The police have apologised for an insensitive tweet that trivialised when they have to tell someone their relative has died.

The tweet was posted on the official New Zealand Police Twitter page at 3pm today and quickly taken down.

It said "when we have to tell someone their family member has died in a crash" which was then punctuated with a Steve Carell gif saying "this is the worst". Carell is best known for his comedic hits The Office and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

The Police have since tweeted an apology.

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"We apologise for the recent road safety tweet. We quickly realised it was wrong & insensitive & it was immediately deleted. Thx for feedback."

Police deputy chief executive public affairs Karen Jones said they had quickly deleted the tweet as the imagery was wrong and insensitive.

"We feel terrible about this mistake, as we put victims at the heart of what police do.

"Social media is a hugely important channel to NZ Police and we appreciated the prompt feedback we got from members of our community who pointed out the inappropriateness of the tweet.

"We are extremely sorry and will learn from this."

The public affairs staff member who wrote the tweet realised it was wrong and took it down within two minutes of posting it. The person would not lose their job over the incident, Jones said, but they were "gutted".

"They were trying to do the right thing and connect in a different way and quickly realised within two minutes they had completely misjudged the tone and the imagery.

"The damage was done.

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"We got it wrong. We will learn from this. And we want to apologise to all victims of road safety."