Māori wardens spent a freezing night at Lake Rotomā to honour two people who died when a car plunged into the water at the weekend.
Emergency services were first called to the scene at Ōtangiwai Pt on State Highway 30, east of Rotorua, at 12.40pm on Saturday.
Two wardens spent 15 hours at the lake from 5.30pm, until police divers retrieved two bodies and the vehicle was pulled out on Sunday.
Kawerau Māori wardens' chairwoman Alex Walker and Tāneatua Māori warden and First Security guard Rawinia Teepa volunteered to be a "comforting presence in sad moments" at the scene, despite the fact temperatures plummeted that night.
"Though they were submerged underwater, we as Māori make sure that they [the deceased] are accompanied ... And that's where we Māori wardens come in, working beside the police, because the police have other places and other work duties to go to.
"We were there as overnight security, just making sure everything was okay."
Whakatāne police brought the pair food and Walker said she was able to "have a bit of a rest" on Sunday.
Hapū Ngāti Tamateatutahi Kawiti laid a rāhui on the weekend but that was lifted this morning. Ōtangiwai Pt means "weeping waters" in te reo Māori.
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Police last night named the pair who died in the crash as Bibi Ali, 53, of Ranui, Auckland, and David Alexander Fawcett Jarden, 54, of Totara Heights, Auckland.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Bay of Plenty system manager Rob Campbell said $37,000 of safety work was carried out at Ōtangiwai Pt in mid-2018.
It included "minor shoulder widening, guard rail installation, additional road marking and installation of "cats' eyes" on the centre and edge lines as well as extra warning signage.
Rotomā resident Ross Simpson lives within 100m of the crash site at Rotomā and said there was "quite a drop off" from the road there.
He said the corner was "quite sharp but no worse than probably any of the others around [Lake] Rotoiti too".
Four maritime officers from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council helped police with the recovery on Sunday, as well as two compliance officers who oversaw environmental impacts.
Compliance manager Stephen Mellor said "no oil was released while the car was submerged, but the team used booms to absorb the one to two litres of oil which leaked when the car was lifted out of the water".