The four victims of a horrific crash at Levin were farewelled in a striking ceremony at a New Plymouth beach.
Hundreds gathered at Ngāmotu beach last night to farewell three Devon Intermediate School staff and a local cafe owner.
The crash happened on a stretch of Levin road dubbed "the killing fields highway" by Kāpiti Coast mayor K Gurunathan due to the number of lives claimed over the years.
The latest crash highlighted the urgent need for the Government to bring forward the construction of a new expressway earlier, he said.
Many who gathered to pay tribute last night held candles and sang waiata.
As it turned to dusk, a heartfelt haka was performed by locals and four large coloured lanterns were then lit and released into the night sky.
The daughter of one of the victims wrote on social media: "My dad would of loved this! thank you from my family, we know he is up there cheering us on".
Another vigil is planned tonight at Okahu Bay Beach in Auckland at 7.30pm.
The four are yet to be named by police, but were named in the video by The Freedoms and Rights Coalition of Taranaki as "our brave freedom fighters Richard, Cass, Tracey and Joep".
The group were travelling home along State Highway 1 at Kuku, south of Levin, when their van and a truck collided about 3pm.
All four of the van occupants died, while the injured truck driver was taken to Palmerston North Hospital.
"We are them. They are us. Remembering our brave freedom fighters! Thank you nz for standing with us for a moment of silence. We love you Taranaki," the coalition wrote on their page.
Devon Intermediate School staff and whānau were yesterday left shocked and saddened by the sudden loss.
Principal Jenny Gellen confirmed one was the school caretaker, one was a teacher aide and another was a class teacher.
"Devon Intermediate is shocked and saddened to announce that three of our staff members passed away yesterday in a crash near Levin," Gellen said.
"All were extremely valued staff who will be sadly missed."
Associate Education Minister Jan Tinnetti also acknowledged their deaths while talking to Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB.
"Oh that was a terribly sad situation and my heart just goes out to them.
"I have been a principal in a similar situation where I have lost teachers or lost students in that way and it's just horrific and my thoughts have gone straight to the school and straight to the principal," she said.
In a post to Facebook, the Freedoms and Rights Coalition thanked the victims for their "courage" in attending Tuesday's protest in Wellington.
"We salute and honour you not just for your fight for freedom, but for all you have done in this life, and all you have been to those who loved you.
"We send all our thoughts, love and gratitude to their families, friends, and the Devon Intermediate School community during this time."
Families of the victims have also expressed their sorrow, including caretaker Richard.
"I miss you dad. Taken way to soon, I love you forever & always," his daughter wrote.
The man's wife wrote: "Oh my love, I will love and miss you forever. Taken doing something you truly believed in with all my support, my freedom fighter. Love you."
Last night she thanked everyone for "the love and support and your kind words".
"Richard will be watching over us all and guiding us through this very sad time we are going through. Love to you all from all of u."
Meanwhile, Linda Stewart, Waka Kotahi director of regional relationships, said construction of a new four-lane highway between Otaki and Levin was planned to begin in 2025.