The teenage driver of a car that crashed into a house at Kaitaia remains in a critical condition in Whangerei Hospital this morning.
Nathan Rawiri, 18, is fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit after the crash in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Rawiri had allegedly sped away from police before the car he was driving careered into the side of a house where five children lay sleeping.
The Toyota Altezza sped down Griggs Rd and lost control on a slight bend before crashing through a fence and colliding with the Tahu family's home, moving it off its foundations.
Tania Tahu, 25, has told how a thick curtain was all that protected her children and their cousins from the flying debris.
A fence pole flew through the window and landed next to where Jackson Tahu, 3, and his brother Shilo, 18 months, were sleeping. Cousins Chastity, 10, and her sibblings, aged 3 and 4, were only metres away.
Shards of glass shattered on to the children, leaving Shilo with a gash to his head. He was taken to hospital for observation.
"They could have been killed,'' Ms Tahu said. "The glass was all over them.
They were screaming. I was screaming too. It took a long time to calm down.''
Rawiri, 18, had to be cut from the twisted wreck of his car.
The lead fire officer at the scene, Selwyn Subritzky, knew Rawiri well. Subritzky said it was difficult having to attend such serious accidents in the tight-knit community.
"I had to focus on getting him out - what else can you do? Then you go home, have a shower and lie in bed for hours because you can't sleep.''
Rawiri's grandfather and Subritzky are teachers at Kaitaia High School.
"(Nathan) is a nice kid, but when they have alcohol in them the devil comes out.''
Tania's mother, May Tahu, who lives in the house with her husband, said she rushed outside to comfort Rawiri's passengers, who had less serious injuries. She said one of the teenagers fled the scene, but soon returned.
"He thought the driver was dead. He was yelling 'Nathan, Nathan' over and over. I've never heard anything like it.''
Police said the chase was "short'' and began after Rawiri refused to pull over. Earlier, the car had been seen driving into the rear of a car stopped at an intersection.
The Serious Crash Unit is investigating.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority, which investigates ill-fated police pursuits, recently cleared police of any mistakes in three fatal high-speed chases.
Sina Naraghizadeh, 19, was killed on a West Auckland road last year after fleeing at speeds up to 200km/h in a stolen Subaru.
Caine Burgess, 20, was pursued by police through Pukekohe after being seen driving erratically, and crashed moments after police had abandoned chase.
Robert Seifert, 36, was chased more than 30km around Taranaki before wrapping his car around a power pole. He suffered fatal head injuries.
The authority ruled police had complied with policy and law - and made no recommendations.By Celeste Gorrell Anstiss @Cagorrell Email Celeste, APNZ staff