«Certainly the reports we’ve received is that it’s the most extreme weather event we’ve experienced in a long time,» Hipkins told reporters in Wellington. “In the fullness of time, we will know how it compares to Cyclone Bola.”

Hipkins said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had called to offer his country’s support and assistance. The Australian government also said that New Zealand’s close neighbor stood ready to provide support where and if it was needed, Hipkins said.

The national state of emergency includes six regions where local emergencies had already been declared. They are Auckland, as well as the Northland, Tairawhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Hawke’s Bay regions.

A weather station in the Hawke’s Bay and Napier region recorded three times more rain overnight than it normally falls for the entire month of February, MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said.

«There’s going to be some wet, soggy devastation out there,» Ferris said. “We have seen the worst of the storm now. We just have to get through today.»

Hipkins said the army was already on the ground in the hardest-hit sections of the northern North Island helping with evacuations and keeping essential supplies moving.

“I want to acknowledge the situation that New Zealanders have been waking up to this morning,” Hipkins told reporters. “Many displaced families. Many houses without electricity. Extensive damage done across the country.”