The man responsible for the death of Rotorua woman Stephanie McHale is to meet with the family she left behind.

Winiata Wakeley Tamaki, 43, pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court today to careless driving causing death and careless driving causing injury.

Mrs McHale, 29, died in a two-vehicle crash on State Highway 5 south of Rotorua last October.

She left behind husband Ben and 6-week-old son Gareth, who was in the car at the time of the crash but was uninjured.


According to the police summary of facts, Tamaki told police he did not remember what happened.

Winiata Tamaki pleaded guilty to careless driving charges this morning. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Winiata Tamaki pleaded guilty to careless driving charges this morning. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

"I don't remember the crash, I don't know if I went to sleep."

Tamaki was driving a Mitsubishi Utility towing a single axle trailer into Rotorua from his Minginui home to buy timber to build a deck. His passenger, his brother, was asleep.

About 3pm Tamaki approached the entrance to the city heading north at Hemo Gorge. As he entered a slight left hand curve he crossed the centre line colliding with the car Mrs McHale was driving.

"[Tamaki] has not braked or attempted to avoid a collision," the summary stated.

He was seriously injured, while his brother sustained abrasions, lacerations and a sprained neck and upper back.

Tamaki was remanded at large to next appear in court for sentencing on June 16.

He will also take part in a restorative justice conference with Mrs McHale's family on the same day.

The charges each carry a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment, a $4500 fine and/or a minimum six months' disqualification from driving.

Mrs McHale was a physiotherapist active in several local sporting clubs.

She was vice-president of the Rotorua Association of Triathletes and Multisport. Soon after her death, outgoing president Nina Dobson said Mrs McHale was "amazing, both as an athlete and on the committee. She was a very giving person. We will miss her spark, her energy and enthusiasm. Nothing was too hard for and she always went out of her way to help others."

Mrs McHale - then Stephanie Pearson - was Rotorua Girls' High School head girl in 2003.