A "cushioning" gravel driveway probably saved Opoutama contractor Terry Telford from more serious injury after he was accidentally run over twice by his wife yesterday.

As it was, 69-year-old Mr Telford, well known in the Opoutama and greater Mahia area, was airlifted to Hawke's Bay Hospital with head, chest and back injuries.

He was today recovering in a general ward where his condition was listed as "stable".

The accident happened about 8.30 yesterday morning when his wife Sandy was leaving the couple's Waikokupu Rd property in her small 4WD vehicle.

Mr Telford had earlier left the house and was walking on the long driveway when it is understood Mrs Telford ran into him while reversing.

A Lowe Corporation rescue service spokesperson said it appeared Mrs Telford was not immediately aware of what had happened, and drove forward.

Unfortunately she struck her husband, who had been knocked to the ground, a second time.

Although in shock, she quickly managed to call for help.

Mrs Telford comforted her husband, who remained conscious and able to talk with her, until police and St John Ambulance arrived.

Mr Telford was stabilised then taken by ambulance to the nearby Mahia landing strip where the rescue helicopter picked him up.

His wife was taken with him to hospital and was at his bedside today. The couple had asked for privacy.

Wairoa Police Senior Sergeant Tony Bates said Mrs Telford was extremely distraught and police stood back from speaking with her at the scene.

"We will speak to her when we feel it is appropriate," he said, adding at this stage the incident was being treated as an unfortunate accident.

He said it appeared the thick gravel driveway had a cushioning effect and may have prevented more serious injury.

St John Ambulance district operations manager Stephen Smith said Mr Telford's injuries were described as moderate, but due to the significance of the back injury he was carefully stabilised for the journey to Mahia.

"He was conscious and talking throughout though," Mr Smith said.