A Tauranga principal says she is "absolutely heartbroken" by the impact of last night's devastating tornado on her school.
The twister struck around 8.30pm, causing significant damage to Baypark Stadium, and also tearing up power lines and fences and scattering roads with rubble.
Mount Maunganui Intermediate was also in the line of fire, with astroturf being torn up and outdoor areas suffering significant damage.
"We're absolutely heartbroken," principal Lisa Morresey says.
"We are a school that has done extensive work in the past five years on property and really improving our amenities and facilities and we were really just gaining momentum, so this is a set back."
Resident Andrew Ross described the moment the twister struck.
"There was a huge roar .. sounded like a train outside my window. "
Baypark Stadium was badly hit, the roof being torn from three sections of the grandstand.
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said this morning it was the most significant twister he has seen in two decades.
"A lot of damage done to industrial buildings, about eight homes were significantly damaged with roofs being removed and also our stadium here lost about three sections of roof so quite a lot of damage," he told ONE News.
Tauranga City Council says the tornado swept through Waitui Grove, Golf Road, Lodge Avenue, Ascot Place, Epsom Road, Maunganui Road, Owens Place and Baypark.
Eleven houses were reported damaged and eight properties were evacuated.
Five commercial properties in Owens Place were also damaged.
A mini tornado also hit the Far North community of Coopers Beach yesterday afternoon, taking the roof off a house as a small child slept inside, while there was damage to several other buildings.