Despite a broken jaw, deputy health and disability commissioner Rose Wall has been able to express her heartache at losing her best friend and husband in a horror car crash.
Ms Wall is in Waikato Hospital in a serious but stable condition after the crash on Friday night which claimed the life of Graham Charles Hare, 64.
Mr Hare's daughters, Lauren and Luci, have been at their stepmother's bedside. Luci Hare said Ms Wall was struggling with her loss.
"She said yesterday, 'I relied on him for everything, what am I going to do without him, he was my buddy'. She can talk but she is still in a very serious condition."
Ms Wall remained in shock, she said.
"I went and saw her and she is in huge shock and a lot of pain, both emotional and physical -- her jaw is broken so it is only very few words -- she has one more surgery, I think it will be Tuesday as she keeps getting moved back due to short staff and long weekends but she is one of the strongest people I know so I know she will recover, but it will be long and slow."
Mr Hare died when the BMW he was driving was involved in a head-on collision with a Toyota Corolla driven by a 17-year-old at Te Kowhai, west of Hamilton, just before 10pm. The young man also died.
The deaths are among five on the roads so far this long weekend. Last year's total was four.
Ms Wall, who trained as a nurse and has extensive experience and knowledge of public health services, was appointed deputy health and disability commissioner in 2013.
Mr Hare was a lawyer for about 40 years and the director and project manager of companies including private hospital Wakefield Health in Wellington, Rotorua's QE Hospital and Health Med Group Tauranga.
He was also on the board of directors for many companies including South Auckland's Eastcare Health.
Mr Hare's daughter Lauren said: "He was loved and respected by everyone who knew him for his quick and risque wit and incredibly sharp mind. He painted life in vivid colours wherever he went.
"He has left a huge hole in our family. Our hearts are broken."
Mr Hare's long-time friend and business partner Mark Fraundorfer described him as an "incredibly creative and influential person".
Mr Fraundorfer, a Tauranga urologist, met Mr Hare in his younger days in the town when he [Fraundorfer] wanted to build a medical centre.
"That's how most of the doctors in Tauranga know him because he was the lawyer behind Pro-Med House which was a medical centre and the first one in New Zealand which had specialists along with a theatre, radiology suite, pharmacy and physiotherapy. I was the concept guy and he put it all into place."
Mr Hare also overcame serious health problems and came close to dying after suffering from legionnaires' disease.
"He touched people the length and breadth of the country, he was clever and he was a tall poppy in some ways but he was a great sporting guy, he held New Zealand records in swimming, he was musical and just a very, very exceptional man."
Waikato road policing manager Freda Grace said it appeared the collision occurred when Mr Hare attempted to pass a truck.
Mrs Grace is calling for witnesses, including the driver of a light-coloured SUV which is believed to have passed the truck immediately before the incident.
National road policing manager Inspector Steve Greally said the driving culture in New Zealand had to change if the road toll was to abate.
"Responsibility for the safety of the remainder of this holiday weekend sits purely with each and every driver on our roads," he said.