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By Finau Fonua, RNZ Pacific journalist

Many Pasifika families affected by the flash floods and torrential rainfall that have lashed New Zealand’s North Island over the past few days were braced for more bad weather overnight.

With four people dead and hundreds forced out of their homes over the weekend a state of emergency remained in force for Auckland and one has also now been issued for Northland.

The predominately Pasifika neighbourhood of Māngere is among the worst affected areas in Auckland.

Streets throughout the suburb were submerged after torrential rain last Friday caused rivers to overflow their banks.

Māngere resident Louisa Opetaia said the water rose so suddenly that it rapidly flooded her entire home while she was still asleep.

“When I got home from work, I took a nap at about 7.30pm. When I woke up an hour later and I got off my bed, I splashed into water,” said Opetaia.

“It was already halfway up my calf and up to my knee, and the three rooms in my house were flooded,” she added.

Emergency centres were quickly set up, providing supplies and temporary shelter over the weekend and even now to the dozens of families displaced by the floods.

One of the busiest centres is the Māngere Memorial Hall in Manukau.

Flooded Mangere home, Louisa Opetaia
A flooded home in South Auckland’s Māngere. Image: Louisa Opetaia/RNZ

Auckland city councillor Alf Filipaina, who has been helping to organise relief efforts, said many families continued to arrive at the hall on Tuesday, requiring basic goods and household items ruined by the floods.

“Heaps of families have been affected and we’ve been working tirelessly,” said Filipaina.

“We’ve had all the groups here from KaingaOra, the Fono, Ministry of Social Development and others. They’re all here helping people,” he said.

“We’ll be open 24/7 for people who also want a roof over their heads.”

Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina at the community hub at Māngere Tuesday 31 January 2023
Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina at the Māngere Centre. Image: Felix Walton/RNZ Pacific

Filipaina said that some families were in a desperate situation, being forced out of their homes and having lost most of their possessions, including even their vehicles.

“There are people who need financial assistance,” said Filipaina.

“Some of them have lost everything, and we can only give what donations and goods that we have,” he explained.

The community response has been swift in Manukau with various agencies and good Samaritans donating goods and providing services, including from local heroes such as David Tua and All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi.

“People are always offering to help,” Louisa Opetaia said.

“People have been taking our laundry to the laundromat for us, which is really helpful, and we’ve received a lot of food. That’s what I love about our Pasifika community in Māngere, everyone comes together when people need help.

“We were able to talk to Ministry of Social Development at the Māngere Memorial Hall. I’m not on the benefit so I wasn’t sure if I would qualify for any help but I do.”

Flood relief at the Mangere Memorial Hall.
Flood relief at the Māngere Memorial Hall. Image: Angus Dreaver/RNZ Pacific

Opetaia said she was now moving out of her house as it was too hazardous to live there.

She said the biggest challenge for her at the moment was getting rid of damaged furniture drenched and ruined by the floods.

“We are trying to get the council to help us get a skip bin so that we can throw anything that was affected by the flood waters, and we have a big pile of stuff at the moment,” Opetaia said.

“I understand that there a lot of people who are more severely affected than us. We do need help but at the same time we are grateful because we are in a better situation than others.”

Furniture damaged by flash flooding
Furniture damaged by flash flooding in Māngere. Image: Louisa Opetaia/RNZ Pacific

Meanwhile, according to the NZ Metservice many Aucklanders living south of Orewa may not see heavy rain last night — but localised downpours were still forecast for some.

Meteorologist Georgina Griffiths told RNZ Checkpoint that the key danger was rain falling on saturated soil making the region flood quickly.

But she predicted some parts of the city would escape a deluge.

Georgina Griffiths said Auckland was nearly out of the woods, with a drier weekend forecast and a dry week from Tuesday.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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