The Mokarakas were sitting viewing TV when they heard wild winds approaching - and watched in horror as chunks of the lounge roof were whipped off.

The tornado tore off roofs, destroyed decks and damaged houses in the Far North today.

Fire and Emergency Muriwhenua area commander Wipari Henwood says about 15 homes have been damaged.

Two homes closest to State Highway 10 have been badly damaged with roofs torn off and multiple windows smashed.

Advertisement

They have already been declared uninhabitable by a Far North District Council building inspector.

The occupants are packing up what they can and will stay with friends in the area. Security guards will be posted until the properties can be secured.

Civil Defence officials are going door to door to check everyone is okay.

A FENZ mobile command unit has just arrived at the scene and will take charge so volunteer firefighters from Mangonui and Kaitaia can go back to their day jobs.

John Mokaraka and his wife suffered minor injuries when the twister tore through the property. The couple are house sitting for his sister.

"We were watching TV and we heard the wind pick up. All we heard was a loud roar - then the windows popped and the roof lifted off," he said.

John Mokaraka and his wife suffered minor injuries when the twister tore through the property. Photo / Peter de Graaf
John Mokaraka and his wife suffered minor injuries when the twister tore through the property. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Both he and his wife have sustained minor injuries, mostly small cuts as a result of the windows shattering around them.

"The windows in the front are all gone," he said.

Advertisement

"A lady just told us we should go off and buy a Lotto ticket."

A row of three or four houses in the area are damaged, two of them badly.

Broken glass shards cover upended furniture inside one of the homes, where locals are banding together with brooms to aid in the clean-up.

Witnesses say the roof of another home has been peeled off, like a sardine can.

A USAR team from Auckland was currently en route to the scene in Coopers Beach.

Two fire crews will remain at the scene helping with the clean up until USAR crews arrive. Civil Defence and police were also responding, the spokesman said.

A "mini tornado" has also hit Kaiwaka, which is about 100km north of Auckland.
Truck driver Craig says he witnessed the event, after first noticing a flash of lightning.

"I just saw this big tree go across the road in front of me. It was literally a flying tree that landed in the middle of the road."