Jan 28 2023

‘You have to communicate facts’: Brown criticises councillors for speaking out

Mayor Wayne Brown and principal advisor Jenny Marcroft (right) set up the first Auckland Council meeting. (Photo: Jason Dorday/Stuff)

Wayne Brown has doubled down on his decision last night to shun the media until close to midnight and only order a state of emergency at 9.30pm.

In a defensive display to the media this afternoon, the Auckland mayor was questioned on comments other councillors made last night, including some who called for a state of emergency to be called earlier.

“One or two of our councillors chose to communicate but there’s no sense communicating things that are just your view, you have to communicate facts and the facts were coming from [CDNZ] and I’m driven by that,” Brown said. “In fact the feedback we got that there was a problem in South Auckland was customers of a business that I own, way before some of the councillors started tossing their… what we need to do is be calm, sensible.

“Some of the stuff that came from some of those people that wanted to communicate stuff that they didn’t know let people think that the declaration [of a local emergency] was needed for work to be done. The other part about it is we have perhaps too many spokespersons for the council. At other councils, I would give those [messages] but if everyone else wants to compete with you, that in itself is confusing.

“If I can be drowned out by other people then they’re not going to hear what I’m saying.”

Three deaths linked to floods; Brown defends emergency response

PM Chris Hipkins surveys damage in Auckland (Photo: Supplied)

Prime minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed there are three deaths linked to the extreme weather event in Auckland over the past 24 hours. There is also at least one person missing.

Speaking at a press conference in Auckland, Hipkins said the priority was to make sure Aucklanders were safe, housed and had access to all emergency services.

“The MetService has confirmed that yesterday was Auckland’s wettest day on record,” said Hipkins. “We want to ensure that Auckland’s infrastructure is back up and running as quickly as possible.”

It’s clear that it’s going to be a big clean up job, the prime minister said. “The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic.” Hipkins reminded Aucklanders to stay out of the floodwater, and away from the beach, saying more rain has been forecast. “It’s safer to be inside than out at the moment,” he said.

Most supermarkets are open in the city – just four have been closed. “Shop normally, there is no need to panic buy,” said Hipkins.

For anyone who night need MSD support, such as for food, bedding or clothes, they can contact 0800 400 100 between 7am and 5pm. Kainga Ora received 103 calls overnight.

PM Chris Hipkins surveys flooding in Auckland (Supplied)

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown acknowledged how difficult last night was for many people and paid tribute to those who had lost their lives. On the emergency response, Brown once again defended the speed with which the state of emergency was declared. “Everybody was out there way before and stayed out all night,” he said.

A review of the communication and coordination of emergency services will be taken. “There are a lot of lessons to be learned,” he said. “We will take our time to do that. But be absolutely sure, we will review everything from this storm.”

Media were quick to – once again – query the speed of the emergency response. Hipkins would not second guess the decisions made, and Brown remained defensive of his decisions.

Asked why no emergency text was sent to Auckland residents, a spokesperson said the event was “beyond anything we had every seen” and the focus was on the safety of people at risk. There was a “crisis within a crisis” due to emergency housing options being compromised by the flood water.

Similar to his late night press conference yesterday, Brown once again reiterated that he followed the “leadership of the professionals” in making the decision to declare a state of emergency. “It’s not something you do lightly. I followed the advice of those who do it regularly.”

Brown was asked why he chose not to “say” anything overnight – by shunning social media and not holding a press conference until close to midnight. Auckland Emergency Management duty controller Andrew Clark chose to answer this despite the question being directed at mayor Brown.

On the communications (or lack thereof) overnight, Hipkins added: “I accept that people will have question…there’ll be an appropriate time to go through those things. At the moment I want [the mayor and emergency management] focused on the response. Undoubtedly, when this is reviewed there’ll be lessons to learn from the experience.”

Brown, continuing to be defensive, said there was no sense communicating things that were “just your view”. This came after a question referencing councillor Jo Bartley, who had called for a state of emergency to be declared earlier. “You have to communicate facts,” Brown said.

Watch live: PM Hipkins to speak after surveying Auckland damage

PM Chris Hipkins speaks in Auckland (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Chris Hipkins has experienced his first major event as prime minister, just days into his tenure. He’s spent the day in Auckland alongside emergency services, surveying the damage and assessing next steps.

He’s due to speak at 3.15pm alongside Auckland mayor Wayne Brown.

Thanks to Stuff, here is a livestream.

‘Heartbreaking decision’: Laneway Festival officially cancelled

Laneway in its previous home in Albert Park. Photo: Supplied

Due to the “unprecedented weather event” in Auckland, organisers have confirmed the “heartbreaking decision” to cancel this year’s Laneway Festival.

“We were so excited to deliver this show to our biggest crowd ever in New Zealand, our team has been working around the clock to do everything they can to salvage the site, but the damage and disruption caused by the weather has meant it is no longer safe to proceed.”

Refunds will be issued soon.

How to clean up after a flood


With the rain easing for a moment, many will be beginning the arduous task of cleaning out their flooded property. Auckland council has release advice for cleaning up after a flood.

Cleaning up after a flood

It is important to clean and dry your house and everything in it. Floodwater may contain sewage and other hazardous materials which can contaminate your home.

  • If your gas meter has been affected by water or debris, contact your gas supplier.
  • Always work safely when cleaning up after a flood by wearing protective clothing and washing hands thoroughly after clean-up and before handling food.
  • Keep children and animals away from previously flooded areas until they have been cleaned and made safe.
  • Take photos and videos of the damage and anything that needs to be thrown away before starting the clean-up, for insurance purposes.
  • Clean up, drain, and dry inside as quickly as possible. Take out everything that is wet and that can be moved – floor coverings, furniture, bedding, clothing, etc., and put them outside to dry when the weather is fine.
  • Throw away all food and drinking water that has come in contact with floodwater, including things stored in containers.
  • Do not eat garden produce if the soil has been flooded. Clean up and remove debris and sprinkle gardens with lime (which can be purchased at garden centres).

Air NZ: ‘It might take a few days to get everything back on track’

The gates at Auckland Airport (Josie Adams)

Air New Zealand Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan says the airline’s domestic flights in and out of Auckland resumed from 12pm today as Auckland Airport re-opens.

But he said with a backlog of flights and customers, the priority is those who need to travel urgently. “Those who don’t have urgent travel are being encouraged to make full use of our flexibility policies,” says Morgan.

The international terminal is scheduled to open from 5pm today, but Air New Zealand has advised there is still a lot of work to do to assess whether flying its scheduled departures tonight is possible.

“International flights in and out of Auckland are more complex than domestic, with many parts of the aviation ecosystem needing to be ready as well. This includes airport security, systems to ticket and process customers, and biosecurity and baggage operations.

“The flooding has had a huge impact our Auckland operations. It might take a few days to get everything back on track, and we thank our customers in advance for their patience and understanding during this challenging time.”

An update on the airline’s international flights will be made later today.

No decision on Auckland’s Laneway Festival

Denzel Curry performs at the Laneway music festival in Auckland. Photo: Getty

Festival-goers holding on hope for Laneway, set to take place at Western Springs on Monday, will have to wait a bit longer for an official update.

A brief post on Facebook this afternoon stated: “Safety is Laneway Festival’s number one priority. With the large weather event Auckland is currently experiencing, our teams are working closely with local authorities and will provide updates as soon as possible.”

The statement provoked a mixed reaction on social media, with calls for certainty – especially for those travelling from out of town. “Please just cancel it and refund, a lot of people’s flights have already been cancelled,” wrote one punter. Another simply said: “Let’s party in the rain! Fuck it”

A Laneway source earlier told The Spinoff that an assessment was taking place at the sodden venue ahead of a final decision being made.

Meanwhile, Elton John has cancelled both his scheduled Auckland gigs, and the One Love Festival was also scrapped.

‘Will be interesting to see how well prepared Wellington is when the earthquake strikes’ – Wayne Brown

Wayne Brown signing the state of emergency declaration, in a photograph provided by the mayor’s office.

Wayne Brown has defended the timing of a declaration of a state of emergency last night following record rainfall in Auckland. “The state of emergency is a prescribed process, it’s quite formal, and I had to wait until I had the official request from the emergency management centre. The moment I got it I signed it,” he said in an interview with Kim Hill on RNZ. Responding to criticisms online, he said: “The decisions are guided from the professional experts in the field rather than just from Twitter.”

He was unaware whether any text alerts had been sent to Auckland residents and unable to advise on the safety of drinking water. (For the record, the official advice is “Watercare’s water treatment plants are operating and your water is safe to drink.”)

Asked whether Auckland had been sufficiently prepared for such an emergency, Brown countered with a reference to the capital city.

Hill: “New Zealand’s biggest city … This level of inability to cope is terrifying, isn’t it?”

Brown: “It’s definitely worrying. But this is an unprecedented event. It will be interesting to see just how well prepared Wellington is when the earthquake strikes.”

Hill: “That’s a low blow under the circumstances, Mr Brown.”

Brown: “I’m just suggesting people rise to the occasion. We will be having a review afterwards to see what could have been done better.”

Wayne Brown signing the state of emergency declaration, in a photograph provided by the mayor’s office

Emergency management minister Kieran McAnulty told Hill: “What we do know is there are dozens of people in evacuation centres, but I’m pleased it’s dozens not hundreds.” He urged residents to stay at home if possible. He said a series of floods in recent months revealed the impact of climate change, “a reality we have to face up to.”

‘I’m so sorry’: Elton John cancels Auckland shows

Elton John (Image: Supplied)

After the 11th hour cancellation last night, Elton John has cancelled the second concert of his farewell tour at Mt Smart, which had been scheduled for this evening.

In a statement, John said:

“Following the instruction of the emergency services, we have no option but to cancel tonight’s show in Auckland. Two years ago, I was devastated to have to reschedule my final New Zealand shows and was committed to fulfilling my promise of returning to say a final farewell. This is a very difficult decision which doesn’t come lightly and I’m so sorry to all my fans who bought tickets. Cancelling shows is always the very last resort but we have to think of my team, the venue staff and fan safety. ​

“​Vendors will be in touch regarding refunds and in the meantime my thoughts are with everyone in Auckland during this extreme weather. Please stay safe. ​Much love, ​Elton.”

Elton John (Image: Supplied)

Jacinda Ardern posts message to constituents


The member of parliament for Mt Albert, Jacinda Ardern, has posted a message on Facebook following the flooding in Auckland.

“I’m very conscious that it’s been a while since I posted, and there have been a few big things happening. But today the most important thing is everyone’s wellbeing and safety – especially across Auckland after such a severe weather event. So this is a post from the MP for Mt Albert!” she wrote, attaching official advice with a hat-tip to Auckland councillor Richard Hills, who has been up most of the night sharing information on social media (thread here). “I’ll be sure to post any updates that come through. Till then, stay safe everyone.”

Given the circumstances Ardern can be forgiven for a Facebook profile that still reads “Prime Minister of New Zealand. Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party.”

Meanwhile Ardern’s successor as prime minister has boarded a flight to Auckland, where he will receive a briefing from emergency services and visit affected parts of the city.

Chris Hipkins boards a Hercules bound for Auckland. Photograph: Thomas Coughlan/Pool/NZ Herald

No international arrivals at Auckland Airport today

Flooding of the runway, the check-in and arrivals areas on the ground floor and surrounding roads has disrupted operations at Auckland International, halting all departures until at least 5pm today, with no arrivals before 4:30am tomorrow. “People are asked not to come to the International Terminal at this time for travel and please contact your airline for information about your flight,” said an airport spokesperson.

Domestic operations have been paused until at least noon today. “It’s been a long and challenging night at Auckland Airport, we thank everyone for ongoing patience,” said the spokesperson.

Air New Zealand diverted 12 international flights to other airports overnight. “This will cause significant flow on effects while the airline works through getting customers on those services to their original destinations and our crew and planes back where they need to be. This may take a few days to recover,” said a spokesperson.

Anyone with non-urgent travel on Air NZ between now and Monday is advised to consider hold their fare in credit or rebooking.

Insurance claims in Auckland already top 1,000

Flooding in Auckland. Photo: Sarah Brady

New Zealand’s largest insurance group, IAG, says it is on track to receive more than 1,100 claims from Aucklanders by lunchtime after the city was deluged in the wettest day on record. Those claims, said the group which includes AMI, State and NZI Insurance, span property damage to homes and businesses and flooded vehicles. “We expect that number to rise as customers are able to assess damage, and people who have been evacuated are able to safely return home,” said spokesperson Wayne Tippet.

He said: “We encourage customers who are safe and out of immediate danger to contact us online or over the phone so we can provide support and lodge claims. We will have our assessors on the ground in affected areas as soon as it is safe to do so. If you are outside of the affected region and have a non-weather related or urgent claim, please hold off from contacting us today.”

What’s happening with Elton John, Laneway, Festival One and One Love? Updated

The rampant flooding in Auckland didn’t just detonate its provincial public holiday weekend – it coincided with the biggest weekend of the year to date for live events. A pair of Elton John concerts at Mt Smart stadium had a combined capacity of over 80,000, while both Laneway at Western Springs and Tauranga’s One Love festival were expecting more than 20,000 apiece, and a large Christian music festival was scheduled to take place outside Hamilton. The storm and scale of disruption is a bitter blow to the events industry, which has endured three years of immense disruptions due to Covid. 

Elton John

The first show, scheduled for Friday, was cancelled after gates were open and less than half an hour before the singer was due on stage. Today’s was cancelled a little after 11.30am, following deliberations through the morning. In a statement, organisers said “weather conditions at the stadium drastically worsened”, leaving promoters “no possible option” but to cancel the second show too.

One Love and Festival One

Organisers announced that One Love, the annual reggae-centric festival, featuring UB40, L.A.B. and Sean Kingston, has been cancelled due to heavy rain.

“One Love family, it pains us to make this announcement. The rough weather last night and this morning has caused chaos, and there is no sign of it easing up over the weekend,” the organisers wrote on Facebook. “From site flooding, to high winds, to artists being stuck in Auckland, thunderstorms predicted and heavy rain tomorrow as well, we are unable to safely and logistically deliver One Love 2023. This, along with the State of Emergency that was declared for Auckland last night has to be taken into account when considering your safety, along with the safety of our artists and crew. A total of 40 per cent of our ticket holders are from Auckland.”

Festival One, a Christian music festival headlined by Switchfoot Karapiro in the Waikato, has also announced that it won’t be going ahead.


Scheduled for Monday, Laneway has a little more leeway than the Saturday events. A festival source who asked not to be named told The Spinoff that “assessments are taking place” at the site in Western Springs. No decision has been made yet, they said, with “punter health and safety the key concern”. 

Opera in the Park

Auckland Council/NZ Opera’s Opera in the Park, which was originally scheduled for tonight, has been postponed to March 4.

‘Auckland was clobbered’: latest advice from emergency services after wettest day on record

Flooding in Wynyard Quarter, Auckland. (Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

Auckland is beginning a clean-up after its wettest day since records began. “Auckland was clobbered on Friday,” said emergency management duty controller Andrew Clark. “We won’t start to get a good idea of numbers affected until later today and, even then, this will take time, with information still coming in and many assessments to complete.”

He said: “We understand Aucklanders will be anxious to return to their homes to survey the damage, but we urge them to do so with caution. Please do not drive through floodwaters and remember hazards and debris could lurk beneath the surface, and floodwaters may be contaminated. If your property has been damaged, please take pictures for your insurance company and contact them as soon as you can.”

Civil Defence Centres are operating in Kelston (St Leonards Road School, 15 Saint Leonards Road), Albany (Massey University Albany Campus, Sir Neil Walters Lecture Theatre) and Randwick Park (Mana Tukutuku, 32 Riverton Drive). Eventfinda Stadium on the North Shore is no longer being used due to flooding.

To report flooding, damage to drains, or stormwater issues, go here. For urgent accommodation requests, call 0800 22 22 00.

Water supply and wastewater 

Watercare’s water treatment plants are operating and water is safe to drink, say officials. Those in Titirangi, Woodlands Park, Oratia, Greenbay, Waima and elevated sections of Scenic Drive are likely to have no water or low water pressure for at least the next 48 hours.

A 30-metre length of water pipe that ran on Scenic Drive in Titirangi was washed away with the road due to a landslide. “It will be challenging to repair due to the extent of the damage and access to the site. Watercare is sending out water tankers to the area. Customers will be able to fill up their water bottles from the tankers.

Residents on the North Shore are being asked to minimise water use. “Please keep your showers short and do not use your washing machines. This is to reduce the volume of wastewater leaving your properties.”

A wastewater pump station on Wairau Road that serves a number of North Shore suburbs has flooded. “This means the pump station is overflowing into a nearby waterway. The wastewater networks and treatment plants have been overwhelmed by stormwater, causing numerous overflows across Auckland. Watercare is prioritising overflows that are damaging private property. Most of the clean-up activity will need to occur when the rain stops, as this is when the overflows will stop flowing.”

For more on water provision see here.

Hipkins flies to Auckland

The prime minister, Chris Hipkins, is travelling to Auckland after devastating floods hit the city overnight. With the airport out of operation until at least midday, he is landing at Whenuapai air base on a New Zealand Defence Force Hercules aircraft from Wellington.

Chris Hipkins summons Beehive bunker in response to Auckland floods

New Zealand’s new prime minister, Chris Hipkins, is formally facing down an emergency just a few days after being sworn in, summoning the National Crisis Management Centre to the Beehive.

The recently elected mayor of Auckland, Wayne Brown, fronted a press conference late on Friday night, defending his timing on calling a state of emergency, insisting expert advice had been followed and saying: “this is not something [on which] you can just respond to the clamour of the public.”

Auckland airport flood: latest flight information, options for Air NZ ticket holders

(Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

As Auckland tackles severe floods and the city’s airport emerges from a deluge on both the runway and in terminals, Air New Zealand has confirmed that no flights will leave or arrive before noon on Saturday at the earliest. In a statement, the airline said anyone booked for a flight between now and Monday would be able to reschedule or request a credit for the fare.

“Information on when flights recommence from Auckland will be provided when there is clarity around the operation of the domestic and international terminals,” is the Air NZ advice. “Customers ticketed to travel between now and Monday 30 January for flights to, through and from Auckland have two options. They can choose to hold the value of their fare in credit for 12 months, from the time they request a credit. Alternatively, those booked to travel on affected flights can transfer their travel to another date or destination up to and including Monday 6 February.”

The Air New Zealand statement echoes advice from the airport that downpours mean no flights will be arriving or departing until noon on Saturday at the earliest. Images shared on social media show the ground floor of the international terminal, where check-in terminals for airlines including Air NZ, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Emirates, Thai Airways, Jetstar, foot-deep in water.

The latest airport information is here. For Air NZ travelers, your best bet is to check here for Air NZ alerts or see what your options are with your flight here.

Earlier in the day, flights were delayed after an incoming aircraft damaged runway lighting.