An inquiry has been launched into this morning's crash between a bus and a train that killed one person.
One high school student remains in hospital in a stable condition following the crash on Railway Rd, in Bunnythorpe. The female bus driver was fatally injured in the incident.
Students from Feilding High School were among the 41 passengers aboard the bus, en-route to the local school as it drove though a level crossing shortly before 8am.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission says it has opened an inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the crash.
Naveen Kozhuppakalam, the acting chief investigator of Accidents, said two investigators were at the site this afternoon.
"The Investigation team have expert knowledge of train operations, engineering and maintenance," he said.
"Their initial work will include inspecting the locomotive and the bus, mapping the site, examining rail systems such as the signals, examining vehicle components, seeking any recorded data from the vehicles' electronics, and obtaining maintenance records.
"They will also interview the train driver, other staff, and any witnesses to the accident."
The level crossing was reportedly protected with flashing lights and bells, Kozhuppakalam said.
"TAIC is appealing for any witnesses, especially anyone who may have captured the accident on their vehicle's dash-cam, to please contact TAIC as soon as possible," he said.
St John ambulance said a total of 40 patients had been assessed after the crash - some at the scene and others at hospital.
Police described the crash as "extremely distressing" for all those involved - particularly the young people on the bus, their families, and the family and friends of the driver killed.
"Ongoing support will be provided," police said.
The bus company the victim worked for, Uzabus, said in a statement: "All of us here at Uzabus are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our colleagues who was involved in the accident this morning.
"Our team has been on site assisting the passengers and police [and] we are thankful the passengers on board at the time did not suffer any significant injuries.
"The company is now working with police with its investigation to determine the events that led up to the accident. Our thoughts and support go out to all the passengers and the families connected to today's tragedy."
Rail safety charitable trust TrackSAFE NZ said it was saddened to hear of the crash.
"Our thoughts are with everyone affected, including whānau and friends of the deceased, passengers, emergency services, the locomotive engineer and other railway staff on site," Foundation manager Megan Drayton said.
The crash was "an absolutely tragic reminder of just how serious the outcome can be when a heavy vehicle collides with a train", she said.
Drayton said there are around 3000 level crossings in New Zealand and trains always have right of way.
"We strongly urge all motorists and pedestrians to be highly alert when crossing railway tracks, always look both ways for trains along the tracks before crossing and obey all signs and signals at the crossings."
Witnesses to the crash have been asked to email the Transport Accident Investigation Commission on firstname.lastname@example.org