Here comes Gita! Wellingtonians told to brace for heavy rain, huge swells and high winds

Wellingtonians are being urged to prepare as the remnants of Cyclone Gita makes its way over to New Zealand, after unleashing havoc on Tonga and Samoa. 

Cyclone Gita, packing 100km/h winds and heavy rain, is taking dead aim at New Zealand - but where will it hit?

Jane Foster said Oxfam is still waiting for contact to be re-established with two of Fiji's southern Lau islands, after the edge of Gita brushed them yesterday. Source: Breakfast

Gary O'Meara of Wellington Water said they are checking culverts and drains that could get blocked, with crews ready to jump into action on Monday, as heavy rain and wind is predicted to lash the capital. 

The good news, it's a fine weekend for most, before Gita bares its teeth on Tuesday

"Check and clear your gutters and drains, and have a look at the street drain nearest your house. Clear any litter or leaf debris. A blockage here can end up creating a major problem," Mr O'Meara said. 

"Back in November 2016, just after the Kaikoura earthquake, heavy rain closed both State highways, highway 58 and the rail network. At the same time, we had schools closing and parents trying to pick up children, along with service crews trying to help out. It was mayhem.

"It may not happen, and that would be great, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared."

MetService said Gita was weakening, and at 3pm yesterday it was located near Fiji. 

It said in a statement Gita will turn into an "intense mid-latitude low" before it reaches New Zealand.

"But it will still be a significant and potentially dangerous system bringing heavy rain, gale- to storm-force winds over a large area, large waves/swell and storm surge."

"Local impacts are highly dependent on the track it takes, but it is likely to be a high-impact event which will most likely affect many regions across the North Island and upper South Island."

For the latest weather updates, check 1 NEWS. 

Inside Parliament Podcast: 'It was a total surprise' – English expected to go ...just not this week

There had been a high amount of speculation that Mr English would vacate the leadership position, but the timing came as a surprise to many.  

Inside Parliament's first podcast of 2018 looks at the resignation of Leader of the Opposition Bill English, his history and who the contenders are for his job. 

Corin Dann, Katie Bradford and Andrea Vance look at the shock timing of the resignation, after Mr English announced his decision on Tuesday. 

It came less than a week after the National Party's caucus retreat in Tauranga, where emphasis was placed on an English-Paula Bennett leadership team to take the team forward. 

Now, Amy Adams, Judith Collins and Simon Bridges have their eyes on the top spot to lead National into the 2020 election. 

A weekly catch up with our political reporters about the stories they've been covering. Source: 1 NEWS

Listen to the full podcast on Soundcloud, iTunes and Facebook

Could there be "a little bit of residual ill-feeling" after Bill English stepped down? The 1 NEWS politics team tell us what they know. Source: 1 NEWS


'I didn't actually complain' - Judith Collins plays down leadership contest spat

Judith Collins is playing down the National leadership contest spat over shows of support for contenders, saying her comments have been exaggerated.

Judith Collins is playing down the leadership contest spat over shows of support for contenders, saying her comments have been exaggerated and it's "just part of a bit of rough and tumble".

One of her rivals for the National Party leadership, Amy Adams, announced her bid on Wednesday flanked by four supporting MPs.

Ms Collins, who had tweeted her own announcement, suggested on Thursday Ms Adams had broken a caucus agreement by turning up with her backers.

That's been denied by Ms Adams and party whip Jami-Lee Ross, who said there was no agreement that MPs would keep quiet about their preferences.

Ms Collins said she wasn't complaining about Ms Adams' tactics.

"I didn't actually complain, that's the weird thing," she told Newshub's AM Show on Friday.

"I was asked a question about why I didn't have anyone with me, I simply answered it and now there's an `allegation' that I haven't really made at all.

"I just think it's part of a bit of rough and tumble."

Ms Collins said she was confident she had "a good shot" at winning the leadership.

"My colleagues who have put their hands up are pretty confident they've got some good numbers too."

The third contender is Simon Bridges.

Steven Joyce and Mark Mitchell are still deciding whether they'll enter the race.

The 56-member caucus must elect a new leader by the time Bill English's resignation takes effect on February 27.

1 NEWS political reporter Andrea Vance has the developments. Source: 1 NEWS