New Zealand Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye said the Chatham Islands -- a small group of islands about 750 km east of the South Island and home to about 600 people -- were still experiencing rough weather on Wednesday.

Wharves had been damaged, one community had been isolated by road closures and high winds remained a concern, Kaye said.

"Local civil defence are still responding to people who have been affected, ensuring they have accommodation and essential supplies," said Kaye. "I have spoken to the mayor to ensure they have all the support they need, and I intend to travel to the Chatham Islands in the next week."The ministry of civil defence and emergency management said on Wednesday that Cyclone Pam was almost 600 km east-southeast of the Chatham Islands and slowly moving further away.

However, southwest gales were continuing over the islands and gusts were reaching 90 to 100 km an hour at times, said a statement from the ministry.

"Although these gusts are not quite warning strength, they still have the potential to cause further damage to structures weakened by the cyclone and may make travelling around the islands difficult," it said.

Waves were likely to peak at about nine metres in coastal areas, but the storm would start slowly easing later on Wednesday. Damage to the Chatham Islands appeared to be minimal, but damage assessments were continuing, it said.

Kaye said that given the size and strength of Cyclone Pam and the destruction it caused in the Pacific, it was right to take the storm seriously.

"The government will continue to support local authorities during the recovery phase. This can include financial assistance towards response costs, to enable communities to focus on recovery as quickly as possible," she said.

More than 100 people on the North Island were evacuated from their coastal homes when the storm hit on Monday and the army was put on standby to help with rescue and relief operations.

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