Memorials for two 12-year-old girls killed in a crash at Rakaia at the weekend have been inundated with well-wishes and messages of love and support.

Abigail Hone, her friend Ella Summerfield and Ella's mother Sally, 49, died in the crash at Rakaia, 67km southwest of Christchurch, on Saturday.

Gillian Simpson, principal of St Margaret's College, which Ella attended, said today that students had been constantly signing the book set up in the school chapel, and it would be given to the Summerfield family.

"It's an amazing community that have rallied together, and amazing to watch the senior girls caring for the younger ones.


"It has hit us hard, but it's hit the Year Sevens and Year Eights the hardest. Ella made friends really easily. She was so kind, happy, a really positive person.

"She was an absolute allrounder. She gained distinction for piano, she was netballer of the year and did athletics and triathlon. She obviously had a huge future ahead of her with sport.

"But everyone remembers her for her smile. She had a fantastic smile."

A large oak tree in the central playground at Sumner School is serving as a memorial site.

The main tree trunk is so full of cards, origami cranes, flowers, and balloons that people have resorted to hanging cards on branches with ribbons.

Jewellery hangs from the tree amid love hearts and colourful tributes.

Paul Wilkinson, acting principal at Sumner School, where Ella and Abi were former students, said a memorial by a tree had been set up for friends and loved ones to leave flowers and messages.

"There have been lots of people constantly visiting the tree," he said.


Mr Wilkinson said the tree was chosen because it was close to where the school's Year 7 and Year 8 pupils were based.

"The Sumner community, the children and staff have supported each other beautifully in this very sad time, and will continue to do so."

He said the Ministry of Education trauma team had left the school for now, but were available if needed again.

Hone family spokesman Darren Wright said the families' focus was slowly turning to funeral arrangements.

"We're working through that process now."

Mrs Summerfield's husband Shane, who was driving, was injured in the crash. He is still in a serious condition in Christchurch Hospital.

Dutch tourist Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, has been charged over the crash and appeared in court yesterday.

Johannes Jacobus Appelman walks into the Christchurch District Court this morning. Photo / Martin Hunter