The man responsible for a crash near Rotorua that injured eight Opotiki Primary School staff, leaving one of them a paraplegic, has pleaded guilty.

Patariki Kiel-Bidois, a first-time offender, pleaded guilty to eight charges of careless driving causing injury when he appeared in the Whakatāne District Court before Judge Christopher Harding yesterday.

He was convicted and will reappear for sentencing on September 9.

The judge asked for victim impact statements to be available at this time from all the injured women.


According to the police summary of facts, the crash happened on December 17 at about 5.10pm as Kiel-Bidois was driving his Ford vehicle west on State Highway 30 at Rotoma.

The road was wet because of heavy rain and there were intermittent heavy downpours.

Kiel-Bidois failed to see in time that the vehicle in front of him had slowed because of the conditions. He braked heavily, causing his vehicle to slide and, panicking, he applied the handbrake.

His vehicle slid across the centre line onto the wrong side of the road and into the path of the Toyota Hiace van carrying Opotiki Primary School staff who were returning from an end-of-school "pampering" trip to Rotorua.

Eight of the nine people in the van were injured.

One suffered a serious spinal injury and is now a paraplegic. Others suffered injuries including broken bones and fractures, ruptured spleen, lacerations, bruising and ligament damage.

In explanation, Kiel-Bidois told police the car in front had almost stopped in a puddle and he slammed on his brakes, causing his truck to fly towards it.