Police have charged a Waipukurau man with careless driving causing the death of a man in a car crash near Omakere in Central Hawke's Bay on Christmas Eve.

Harry Nepe-Apatu, 65, was the passenger in a vehicle which went down a bank on Pourerere Rd around 5.30am Sunday, December 24 and died at the scene.

At the time it was reported one other person managed to climbed back up to the road and was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

On Monday, Robert Kevin Heremia, 35, appeared in Waipukurau District Court charged with causing the death by driving carelessly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


He was remanded without plea to appear again on June 11.

Careless driving causing death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment or a $10,000 fine.

The death was the last of 22 fatalities on roads in the area from Wairoa to Tararua in 2017, a sharp increase from the 13 the previous year and the highest toll in the area since 2012.

It was also the only fatal crash in Hawke's Bay during the police national Christmas-New Year holiday road toll period.