The victim of Thursday's car crash in South Wairarapa was a respected and experienced local government official.
Police have confirmed that Godwell Mahowa, 58, of Lower Hutt, was killed after his car was hit by a train near Featherston.
Mahowa died after his car collided with a train at Speedy's Crossing on Western Lake Rd, in South Wairarapa, at about 2pm on Thursday.
A police spokesperson said they were still investigating the circumstances of the crash, and extended their sympathies to Mahowa's family and friends.
Mahowa was a popular member of staff at South Wairarapa District Council, where he worked as planning manager since 2019.
He held similar positions at Tasman and Masterton District Councils, having established a career in land use and environmental management in Zimbabwe before moving to New Zealand.
Offices and libraries across the district were closed today as a mark of respect.
Harry Wilson, SWDC's chief executive, said the organisation "suffered a terrible loss".
"Godwell Mahowa, a loving husband, father, and to us our planning manager and friend, was taken from us suddenly and far too soon. Tragically, his car collided with a train outside Featherston while on his way to a site visit.
"First and foremost, our thoughts are with Godwell's wife, children, close family and friends at this very sad time. Our thoughts are also with the train driver, rail team and first responders who will also be affected by this tragedy.
"As you can imagine, as a small and close-knit council, we are all finding this news difficult to process today.
"Godwell was a much-loved and respected member of the SWDC whānau.
"He had been part of our team since September 2019, quickly fitting in and being an inspiration the Planning Team, who he regularly referred to as 'part of my family'. Godwell's dedication to his role and passion for what he did was clear to all who worked with him, and he will be sorely missed.
"Thank you to all those who have sent their thoughts and prayers to us and Godwell's family. Please give them privacy at this time to allow them to grieve together."
Masterton District Council chief executive Kath Ross worked with Mahowa during his tenure there.
She said staff were "shocked" to hear of his death.
"It was devastating news for many of us.
"There really are no words to describe how awful this tragedy is and our hearts go out to Godwell's wife, their children, and wider family and friends, as well as our colleagues at SWDC.
"Godwell was employed as a senior resource planner at the council from June 2018 to August 2019, and our contact with him continued as part of work on Wairarapa Combined District Plan.
"Many people in our community will also have had contact with him.
"We got to know Godwell as a wonderful, gentle, humorous person – he was a genuinely lovely man.
"We know he will be greatly missed."
The New Zealand Transport Agency's Safer Rail team, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, and the Serious Crash Unit are investigating the crash.