“The loss of life underscores just the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic,” Hipkins said in a press briefing after meeting with emergency services and surveying the damage in Auckland.
“It’s clear that it’s going to be a big cleanup job,” Hipkins said.
CNN affiliate Radio New Zealand reported Saturday that Hipkins had travelled to Whenuapai, north of Auckland, to visit affected communities.
“My thoughts are with everyone in Auckland as they wake up this morning to survey the damage and as they face an uncertain day ahead,” Hipkins said on social media Saturday.
“Look out for each other. We will get as much support to you as we can. This is an unprecedented event. Be kind, be patient. You’ll get through this,” he wrote on Twitter.
Hipkins said his travel to Auckland had been delayed due to the weather.
A number of events in the city, including Elton John concerts, have been canceled.
The singer said he was “absolutely heartbroken” that Friday’s concert couldn’t go ahead.
“I was at the venue and determined to play as the weather reports we received in advance weren’t fully conclusive,” he wrote in a post on Instagram.
Concert promoter Frontier Touring confirmed on Twitter that Saturday’s show has also been canceled.