Whakatāne District Council understands there is a hoax text message circulating amongst the community incorrectly stating all Whakatāne and Ōhope residents must self-evacuate before midnight tonight.

Local Controller Nicholas Woodley stresses this message is not verified nor authorised by Whakatāne District Council and urges members of the community to disregard the false information.

Council confirms there is currently no mandatory evacuation in place for anyone in the Whakatāne District.

However, those living in flood-prone areas or areas that could be inundated with coastal surges are encouraged to seriously consider self-evacuating until midday, Wednesday 15 February.

This includes people living in and around:

• Ōhiwa Parade, Liddon Cove, and low-lying parts of Harbour Road alongside Ōhiwa Harbour.

· West End, Ōhope to the Allied Petrol Station (note – this applies to those living on the coastal/beach side of Pohutukawa Ave section only).

Council urges the community to stay updated with official Council information via our website and Facebook page.

A dedicated Emergency Evacuation Centre has been set up at Whakatāne War Memorial Hall and will open at 12noon today for those who have been recommended evacuating their properties and cannot do so to family and friends.