Beginning on Friday, 27 January 2023, regions across the upper North Island of New Zealand experienced widespread catastrophic floods caused by heavy rainfall, with Auckland being the most significantly affected.
Severe flash flooding occurred across Auckland from around 5:00 pm on 27 January local time, after heavy rain in the afternoon. Flooding was widespread across the city, with West Auckland and North Shore being the worst affected areas.
On the night of January 27th a man was swept away by flood waters near the town of Onewhero, South of Auckland, after his car became trapped by the rising waters.
Police, LandSAR and AREC commenced a search and rescue operation for the man at first light the following day. They were assisted by the Onewhero Volunteer Fire Brigade and local volunteers from the community.
The search was based at the Onewhero Fire Station. AREC set up a comms base adjacent to the Incident management Team at the fire station, and deployed a portable repeater in the search area to maintain communications with the search teams.
The search covered a wide area of farmland downstream from the site where the man was last seen, and was hampered by very high floodwaters. It was not until midday on Sunday the 29th January, as the waters began to subside that the mans body was located by a drone.