The partner of a man killed in a car crash will not attend his tangi but will instead be at the side of the couple's baby girl, who remains at Starship Hospital in Auckland.

Former Hawke's Bay Magpies player Roger Chappell, died in a head-on collision on Sunday, in Wairarapa.

His partner, Jessica Karaitiana, and the couple's 2-month-old were injured in the crash, which also claimed the life of 77-year-old Eric Frank Bird, of Paihiatua, who died at Wellington Hospital.

Mr Chappell, 42, of Dannevirke, died at the scene of the crash near Mt Bruce on a stretch of State Highway 2 between Eketahuna and Masterton.

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Ms Kariatiana and the baby were airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital. A family spokesperson said there were plans for Ms Karaitiana to be flown to Starship where the baby was.

The family spokesperson said Mr Chappell's body was taken to lay alongside his partner, while she remained at Palmerston North Hospital. His service will be held today at Pukehou Marae.

The Te Aute College old boy played for several clubs including Celtic, Hastings Rugby and Sports, Napier Tech, Taradale and Wairoa Athletic, and made representative honours for Central Vikings, Hawke's Bay Magpies, East Coast and Central Sub Union.