A promising young West Auckland rugby player who died in a double fatal accident on Boxing Day leaves behind a partner and a 1-year-old daughter.
Viliami Junior Muru-Teutau, 20, is one of four people to have died on the road during the Christmas/New Year holiday period.
He was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in crashed into a bridge on Triangle Rd, Henderson, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Another young man also died in the crash. Two others were seriously injured and taken to Auckland City Hospital.
Flowers and tributes, including a school tie and gold chain, had been left at the crash site this morning as contractors worked to repair the mangled bridge.
Muru-Teutau's family released a statement tonight saying they were devastated at the loss of a vibrant, happy and much loved son, and young father.
"We can't believe he is gone. We are in a state of shock and our hearts are broken.
"Vili was a young man who had everything to live for. He is the father of a 1-year-old daughter, and as one of five children, Vili's death has crushed his parents and family. There are no words to describe the pain and grief we are feeling."
The grieving family described him as a naturally gifted sportsman who loved rugby.
He was a former NZ Māori under-18 player, who played for a New South Wales country team last year, before coming home to play in the Waitematā Rugby Club's premier team.
He was also a roofing apprentice who was working hard towards completing his trade training to provide for his young family.
"Our world has been turned upside down and inside out. This is supposed to be a holiday season of festive happiness, and instead we are weeping and we are grieving."
Vili is survived by his partner and daughter, his parents and brothers and sisters, and his wider whānau.
Emergency services say the crash took place between Lincoln Rd and Waimumu Rd on Boxing Day. They were called about the incident just before 6am.
Skid marks on the road showed the car had been travelling from Lincoln Rd when it crashed into the bridge, a photographer at the scene said.
Muru-Teutau was a "great player and great friend" to all of his teammates, Waitematā Rugby Club said on its Facebook page.
"It is with a heavy heart that we as a club mourn the loss of one of our young and up and coming players ... The club is praying and in support of the family."
Sky Sport Super Club Rugby U21s Championship said Muru-Teutau was "humble, gifted, [and] loved life" in a Facebook post.
Kelston Boys High School posted a tribute last night, confirming that Muru-Teutau was an old boy of the school.
"We send out deepest condolences and prayers to whānau and friends."
Anyone who was experiences difficulties with grieving was urged to contact a helpline.
"Rest in love."
The school's principal Adeline Blair told the Herald the school community was devastated by the news and wanted to pass on their condolences to the family.
Four motorists have died so far on New Zealand roads during the official Christmas/New Year's holiday period.
On Christmas Day, two people died following a serious single vehicle crash on Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd in southeast Auckland about 7.30pm.
Police said the vehicle collided with a power pole.
Photographs from the scene show a badly damaged car on its roof off to the side of the road with the power pole lying on its bottom.
Early indications suggest high speeds were major contributing factors in both crashes, Inspector Jason Homan said yesterday.
Homan urged motorists to take extra care on the road this summer.
"Every death on the road means a person will never come home again to their whānau and friends," Homan said.
"We do not want any other families to experience such pain and loss this holiday period.
"Do not speed. Do not drink and drive. Put on your seatbelt and make sure your passengers have theirs on. Put away distractions like cell phones."