A man who died in a car crash near Kaikohe yesterday was not wearing a seatbelt, police say.

The crash occurred at 12.40am on Mataraua Rd, about 1km off State Highway 12 just west of Kaikohe.

The 66-year-old victim was from the Kaikohe area. Police have yet to release his name.

It was Northland's fourth road fatality since the Covid-19 lockdown began and the 13th so far this year.


Police, St John Ambulance, Kaikohe Fire Brigade and the Northland Rescue Helicopter responded.

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Kaikohe fire chief Bill Hutchinson said it was not clear what had caused the vehicle to leave the road. Volunteer firefighters had to free the critically injured driver using cutting equipment.

St John Ambulance medics performed life support for two hours but were unable to save him. The rescue helicopter landed nearby but the driver died before he could be transported to hospital.

Sergeant Tai Patrick, of Northland police, said the vehicle had gone into a drain while rounding a moderate right-hand bend. It had then dug into a bank, hit a tree stump and spun around.

The driver, who was unrestrained, suffered critical head injuries.

No other vehicles were involved and the driver was the sole occupant.

The head of Northland road policing, Senior Sergeant Steve Dickson, said the police Serious Crash Unit was examining the vehicle, the environment and driver actions to determine the cause. A blood test will find if alcohol was involved.


''This was another very sad crash that has had the worst possible outcome,'' he said.

With the region's road toll so far this year already at 13 and some high-level drink-drivers caught during the Covid-19 crisis, Dickson said Northlanders could expect a lot more breath testing once the lockdown ended.

''We're going to be focusing on the things that cause crashes. Don't drink or take drugs before driving, always wear your seatbelt, don't speed, and don't do things like texting which are a distraction while driving.''

About a third of fatal crashes in Northland involved alcohol, a third involved people not wearing seatbelts and a third were caused by drivers going too fast for the conditions, he said.

Yesterday's crash was the fourth road fatality in Northland since the Covid-19 lockdown started at 11.59pm on March 25. Of those three are believed to have involved non-essential travel.

A 34-year-old man died in a single-vehicle crash on Paparoa Rd, south of Whangarei, on March 26.

A 66-year-old man died on April 6 when his vehicle veered off Brooks Rd, Waipu, into a tree. That crash, however, may have been caused by a medical event. Police said the driver was engaged in essential travel.

On April 19 Nga Roimata Beattie-Rihari, 18, died when the parked car she was sitting in was hit by a vehicle being driven on the wrong side on Mason Ave, Moerewa. She was six months pregnant at the time.

Ioakimi Sale, 43, has been charged with driving with excess breath alcohol causing death and other offences in relation to the Moerewa crash. He is being held in custody pending his next court appearance on May 18.