Police have named the four men killed in Monday morning's horror crash as family and friends share their shock and despair at the senseless loss in a rural Bay of Plenty forest.

The four men were Storm Lacy, 22, Steven Pari, 35, Te Tahi Brass, 25, and Johston Ahuriri, 37, from Murupara.

The men were killed after the van they were in and a truck collided on a remote forestry road. A fifth person survived.

Bay of Plenty road policing manager Inspector Brent Crowe said the vehicles collided at the intersection of Bonisch and Parapara Rds at 6.35am.

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All four who died were Timberlands forestry workers and volunteer firefighters.

Another young man was today in a stable condition in a ward at Waikato Hospital.

Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne said crashes like this were tragic but even harder to come to terms with when it happened in a small community like Murupara.

"When you get four young men that are all hard-working - some of them have families, one I understand has a fiancee - it is numb," he said.

"They were young people all looking forward to life. They are the hard-working men of the community, a community that has been struggling to get people into work."

Bonne said four young lives taken abruptly was something everybody was struggling with.

"Time will heal, but the memories will never be lost," he said. "Everybody in Murupara will know them."

The mayor said a full council meeting that was due to be held in Murupara tomorrow had been moved to another location out of respect. A minute's silence will also be held to start the meeting, he said.

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"Our thoughts are with them. We are part of the community."

Friends and family are gathering at Painoaiho Marae near Murupara in preparation for the burial later in the week.

They did not want to speak to the Rotorua Daily Post today saying it was too raw.

There was a steady flow of cars driving on to the marae this morning, with about 70 vehicles on the property by midday.

Inside the whare kai, tables had already been set up and the kitchen was busy as friends and family helped serve food.

Outside small groups were sitting and standing together. Those gathering were mostly wearing black.

The mood was somber and quiet despite the number of people at the scene.

Murupara's Pem Bird confirmed the four "beautiful young lives" were taken from the town.

The news of their sudden deaths quickly spread on social media.

One relative wrote she was sad to hear of the passing of her cousin, who had been there for her in her "darkest days".

"The parties, the huis, the laughs and tears will always be cemented on my manawa. Just to think I was just with you last week, partying at your new whare in Murus and your last words to me were, 'Laters my cuz'. Never did I think that those words would be your last words to me."

Another person wrote: "Fly high Cuzzies till we meet again", prompting shocked responses from others, with one writing, "omg wtf not another tragic mass death accident. wot a waste."

A police officer at the cordon of a crash which claimed the lives of four Murupara men early Monday morning. Photo / Stephen Parker
A police officer at the cordon of a crash which claimed the lives of four Murupara men early Monday morning. Photo / Stephen Parker

Others wrote, "Love yous cuzzins, still can't believe it", "Waaaaaaat", "Is this from that accident in Kaingaroa?" and "Condolences to the ... whanau at this sad time".

Many of those who are grieving are simply changing their profile picture to that of a lit candle on a black background with a red heart, while others have written "Kia Kaha Murupara" on it, too.

One of the Facebook tribute images that people are using as their profile photo for the victims of Monday's fatal crash in the Kaingaroa Forest.
One of the Facebook tribute images that people are using as their profile photo for the victims of Monday's fatal crash in the Kaingaroa Forest.

Timberlands chief executive Robert Green said on Tuesday his company was co-operating with police.

"We can confirm that the people involved work for a contractor to Timberlands as valued members of our wider forestry team.

"Like everyone else in the area, we are shocked and saddened by what has happened. We pass on our condolences to the families, whānau and everyone affected by this."

The country's road toll, as at yesterday, sat at 211 deaths compared to 220 at the same time last year.