Nine children, one as young as 3 months old, were in a vehicle being driven by an alleged drunk woman who repeatedly fled police in Hamilton.

Officers deemed it too dangerous to begin a pursuit of the vehicle after noticing how many passengers appeared to be inside the people mover.

Waikato road policing Senior Sergeant Pete van de Wetering praised the officers for their actions in an incident which could have turned out drastically worse.

Van de Wetering said the vehicle was spotted again on several more occasions before it was finally pulled over.


By that stage the occupants were out of the car but it was obvious there weren't enough seats or seatbelts in the car for all of them.

The youngest occupant, a baby estimated to be between 3 and 6 months old, was restrained in a capsule, he said.

The vehicle was first spotted heading north into Hamilton on State Highway 3 and clocked speeding by police. The vehicle then took off.

"The officer went to stop the van but it was clearly not going to stop but given the circumstances of what they saw the decision was made not to attempt a prolonged pursuit of any sort that could endanger the occupants."

Van de Wetering said police were constantly monitoring whether it was safe to pull people over and if deemed appropriate they would continue, if not, they would pull out.

"The officers are themselves constantly self assessing, 'do I carry on or not' and their pursuit was fairly quickly abandoned before it reached any higher levels of risk, but really through some good work they were able to locate the vehicle parked up at an address in the city.

"It was an excellent tactical decision to not engage in any sort of prolonged pursuit that could have elevated risk. You can just imagine a van full of kids, some of whom we say could not have been restrained properly."

It follows another incident in the city where a man was clocked in excess of160km/h on SH3.


The man, who also had a passenger, eventually pulled over in Airport Rd and blew 730mcg.

In a separate incident in Hamilton, a 54-year-old man was stopped in Norton Rd where he blew 1483mcg. The legal limit is 250mcg.

"Blowing 1483mcg it's just, goodness gracious, you'd have to ask the question could he see anything at all?"

Piopio man James Ritchie, 31, was killed after his vehicle went up an embankment and rolled on Oparure Rd, also injuring three of his passengers about 4.20am on Saturday.

Van de Wetering said Ritchie and his passengers had been at a function in Hamilton. However, it was unclear why his vehicle lost control on a relatively straight stretch of road.

The crash is still under investigation by police, but tributes were beginning to pour out on social media for the young shearer.

"RIP James Ritchie so many funny days working with you brother, great shearer sportsman and comedian gone but never forgotten" [sic], and "will miss u big fella forever in our thoughts one of a kind true gentleman".

Another friend wrote, "I'm still struggling to believe it's true butha James Ritchie you were a inspiration as a shearer and a man the world had lost a truly good man and I know you will be there waiting with a huge smile my bro."

And on Friday night, Rotorua 19-year-old Kelsey Runga was killed in a crash on State Highway 2 at Waikino about 9pm.

The expectant mother was the passenger in a vehicle which was hit by another vehicle which crossed the centreline.

The male driver of Runga's vehicle has been discharged from hospital.

With still another day of the long weekend to go for some people, van de Wetering urged drivers to be more responsible.

"There will be a lot of traffic on our roads and as people read and hear about these crashes and these arrests for drunk driving once again, we simply plead to the public to take your time, be patient, don't drink and drive. If you get tired stop and stretch your legs for a couple of minutes.

"It will make no difference whatsoever to the time it takes to get home, but it will make a huge difference on the chances of everyone getting home safely."

However, overall, considering there were several large-scale events in the district, most motorists had done well.

"We had the Sevens here ... there was the Kawhia Kai Festival, I understand there was powerboat racing at Karapiro and then of course with many people taking the long weekend opportunity by taking Monday off there was a fair bit of holiday traffic heading towards the Coromandel.

"Most people are good drivers, but there are some people who are absolutely foolish, selfish and ridiculous that they drive in this sort of manner."