One critical in Opotiki crash

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James Rolleston has been flown to hospital following a car crash near Opotiki. Photo/File
James Rolleston has been flown to hospital following a car crash near Opotiki. Photo/File

The young star of the New Zealand hit film Boy has been seriously injured in a car crash.

James Rolleston, 19, was in a car near Opotiki, where he is from, when it hit Otara bridge on the eastern side of the Bay of Plenty town at about 10.30pm last night.

Emergency services rushed to the scene on State Highway 35 at 10.52pm.

Opotiki volunteer firefighters had to cut Rolleston from the wreck using hydraulic equipment, a spokeswoman for northern fire communications said.

Due to Rolleston's condition, a specialist paramedic was flown in to stabilise him, BayTrust Rescue Helicopter said.

Rolleston was then flown to Tauranga Hospital.

A second person in the car had minor injuries.

Tributes and goodwill messages are flowing to Rolleston online.

Boy co-star Cohen Holloway wrote on Facebook: "Thinking of you cuz. Hope you all good".

Brooke Rolleston said: "Hope your all good cuzz", while Caleb Kingi added: "Feel for the bro hope you make a good recovery my bro".

Social media is awash with messages from the public hoping that the popular young actor has a speedy recovery.

Rolleston is awake and is surrounded by his family, agent Tim Gordon confirmed to the Herald.

"At the moment, he is in a holding pattern. He's alright," said Gordon.

"They are making him comfortable and he is responding to all the things he needs to respond to."

Wellington-based Gordon said he is hoping to travel to Tauranga soon.

He is getting updates from the family who told him it was a "reasonably serious car accident".

Gordon said he didn't know if Rolleston had been a passenger or whether he was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.

Rolleston attended the world premiere of his latest film The Rehearsal at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland on Saturday.

He is also starring in a remake of Goodbye Pork Pie in which he has performed some of the stunt driving for the car chase movie.

"He's actually an amazing driver," producer Tom Hern told the Herald during the shoot.

"The stunties were blown away by him. We thought we would have to have stunt doubles do most of the driving but he's ended up doing quite a lot because he's a natural talent and a cool head."

Rolleston made his screen debut in Taika Waititi's 2010 film Boy, playing the main role of the child who idolises his father.

In 2014 he was in two further films - The Dark Horse, in which he co-starred opposite Cliff Curtis as a teenager who is set to be initiated into a gang, and The Dead Lands, in which he plays a young Maori warrior seeking vengeance for the massacre of his family.

Family friend Barry Howe said James Rolleston was a "really good friend" to his son and word of the crash had spread quickly in the community.

"He's a good boy, bit of an icon in our little town. He's really down to earth. He still plays rugby when he comes down. He played two weeks ago.

"All of our hopes and wishes are out there for James' recovery. All the boys are a bit devastated, all rooting for him for a speedy recovery."

Bay of Plenty District Health Board released a short statement, which said: "Actor James Rolleston, 19 years old from Opotiki, was this morning airlifted to Tauranga Hospital following a car accident. No further details will be released and the family will not make any comment."

- Additional reporting Kyra Dawson.

Earlier: Two people have been injured, one critically, in a crash near Opotiki.

A single vehicle struck the Otara bridge on the eastern side of Opotiki about 10.30pm last night.

The BayTrust Rescue Helicopter was sent to the scene where a critically injured 19-year-old local man was flown to Tauranga Hospital.

A second person in the car had minor injuries.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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