The NZ Transport Agency has found the stretch of road where eight people died after a crash yesterday morning to have several safety issues.

A family of seven, including both parents and most of their young children, were killed in the head-on collision between two cars at Atiamuri on State Highway 1.

The eighth person who died was a long-serving employee of Scouts New Zealand. There was only one survivor of the crash, a 9-year-old boy from the family of seven.

Several issues along a 100km stretch of SH1 between Piarere, north of Tirau, and Taupō were noted by the NZTA.


NZTA safety and environment director Harry Wilson said changes throughout the area would "improve safety, and reduce deaths and serious injuries".

"Between 2008 and 2017, 30 people died and 86 were seriously injured on this stretch of road," Wilson said.

Eight people died at the scene of the crash. Photo / File
Eight people died at the scene of the crash. Photo / File

"Crash analysis shows common contributing factors to crashes include loss of control, failure to keep left and fatigue.

"Police are investigating the circumstances of the crash and the Transport Agency will be carrying out a thorough review of the road and roadsides at this location."

NZTA is working to deliver the Safe Network Programme, a $1.4 billion investment over three years which aims to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries.

Wilson said several improvements will be rolled out after the Government made improving road safety a top priority.

Safety measures include installation of side and median barriers, rumble strips, shoulder widening, better signage and speed management.

The family who died in the crash lived in Tokoroa and are believed to have been heading home when they crashed.


Meanwhile, the Scouts NZ employee had been at an event in Waitomo the night before and was travelling south.

'Very nice people'

A neighbour of the family in Tokoroa, Ivan Meyers, 89, was distraught to hear of the deaths.

He described the family as "very nice people and those kids too, were so polite, always a hello".

"They came here and I said 'seven kids, they will be noisy', but you couldn't get better-behaved kids.

"They were good friends, nice people."

Meyers had also just arranged for the 9-year-old boy to do his lawns so he could get some pocket money.

Colin Arnold has lived in his Tokoroa home for 21 years and described the family as "very caring".

"I found them, as neighbours, very warm and welcoming. The kids were also very friendly. The children imitated their mother in being warm and accepting. I would often see them playing on the front lawn with the neighbour's ginger cat.

"They were very respectable. They showed a lot of respect for elders. I'd often go down and have a chat with them over the fence."

The road was closed for several hours following the incident. Photo / Ben Fraser
The road was closed for several hours following the incident. Photo / Ben Fraser

Arnold said the woman was a full-time mother while her husband worked at a local dairy factory.

The family also lived in Hamilton for a couple of years around 2015.

The principal of a school the children attended at the time described them as "beautiful children".

"Beautiful children, beautiful family. I'm shocked and very saddened by that. [They] were incredibly polite, lovely children.

"I'm so distressed about that, really. They lived quite close to the school and [mother] used to walk the children up here.

"It was a wonderful family, a lovely, caring mum and dad and what I couldn't get over was the beautiful manners that they had. They were great."

Meanwhile, Scouts NZ was last night supporting the family of the SUV driver, who had been with the organisation for many years.

Chief executive Joshua Tabor said the woman had been travelling from Hamilton to Taupō after attending the closing dinner at the National Caving School in Waitomo on Saturday night.

She had been scheduled to meet a senior volunteer before continuing to a work meeting in Palmerston North.

"We are committed to supporting her family as best we can given the sudden and tragic circumstances," Tabor said.

"We also extend our support and have offered counselling to our staff and volunteer community, many of whom worked closely with her during her long tenure with Scouts."