Two teenage brothers killed in a central North Island crash have been remembered as loveable boys who wore their hearts on their sleeves.

Thor Tamanui Sullivan, 16, and his 18-year-old brother Hape Raroa Sullivan died when the car they were in hit a tree and rolled on Tirohanga Rd, north of Taupo, about 11pm on Friday.

A 14-year-old girl was also badly hurt in the crash and was last night recovering in Rotorua Hospital.

Thor and Hape's grandmother said the boys' parents Thomas and Melanie Sullivan were devastated.


"It is terrible because it is the two of them," said the woman, who did not want to be named. "If it was one that would be hard, but for two of them, it is just awful, so awful.

"We just want them home with us."

The woman said the boys' mother would bring her sons home because all their friends were there.

"Then she will take them back to her marae."

She said the parents were not coping very well after the devastating double tragedy but she hoped things would be easier once they saw their sons.

"Mel and Tom aren't doing very good, of course they won't be, until they see their boys."

Their bodies were expected to be back with their whanau today.

"The last time I saw them was the school holidays. I was just thinking of going and seeing them. They pop over now and again and see me."

Thor and Hape have an older half-brother, a younger sister and a younger brother.

Six months ago, Thor had enrolled with the New Zealand Cadet Forces and had ambitions to join the army.

His unit commander Flight Lieutenant Raewyn Scoles said he was an "excellent cadet" who had been excelling within the South Waikato-based No 34 Squadron.

"Thor Sullivan wore his heart on his sleeve and was willing to help everybody around him. It's just so sad that a life so young has been taken."

Scoles also knew Hape: "He was like his brother in that way - a loveable guy," she said.

The boys' uncle Lance Sullivan said Thor and Hape were "heading down the wrong path" a few years ago but had turned their lives around.

"Thor had become a cadet so that was a big change for him. It was great, I saw the photos and videos of him. He was doing so well."

Police have described the crash as an "absolutely avoidable tragedy".

Inspector Brent Crowe urged drivers to take more care, especially on rural roads and highways.

"While the full circumstances of [Friday's] crash are yet to be determined I can say that all too often police are attending serious crashes that are avoidable," he said.

"Factors such as fatigue, alcohol, speed, young drivers and rural roads are all being considered in this case."

Police have extended their sympathies to the friends and family of the victims.

A funeral service for the brothers is expected to be held on Tuesday.