Three people have been killed and seven injured during a
storm, including a tornado, that hit Auckland today, with
another tornado hitting near Rotorua later this afternoon.
Police have confirmed the deaths and injuries. Two of those
were believed to be involved in the construction of a school
Hobsonville Point and killed by a falling concrete slab,
victim was reportedly hit by a tree.
There has also been reports of another tornado touching down
near Rotorua late this afternoon, bringing down hundreds of
trees in the area.
The Fire Service told The Daily Post a small tornado
went through Sunnex Rd at Hamurana at 3.20pm today.
Forty children understood to be from Mokoia Intermediate and
13 adults were at a horse riding class and were evacuated to
a property on Sunnex Rd to make sure they were safe.
Some of the properties on Sunnex Rd were also evacuated.
About 150 homes were damaged at Whenuapai and many were
deemed uninhabitable or were without power.
About 300 residents had been evacuated to Whenuapai Air Force
Base and Auckland Council welfare staff were assisting them.
Electricity was off in numerous parts of Auckland including
Henderson, Greenhithe, Hobsonville, Riverhead, Meadowbank and
St Johns. There was widespread surface flooding on roads and
motorways throughout Auckland and motorists are urged to take
care or stay off the roads if possible.
Andy Gummer of St John said at least seven people had been
taken to Auckland and North Shore hospitals.
"There might be some critical,'' he said.
A tornado hit Hobsonville during the storm, tearing down
trees and ripping panels from the motorway.
Fire, police and ambulance raced to multiple callouts in
Hobsonville and Upper Harbour.
Defence Force personnel were going door to door to check on
people and emergency services were trying to clear blocked
State Highway 18 - the main link between west Auckland and
the North Shore reopened at about 4pm after it was closed for
several hours this afternoon.
The storms brought down light poles, disabled motorway
cameras and left sections of the motorway littered with
The motorway's Squadron Drive on and off ramps, however,
remain closed until further notice.
At 1.52pm MetService weather radar detected thunderstorms
near Auckland, Orewa, Albany, the inner Hauraki Gulf, Daily
Flat, Whangaparaoa and Silverdale.
Police Superintendent Bill Searle said a series of tornadoes
passed through Hobsonville, and one of those touched down on
a subdivision, causing damage to trees and buildings.
He told a media conference at Whenuapai Air Base that about
12 uniformed USAR personnel, who happened to be in the area
at the time were gathering intelligence to help police but
had not been formally deployed.
The Defence Force was on standby, and an emergency centre has
been set up at the air base.
Mr Searle said the forecast was for more bad weather and
people in the Hobsonville and Greenhithe areas should stay
The Fire Service had received between 80 and 100 calls and
more than 12 appliances have been sent to the area.
A Fire Service spokesman said there appeared to be
"significant building damage'' and a number of people had
Fire Service spokesman Scott Osmond said a roof had caved in
at a Mastertrade store and there were reports of chimneys
being toppled and roofs blown off buildings in Hobsonville.
Fire Service area manager Murray Binning said appliances were
responding to damage more widespread than the 1km zone at a
"There are houses with roofs off scattered all over west
Auckland, so we're dealing with those too,'' he said.
Whenuapai resident Suzanne McFadden said the tornado was like
a roaring "juggernaut''.
"We have no power, it honestly looks like a bomb has gone off
in the street.
"I saw it coming across the river, the air went very electric
and the sky went black. And then the wind started to
She said she saw trees coming up the street and then ran to
the hallway inside for cover.
"We were in the middle of it. It was a roar. ''
She said century-old pine trees had been uprooted, one even
crashing through her neighbour's garage - crushing a van
Because road access was blocked, residents were concerned for
the wellbeing of their children at nearby Whenuapai School.
"We can't get out and nobody can get in, there are live power
lines on the road. People who are getting home now are
walking miles just to get home.
"This was like a juggernaut roaring through here. Everyone is
really shaken up.''
Witness Matt Eade said he was in his lounge when the tornado
"The wind picked up real fast and then it rained real hard.
The hardest wind you can imagine was swirling around; it
would go one way real fast and then back the other way - it
kept changing directions. We were standing away from the
windows because we were expecting them to crash in. I thought
it was one of those situations where we thought we could get
Power was off at his house and firefighters had asked if he
wanted to evacuate.
Local resident Jordan Carter said high winds had hit his
house in Whenuapai.
The fence had been blown down, trees uprooted and the lid of
the spa pool gone, he said.
Prime Minister John Key extended his condolences to the
friends and families of those who had died.
"This must have been an extremely frightening situation for
many people in the local community,'' he said.
"This extreme weather event occurred in the heart of my
electorate as well as Paula Bennett's electorate. I have been
kept informed of the situation throughout the afternoon and
am continuing to receive updates.''
Auckland Mayor Len Brown and councillors were briefed by the
council's civil defence head and Mr Brown went to the
operational base at Whenuapai this afternoon.
Mr Brown said all the residents from the evacuated properties
were now homeless.
Most were homes tenanted by Air Force personnel and their
The homeless were taken to Whenuapai Air Base.
Air Force group captain Kevin McEvoy said some of the
evacuated homes had missing roofs and window smashed.
Mr Brown visited the most damaged areas of Hobsonville this
''[It looked] like a knife through butter for some of those
trees,'' he said. "Devastating. This was clearly a major
weather event. Our hearts are with the families.''
Police asked schools to keep children inside until parents
arrived to collect them.