Chaos as destructive winds slam into Auckland, cutting power, toppling trees and stopping all flights at Auckland Airport

Re-live 1 NEWS NOW's live updates as winds gusting up to 130km/h slammed into Auckland, shutting the airport, toppling trees and causing power outages across the city. 

12:50am:

This concludes the live updates for the evening. We will return with more coverage of the storm at 5am.

At this point Auckland Airport remains closed and has been since 9pm last night.

12:42am:

A tree felled by winds crushes a car in the Auckland suburb of Otahuhu.
A tree felled by winds crushes a car in the Auckland suburb of Otahuhu. Source: Jeremiah Sefesi

Another image from the destructive winds in Auckland. Luckily no one was inside this vehicle at the time.

12:35am:

A MetService spokesperson has told 1 NEWS that the strong winds in Auckland, Waikato and Coromandel should ease within the next 2-3 hours.

Although conditions are easing, some parts of Auckland are currently still seeing winds as strong as 110km/h. At the airport winds have been recorded at 80-90km/h.

They say the storm is expected to move down to the Bay of Plenty, but should weaken and be gone by the time people wake up.

12:23am: 

The true extent of damage around Auckland will be revealed in the daylight tomorrow, but judging by all the downed tree callouts it will be quite a scene.

11:50pm:

Fire and Emergency say they've received a total of 1350 emergency calls since 8pm from people throughout the entire country.  

11:43pm:

11:33pm:

1 NEWS has contacted Auckland Airport who say there have been no flights in or out since 9pm due to debris on the runway.

Flights coming in to land have all been diverted to Christchurch and there is no word yet on when the runway will re-open.

11:27pm:

A traveller has contacted 1 NEWS to say there is absolute chaos at Auckland Airport, with the runway shut by debris there are no flights able to get in or out.

11:15pm:

A downed tree on an Auckland road.
A downed tree on an Auckland road. Source: Jasper Nancekivel

Another example of the destructive winds sent in to 1 NEWS tonight.

11:12pm:

 A lot going on tonight for the emergency services!

11:10pm:

Vector says there are some 15,000 properties without power around Auckland tonight. 

11:05pm:

The runway is still closed at Auckland Airport which will lead to major delays for many travellers.

11:00pm:

10:50pm:

More from a stretched Fire Service: "A tree has fallen through the roof of a house in Stanley Point, and another has fallen through the roof of a home in Birkdale.

"Two trees have also toppled onto a house in Massey.

"A tree has taken out power lines on West Coast Road in Waiatarua.

"There are also reports of flooding in parts of Coromandel."

10:46pm:

A statement from the Fire Service: "Fire and Emergency New Zealand is receiving dozens of calls about trees toppling onto roads, power lines and homes in the Auckland region.

"Its Northern Communication Centre is being inundated with 111 calls due to the extremely strong winds hitting the region.

"They are dealing with more than 170 calls in Auckland and the wider Upper North Island area."

10:35pm:

NIWA is reporting wind gusts of up to 133km/h on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Take care if you're on the roads.

10:32pm:

Plenty of this around Auckland tonight!

10:15pm:

There's reports of a huge oak tree falling into a house in Massey Auckland. "Luckily no one was inside and emergency services are on the way," a Facebook user posted on the 1 NEWS NOW page.

10:08pm:

10:02pm:

Auckland Civil Defence warn that Auckland could expect "sustained, strong and damaging gales up to 120km/h".

They say to secure loose items, bring pets inside.

10:00pm

9:57pm

Reports of power outages all across Auckland now, from both sides of the bridge, including Te Atatu and Dairy Flat.

9:55pm

A fallen tree in St Cutberts Auckland as wild weather hits.
A fallen tree in St Cutberts Auckland as wild weather hits. Source: Supplied

A Ponsonby local said they saw three large trees down in Herne Bay, their car was hit by a branch and they accidentally drove over a piece of roof on Ponsonby Rd.  

9:50pm

Earlier today, tornadoes ripped through National Park, leaving a trail of destruction. It also left thousands without power in Taranaki.

9:48pm

A 1 NEWS cameraman says there are no traffic lights or street lights throughout the whole of Te Atatu making for dangerous driving conditions.

9:47pm

9:43pm

9.41pm 

Auckland Airport told 1 NEWS the runways are shut due to debris but the terminal remains open. So no flights in or out right now.

9.40pm

Suburbs Onehunga, Remuera and Westmere have no power.

9.39pm 

The high winds are beginning to disrupt signals, which include impacting TVNZ's Commonwealth Games coverage. 

9.30pm

West Auckland has been hit seriously by the storm with reports of roofs coming off, windows smashing and trees coming down onto cars.

The worst hit areas appear to be coastal as well as Glen Eden.

Storm clouds

Wild winds in Auckland are disrupting flights and traffic, with NIWA reporting gusts of over 100km/h. 

Flights have been stopped at Auckland Airport, with some flights diverted, report Stuff. 

There have been reports of power outages across Auckland.  




Auckland hospitals write off $53m in treatment costs for overseas patients

Three Auckland district health boards have written off debts of $53.5 million run up by ineligible overseas patients in the past five years.

Counties Manukau wrote off $31m, having recouped only a third of treatment costs from patients themselves and their insurers.

A spokesperson said it appeared more people were visiting its area with existing health conditions and without medical insurance.

As of last month, 10 patients were receiving dialysis at the Counties Manukau DHB, with a total patient debt of more than $1.7m.

A spokesperson said patients requiring treatment for an acute injury or illness were treated, regardless of their eligibility for funded services, and unrecovered costs were passed to a debt collection agency.

At Auckland DHB, more than 100 ineligible patients are seen each year at its Greenlane eye clinic alone.

The DHB had more than $14.5m of unpaid treatment costs of which $10.9m was paid for by the Ministry of Health and $3.6m by the DHB itself.

Some patients repay money owing, either personally or through insurance policies.

Auckland and Counties Manukau receive partial refunds from the Ministry of Health because of the extent of their debts. The DHBs pay for the rest of the debt out of their general operating budget.

Waitemata DHB, which wrote off $8m, gets no extra from the ministry.

Counties Manukau said it received $3.6 million this year to recognise the unpaid debts.

The health board had a higher proportion of non-eligible patients than other regions, but it wasn't clear why, a spokesperson said in a statement.

"However, many people in our community are in New Zealand on visas and/or on a short-stay basis. This includes a large new-immigrant community, people with extended family visiting from overseas, particularly from the Pacific, and people travelling via Auckland International airport.

"It is possible, (but not provable) that in our district, more people are visiting with already compromised health status, delay seeking early medical care, do not understand where to access healthcare in NZ, are here without travel/medical insurance to cover medical costs during their stay, and/or have immigration sponsors with their own limited financial resources."

By Gill Bonnett

rnz.co.nz

Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitemata DHBs had $53m in unpaid treatment costs to overseas patients in the last five years. (Dan Cook) Source: rnz.co.nz

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Police chases remain close to all-time high, but crash numbers are falling

A more cautious approach by New Zealand Police towards chasing fleeing drivers may be leading to fewer crashes, but the total number of chases remains close to an all-time high.

Half-year statistics released this month by police suggest the number of pursuits taking place is similar to last year, while the number abandoned has increased and the number of crashes has dropped by about 10 per cent.

Fleeing driver incidents have been in the spotlight in recent years, with their number increasing by 64 per cent between 2013 and 2017, going from 2308 chases in a year up to 3796.

Police adopted a more cautious approach to chases two years ago, including leaving the decision to continue or abandon a chase in the hands of a pursuit controller at the station rather than the officer driving.

The chase forced a police officer to run for his life as the car swerved to the wrong side of the road Source: 1 NEWS

The statistics detail the number of incidents, abandonments and crashes in the first six months of 2018 to June 30.

Incidents are steady, with 1892 chases recorded. If they continue at that rate, the 2018 total will be 3784 - just 12 fewer than last year.

A graph showing the number of police pursuit (fleeing driver) incidents per year. Data source is NZ Police, graph by 1 NEWS.
A graph showing the number of police pursuit (fleeing driver) incidents per year. Data source is NZ Police, graph by 1 NEWS. Source: 1 NEWS/NZ Police

Abandonments are up about six per cent, with 1119 chases called off up to June 30. That makes the end-of-year projection about 2238, compared with last year's 2105.

The number of crashes in relation to chases has fallen by about 10 per cent. There were 283 in the first half of this year, giving a projected total of 566 for the year - considerably down from 2017's total of 626.

The numbers suggest police will abandon almost 60 per cent of chases this year for safety reasons, up from about 55 per cent last year.

There were 12 deaths last year that involved police pursuits, and there have already been eight deaths in the first half of 2018.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating the fatal incident, while Road Policing Manager Steve Greally says more people are failing to wear a seat belt.
Road Policing Manager Steve Greally. Source: 1 NEWS

Superintendent Steve Greally, the national road policing manager, said police use robust processes to assess the risks posed by chasing a fleeing driver.

"The decision whether to start, continue or abandon a pursuit of a fleeing driver is based on police’s risk assessment tool, TENR (Threat-Exposure-Necessity-Response)," he said.

"Police will abandon a pursuit if the risk is assessed as too dangerous ... This is continually reassessed throughout the incident."

Mr Greally said the fact that more people have chosen to flee from police over the past few years is disappointing.

Three people were taken to hospital after the crash, which happened after an hour-long chase. Source: Tony Alexander

"The one thing we want everybody to understand is if they're signalled by police to stop, they should pull over and stop ... It is not worth putting your life, your passenger's life or anyone else's life at risk.

"Whatever it is that you think you will get in trouble for that is making you decide to flee from police, we can always talk about it."

Police's pursuit policy is currently being reviewed by the Independent Police Conduct Authority for the seventh time in the past 20 years.

A report is expected before the end of the year.

It comes as the chase policy is reviewed by the police watchdog, with eight deaths already this year. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Air NZ unveils new Airbuses packed with 46 more seats, wi-fi and bigger screens

Air New Zealand has unveiled its new Airbuses, which will begin joining the fleet later this year.

The Kiwi carrier confirmed today 20 planes, including seven A321neo (new engine option) and six A320neo aircraft, will replace the current A320 fleet that operates Tasman and Pacific Island services. Flights start in mid-November.

The remaining seven A321neo planes will be used for "anticipated domestic network growth", the company said in a statement.

The A321neo aircraft feature a new layout with 214 seats - 46 more than the current international A32 fleet Air NZ is using.

Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon said the new fleet, which is worth approximately $2.8 billion, is a significant step for the airline's short haul approach.

"Australia and the Pacific Islands are a vitally important part of our Pacific Rim network," he said.

"These new aircraft are key to enabling us to grow our short-haul network while offering our customers a great in-flight experience."

Air NZ also said customer feedback played a significant role in the fleet's new-look cabin interior.

Seats are 3cm wider at the middle seat and 1cm wider on the aisle and window.

Other enhancements include around 25 per cent more overhead locker space, a new in-flight entertainment system with a larger 10-inch screen, high power USB charging points and wi-fi connectivity.

"We extensively tested and refined the neo in-flight experience with customers to ensure we could incorporate their feedback while meeting regulatory and operating requirements and we're confident we’ve delivered an in-flight experience our customers are going to enjoy," Mr Luxon said.

The first two A321neo planes will enter commercial service in mid-November, while the first A320neo is scheduled to debut in February next year.

Remaining aircraft will join the fleet throughout 2019, with the domestic A321neo aeroplanes expected to be delivered between 2020 and 2024.

Air New Zealand's new A321 Airubuses will enter commercial service in mid-November.
Air New Zealand's new A321 Airubuses will enter commercial service in mid-November. Source: Air New Zealand


Police name man killed in crash near Gisborne on Friday

The man who died following the crash on State Highway 35 near Gisborne last Friday has been named as Waylon Rerekura.

The 34-year-old from Gisborne died at the scene following a crash between a car and a truck on Friday night. 

Police car
Police car Source: 1 NEWS