The employer of the two orchard workers who died in yesterday's train crash said he was helping to arrange emergency visas for family members in the Philippines to get to New Zealand.

Two people died and three people were injured when the car they were travelling in was hit by a train in Pongakawa.

One person was taken to Tauranga Hospital and has since been discharged, while two were transported to Waikato Hospital - one remains in a critical condition, while the other was in a serious but stable condition.

Southern Cross Horticulture chief executive Andrew Dunstan said the company's priority was to support the team and their families.


"We are obviously heartbroken by the tragic events of yesterday. We are working with police to understand exactly what happened but our number one priority is and will continue to be supporting our team and their families as we progress through this together.

"We are currently working with authorities in the Philippines to arrange emergency visas for families so we can bring them to be with their loved ones.

"We have been blown away by the support and offers of help received from the kiwifruit industry and local community."

The crash happened at the intersection of State Highway 2 and Pongakawa School Rd about 8.15am.

The serious crash unit and KiwiRail were investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

BP Pongakawa barista Taylah Awhimate said one of their regulars walked in grey and unable to speak – his partner said he had pulled the people from the car.

But yesterday morning the usually "chirpy and happy" man . . . "he looked sick," she said.

Awhimate's co-worker, Arden Kinghan, said the tracks were notorious with no mechanical arms to come down to stop drivers crossing the track.


"This is a very dangerous area . . . we're unfortunately quite used to this kind of stuff happening here," he said of other crashes on the tracks.

Kinghan said train drivers knew of the danger and would honk before the intersecting roads to warn people.

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said it was unfortunate to hear of the fatalities in the crash.

"This is a tragic incident. Our thoughts are with all those involved and their families."

He said KiwiRail staff were on the scene to assist police and emergency services.

The train was travelling from Mount Maunganui to Kawerau.

"The crossing has lights and bells ... the line will remain closed until clearance is received from the police," Miller said.

KiwiRail chief operating officer Todd Moyle said the Pongakawa School Rd crossing was scheduled to be upgraded with half-barrier arms early next year as part of a $26 million safety upgrade programme for about 30 New Zealand crossings.

How to help

A givealittle page has been set up to aid the families.