Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Fatal Karaka crash: Mother's wailing echoes through court

A mother's uncontrollable wailing echoed through Pukekohe District Court for the loss of her daughter this morning.

Ten months earlier, Te-Tauvira Tearii crashed head on into a car driven by 23-year-old Huan Na. Na was killed, as was her friend Zhuangya Xu. Zhentai Qi was severely injured but survived.

READ MORE: The crash that destroyed a family

Today, Tearii was sentenced to 250 hours community work, three months community detention and was disqualified from driving for a year.

Twenty members of the defendant's family sat in silence as Judge Gregory Hikaka passed sentence, as did a dozen relations of the victims.

But moments later, Ms Na's mother Meng Gen could not contain her grief and broke down as others tried to console her.

"It is not fair. This is not fair," she shouted in Mandarin.

Na (pictured) was killed, as was her friend Zhuangya Xu. Photo / Supplied
Na (pictured) was killed, as was her friend Zhuangya Xu. Photo / Supplied

A serious crash unit report said Tearii crossed the centre line of Karaka Rd in rural south Auckland for 22 metres, hitting the yellow Toyota in the middle of its lane.

Driving at 100kmh, his lawyer Surendra Bennett said, would have seen him in the opposing lane for about 0.82 seconds.

"It can be considered a moment; a moment my client will regret for a long time," she said.

Police prosecutor Geoffrey Bardsley said there were only two explanations for the lapse. Either Tearii fell asleep or that he was so distracted by something that he did not notice he was heading into oncoming traffic.

Whatever the reason, Judge Hikaka said his culpability was "serious to very serious".

He received documents from the victims' families from a Beijing-based lawyer who said the equivalent crime committed in China would see an offender jailed for up to five years and ordered to pay all relevant compensation.

But the judge went into detail explaining to the family how New Zealand law differed.

The two counts of careless driving causing death and one of careless driving causing injury, to which Tearii pleaded guilty, carry a maximum jail term of 3 months.

Tearii was sentenced to 250 hours community work, three months community detention and was disqualified from driving for a year. Photo / Rob Kidd
Tearii was sentenced to 250 hours community work, three months community detention and was disqualified from driving for a year. Photo / Rob Kidd

The court heard how the families of the deceased had spent up to $35,000 on travel to New Zealand since the incident, even accounting for payments of $5000 from victim support.

But Ms Bennett said her client, who had a partner and young daughter, was of limited means and could only afford to pay them $50 a week.

Judge Hikaka awarded $1000 reparation to the family of each victim but acknowledged they could reject the cash if they deemed it "insulting".

In an interview with the Herald yesterday Ms Gen said the loss of her daughter had stripped her life of meaning.

"It's the end of my own dream, and the happiness of the whole family," she said.

Ms Na, an architecture student, was a keen photographer and came to New Zealand to find inspiration to fuel her design.

She and her friends were in the country on working visas.

In a statement given to the Herald, Tearii's family said he was "extremely distraught" by what had happened.

"[He] understands and acknowledges his difficulties cannot be compared to the loss of two lives and the pain caused to the victim's family," it said.

- NZ Herald

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