The husband of a Central Hawke's Bay woman who died in a car crash near Waipawa at Easter has pleaded guilty to careless driving causing her death.

James Wynter Hunter, 57, was charged on two counts of careless driving, one of which caused injury and the other, the death of his wife Jane Hunter.

The former lawyer, who was 55 at the time, suffered critical injuries, and died at Hawke's Bay Hospital three days later, on Wednesday, April 25.

James Hunter was a former Central Hawke's Bay District councillor and both he and the late Mrs Hunter ran a Porangahau farm.


Moments before the 7.15pm crash on Easter Monday, Hunter and his wife had been in a conversation, when she told him about an approaching van on their left.

Hunter later told police that he thought "if he braked he would hit the other vehicle", according to a summary of facts.

He also said he "didn't see the intersection" and their conversation as they approached had been a factor in this.

The pair were travelling south from Napier to their home in Porangahau, in their purple Audi car.

They were on River Rd, between Patangata and Pourerere Rd and it was raining.

At the intersection of Pourerere Rd and River Rd, Hunter made a "split-second decision" to accelerate through the intersection, where he was required to give way.

Both roads have a speed limit of 100km/h.

At the same time, the driver of the van was alerted to the approaching Audi on his right by his partner and started to slow down. His three young children were also in the van.


As the Hunter's vehicle crossed the intersection it collided on the passenger side where Mrs Hunter was sitting with the front of the Toyota van.

The force of the impact sent the Audi off the roadway on to the grass verge on the north-western side of the intersection and through a fence.

The Audi then rolled and came to a rest on its roof, trapping Mrs Hunter.

The Toyota came to a rest in a roadside drain on the southern side of the roadway.

Passing motorists assisted Hunter in releasing his wife from the Audi and she was transported to hospital.

The driver of the van suffered fractures to his spine, resulting in an operation to repair and stabilise those fractures.

Hunter appeared in the Hastings District Court on Tuesday before Judge Max Courtney.

His lawyer Eric Forster said Hunter had been "very proactive" in talking to police as well as insurers.

When it came to the option of restorative justice, Forster replied that he didn't know if there was an "opposite word to 'veto' and if they (the victims) want it, they should have it".

Police prosecutor Sergeant Andy Horne said his concern was "there is more than one victim here and one of them seems to be almost been forgotten".

"I need to consider their position," he said.

The victim was potentially interested in restorative justice, he said.

Hunter, who may apply for a discharge without conviction, is due to appear again for sentencing on January 10.