Kaikōura's state of emergency set to continue

9:23 pm on 28 November 2016

Kaikōura's state of emergency is likely to be extended for up to another week, Civil Defence says.

A military vehicle coming through the inland route towards Kaikoura.

A military vehicle coming through the inland route, which is still closed to the public, towards Kaikōura. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The state of emergency is due to expire tomorrow, but the town is still almost completely cut off by road from the rest of the country.

At a public briefing this afternoon, Kaikōura civil defence controller Murray Sinclair said he had spoken with National Civil Defence and Canterbury Civil Defence this morning about keeping the emergency status in place.

"There is new legislation going through [Parliament], which would meet a lot of processes ... which could be very critical, so it's likely that that state of emergency will be extended out for at least the end of the week, probably another week."

The new laws would give agencies the power to close roads and do other necessary recovery work.

Kaikoura earthquake, Civil Defence staff organising the priority evacuee's

A Canterbury Civil Defence official helps organise evacuations from the town in the days after the 14 November earthquake. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The inland road, which army convoys have used to ferry supplies to the town, remained closed to the general public, Mr Sinclair said.

A meeting would be held later today to decide whether Civil Defence should hand back control of the road to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

'We do really need to get out'

A local hospitality worker attending the briefing asked Mr Sinclair whether another public convoy would be organised to allow people to leave town.

About 80 vehicles left Kaikōura in an army-supervised convoy last Friday.

"We were waiting for our bosses to come in - we've now lost our jobs, we've lost our homes, so we do really need to get out," the worker said.

He knew four or five other people in a similar position, he said.

There was no formal registration system for another convoy, Mr Sinclair said.

"Clearly we need to have a look at that ... If there's anyone still here, just give us a feel of how many people who are still waiting, because, as I say, that'll be demand-driven."

Quake legislation this week

Meanwhile, Parliament will pass two bills under urgency this week, in response to the large earthquake and aftershocks centred around Kaikōura.

Prime Minister John Key said the earthquake legislation would allow the government to over-ride other laws, and act quicker.

"So that would include dredging, for instance, in the harbour, would allow to move the rocks and things potentially into the ocean space so that doesn't have to be taken away to clear slips."

It would apply to situations where consents would usually be needed, Mr Key said.

"It would allow someone, if a farmer for instance had urgently sought to get water on the property...and that for that happen effectively permitting on a retrospective basis.

Schools to re-open

Kaikoura schools and early childhood centres plan to reopen this week.

The Emergency Operations Centre in the town said they were expected to open for reduced hours.

They had been closed for the past two weeks because of damage to the sewerage system and the lack of running water.

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