Waverley Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighters were some of the first on the scene of the horror crash one year ago today which claimed seven lives. Chief fire officer Alan Hickford tells the Whanganui Chronicle it was a particularly tough day for his team.
"We knew all the locals involved in the crash," Alan Hickford says.
"A couple of them had been in the station a couple of days before — they lived just down the road.
"It's really hard when kids are involved."
The seven victims included Ian Porteous, 80, his wife, Rosalie, 76, his sister Ora Keene, 84, and friend Brenda Williams, 79, Jeremy Thompson, 28, his 6-month-old daughter Shady Thompson and Nivek Madams, who turned 8 the day before the crash.
Hickford, Waverley's chief fire officer, said good support had been provided for the volunteer firefighters who attended the crash.
"The fire service has a very good critical incident support team and they were here at the station before the crew even got back."
South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop remembers finding out exactly how devastating the incident was.
"It was mid-morning and we were starting to get reports of a serious crash, but when you talk about a serious crash you don't think in terms of seven people being killed.
"It was just absolute shock and thoughts of how can this happen in our community?
"When it came out that four of the people were Waverley locals it really hit hard."
Dunlop said he had spoken with Ian Porteous at an event days before the fatal crash.
"He was a cheery, friendly sort of fellow and two days later he wasn't around anymore.
"The Porteous family were very much part of the community with sports and the church, they were involved in all sort of things."
The mayor spent the days after the crash visiting locals in Waverley.
"It brought the community together and everyone was very supportive of the families.
"There's just a feeling of hopelessness because they're good people and to be taken so quickly is hard to comprehend."
At the time the Waverley crash was the worst on New Zealand roads in 13 years, and the fourth deadliest of all time.
In April this year eight people died in a crash north of Taupō - the third deadliest on record.
The worst fatal crash in New Zealand's history was recorded in 1963, when 15 people were killed in a bus crash in Northland.
In 1995, eight people died in a house bus crash in Hawke's Bay. In 2005, nine people died in a collision between a tourist van and a truck in Matamata-Piako.