With multiple tornadoes ripping through Kāpiti over the last two weeks, one Otaihanga resident is warning others that some of the destruction and heartache left behind can be mitigated.
"It's a week on and I'm still absolutely devastated," said Otaihanga resident Jan Hathwaite, whose property was damaged last Wednesday.
"There was hail and then the next thing there were leaves swirling around and a loud bang.
"It was so quick, it wasn't a violent storm, there wasn't heaps of rain, there was hail for a couple of minutes, wind and rain and then it went quiet.
"All the trees came down in one big bang."
On the western side, a tree came onto the house damaging parts of the roof, breaking glass windows and flattening a pipe.
Trees came down all along their long driveway and on the east of the house trees damaged their shed, the other side of their roof and completely flattened the cabin Jan and her husband had spent close to a year building.
MetService severe weather forecaster John Crouch said, "The combination of the mild conditions we have been experiencing lately and colder air higher up in the atmosphere has been producing several thunderstorm events over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand in recent weeks.
"The Kāpiti damage may have either been a very small brief tornado, or a localised area of strong outflow winds associated with the thunderstorms. Both can cause localised wind damage."
The weather followed the Levin tornado which damaged more than 30 homes just over a week beforehand. Yesterday, more tornadoes ripped through Paraparaumu and Waikanae, damaging at least six homes and businesses.
"Both the Levin and Kāpiti events were associated with thunderstorms moving onshore from the Tasman Sea," he said.
Climate scientist and Kāpiti resident James Renwick said the recent tornadoes have been "remarkable" but it is hard to pinpoint why they have occurred.
"It's hard to pin changes in tornado activity to climate change because tornadoes are so small-scale and depend on the details of individual thunderstorms, things that can change for all sorts of reasons unrelated to the warmer climate.
"However, a warmer climate has more energy in it and has the potential to generate more vigorous convective storms (thunderstorms)," he said.
"What is clear, is there are definitely more extreme events with climate change, so Kāpiti is exposed to more heavy rain and flooding events, more high-temperature extremes (in the air and on the ocean – marine heatwaves), and increasing chances of droughts."
He said Kāpiti will see more coastal inundation and erosion events over time with rising sea levels, combined with onshore winds from storms, meaning that properties and infrastructure close to the coast will be at increased risk of damage.
While the weather event is considered relatively small by MetService, the devastation has caused more than $50,000 worth of damage to Jan's home.
While their insurance company will pay for the cabin to be rebuilt, Jan said it will not be the same, having done it themselves from scratch.
"We dug the holes ourselves, built and painted it, put in a composting toilet and put in a hot tub.
"We did all the finishing touches with lanterns, a beautiful chandelier, French lace curtains, a mirror and did all the painting taking photos every step of the way.
"It was just seconds and it was gone, it was over."
The damage caused to trees that have broken away from their roots, a mix of gum and elm, and the need to clear them due to their instability and potential to fall onto the house, is expected to cost more than $50,000.
"We have already spent close to $4000 removing them and a number of other trees need to come down – one is leaning towards the house.
"We think it will cost $50,000-$60,000 for the rest of the tree work and if we were to get an arborist in to do it nicely and try to save the nikau palms, then it is probably going to cost us tens of thousands more."
The worst part about it is their insurer caps tree work at $2000, meaning Jan and her husband will have to pay for it themselves.
"I'm shattered. To find out the cap for tree damage is $2000 was a big shock."
Their experience is far from over with more assessments and talks with insurers to come, however, Jan would like to warn others to keep on top of trimming their trees and checking they will not endanger other buildings on the property.
Thinking they were well insured for an event like this, Jan said to check your insurance policies.
"Keep on top of trimming trees... We always thought we had over-insured so to find out we might have to pay for all of this ourselves is devastating."
The support of their friends and family has been welcomed with people showing up with chainsaws and trailers to help clear the section, but a lot more work is needed with many large trees needing to be removed.
"We are very thankful to our friends and their support.
"Hopefully hearing about our experience will make others check their trees and insurance."
James said with the increase in more extreme weather events, those living close to the coastline should think about sea walls and other protection from storm damage, and think about whether or not you are prepared to move inland.
"The council is working on a managed retreat from the coast and I think this will be a feature of how Kāpiti changes over the next few decades.
"Also, as heavy rainfall events get heavier, the chances of flooding increase, so look at how well-drained your property is and what you can do to improve things if necessary."