Two armed men who burst into a Tauranga house and attacked the male occupant while his terrified partner and three children looked on were still being hunted tonight.

The men, carrying a knife, metal bar and screwdriver, forced their way into the Carlton St, Otumoetai, house early yesterday while the family slept.

When the male occupant confronted the intruders they attacked him, as children, aged from nine to 15, watched from the landing.

After ushering her children into a bedroom, the woman went to help her partner and the intruders threatened to get a gun and shoot her.

They fled after she told them she had called police.

The woman, who asked for her family not to be identified, told the Bay of Plenty Times she and her partner were asleep on the ground floor of the house when they were awakened by a noise upstairs about 1am.

As she followed her partner to investigate, they confronted the armed intruders.

They said: "We are taking your cars".

Her partner said: "No you're not".

"It was one big scuffle...they were both fighting him. They had a screwdriver and a knife, and some sort of metal bar," she said.

The woman tried to call police on her cellphone, but it was snatched from her by one of the assailants.

It was then she noticed her children watching from the top of the stairs. The attackers let her go and check on them and told her: "We are not here to hurt kids".

She gathered her children in a bedroom and used her teenage daughter's cellphone to call police.

Police said today they were still looking for the offenders and appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

- NZPA