It was raining when Auckland truck driver Daniel William Raukawa Taukava, 41, was speeding along State Highway 1 at Atiamuri near Taupō.

He wasn't wearing a seatbelt, hadn't had enough sleep over previous days, and three months earlier had deliberately disabled the truck's electronic braking system.

On the evening of January 25, 2017, as Taukava approached a right-hand bend in the road, the truck, which carried a 90km/h speed limit, crossed the centre line and collided with a motorcyclist killing him.

The truck drove into a culvert and back onto the road, swerving between north and southbound lanes and colliding with and sliding along an embankment, coming to rest in a jack-knife position.


Nineteen months after Napier motorcyclist Te Wanehi Wakefield, 56, lost his life in the crash, Taukava has been jailed for two years and 10 months for manslaughter, and disqualified from driving for four months from the day of release.

Justice Edwin Wylie sentenced Taukava in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday on one charge of manslaughter by driving a vehicle dangerously, two charges of making a false statement in a logbook, and one charge each of failing to deliver a logbook to an employer and not taking 10 hours rest.

His sentencing notes said Taukava was on his way back from a trip from the Coromandel to Nelson. He was on the last stage of what was to be a three-day trip.

"You were not getting sufficient rest and you were sleeping for no more than a few hours at any one time, often in your truck."

The notes explain Taukava had tried to decelerate the truck using the engine retarder which is generally not used in wet road conditions.

"You actions constituted a major departure from the standard of care expected of a reasonably prudent truck driver because you were travelling at excessive speed downhill and in wet conditions.

"The [electronic braking] system was disabled at the time of the accident that caused Mr Wakefield's death.

"You acknowledged that the retarder should never be used in the wet because it could be 'lethal'."


Taukava's logbook offences were found after police began investigating the collision and found discrepancies and false statements in the book.

Justice Wylie said Taukava was genuinely remorseful but had numerous infringement notices for speeding in a heavy motor vehicle.

Taukava had received infringement notices on three occasions for speeding in 2013 alone.

"Clearly you have not learnt the lesson that speeding in any vehicle, let alone a heavy truck, is foolhardy and dangerous," Wylie said in his notes.