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Wellington water woes: Gaping sinkhole opens at Tawa Intermediate School

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A gaping sinkhole has opened up at Tawa Intermediate School.

A gaping sinkhole 1.5 metres wide and two metres deep has opened up on the grounds of a Wellington school in the latest episode of the city’s water woes.

A photo of the sinkhole shows it is located next to the playground at Tawa Intermediate School.

The sinkhole is related to the stormwater network, a Wellington Water spokesperson told Newstalk ZB.

“The area has been fenced off and made safe, our crews will start excavation tomorrow and we will update progress via our social media channels.”

Tawa Intermediate School, which is located 15 minutes north of the CBD and has a roll of about 500 students, has been approached for comment.

It comes after a water leak on the footpath of Wellington’s iconic Cuba St got so bad that it turned into a small sinkhole earlier this month.

The sinkhole has since reappeared twice. Wellington Water crews have patched it with asphalt three times with the latest effort being as recently as this morning.

A leak on Wellington's iconic Cuba St has become so bad a small sinkhole formed. Photo / Ethan Manera
A leak on Wellington’s iconic Cuba St has become so bad a small sinkhole formed. Photo / Ethan Manera

When Newstalk ZB first made inquiries about it on February 9, Wellington Water said it had received seven reports from the public about the leak.

This included a call from a nearby shopkeeper complaining the condition had worsened and become a public safety concern.

“Following this customer call, Wellington Water investigated the site today and can confirm there is a sinkhole”, a Wellington Water spokesperson said.

The leak was previously classified as not being urgent as information provided to Wellington Water did not show a sinkhole had formed.

“Given the location, and to ensure public safety and to avoid any inconvenience to businesses, this job has now been escalated as a priority,” the spokesperson said.

The sinkholes have opened up amid a looming water shortage in the capital and as 44 per cent of the city’s drinking water is being lost through leaks.

The Wellington metropolitan area has avoided tougher water restrictions for now and remains at Level 2, meaning all residential sprinklers and irrigation are banned.

Wellington Water regulatory services director Charles Barker has warned the region isn’t out of the woods yet as MetService is forecasting hot and dry weeks still to come.

“We have already started dipping into the storage lakes for the Wellington Metropolitan region and will soon be transitioning over to the lakes as a main source of supply.

“This means that if it’s hot and dry or we don’t get sustained rainfall, and we continue to draw down on the water stored in the lakes, they won’t have a chance to refill.”

Ethan Manera is a multimedia journalist based in Wellington. He joined NZME in 2023 and is interested in politics, local issues, and the Public Service. Ethan is always on the lookout for a story, he can be emailed at or messaged on X (formerly Twitter) @ethanjmanera.

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