As Leotisia Malakai lay critically injured in her hospital bed, she sang quietly and held family members' hands.

The 55-year-old head tutor for female students at Mailefihi Siu'ilikutapu college died yesterday afternoon - eight days after the tragic Christmas Eve bus crash.

She was the third person to die following the crash near Gisborne. Sione Taumalolo, 11, and Talita Moimoi Fifita, 33, who died at the scene.

Molokai 's death brings the holiday road toll to 19 - the highest since the 2011/2012 period when it was also 19. It was higher in the 2008/2009 period with 25 deaths.

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Student Sione Taumalolo, 11, and Talita Moimoi Fifita, 33, were killed in the crash
Student Sione Taumalolo, 11, and Talita Moimoi Fifita, 33, were killed in the crash

The group were part of the college's brass band who were in New Zealand from Tonga as part of a fundraising trip.

Molokai had been transferred to Waikato Hospital following the accident.

Five people are still in hospital, two in Hawkes Bay Hospital and three in Middlemore Hospital. They are all in a stable condition.

Family and friends of Molokai have shared pictures of her, with several cuts on her face, in her hospital bed, on social media.

A video also shows her singing quietly.

On man wrote: "Leticia was an integral voice in my MA thesis. She was full of love and kindness and opened her heart and her home to me... My heart breaks this new year."

Another said: "Fly High Aunty Leticia Molokai. God have called you to be one of his guardian angels."

The wreckage of the crash being removed from the scene. Photo / Paul Rickard
The wreckage of the crash being removed from the scene. Photo / Paul Rickard

Another said: "Aunty Leticia Molokai may you rest in peace in a peaceful place in Heaven. Thank you for everything you have done for us in so many different ways. Your name will tattoo in our heart.

"May God welcome you in his Kingdom. Words cannot describe our feeling... We love you with all our Heart. Till we meet again in a better place."

The bus had 53 people on board when it slammed through a barrier and went 100m down a bank, on State Highway 2.

The passengers were travelling to perform at a church service on Christmas Day.

Mourners at a memorial service for the two people killed. Photo / Nick Reed
Mourners at a memorial service for the two people killed. Photo / Nick Reed

Survivors are now in Auckland and have been staying at the Methodist Church in Grey Lynn and are not expected to leave the country until next week.

Taumalolo and Fifita were farewelled at the church on Thursday with a memorial service before their bodies were flown back to Tonga.

Police said this morning they were still investigating the cause of the crash.

The road toll period finishes at 6am on Wednesday. It started at 4pm on December 23.