Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Tourist pleads guilty over serious crash ahead of petition to Parliament on foreign drivers

Two people were seriously injured in a Waitangi Day smash near Tirau when this rental van collided with a motorbike. The foreign driver of the van appeared in court today. Photo / Supplied.
Two people were seriously injured in a Waitangi Day smash near Tirau when this rental van collided with a motorbike. The foreign driver of the van appeared in court today. Photo / Supplied.

A Chinese tourist has been fined over a Waitangi Day crash which left a man and woman with serious injuries after being thrown from a motorcycle.

Weiqiang Zhu appeared in the Tokoroa District Court today charged with careless driving causing injury following Monday's smash south-east of Tirau.

Zhu pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced by Judge Tony Snell. He was fined $2500 on two counts of careless driving causing injury and ordered to pay $7000 to each of the two victims. He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months.

The 53-year-old was the driver of a Jucy rental van involved in the crash with a motorbike at the intersection of State Highway 5 and Harwoods Rd, about 2pm.

Police crash investigators noted Zhu, travelling north, attempted to turn right towards Harwoods Rd from State Highway 5 but failed to give way to vehicles travelling south.

"He lightly impacted with the rear of a motor vehicle before continuing into the path of a motorcycle," investigators concluded.

"The motorcycle collided with the front of [Zhu's] vehicle."

Police noted the road was dry and under bright sunshine.

A 38-year-old man riding the motorbike and a 33-year-old woman, who was riding pillion, suffered serious injuries and were flown to Waikato Hospital by the Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance.

The pair, both from Hamilton, remain in hospital in stable conditions.

The case comes just days before Tauranga mother Judy Richards is due to present her online petition to Parliament on February 14 calling for legislative change over rules around foreign drivers.

A man and woman riding this motorbike suffered serious injuries after a collision with a rental van on Waitangi Day.  Photo / Supplied.
A man and woman riding this motorbike suffered serious injuries after a collision with a rental van on Waitangi Day. Photo / Supplied.

Richards, whose 23-year-old son, Rhys Middleton, was killed by Chinese driver Jieling Xiao last Waitangi weekend, wants any visitor to New Zealand with a visa for longer than three months and who wants to drive, to be required to sit a full driver's licence test and obtain a New Zealand driver's licence.

The petition was set up in August 2016 after 27-year-old Xiao was deported when her 17-month jail sentence was reduced on appeal to home detention and community service. So far it has attracted almost 6500 signatures.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has previously said the Government did not support the petition because evidence showed foreign drivers did not cause more crashes than New Zealanders.

Foreign drivers were only a small part of the overall road safety issues in New Zealand and Kiwis benefited by not having to sit tests straight away when going overseas, Bridges said.

''I wouldn't want to lose that reciprocal privilege."

To view the petition, click here.

Foreign driver fatal crashes

August 2016: Chinese National Limin Ma crossed the centreline killing Dunedin man Riley Baker, 26, on his motorbike.

November 2015: Motueka motorcyclist Craig Chambers, 39, died when Singaporean tourist Wei Kiong Lew, 29, crossed double yellow lines.

February 2015: Five-year-old Ruby Marris died when Jing Cao, 32, of China crashed into her family's car near Moeraki.

February 2015: A family of four tourists died after their car crashed into a truck north of Tokoroa. Hong Kong residents Warren Lee, 53, Aesoon Lee, 52, both American citizens, their daughter and the driver Julia Lee, 20, died at the crash site. Griffin Lee, 17, died in hospital.

November 2012: Grant Roberts, 43, and Dennis Pederson, 54, were killed when a rental car driven by Kejia Zhang, 20, of China crashed into their convoy.

- NZ Herald

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