Motorcyclist killed after collision with car

By Genevieve Helliwell

Relatives are today mourning the loss of a father who died after his motorcycle and a car collided on State Highway 2 near Te Puke.

Te Puke man Shannon Rahiri, 38, died after the crash near Waitangi, 7km east of Te Puke, about 11am yesterday.

Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair of Tauranga police said the crash happened on the state highway between Pah Rd and Rangiuru Rd.

The car, carrying five people, was hit with such an impact that it rolled on to its side.

Mr Rahiri came off his bike.

Passers-by tried to keep him alive with first aid and CPR but their efforts were unsuccessful and he died at the scene.

The Harley-Davidson V-Rod motorcycle's handlebars had been pushed down and had compacted into the body of the bike and the front wheel had twisted severely. The right-hand-side of the car suffered extensive damage, from the drivers door to the rear of the vehicle.

Mt Maunganui St John Ambulance team manager Gary Bishell said the car was pulling out of a driveway when it was hit in the driver-side door by the motorcycle.

"The motorcycle hit the car and it tipped the car on its side, so a reasonable impact," he said.

A 39-year-old woman who was a passenger in the car was taken to Tauranga Hospital with cuts from flying glass. A 15-year-old girl was also taken to hospital.

She was discharged from hospital yesterday afternoon. 

Three of the passengers were treated at the scene.

A relative of the Mr Rahiri, Mauaie Moko, who lives in Waitangi, said every time she heard sirens, she feared one of her whanau was involved in an accident.

Yesterday her fears came true.

"He was such a nice boy, very into rugby ... just a real good fellow. I loved him like my own son."

"He's been driving these roads for years, all his life."

Mrs Moko was at the Waitangi Marae when she heard the sirens along State Highway 2. She walked to the roadside and spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times about the dangerous road that "claimed so many lives".

"It's a bad stretch and there are so many accidents here all the time" she said.

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"It's the speed, people come screaming through here at 70km and I reckon it should be lower. It should be 50, especially with the school over there. It's lucky none of the kids have been hurt, the way cars go along this road so fast," she said.

Mr Rahiri had children, she said.

"He's whanau, we're all related in Waitangi. I don't know how many kids he has but he's got a couple."

Mrs Moko said that section of State Highway 2 was "one of the worst roads in the Bay of Plenty".

She said people from Waitangi had been campaigning for years to reduce the speed on that section of road.

Another relative said Waitangi residents had voiced their opinions numerous times.

"This has been going on for years. We've been going on about it, our aunties have been going on about it before us ... we need to slow the traffic down as much as we can.

"They're going as fast as they can [through here] and it's dangerous for the kids that walk the street."

State Highway 2 was closed from Te Matai Rd for about three and a half hours while emergency services were at the scene.

Motorists were diverted along Te Matai Rd and Pyes Pa Rd to Rotorua. A handful parked on the side of the Kaituna River in Waitangi and waited for the road to re-open.

Holidaying couple Bill and Christine Taylor from Scotland sat on a picnic table before the road block and ate sausages and chips bought from the Waitangi Takeaway Store.

"It's a dreadful thing that's happened but there's no use getting upset about [the road closure]. It's a beautiful day so we're enjoying sitting out here and having some lunch," Mrs Taylor said.

Similarly, the McIntosh family were not bothered by the lengthy delay.

They were travelling home to Gisborne from Whangamata when they came across the accident so decided to unpack their lunch and rest on the riverbank of the Kaituna.

"When you travel you expect [delays]," Mrs McIntosh said.

"We needed to stop for lunch anyway so this hasn't bothered us at all."

The road was re-opened about 2.30pm.

Mr Wright-St Clair said the serious crash unit had been called to investigate the cause. Police were seeking witnesses to the crash.

He said several motorists who were already travelling between Rotorua and Tauranga on SH2 when the crash happened faced long delays.

"There were no viable detours available," he said.

"The only possible detour was along Te Matai Road onto State Highway 36 however this involved a lengthy drive."

This is the second fatal accident on State Highway 2 near Te Puke in two months.

On September 17, Zephyr Mark IV Araroa McGaughlin, 18, from Pukehina, died in a head-on smash on the Waiari Stream bridge, east of Te Puke, on State Highway 2.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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