Tornados, strong winds cause havoc across North Island

updated By James Perry
Terisa Ngobi - MP for Ōtaki

Trees were uprooted in Levin by a tornado early Friday morning. photo/Terisa Ngobi - MP for Ōtaki

Ten properties have been deemed as damaged following a 'mini-tornando' ripped through Horowhenua this morning.

The tornado tore through the town of Levin, uprooting trees and downing powerlines at dawn. 

Ngātokowaru Marae manager, Ana Winiata said a team was sent to check on the marae, west of the township and reported back the marae was not one of the buildings affected by the damage.

Horowhenua District Council has started the clean up after this morning freak weather event, which was followed by thunder and lightning and are calling for volunteers to help.

"We're calling for volunteers to assist with a clean-up – contractors with trucks and members of the community with trailers would be especially appreciated. At a time when affected residents need help, we're calling on the generosity of our awesome community. It's been incredibly heartwarming to see the outpouring of support and generous offers to help from you all today, let's keep the community spirit up!" it posted to its Facebook page.

Volunteers are asked to meet at the Durham St carpark at 9am, Saturday morning.

One dead in Waikato

In Cambridge, an elderly woman died in Waikato Hospital after being crushed by a falling tree in Cambridge this morning. 

Local residents reported seeing small tornados in the area around that time. Fire and Emergency staff freed the woman shortly before 11am. She was suffering critical injuries as a result of being trapped underneath the 'healthy' tree ripped out of the ground by strong winds.

She died a short while later in hospital.

Earlier weather events

Auckland's Harbour Bridge has been closed, or partially closed twice today, as high winds reaching 95km/h were recorded on the main harbour crossing today.

It was closed completely around 10.00am, and was reopened shortly before 10.30am. Strong gusts at lunchtime saw NZTA close four lanes again. Two lanes in each direction remained open.

The closure of the bridge caused chaos on the roads through Auckland, as commuters flocked to SH16 to head north.

Police closed State Highway 1 through Levin this morning, after reports of gas odours in the Durham St area. Police were to provide the community with reassurance throughout the day, and will assist in the cleanup.

Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden says the mini-tornado swept across the town from the west. 

"By the sounds of things it's ripped off roofs, uprooted trees, there's a loss of power in many areas. We are also experiencing quite a lot of thunder and lightning," he said on Facebook.

Wanden is reassuring his community the council's incident management team has already started the clean up in the town.

"I hope there isn't too much damage at your property and look after yourselves. It may be a day of staying at home, and hunkering down a little bit." 

Local Ōtaki MP, Terisa Ngobi posted a video showing a fallen tree blocking the road and footpath right outside her Levin office.