Get the raincoats ready! Cyclone Hola barreling towards Northland bringing torrential rain and high winds - BOP, Coromandel and Auckland also set to be hit

Severe weather warnings and watches are in place for the northeast of the North Island as Cyclone Hola skirts the top of the country tonight.

MetService says Hola will bring severe gale force winds and heavy rain to northern and eastern areas of the North Island during Monday and the early hours of Tuesday.

It could cause coastal inundation for eastern areas from Northland to western Bay of Plenty including Gisborne as well. 

The heaviest rain is expected in Northland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.

Auckland may also feel the effects.

Rain accumulations of as much as 150mm and wind gusts of up to 130km/h are forecast for eastern regions from Northland to northern Hawke's Bay.

Gale southeasterlies are expected to develop from early Monday morning, then changing southwesterly during the afternoon and evening. 

The strongest winds are expected in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.

"The heavy rain could bring some slips, it could bring some localised flooding. And with those stronger winds we could find it makes it a lot more hazardous for driving as well," MetService meteorologist John Law told 1 NEWS tonight.

Forecasters have issued severe weather warnings and watches for the northeast of the North Island. Source: 1 NEWS

"So it's always worth being prepared for that severe weather," he said.

"For the northern half of the country, a pretty unsettled start to the week."

Cyclone Hola was a Category 2 system on Sunday morning and described as "compact but fast moving". 

Heavy rain could cause temporary flooding, and rivers to rise rapidly, while strong winds have the potential to cause damage to powerlines and unsecured items, MetService warns. 

Heavy sea swell is also expected over the eastern coastline from Northland through to Gisborne on Monday. Strong onshore winds will also add to the wave heights for Coromandel Peninsula and Gisborne. 

WeatherWatch said the storm runs parallel to a line that runs from Northland to Coromandel Peninsula towards East Cape. 

"The East Cape has the highest chance of the centre coming in," it said.

"At the moment a direct landfall in New Zealand (when the very centre crosses land) looks less likely - but is very close in the current modelling."

The storm surge with Hola is significant with current wave heights of nine metres at sea, the forecaster said.

WeatherWatch said the centre should be a few hundred kilometres north of Northland by midnight Sunday, with the storm tracking from the north west to the south east. 

NIWA's regional modelling indicated that Cyclone Hola's strongest wind gusts will remain offshore on Monday. 

Gusts could exceed 70 km/h in east coastal Northland, Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel, coastal Bay of Plenty and the Gisborne ranges as Hola passes offshore, NIWA said.

The cyclone hit New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands on Saturday, having earlier caused extensive damage and at least one death in Vanuatu.


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Versions of synthetic cannabis in New Zealand up to 10 times stronger than strain that saw US 'zombie outbreak'

Experts are warning there are deadlier versions of synthetic cannabis available in New Zealand which are much more potent than the one which caused the so-called zombie outbreaks in the US.

The Government's been told two deadly types of synthetic cannabis are so potent they should be classified as class A drugs.

One of these drugs has been linked to a well-known case that rocked the United States in 2016.

"The concentrations we're seeing in New Zealand are much more potent than what we saw in the Zombie outbreak in New York," Health Minister David Clark says.

In some instances, the drugs found here were 10 times stronger.

The news comes after synthetic cannabis was linked to the deaths of at least 45 people since June 2017.

"I don't think we ever anticipated we'd get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm," Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS.

Synthetic cannabis is already illegal - but the maximum punishment for dealers is two years in prison.

Making synthetic cannabis a class A drug would put it alongside methamphetamine, cocaine, magic mushrooms and lsd.

This would mean the police would have more power and the penalties would be significantly tougher for dealers and users.

The Government says it will make a decision on synthetic drugs in the coming weeks.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Wellington bus network changes to be reviewed after council bombarded with complaints

Wellington's new bus network will be independently reviewed after ongoing complaints of buses being late, too full to board or not showing up at all.

The regional council today voted today to have the system reviewed and the results reported back by December.

Since the system was changed in July the council has been bombarded with complaints.

Councillors have also asked officers to change a route so that it began and ended in Kilbirnie, as it previously did, and for feedback on whether some other routes can be changed.

Regional council chief executive Greg Campbell said he took full responsibility for fixing the network's problems.

He said the review needed to be done quickly.

"Any commuter that is left stranded, or a bus that is late, that is of extreme concern. We have to get a clear view of what is happening. What an independent review can really do - particularly for management and council - is give a view of what has happened and articulate that well."

At the beginning of the meeting several Wellington residents addressed the council to let it know they were still unhappy with the new bus routes.

A Wellington principal said the recent re-jig of the routes was making his students late for class and putting them in danger.

St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie's rector Neal Swindells told this morning's meeting about 100-150 boys were using the new service.

"Currently our two 753 buses from the station in the afternoon are significantly overloaded and are unsafe. On Monday this week, they were both loaded to the gunnels and there were 30-odd students who couldn't get on. So what they do is they cross the road to catch the new 24 bus, which by the time it leaves St Pat's now is also overfull."

rnz.co.nz

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown. Source: rnz.co.nz

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Motorcyclist in critical condition after crash near Upper Hutt

A serious crash has left a motorcyclist in critical condition and caused a section of State Highway 2 to close for a time near Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Police say a motorcyclist hit a barrier at Kaitoke this afternoon about 4:30pm.

The male rider was taken to hospital via helicopter in a critical condition.

The road at SH2 Kaitoke, Upper Hutt is now open again after closing for a time.


A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS


Government reveals details of emails between Clare Curran and Derek Handley

Details of the email exchange between former Digital Services Minister Clare Curran and Derek Handley were revealed today during Parliament's Question Time. 

Ms Curran said she was not aware of RNZ's policies surrounding meetings with Minister's at the time.
Source: 1 NEWS

The messages were sent over the role of chief technology officer, with Ms Curran using her private Gmail account to send the emails. 

An offer to Mr Handley for the role was retracted by the Government last week, resulting in a $100,000 pay out to the entrepreneur. 

Acting State Services Minister Grant Robertson told the House the following about three exchanges between the pair about the role. 

First exchange

August 11: 

"Derek Handley emails Clare Curran about the chief technology officer position and questions about the role of the CTO, including resourcing for the role and potential conflicts of interest."

August 14

"Clare Curran replies to that email, confirming a call to discuss these matters."

August 15

"Derek Handley replies to that, confirming times for the call."

Second exchange

August 19

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding logistics around the next step on the process of appointment, including the content of any public statements that might be made, and refers to contract discussions with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)."

August 20

"Derek Handley responds to that email to Clare Curran about those issues, including the contact he has had with DIA and management of conflicts of interest."

Third exchange

August 21

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding issues that would be on the work plan of the chief technology officer and attaches some relevant background documents on those issues.

"On the same day, Derek Handley responds to Clare Curran, acknowledging the material and referring to the discussions that he is having with DIA."

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled. Source: 1 NEWS

The chief technology officer was intended to "drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand", said the then Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran, when the role was announced last December. 

The new Minister for Government Digital Services Megan Woods said the Government have put a "full stop" on the process.

Ms Curran was stripped of her position as Minister for Government Digital Services after not disclosing a meeting with Mr Handley previously.