The Bay of Plenty region's road toll continues to climb despite efforts by police, the NZ Transport Agency and other road safety advocates. Reporter Sandra Conchie takes a look at the extent of the grim problem following a tourist bus crash near Rotorua which left five more people dead and several other passengers were injured.
A horrific bus crash near Rotorua which left five people dead has brought the Bay of Plenty's grim road toll to 33 this year.
As at September 4 this year, 33 people lost their lives on Bay of Plenty roads, compared to 22 at the same time last year. Forty-six people were killed in the previous 12 months.
Many of the deaths have been in multiple-fatality crashes with the latest just yesterday when a tourist bus rolled in bad weather on State Highway 5 at Ngātira about 11am, killing five.
Twenty-seven people were on the bus. Two people were seriously injured, and a further four received moderate injuries.
The remainder were injured to a lesser extent or were able to walk away from the scene.
Police are continuing to investigate the cause of the crash.
Inspector Brent Crowe has described the crash as an "absolute tragedy".
When asked to comment further on the Bay of Plenty road toll a police media spokeswoman said: "We are unable to comment at this stage."
The crash was the latest in a number of multiple-fatality crashes.
On June 30, kiwifruit workers Barry Tari, 24, and Hamsen Surai, 32, died after their intoxicated driver Tugu Wilson, 30, lost control of the car which crashed into a homeowners' garage on No 1 Rd in Te Puke. Wilson will be sentenced next month.
The day before, four Timberland forestry workers were killed after their van collided with a car on a remote forestry road in Murupara at the intersection of Bonisch and Parapara Rds.
Earlier in the month, on June 19, kiwifruit workers Chary Sabalande, 34, and Roymark Bering, 32, from the Philippines were killed after their vehicle collided with a freight train at Pongakawa School Rd rail crossing near State Highway 2.
There were two multiple-fatality crashes in April.
Eight people died in a head-on crash on State Highway 1 near Ohakuri Rd, Atiamuri, on April 28.
Margaret "Margs" Luke, 35, and David Wiremu Poutawa, 42, were both killed in the crash alongside five of their children; Trinity Luke, 13, Chanley Poutawa, 11, Jahnero Poutawa, 10, Akacia Poutawa, 8, and Khyus Poutawa, 7.
Scouts manager Jenny Rodgers, who was in the other vehicle, was also killed in the crash.
On April 1 five members of a Rotorua family were killed after a car slammed into a gum tree on Tirohanga Rd, south of Kinleith.
Peter Senior Rangikataua, 44, from Rotorua, his nephew Rangi Rangikataua, 26, from Mokai and Peter's three daughters Michelle Morgan-Rangikataua, 15, Aroha Morgan-Rangikataua, 14, and Kahukura Morgan-Rangikataua, 12, all died.
Their 11-year-old brother, Isaac Morgan-Rangikataua survived the crash.
On February 26, three Higgins Rotorua road workers Haki Hiha, David Eparaima and Dudley Soul Raroa were killed at their Matatā worksite on State Highway 2 at Pikowai.
Automobile Association spokesman Mike Noon declined to comment about the Bay of Plenty's road toll after the recent crash, saying it was "too early to do so" until more information about the exact cause of the crash was known.
Ross I'Anson, NZ Transport Agency Bay of Plenty's acting director of regional relationships, said, "The NZ Transport Agency is saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased and everyone affected by the crash.
"We ask everyone to take care on the roads," he said.
As of September 4, the national road toll stood at 236.
Road deaths in Bay of Plenty region year to date:
(from January 1 to September 4)
Bay of Plenty region road deaths in 12 months to date:
* (as at September 4)
Source: Ministry of Transport website