A neighbour who tried to save the life of a preschooler hit by a car in a farm driveway near Tokoroa was too distressed later to talk about the fatality.
The man was among a number of people who rushed to help. He said the young family were "very close" with his own.
The boy was hit about 9.30am on the private driveway leading to his family's farm and died soon afterwards, despite the efforts of family, neighbours and emergency service staff to save him.
Another neighbour said he saw the emergency vehicles rush to the farm. "We were on adjoining hill country shifting stock and saw the emergency services all arrive.
"We thought it must have been a tractor accident or something."
He said the town's fire siren went off and up to six police cars, two ambulances, a fire truck and a rescue helicopter were at the scene.
"When I saw the fire brigade setting up a landing site for a helicopter I knew something really bad had happened, but I thought, 'At least everyone who needs to be is there to help them'.
"But then when everyone started to leave and the helicopter and ambulances didn't take anyone away I knew it must have been really bad and that it had gone for the worst.
"Then we saw the local undertaker go up the drive and a tow truck and saw someone sitting by the car in the drive."
He said a neighbour called to tell them the young boy had died.
"It is so sad. It's another child fatality on a driveway, but it was about two football fields away from the house and through the paddocks.
"In town you keep your eyes on the little tots because there's lots of busy roads and traffic but this place is a substantial distance from the road."
The police serious crash unit visited at the scene and is in the early stage of the investigation.
Safekids Aotearoa director Ann Weaver said yesterday's fatality was another sad reminder to be vigilant with children around driveways.
"It is very sad to hear of this, it is so sad and our thoughts are with the family who have lost their child," she said. "It is that time then again to remind parents to be extra vigilant with children around vehicles.
"They move fast and where they are one moment they are not the next."
Driveway Deaths in NZ
• 5 children are killed on average each year in NZ driveways
• About 1 child a fortnight is admitted to Starship hospital with injuries from driveway accidents
• Half of drivers are the victim's parent
• Most children injured are aged 2
• Accidents frequently happen in the summer months
How to stay safe around driveways
• Identify risks eg long driveways, one that provides pedestrian access to a house, near lots of parking
• Check for children before driving off
• Supervise children around vehicles
• Separate play areas from driveways