Three weeks after losing his mum in a head-on car crash that also killed his 2-year-old sister, little Te Tairawhiti Fairburn is still calling her name.

The 14-month-old's dad, Henare Hadfield, who also survived the crash that police allege was caused by another motorist driving drunk, doesn't know why his son is saying "Mum".

"I'm not sure what he's meaning by it now, he could be meaning her or he could be meaning me."

What Hadfield is sure of, is that he doesn't want anyone else to go through what his family has since his fiancee Janiah Fairburn, 20, and their daughter, Azarliyah, died in the crash on State Highway 1 north of Wellsford on March 30.

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Hadfield and his son were both injured, and Te Tairawhiti, who suffered a fractured neck, remains in Starship children's hospital and is wearing a halo brace.

Now Hadfield is opening up about his own previous bad decisions behind the wheel — including drink-driving — in a desperate bid to get the road safety message across over the busy Easter break. Seven people died on the roads over the 2018 Easter holiday period, and 118 people have died between January 1 and April 17 this year.

Te Tairawhiti Fairburn.
Te Tairawhiti Fairburn.

"I'll do whatever it takes to not let [our family's tragedy] happen again."

A 19-year-old Auckland man, who has interim name suppression, will appear in court next month on two charges of drink driving causing death, two of careless driving causing death and another of failing to stop to ascertain injury or death.

The charges prompted Hadfield to reflect on his own decisions as a younger man.

The 20-year-old was twice convicted of drink driving before he quit both alcohol and cigarettes when Azarliyah was born, he said.

"Yeah, it's definitely crossed my mind. I'm just glad I never ... drove into someone. I know how it feels to be in that position [of losing family in a crash]. That could've been me [causing someone else pain]."

Alcohol didn't take away a person's conscience, Henare said. When he drove drunk he knew he shouldn't be doing it. But he also didn't fully appreciate the risks.

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"When I did it, I wasn't thinking 'I'm just going to get drunk and drive into someone'. I was thinking 'I just need to get home'."

Henare Hadfield lost half his family in a crash police allege was caused by a drunk driver. He's been reflecting on his own history of bad decisions behind the wheel. File photo / Dean Purcell
Henare Hadfield lost half his family in a crash police allege was caused by a drunk driver. He's been reflecting on his own history of bad decisions behind the wheel. File photo / Dean Purcell

He hoped that sharing as someone who had "been there" might have a greater influence on those still drink-driving.

"If you haven't been through it and haven't done it, no one is going to listen."

Hadfield also wants to share his story about road safety with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, but in the meantime he'll keep telling people not to drink and drive, to stick to the speed limit, wear seatbelts, get plenty of sleep before long journeys and, overall, just to "be really cautious on the road".

"Don't drive like there's no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow."

As for his long weekend plans, Hadfield won't be going far.

The family live in Kaiwaka, not far from where the crash occurred, but the now solo dad is working with a social worker to find housing in Auckland for the foreseeable future, as he and Te Tairawhiti put their lives back together.

He was particularly grateful for the support they had received from both family and strangers via a Givealittle page set up to support the father and son.

"I thank New Zealand. It's a loving country. We are full of so much love and aroha, even from our Prime Minister ... I've never felt this much love ever."

Doctors had told him Te Tairawhiti would likely need to remain in the halo brace for at least five more weeks.

The baby boy battled for life for six days following the crash, but since saying his first words since the tragedy — "Mum and dad" — he was "doing mean", Hadfield said.

"He wants to get out of the brace and get running around."

Janiah Fairburn and her daughter Azarliyah Hadfield, 2. Photo / Supplied via Facebook
Janiah Fairburn and her daughter Azarliyah Hadfield, 2. Photo / Supplied via Facebook

Hadfield, who suffered a punctured lung, puncture wounds to one leg and several broken ribs, was released from hospital the week after the crash and is now feeling "a lot better".

He was doing his best to stay positive, he said, because it helped his son.

"He knows 'We are okay, because daddy is okay'. Everything I do will pass on to him."

That, and "lots of cuddles".

"That's all he wants, cuddles, and that's what I'm here for."

To donate to Hadfield and his son go to: https://bit.ly/2v8klJD