A 24-year-old Te Kao man died at the scene when the car in which he was a back seat passenger crashed into a concrete power pole on the Kaitaia Awaroa Rd, on the crest of the hill before the eastern end of the Pukepoto Straight, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
He was named by police as Justin Ricky-Lee Murray.
The man described by Northland area commander Superintendent Tony Hill as the driver and a second passenger suffered critical injuries and were flown to Auckland by rescue helicopter for emergency medical treatment. They were later described as in a serious but stable condition.
Two more passengers were admitted to hospital with moderate injuries, and were later discharged.
Hill said police had pursued the vehicle in Kaitaia for a short time at about 1.20am, but abandoned it due to the driver's speed and manner of driving. The car crashed into the power pole a few minutes later, emergency services being summoned at 1.27.
"Fleeing driver events can be volatile, unpredictable and high-risk to everyone involved, so whether or not to pursue a fleeing driver is one of the most serious decisions our staff face on the frontline," he added.
"Our officers come to work every day to keep people safe and prevent harm, so this is the worst possible outcome."
He extended his sincere condolences to the families impacted by "this tragedy."
The circumstances of the incident would be subject to a police investigation, and the Independent Police Conduct Authority would be notified.
The road was closed for a scene examination overnight and reopened just before 6am, after a Kaitaia Fire Brigade crew had cleared away debris. It was reduced to one lane again later in the morning while a Top Energy crew replaced the pole.
The crash took Northland's road toll for the year so far to 22, and the Far North's to 8.
The incident added to a growing list of police pursuits in Northland. In 2010 there were 145 pursuits around the region, compared to 268 last year. The increase in line with the national statistics.
Last month 29-year-old Kaikohe Quinton Hamilton crashed into a school bus on Matawaia-Maromaku Rd, south of Kawakawa, after fleeing from police who had initially tried to stop the vehicle due to its speed. There were no children on the bus at the time, and Hamilton was arrested after abandoning the vehicle and trying to escape on foot.
Also last month police abandoned the pursuit of a speeding car in Whangārei after several gunshots were fired from the vehicle.