ inches) fell during the 24 hours up to 9am yesterday, said Mr Hamilton.

The resultant flooding on the Heretaunga Plains could be traced to the heavy bursts of rain which fell in the catchments between 6pm and 10pm on Saturday night.

The board installed flood-warning stations on the Tutaekiri and Ngaruroro Rivers two years ago and with these board staff monitored the rising rivers throughout Saturday night.

The Tutaekuri peaked at 2.3 metres above its normal level at 3am yesterday, but the Ngaruroro peaked at 3.5 metres above normal at the Whanawhana [Whana Whana] warning stations at 5am.

Downriver at the Ohiti station a reading of three metres above normal was recorded, but by 00am the river had fallen half a metre.

The Waipawa River also breached its stopbank about eight kilometres upstream from the town. Mr Hamilton said that, from the air, it seemed the river had found a weakness, similar to Twyford’s, and cut a 50-metre gap in the northern bank.

Paddocks were flooded and outbuildings surrounded by water.

The joint river mouth for the Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri Rivers at Waitangi ponded into a huge lake with water almost reaching the deck of the road bridges at the flood’s peak.

While the Tukituki River topped its berm in many places it did not pose any danger, said Mr Hamilton. The board had advised farmers before Christmas to shift stock from the low lying areas near the Tukituki.

He said board staff had worked throughout Saturday night checking levels and clearing debris and weeds from drains on the seaward side of the Heretaunga Plains.


Campers stay on – in the mud

Holidaymakers in Napier are generally tolerating the wet weather and hoping predictions for an improvement will come to fruition.

At Kennedy Park motor camp on Saturday night the heavy rain was “the final straw” for some camp sites, already sodden with rain over Christmas.

Manager, Mr Gordon Beveridge said about 20 of the camp’s 250 sites were either flooded or churned to mud.

Until Saturday the camp situation had been reasonable, but the downpour on Saturday evening “put the finishing touches to it,” he said.

A few campers left but the majority stayed on.

The camp has about 1000 people in it and Mr Beveridge said the number was being limited until the affected camp sites dried out.

At Riverside motor camp, Taradale, there were no real problems, with campers generally handling the wet weather well. Numbers there are also being limited for a few days until the ground dries out.

The Westshore motor camp had no problems, being on a free-draining area.

However, at the Esk River holiday camp staff kept a close watch on the river as high tides approached during the wet period.

But the river level dropped about half a metre soon after each high tide, proprietor Mr F. Sowden said.

Apart from two groups of tenters who left with wet gear, everybody was in high spirits, he said.

The heavy rain on Saturday night caused some surface flooding on several Napier streets, but by late evening most had cleared as the rain eased.


Families flee ‘wall of water’

Rampaging floodwaters smashed a 120-metre gap through a stopbank on the Ngaruroro River near Twyford yesterday forcing a dozen families to flee their homes.

Jet boats and heavy machines were used to rescue some of the families and stock as water inundated 1000 hectares of rich cropping, orchard and farming land on the Heretaunga Plains.

The Ngaruroro burst out of its banks without warning about 8am sending a wall of water tumbling across the flat farmlands to the no-exit end of Twyford Rd.

Farmers had little time to move stock and several families were forced to flee their homes in the clothing they were wearing at the time.

About 15 homes in the area were surrounded by water to varying depths. Some families, with their floorboards still above water, decided to stick it out – but others had no option with the silt-laden waters halfway up the walls.

Most of the people who were forced out of their homes assembled at the Hawke’s Bay County Council’s depot in Omahu Rd and from there made their own arrangements for alternative accommodation.

Farmers worked frantically throughout the morning shifting stock to higher ground and some was moved out by trucks.

But for others there was not time and Mr Rory Smith just barely escaped from his property, unable to do anything for 500 ewes which disappeared under the floodwaters.

Others waded waist-deep through paddocks physically manhandling near-drowned sheep to higher ground.

The muddy, brown water also devastated berry crops, stone-fruit trees, pea, bean and tomato crops.

Farmers estimated early yesterday that at least 750 sheep were lost in the flood, but most of the cattle in the area were saved and put on to higher ground.

The flood caused damage to houses, sheds, cars, farm machinery and fences.

Cars, with water up to the tops of their bonnets were left where they had been parked for the night. One, in which the owners had tried to flee the flood, had stalled in the middle of Twyford Rd.

The occupants were rescued by a truck.

Farmers looking out at the fence-level floodwaters said it would take a major clean-up to get their properties back into shape.

Two jet boats were used by farmers to locate and evacuate stock stranded by the flood waters.

An orchardist said he had lost his nectarine crop.

“They were the size of tennis balls and I had been waiting for the last three days to pick them. Now they will split and won’t be any good,” he said.

“You see this kind of thing on television and read about it in the news, but you never think it is going to happen to you. I suppose all you can do is just pick up threads,” he said.

One elderly farmer sat shivering in the back of a Land-Rover.

“I was up to my chest in floodwater trying to save cattle.

“But I saved them,” he added proudly.

A youth whose father owns a stone fruit farm in Twyford Rd said he was first made aware of the flood when his mother called out about 8am.

“I saw the water rushing across the paddocks across the road from us. It was in a big brown wave.

“I went back to our house and in no time at all we were in three feet of water,” he said.

Worst hit farms were those of Mr Rory N. Smith and Mr B. J. Rohleder, in Twyford Rd.

“I visited the stopbank last night after we had had so much rain, and it didn’t look too good then,” said Mr Smith.

“To me it looked as though fallen logs and silt had built up against the trees inside the stopbank and this formed its own stopbank.

“The pressure of this built up and when it broke, it appeared that the force of the water was too great for the stopbank and it burst through.

“The hole in the stopbank was small at first, but it grew as the watyer rushed through it,” said Mr Smith.

The floodwater raced around the wall of the stopbank and on to the paddocks of Mr Smith and Mr Rohleder before spreading to adjoining properties.

Mr Rohleder punched a hole in the roof of his house in case it was needed as a means of escape.

Hawke’s Bay County Council trucks evacuated flood victims from houses in the path of the water.

One of the county’s truck drivers, returning to the scene after taking people to the county council’s offices in Omahu Rd, said one of the evacuees was from Iceland.

The water level dropped during the afternoon and farmers returned to their properties to move water-logged cars and check on family pets.

A concrete bridge midway down Twyford Rd, which had withstood the early force of the flood, collapsed just after midday and restricted movement past that point.

Mr C. C. Watson’s property had a stream of flood water running beside the house just above foundation level and down into a stonefruit orchard.

Mr G. G. Ede’s house was surrounded by floodwater and the top of the wooden fenceline on the boundary of the house appeared above the water level during the afternoon.

Mr K. E. McAuley’s property was also affected by the flood with water at its peak being a metre deep in the house.

The Belmont Vineyards in Nicholls Rd, off Evans Rd, was devastated by the flood with vines having been ripped from their supports earlier in the day.

A boat was used to investigate all properties to make sure that those who remained on their farms were safe.


Pole falls on house

A wooden power pole collapsed and fell on to a house in Tanner St, Havelock North, on Saturday afternoon.

Mr David Smith, who was working in his garage at 2 Tanner St heard a loud explosion and saw a flash of light as the pole fell.

It crashed on to a clothesline of wet washing and struck the guttering of his house causing minor damage.

It appeared that the clay ground at the base of the pole had been weakened by the steady rain of the past few days.


Grower loses the lot

The Ngaruroro River swept away a berryfruit grower’s income yesterday morning when it burst its banks a few hundred metres upstream from Twyford Rd

Today a foot of silt covered everything on Mr David Brooker’s property and his raspberry, loganberry and boysenberry crops appeared ruined.

“The silt is in my cars, my sheds and my house,” he said while cleaning up after a 1.3 metre (four foot) wall of water had suddenly rushed through, around 8am yesterday.

Mr Brooker, his wife and five children, aged from one to 13 years, were evacuated by a neighbour, Mr Frank Curd, in his Land-Rover.

They left in what they stood up in.

“We didn’t have time to take anything,” said Mr Brooker.

The family spent last night with friends and would do the same tonight.

Today their home was isolated after bridges in Twyford Rd were swept away.

“We can walk to it over a plank,” he said.

The floodwaters also swept away anything that was not tied down, he said.


Patrol helps victims, guards against looting

Hastings police formed an emergency patrol on Saturday to evacuate flood victims and prevent looting.

Several men were called off holiday to assist the nine-man patrol.

A police spokesman said several elderly people in Ruahapia Rd, Hastings, were reluctant to leave their homes, threatened by rising flood water.

Patrols moved around the whole flood area to prevent any evacuated homes being broken into.

There have been no reports of evacuated homes or properties being entered.

The patrols will continue until the areas affected are back to normal.

Police worked with Ministry of Transport and Catchment Board staff to block off flooded roads and help people affected by the torrential rain.

The spokesman said they did not strike any major problems and the operation went smoothly.

Photo captions –

Rain over Christmas has meant a rather miserable time for camping holiday makers. However, those who decided to stay on and await some finer weather, managed to find ways of entertaining themselves. From left, Janine Cousens, 15, Havelock North, Richard Ballach, 16, Hastings, Denise Rayner, 15, Carterton, Vaughan Ellis, 15, Ruakaka, Bridget Parker, 15, Hastings, and Kim Garvey, 15, Havelock North, all decided that a poker game was the best way of forgetting the rain. The teenagers were staying at the Windsor Park camping ground, Hastings.

Diane Walen and Rex Evans, Wellington, nearly turned round and went home again after arriving to heavy rain in Hastings on Saturday. However, the couple decided to brave it and hope for an improvement. They are shown pitching their tent at the Windsor Park camping ground.

4   The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune, Monday, December 29, 1980

Mrs Fay Rohleder, Twyford Rd, holds a bundle of clothing as she prepares to leave the area in the family’s utility. The Rohleder’s house took the initial force of the flood yesterday morning.

Residents and spectators mingle in Twyford Rd watching the advance of yesterday’s flood.

Sheep were the major animal victims of yesterday’s flood at Twyford Rd and this morning when the water level dropped fencelines were littered with sheep carcasses as were these on Mr D. J. Brooker’s farm.

Some of the orchards in the Twyford area which were inundated by yesterday’s flood.

Three houses in the Twyford Rd area completely surrounded by water.

Looking back up the Ngaruroro River to the cause of the flooding, the breached stopbank on the far left of the picture.

The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune, Monday, December 29, 1980   5

Rampant river

A farm house and outbuildings completely surrounded by floodwaters at Twyford during the height of yesterday’s emergency.

Mrs Diane Galloway, Twyford Rd, checks the contents of her china cabinet on the silt-strewn floor of her lounge.

This was the scene at 11am yesterday as the swollen Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri Rivers passed under the rail and road bridges at Waitangi. The flooded rivers merged into one to punch a big opening into the sea.

So sudden was yesterday’s flood in the Twyford area that cars had to be abandoned where they were parked as water swirled through homes to depths of more than one metre.

Floodwater tore a concrete bridge from the road at Twyford yesterday afternoon and the only sign available to warn motorists was for tree felling.

6   The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune, Monday, December 29, 1980

Burst bank close call for CHB

The swollen Waipawa River yesterday carved a hole in its stopbank flooding 40 hectares of farmland at Ruataniwha, Central Hawke’s Bay.

The only property badly affected was Many Willows owned by Mr an Mrs Maurice Reidy.

However, if the stopbank had broken a little further upstream, thousands of acres of farmland could have been inundated.

Mr Reidy today said that it was the first time in 80 years that the river had come over into the property, which is situated on Swamp Rd 10km from Waipawa.

Yesterday morning the family had to pack their suitcases when water flooded 40 hectares and surrounded the farmhouse. The house remainded [remained] dry.

“We were lucky. We had plenty of warning, not like those poor souls in Twyford,” said Mrs Reidy.

“We woke at daybreak yesterday to find a piece out of the stopbank where it never washed out before.

“We tried sandbags, pushing shingle into the hole with heavy county machinery, but it was too late and pretty hopeless.

“It was just like pouring mud into a hole.”

The Reidys’ neighbours and catchment board staff had kept a wary eye on the stopbank on Saturday night.

Stock was moved to higher ground and catchment board staff pushed up willows alongside a usually troublesome spot in the stopbank for better protection.

But instead the stopbank broke a few hundred metres further down stream and the river flowed over the Reidy property in a “narrow lane.”

However, Mr Reidy said, if the stopbank had broken in the usually troublesome spot the river might have fanned out over thousands of acres of flat farmland.

“A lake might have formed between the Waipawa and Tukituki,” he said.

This morning the Reidys went back to start the massive job of cleaning up.

Some fences near the river have been ripped out and the drive resembled the bottom of a riverbed.

Staff from the catchment board office in Waipukurau are keeping a close watch on the Reidy property. The board is also checking the stopbanks of the Tukituki River where some scouring has occurred and were waiting for the water to recede so that damage could be properly assessed.

Surface flooding caused the closure of a number of roads in the Waipukurau district at the weekend, but the assistant-district engineer, Mr John Cooper, said there was no major damage in the are.

Hiranui, Maharakeke, Ashcott and Middle Rds were closed temporarily.

The heavy rainfall also caused several slips in the Haupuma riding, but Mr Cooper said he had not received any reports of flooding from the coastal areas.

Highway 50 was closed at the Waipawa River bridge at 4.30pm yesterday. It was still closed this afternoon.

The Tukituki River bridge over the highway was also closed because of a wash-out on the northern approach.

Minor slips and wash-outs were also reported throughout the Waipawa district, but the council has not closed any roads.


Factory flooded

Norsewear Industries factory at Norsewood was flooded to a depth of about five centimetres early on Sunday morning.

The water affected a considerable amount of the knitwear company’s warehouse.

The managing-director, Mr Olan Rian, said it was too soon to say how much damage the flood had caused.

He was hoping that spare electronic equipment that was soaked had escaped damage.

The flood was noticed early yesterday morning and the water was quickly cleared with the help of the Norsewood volunteer fire brigade and people from the town.

“About a 100 people, including some I have never seen before, turned up with buckets and mops to help clean the factory up and I am most grateful to them,” said Mr Rian.


Speedway pumped

Napier firemen yesterday pumped more than 160,000 litres (36,000 gallons) of water from the Meeanee speedway. Water covered half the track to a depth of about 15cm. The pumping job took about three hours.

Photo caption – A swollen Central Hawke’s Bay river comes close to topping the Ashcroft Rd bridge at the bottom of Pukeora Hill.

The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune, Monday, December 29, 1980   4

After the flood

Michael Porter (right), son of Mangleton farmer Mr Winton Porter, helps helicopter pilot Mr Lyn Wilson, Havelock North, unload supplies for flood victims. Michael has been stranded by flood waters on the Kereru side of the Ohara Stream and was airlifted home with relief supplies to his family.

Heavy rain during the Christmas period created havoc on sloping high country in Mangleton, causing debris to fall from hillsides on to the Mangleton Rd across the Tarapeke Gorge. The road’s normal path is depicted by a dotted line.

The Hawke’s Bay County Council’s chief engineer, Mr Dudley Hawkes (left), holds the door open for county chairman Mr M. E. Groome, as they prepare to board a helicopter to view the flood damage at Mangleton.

Above: Hawke’s Bay County Council’s works engineer, Mr Bill Goninon assesses damage on the Kereru side of the Ohara St[r]eam.

Three Hawke’s Bay County Council representatives inspect the gaping hole left by raging floodwaters in the Kereru Gorge Rd.

Above: Jim Christie (left), manager of Kereru Station, discusses airlift operations with helicopter crew at Kereru Station – base for yesterday’s moves to help stranded Mangleton flood victims.

Below: The swollen Ohara Stream tore away the Mangleton approach road to the stream’s bridge at the height of the flooding. The bridge remains intact but the damage left Mangleton farmers stranded.

Above:  The MP for Hawke’s Bay, Sir Richard Harrison (right), greets Mangleton farmers Jim Thompson (left) and Winton Porter (centre) – stranded victims of the weekend’s flooding.

Below: Floodwaters of the swollen Ohara Stream tore away road access to Mangleton, stranding about 16 families for nearly 50 hours before yesterday’s relief operation.

Above and below:  Stranded farmers and their families wait beside cars as the first relief supplies are flown by helicopter into the stricken Mangleton area.

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Only items relating to the flooding have been transcribed – HBKB

Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

29 December 1980


The Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Mike Aveling
  • Richard Ballach
  • Selwyn Begley
  • Gordon Beveridge
  • Stephen Brockett
  • David Brooker
  • Janine Cousens
  • Frank Curd
  • G G Ede
  • Vaughan Ellis
  • Rex Evans
  • Bob and Diane Galloway
  • Kim Garvey
  • W M Golden
  • M E Groome
  • David Hamilton
  • Sir Richard Harrison
  • Norman Hope
  • Neil Manning
  • K E McAuley
  • Clarrie Napier
  • Bridget Parker
  • Chief Inspector John Perring
  • Lance and Mrs Meg Peterson
  • Denise Rayner
  • Brian J Rohleder
  • Mrs Fay Rohleder
  • Ken Ross
  • Peter Simons
  • David Smith
  • Rory N Smith
  • F Sowden
  • Stuart Thomas
  • Judith Tresidder
  • John Trotter
  • Ian Tuston
  • Graham Velvin
  • Diane Walen
  • Brian Walker
  • Doug Walker
  • C C Watson
  • Ray Wattie
  • Doug Yule

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