A car accident has robbed a family of two young brothers who were on their way to pay their respects to an uncle who had recently died.
Te Hira Whittaker-Ngaropo, 12, and Chance Whittaker-Ngaropo, 16, both of Auckland, died on Saturday when the car they were in crashed on State Highway 2, in Pikowai, in the Bay of Plenty.
The young brothers were travelling to see an uncle, who was lying in state in Matata, near Whakatane.
Pouroto Ngaropo, another uncle and head of people, language and culture at Maori Television, said the car accident was heartbreaking.
"Those boys were future leaders of our marae, Wai Mirirangi in Waihou," Mr Ngaropo said. "They were young men of great potential. They were loved by everybody."
He said the brothers shared the same attributes as their ancestor Te Reinga, and were committed to their family and their marae.
"They were loving, caring, humble and they worked very hard in everything that they did.
"There is a lot of love and respect and kindness in the family."
He said the pair would be farewelled at Wai Mirirangi Marae, on the Hokianga Harbour.
Chance was a Year 13 student at Manurewa's James Cook High School.
Principal Grant McMillan said he was "a fine young man who demonstrated great leadership at our school and showed great promise".
It is understood Chance was driving the vehicle when it left the road on a straight and hit trees.
He was stabilised before the Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter flew him to Waikato Hospital in a critical condition, but died in hospital.
It is understood Te Hira was sitting in the back and died at the scene.
A third passenger received injuries that were not serious.
This weekend has been marred by several serious car accidents.
A person was in a moderate condition yesterday after their Toyota Rav 4 flipped on the Southwestern Motorway in Mt Roskill.
Five people were hurt in a two-car crash just before 12.40pm yesterday on SH31, Tihiroa, north of Otorohanga.
One person was airlifted to Waikato Hospital in a serious to critical condition, while four others were taken to hospital by ambulance.
Also yesterday, a person was taken to Thames Hospital with moderate injuries at 8.50am after the vehicle they were driving smashed into a parked ambulance in Paeroa.
And on Saturday night, the passenger of a vehicle involved in a police chase in Porirua died in hospital.
And Friday night, Masterton Fire Service station officer Mike Cornford said it was "unbelievable" anyone was able to emerge alive after a head-on collision south of the town.
Emergency services found the car on its roof among smashed tree branches and fallen power lines on SH2 about 5.30pm, alongside a badly damaged station-wagon.
The occupants of both cars were taken to hospital with minor injuries.