A fatal accident south of Hastings less than two hours after the New Year was ushered in, has made Hawke's Bay the black spot on the Christmas-New Year road toll, which currently stands at 11.
Three of that number were handled by the Bay's emergency services.
"No, not a good start to the holiday season," was how Constable Bryan Farquharson of the Napier Police Traffic unit, and who attended one of the fatals, said today.
Tamataia Pera Maurangi, 35, of Pt England in Auckland became the first road fatality of 2011 when the Holden Commodore he was driving left the road and crashed into a 3m ditch on SH2, 2km south of Hastings at 1.40am on Saturday.
A disorientated, but otherwise uninjured male passenger, 42, flagged down a passing police patrol who would otherwise have missed the partially submerged, upside down car. But Mr Maurangi died at the scene.
The passenger, was also from Auckland. The pair had driven to Hastings overnight.
Hastings Sergeant Clint Adamson said driver fatigue was a likely factor in the crash. "We're still to rule out anything else but these guys had driven across the North Island for most of the afternoon," Mr Adamson said. "They stopped for dinner in Wanganui, before continuing to drive. The passenger said he fell asleep and remembers waking up as the vehicle hit the bottom of the ditch."
Serious crash investigators examined the scene and the vehicle, but results of a post mortem on the deceased driver were not yet known.
The latest fatality in the province came less than 12 hours after Tanisha Morris, 13, became the last fatality on a provisional 2010 road toll of 373.
She was the sole passenger in a four-wheel-drive vehicle travelling north when it collided with a truck on SH2, near the Whirinaki bluff, 14km north of Napier, about 3pm.
Residents said there was "a huge bang".
One man said he was inside his house when he heard what sounded like an explosion, before going outside to investigate. "I saw the car and I only saw half of it. The whole passenger's side was caved in, it looked like it was ripped out."
Another resident - who was looking at the accident site through binoculars - described the car as "a mangled mess" as moves were being made to tow the vehicle about three hours after the accident.
The 61-year-old male driver, who was a relation of the deceased girl, was taken to Hawkes Bay Hospital for treatment and discharged on Saturday. The truck driver was not injured.
There were traffic delays of up to three hours, as emergency services attended to the scene.
One lane of traffic was opened about two hours later, to help ease the traffic jam.
Police said no charges had been laid at this stage.
Meanwhile 17-year-old Mary-Lee Huata was farewelled in Raupunga, south of Wairoa yesterday. She died last Monday morning when the Toyota Hilux she was travelling in with four others left Putere Rd, about 7km west of Raupunga, and rolled. A 13-year-old cousin was driving the Toyota Hilux, having been woken to do so by the other four passengers who had been partying at Raupunga's Kahungunu Marae.
The accident came just two days after the Christmas Day wedding of Miss Huata's mother at Mohaka Marae. The tangi was held at the same place.
Police have yet to complete the crash investigation.
Already four people have died in 2011.
The official holiday road toll period started at 4pm on Christmas Eve and runs until 6am on January 5. Last year, 13 people died on the roads during the period.
Additional reporting by NZPA