They've died in the north of David Trewavas' district, and in the south, at a rate of one every two days since April 1.

Sixteen men, women and children whose lives have ended on Taupō district roads in just over a month, the most recent tragedy leaving three dead when a truck and a van collided early this morning.

And it's left Taupō mayor David Trewavas struggling to grasp the horror visited upon the popular central North Island district.

"We've had five and eight and three, all in a month. I'm lost for words as to how we can get the message across. It just doesn't seem to be working," Trewavas said tonight.

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Police have not yet named the three people killed in this morning's 4.15am crash on State Highway 1 in Hātepe, 24km south from Taupō. A fourth person was taken to Taupō Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and the highway has reopened.

But three families were devastated in two other mass casualty crashes north of Taupō last month.

Five of the seven Poutawa-Luke siblings were killed, along with their parents in a horror crash that killed eight north of Taupō on Sunday. Photo / Supplied via Facebook
Five of the seven Poutawa-Luke siblings were killed, along with their parents in a horror crash that killed eight north of Taupō on Sunday. Photo / Supplied via Facebook

In the most recent, where eight people died in a head-on crash between Wairakei and Atiamuri last Sunday, seven of them were farewelled by family, including two surviving sons, at a Hawke's Bay marae today.

The caskets of Tokoroa parents David Poutawa and Margaret Luke and their five children Trinity, Chanley, Jahnero, Akacia, and Khyus, who were aged between 7 and 13, lay surrounded by carvings, photographs and paintings of those who had passed before them.

The funeral for the driver of the other vehicle, Lower Hutt woman Jenny Rodgers, 51, will take place in Lower Hutt on Monday.

The deaths followed those of three Rotorua school-aged sisters, Michelle Morgan-Rangikataua, 15, Aroha Morgan-Rangikataua, 14, and Kahukura Morgan-Rangikataua, 12, their Rotorua father Peter Senior Rangikataua, 44, and their cousin from Mokai, Rangi Rangikataua, 26, on April 1.

The sisters' 11-year-old brother survived the single car crash on Tirohanga Rd at Mokai, north of Taupō and only kilometres away from Sunday's crash.

Trewavas, who was himself on the road tonight returning home from Napier, said drivers had to be so focused.

"You just never know, when you're driving, what's going to happen. Are you going to come around the corner and someone's going to be on the wrong side of the road?"

He felt for everyone affected in the past month, including the first responders and members of the public who came across the scenes of devastation.

"It affects a lot of people. And the accidents are happening in the morning, so it's the same shift of emergency services attending, so it's pretty tough on them."

Emergency services at the scene of the Atiamuri crash which killed eight on Sunday. Photo / Ben Fraser
Emergency services at the scene of the Atiamuri crash which killed eight on Sunday. Photo / Ben Fraser

He planned to meet with first responders this week, and offering any help he could.

The roads in his district had high use, SH1 in particular was "hugely busy", so authorities had to keep a close on them. He thought the district's roads were "okay, but there's always room for improvement".

"We have monthly meetings with NZTA and there's a list of works ... I'm not aware of any issues. Continual improvements will not go amiss."

One he was keen for was more signage warning motorists they were in areas with a high crash rate.

The NZ Transport Agency found that the stretch of road where the eight people died last month had several safety issues.

NZTA safety and environment director Harry Wilson said this week 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."

Crash analysis showed common contributing factors to crashes included loss of control, failure to keep left and fatigue, he said.

As well as the police investigation, the agency would review the road and roadsides on the stretch of road. The agency was also working on the Safe Network Programme, a $1.4 billion investment over three years, aimed at preventing 160 deaths and serious injuries.

Michelle Morgan-Rangikataua, left, and her sister Aroha Morgan-Rangikataua died alongside three other family members in a crash on April 1. Photo / Supplied
Michelle Morgan-Rangikataua, left, and her sister Aroha Morgan-Rangikataua died alongside three other family members in a crash on April 1. Photo / Supplied

Several improvements would be rolled out after the Government made improving road safety a top priority, Wilson said.

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

Fifteen people have died on New Zealand roads in the past seven days, bringing the national road toll to 143 so far this year. Last year, 380 died on our roads, up two from 2017.

For Trewavas, the deaths of 16 people in his district in 34 days was "extraordinary".

People everywhere had to change their driving habits, he said.

"Something's got to happen, something's got to change."