Locals in Whakatane were forced to evacuate their homes last night as torrential rain, along with a high tide, burst the banks of a stream.

Residents have levelled criticism at the local council, saying it did not do enough to improve the storm-water system after a similar flood four years ago.

As New Zealand’s sunniest spot, Whakatane is usually clocking up sunshine hours. But for the past 24 hours, fire crews and residents have been scrambling to protect homes and properties.

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