"I'm getting older, I'm getting my seat adjusted because I'm not a baby any more."

Those were the excited words of Amelia Lewis, 4, at the Rotorua Car Seat Clinic's latest round of checks on Sunday.

Alice Waitoa (left), Amelia Lewis, 4, and her mother Teegan Bennett. Photo / Stephen Parker
Alice Waitoa (left), Amelia Lewis, 4, and her mother Teegan Bennett. Photo / Stephen Parker

The clinic is normally held once a fortnight at the Rotorua Parents Centre, but a series of child deaths in crashes this year spurred a bigger, longer "checks and installs" clinic last weekend at the Fenton St Countdown carpark.

By June 14 this year, the number of children killed on New Zealand roads had already outstripped last year's total.

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Nineteen children aged under 15 died in crashes, up from 16 all of last year.

Of these, 19 were five Tokoroa children who died in a crash on State Highway 1 at Atiamuri on April 29, and two Rotorua girls Aroha Morgan-Rangikataua, 14, Kahukura Morgan-Rangikataua, 12, who died just weeks before, alongside their sister, cousin, and father in a crash at Mokai.

Alice Waitoa, who runs the Rotorua clinic, said the loss of young lives in the Rotorua area showed just how important it was to make children as safe as possible in vehicles.

"A simple matter of the straps not being not tight enough or the child wearing a winter jacket when the seat is fitted can make a really significant difference in a crash. You've got to make sure they have the best chance of protection in a severe crash."

The group of five technicians at the clinic aimed to get through 40 seats, but the clinic was so busy they ticked off 58.

"We just want to be able to help as many people as we can through education. What you don't know you don't know. The law can be hard to understand. I'd like to see any child up to 140cm in some form of a booster seat, it's about best practice."