A friend of a young Rotorua woman who died after a police chase says life is a "living hell" without her - and is urging others not to put themselves or others in danger by fleeing police.

His comments come as new figures show the number of Rotorua drivers fleeing police has almost doubled over the past eight years, climbing to 103 last year.

That's up from 54 in 2009 and 87 in 2015.

Moana Matthews, 17, died on August 7 last year when she lost control of the car she was driving and crashed over a stream bank, hitting a berm on the other side.

Rotorua teenager Moana Matthews was killed in a crash after a police pursuit. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Rotorua teenager Moana Matthews was killed in a crash after a police pursuit. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Matthews was seen driving erratically through an intersection and at high speed along Tarewa Rd when police tried to stop the car, but she continued for a kilometre before crashing.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. Three others in the car suffered minor injuries.

Matthews was one of 15 drivers who fled police in August alone.

The scene of the crash that killed Moana Matthews. PHOTO/FILE
The scene of the crash that killed Moana Matthews. PHOTO/FILE

Her friend, who asked not to be named, spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post about the bubbly, outgoing young woman he had lost.

He said it had been a "living hell" without her.

"She was our party girl, the one who always made us laugh," he said.

"She was just an amazing person inside and out. Losing her has been so tough, not a day goes by where I don't think about her."

He encouraged drivers to think about their actions and be responsible.


"You aren't only putting yourself in danger but those who are also in the car or the cars around you," he said.

"I believe she wasn't in the right state of mind."

Bay of Plenty road policing manager Brent Crowe said the increased number of pursuits on the district's roads was a major concern.

"Regrettably it shows how desperate some people are to avoid being held accountable for bad behaviours," he said.

"Others may be desensitised, through video games or movies, into believing that their actions won't cause harm or perhaps the less intelligent among us think it is fun."

Crowe said whatever the reason, fleeing was a selfish and highly dangerous act that could, and did, have tragic consequences.

"It is also one of the riskiest and most stressful situations police constables will ever find themselves in, hence police have a very robust policy to guide our actions," he said.

"The overriding policy principle is that public and staff safety takes precedent over the immediate apprehension of any offender.

"Whether police are stopping a vehicle for a minor traffic offence or involvement in a major crime, it's a delicate balance that each police member has to get right and involves a continuous risk assessment process in often fast-paced and fluid situations."

Crowe said the message was simple.

"If you are signalled to stop by police, do so. If you are found to be in the wrong for whatever reason, take responsibility for your actions, don't make things any worse," he said.

"A person's decision to flee from police is a poor one and places innocent lives in harm's way - it has often caused unnecessary suffering and it's just not worth it."

Sensible Sentencing Trust Rotorua spokesman Peter Bentley said a certain sector of society seemed to think it was fair game to try to run from police.

"If you've done wrong, be accountable," he said.

"There has been a general softening of the standards, we've got a lot more PC."

Bentley believed there was a growing lack of respect for authority because "the police aren't allowed to give the little bugger a kick up the bum".