Four preschoolers have been injured, one critically following a two-vehicle crash at Okere Falls, near Rotorua.
St John Lakes area territorial manager Steve Lynch said seven people had been injured, with the female driver of one car and a 4-year-old being flown to Waikato Hospital in critical conditions.
A male passenger was taken by road ambulance to Rotorua Hospital with moderate injuries and the three other children, two 1-year-olds and another 4-year-old, were also taken to Rotorua Hospital with minor injuries.
The driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries.
Bay of Plenty road policing manager Inspector Brent Crowe said the crash happened on State Highway 30 just before 3pm in the 70km/h section of the road between Whangamarino School and the Okere Falls Store.
He said the crash was between a van and a people mover.
Mr Crowe said at this stage it appeared the three children in the people mover were in correct child restraints.
He said a rescue helicopter had just landed at the scene.
He said traffic heading to Tauranga from Rotorua was being diverted down Hamurana Rd.
Police advise motorists travelling between Tauranga and Rotorua to use State Highway 36 until the crash is cleared.
A reporter at the scene said traffic was backed up on State Highway 33 and traffic was being diverted onto Hamurana Rd.
An Okere Falls Store worker said the crash was closer to Whangamarino School and they had not seen or heard it. She said the traffic was "chocker" with vehicles backed right up down the road.
A Whangamarino School spokeswoman said they had just heard a rescue helicopter land but they did not know any details about the crash at this stage.
Maketu resident Ngahuia Loach, who is stuck in the line of traffic at the crash scene, said she travelled the road daily and had seen many near misses.
"It was a long time coming the way people drive around here... 70km/h is way too fast, especially with the shop there and pedestrians."
A resident near the crash site, who did not wish to be named, agreed the speed limit needed to be lowered.
"It needs to be 60km/h at the most. People go flying around the corners, it's really dangerous, especially with the school right there. We saw the ambulances fly past us on Te Ngae (Rd) and all we could hope was that it wasn't whanau."
More to come.
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