Tornado causes a storm on our website

By Sonya Bateson

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A tornado, a school in lockdown and a couple in their 60s looking for work were among last year's most read stories.

The most clicked on story for the year on bayofplentytimes.co.nz was about a mini tornado hitting Mount Maunganui in May, causing damage to a school, homes and vehicles.

Mount Maunganui Intermediate had to close down for a day and Baypark Stadium had its roof torn off. At least 30 houses had their roofs blown off.

The next most read story was about 15-year-old Amie Louise Russell from Morrinsville who drowned at Whangamata in January after her paddle board was swept under a moored yacht by a strong current and wind.

In third was a story about two media studies students from Tauranga Boys' College who unwittingly sparked an armed police callout in September after filming each other with plastic guns for a production they were working on.

Other popular stories included Tauranga couple Liz and Ross Grant who unsuccessfully applied for about 150 jobs between them in the past year and said they were determined to find work before their savings ran out.

They feared their ages could be the main reason they were being overlooked and said prospective employers lost interest when they found out how old they were.

Sarah and Brett Morrison captured people's hearts with their story about battling Mrs Morrison's aggressive bowel cancer together. Mrs Morrison died in May, aged 32, and Mr Morrison has since become a face in a campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Primary school teacher Gert Smith made headlines in March after being thrust into the limelight as the partner of the Cricket World Cup's top wicket taker, Black Cap Trent Boult.

The announcement of a planned festival for McLaren Falls Park excited readers - but the event was later moved to Auckland, before being cancelled in November. Organisers went into liquidation on December 15.

The identity of two Mount Maunganui men accused of murdering 19-year-old Takena Tiepa-Ranapia in Ohauiti was revealed in January. In December, Hiakita (George) Eruera was found guilty of murder. Eruera, his wife Hyacin Eruera and their associate Paul Taki, were found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, a charge relating to the stabbing of Brooklyn Ormsby-Ratahi earlier on the night Mr Tiepa-Ranapia was killed.

A giant proposal message written in the sand by Mauao rounds off the top stories. Nathan Burgi got a "yes" from Esther Goddard for his imaginative proposal.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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