On a normal February day in 1997, the calving shed on Paul and Carol Argyle's fourth-generation Kairanga farm was torn to pieces by a freak natural event.
Sixteen years on Chris Hyde talks to them about it in the fifth of his Paper Clips series, revisiting articles from the Manawatu Standard's archives.
If you've seen the movie Twister you can sympathise with the Argyles.
With the finest special effects of the day, the Hollywood blockbuster dominated the takings at Manawatu theatres in late 1996.
A few months later a small, but powerful, tornado touched down briefly in the paddocks of Paul and Carol Argyle's farm on the southern side of Kairanga-Bunnythorpe Rd.
Paul and Carol hadn't seen Twister, but the comparisons between their tornado and the ones wreaking havoc on the big screen were both inevitable and instant.
''The neighbours came over and they said they saw the roof lift about a metre into the air and then they watched as it all happened.
"It was about the time the movie Twister came out and the neighbour's brother had seen it.
''He said it looked like something out of the movie,'' Carol says laughing.
In fairness, the neighbour's brother had good reason to say that.
The Argyle's calving shed was totalled.
The 30-metre-long roof was ripped from the shed in three sections.
A 16m section of roof flew 50m before it smashed into the ground for the first time, leaving three sheets of corrugated iron buried 30cm deep. A long scar marked the impact site.
The section was then lifted again and thrown around the paddock, splintering wood and spreading iron about.
A second section was also lifted about 40m, smashing into the ground and leaving a 15m scar.
Timber and iron from the second section was treated much as the first, with shed wreckage spread through two paddocks.
The third section, a side wall, was lifted clear over two fences and dumped just 10m from where it had stood.
Nearby trees came down and snapped a fence post.
One ''funny thing'' happened amid the destruction in the potato paddocks.
An old hay shed, 10m from the calving shed, had a pile of loose rubbish stacked up alongside it.
The shed and the rubbish didn't so much as flutter.
''One of my lasting memories was the pile of polypropylene bags weren't even touched,'' Paul says.
''That's just how selective it was.''
Carol remembers watching potato bins tumble over and over down the paddock.
''I was doing bookwork at the kitchen table. It was a reasonably nice day, not at all windy, and I remember something made me look outside.
"I don't know if it was a sound or some sort of shadow or what, but I looked and I saw the potato bins.''
The tornado travelled west but it ran out of energy by the time it got to Karere Rd.
The Argyles were insured and Paul got a bigger, better calving shed out of the experience.
It was a big event for them at the time, but they say it pales in comparison to the widespread devastation of the 2004 floods in Kairanga.
After 25 years on the land the Argyles have plenty of stories to tell, plenty they have forgotten.
But now and then, something brings that February day back to the forefront of the mind.
''I was out on the farm just before Christmas last year and I saw a big, huge, funnel cloud,'' Paul says.
''You could see it forming in the clouds but it never touched down.
''It doesn't worry me at all, as a farmer you've got to work round the weather, but it was interesting that's for sure.''
Paul and Carol have seen Twister now.
It was alright.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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