Young girl's death could have been prevented, say family

Shinia Matehaere died after she was hit by a four-wheel drive vehicle while riding her pink-and-white bike yesterday afternoon. Photo / Andrew Warner
Shinia Matehaere died after she was hit by a four-wheel drive vehicle while riding her pink-and-white bike yesterday afternoon. Photo / Andrew Warner

The death of a 5-year-old girl, killed while out riding her bicycle yesterday, could have been prevented, her family says.

Shinia Matehaere died after she was hit by a four-wheel drive vehicle while riding her pink-and-white bike yesterday afternoon, near the intersection of Matapihi Rd and Waikari Rd in Tauranga.

Shinia and her 8-year-old cousin are believed to have been crossing the road at the time, on their way to Te Matapihi Kohanga Rea school.

Her father Rikihana Matehaere told Fairfax the local community had been lobbying Tauranga City Council "for years" to lower the speed limit on the 70km/h stretch of road.

"They could even have put a pedestrian crossing in there," he said.

Shinia had started the school this year.

Her father and mother, Hine Minarapa, said they were "barely holding in there" as they tried to cope with the unexpected death of their little girl.

An unnamed relative told Fairfax the couple were "not good".

"The school is right there where the accident happened. We've been complaining for years, for a very long time, that it's 70km/h."

The council's chief executive Garry Poole told Fairfax he would "investigate this situation immediately".

Shinia was struck around 1.20pm yesterday, while out with her cousin. The driver of the 4x4 utility vehicle attempted to save the child.

The driver was last night assisting police with their enquiries.

Yesterday, neighbours who gathered at the scene were solemn. One said they heard a bang from inside her property when the crash happened, but had no idea what it could have been at the time.

They said the girl had come riding out of Waikare Rd onto Matapihi Rd where the ute hit her.

Her pink bike with white wheels lay smashed on the pavement just metres from their front gate.

"It's a very sad day," another neighbour said.

- NZ Herald

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