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One killed, ten injured in crash on Napier-Taupō road

Report from RNZ
One person has died and 10 people are believed to have been injured in a crash on the Napier-Taupō highway. The crash, between a van and truck, occurred just before 10am near the Tarawera Cafe.

The owner of the Tarawera Cafe, Jim Andrew, says three vans were heading north: two pulled into the public toilet area by the cafe and the third got sideswiped by a truck and trailer.

The driver of the truck was uninjured.

One person was flown to Hawke’s Bay Hospital in a critical condition and two others were flown to Gisborne and Palmerston North hospitals in a serious condition.

Seven other people in a moderate condition were transported to the three hospitals.

Report from RNZ
A member of the Hawke’s Bay Samoan community says the fatal crash involving Pasifika workers is an awful blow. One man died and 10 horticulture workers were taken to hospital – some in critical condition – after their van collided with a truck on a stretch of road between Napier and Taupō.

Covid-19 travel restrictions mean many Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers have been forced to stay in New Zealand and away from their families for many months. Police said the workers were heading to Taupō for a short holiday.

Funeral director Tim Leiataualesa Niuapu Hutchins, who knew the deceased, said the Sāmoan family and the whole Hawke’s Bay community would be reeling.

“We understand the struggle that the boys have been through over the last 10 months of being here and how this has affected the RSE community, but not only them but also the community of Hawke’s Bay.

“We value hugely our RSE workers and we’re very proud our Sāmoan RSE workers … a lot of them have been returning for seven, eight, 10 years … they’ve been coming back and forth. This will be an incident that will shock the community deeply.

He believed the body would be repatriated to Samoa to have cultural funeral processions back on the island. “It’s an awful blow to the community.”