Ninety-four people have died on our roads this year, 18 more than at this time last year.

Ninety-four children, siblings, parents, uncles, aunties, grandparents, partners - have been taken too soon.

There are 94 families and countless friends, grieving the loss of their loved ones, and colleagues and community members struggling to come to grips with the people gone from their lives.

As of this afternoon 94 more people have died on New Zealand roads than at this time last year. The road toll is 15 people higher than in 2016, 23 more than in 2015 and a startling 40 more than 2014.


This afternoon a 6-year-old boy died in a crash in Rangitikei after a ute went down a bank on Turakina Valley Rd.

Another person was winched out of the vehicle with the assistance of a helicopter, and flown to hospital. Three other people were transported to Whanganui Hospital by road.

Also this afternoon, a man died after a crash in Awanui, Northland, when two vehicles collided head-on at Kareponia Hill on State Highway 10 about 5.45pm, Senior Sergeant Brian Swann said. A woman was flown from the scene in a serious condition. Two other people were involved in the crash, their injuries were not believed to be as serious.

Some areas have been hit harder than others this year. In Canterbury, 18 people have died on the roads, Waikato 17, and 15 have lost their lives on Northland roads.

Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Sandra Venables says she is as frustrated as everyone else that people continue to die on New Zealand's roads.

"Every day we talk about the same circumstances where lives have been lost through a driver taking unnecessary risks and putting themselves, their passengers, and other road users in harm's way.

"We want everybody to understand the responsibility they have to protect themselves and their passengers, as well as all other road users."

Parents need to have tough conversations with their teenage drivers, but even good drivers can make a mistake, Venables said.

"Please pay attention to your driving, drive to the conditions, put your phone away, and put on your seatbelt. And if you want to have a drink, don't drive."

NZ Transport Agency Director Safety and Environment, Harry Wilson said every death was a tragedy and the agency supported police in targeting enforcement activity on a number of high risk roads.

"At the same time we are delivering the Government's Safety Boost programme, a $22.5 million programme of targeted improvements to make 30 regional state highways safer."

The roads are in Northland, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland and are being upgraded with rumble strips and better signs.

Crash-preventing safety barriers will also be added to some roads and NZTA is investigating the addition of electronic signs that reduce the speed limit on the state highway in rural areas if a vehicle is turning into or out of a side road.

The Herald takes a look at the tragic deaths of nine people who have lost their lives on our roads this year.

Ted Tamai (72)
January 10, Wednesday – 10.15am, intersection of Omahu Rd and State Highway 50A, Hastings

Ted Tamai left his Hastings home on a Wednesday morning in January to do what he loved best: ride his bike and enjoy the morning sun.

Tragically, it would be his last ride.

The cyclist collided with a car at the intersection of Omahu Rd and State Highway 50A, Frimley at 10.15am. He died shortly after emergency services arrived at the scene.

Tamai's granddaughter Jess Langley, 26, said cycling was part of his daily routine and he cycled every day from 10am to 11am.

"He was pretty fit for a 72-year-old, and a passionate athlete growing up," she told

Tamai was a talented boxer and represented Rotorua for rugby as a young man.

Langley said her grandfather had a cheeky smile that could light up any room, and spent a lot of time at his local pub singing karaoke. "He loved singing. He sung anything and everything."

The 26-year-old was at home when she heard the news of his death. "It's sad the way he died. It's pretty horrific, but there's not a lot you can do.

"He died doing something he loved."

She wanted people to remember Tamai for his zest for life and love of his family.

Porsche Nepia (31) and his nephew Tyrhys Hita (11)
February 9, Friday – 12.10pm, intersection of Port Marsden Highway and Marsden Bay Dr at One Tree Point, Northland

Porsche Nepia, 31, and his 11-year-old nephew Tyrhys Hita died when their car crashed into a petrol tanker near Marsden Pt, Northland, in February.

Tributes flew in for the pair shortly after their passing from family, friends and the wider community.

The Ruakaka Skateboard/Scooter Park Facebook page posted a message sending love to the family.

"Much aroha to our local whanau with the tragic loss of one of our long time skatepark locals," it read.

"Porsche Nepia was a long time local skater who also put time and effort over the years into helping create our own 'local'.

"So sad to hear about the sad sad loss of he and his son Ty'Rhys .... our thoughts are with all their whanau and friends."

Ben Petrie (34)
February 11, Sunday – 3.30pm, Cape Reinga Rd, just south of Te Paki Stream, Northland

Ben Petrie died in a motorcycle crash near Cape Reinga in February while on a road trip with his four best mates.

His partner Erin Morgan said he was ''crazy'', intelligent and wonderfully quick-witted.

''He was comedy gold - it was a huge part of him. He'd have us cry-laughing with his antics or his wit," she told the Otago Daily Times.

"He absolutely loved making people laugh and he loved a good costume party and would always do something crazy for one.'

''He was someone that just looked after everybody. He loved his family and friends and me. If there was anything he could do to help anyone else he would do it straight away.

''I just don't know what I am going to do without him, really.''

Barbara Joy Rowe (76)
March 9, Friday – 11.59am, Devonport Rd, Tauranga

Tauranga woman Barbara Joy Rowe was struck by a car on Devonport Rd near 1st Ave earlier this month.

She was crossing the road to collect her car from the AA Service Centre at the time.

She was rushed to hospital but died the following day.

The 76-year-old has held many different hats and juggled many voluntary positions in the Tauranga community and beyond.

"Barbara was selfless to the core and we will all miss her so much," stepson Peter Rowe told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Carmen Yanko (53)
March 11, Sunday – 5.40am, State Highway 6 near Clover Rd, Nelson

Carmen Marie Yanko was on her way to the Sunday Market in Nelson, when she was hit by a car fleeing police.

The 53-year-old and the two occupants of the fleeing vehicle – Johnathan Tairakena, 25, and 33-year-old Phillip Jamie Stretch – all died at the scene.

Yanko was on her way to Monty's Market in Nelson, where it is believed she had a regular stall selling various antiques and collectables.

Her children say they are "heartbroken and reeling from this senseless tragedy".

"She lived to be a mother and was there for us always," they said.

"Carmen loved and lived fiercely and will be terribly missed by her family and friends."

Hori Kaiwai (67)
March 12, Monday – 9.30am, State Highway 5, near Maraeroa Rd, north of Rotorua

Hori Kaiwai, 67, died following a crash on State Highway 5 involving a car and a campervan, north of Rotorua, about 9.30am last Monday.

Kaiwai was a former teacher at Rotorua Boys' High School.

Rotorua Boys' High School principal Chris Grinter said Kaiwai taught at the school for 19 years before retiring in 2014.

He taught in the school's technology department, taught Maori, managed the school's waka ama team, and was the kaumatua for both Boys' High and Rotorua Girls' High School kapa haka groups.

Kaiwai was a grandson of notable politician Sir Apirana Ngata.

Ibrahim Soloman, a student at Boys' High (Raukura) from 2004 to 2007, was taught Maori and Maori Studies by Kaiwai.

"His legacy and legend at Raukura is analogous to the impact his tipuna Apirana Ngata had on the Maori people," Soloman said.

"[Kaiwai was the] life of the party and the life of the school".

In a tribute posted on the Rotorua Boys' High School Facebook page, Kaiwai was described as a "legend".

Rose Brown (16) and Dexter Barham (16)
March 18, Sunday – 6.20am, State Highway 1, 3km north of Amberley, Canterbury

Christchurch teenagers Rose Brown and Dexter Barham were killed in a crash on Sunday morning.

Three other people were injured in the crash that involved two cars near Amberley.

Brown's brother had posted on social media about his sister's death, writing "[what] I would do to say I love you one more time, to hug you one more time".

"I will forever treasure the moments I spend with you and Dexter I love you guys soo much."

One of Dexter's friends told the Herald he knew the Christchurch local from his time spent at the Washington Way Skate Park.

"I remember all the good times we had at the skate park together always having a good laugh and always going down the road to get lunch from McDonald's," the friend said.

"He was a amazing kid with a heart full of gold, he would always make you laugh and he always had a smile on his face."