A newborn baby is among seven people killed while an eighth person fights for her life after a horrific car crash near Waverley yesterday morning.

The head-on collision happened between two cars on a bend on State Highway 3 just after the Waverley Racecourse about 11am.

An 8-year-old girl who was critically injured in the crash died in Waikato Hospital early this morning, police said.

Four people were in each car.

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Two passengers, a woman the 8-year-old girl, were flown to Wellington and Waikato hospitals with critical injuries.

With them in the same car were the newborn baby and an adult male driver who both died at the scene.

The four elderly people in the other car, which was travelling west towards Hawera, all died at the scene.

The Central Districts road policing manager, Inspector David White, said it was possible the two taken to hospital might not make it.

"My understanding is when they left the scene here they were all Stat one [Status 1] which is very seriously injured."

White said there was little more to say than that it was a devastating scene.

"Six people have lost their lives and others are in hospital.

"That this happened on a day like today is just unbelievable and just devastating for those involved."

A police investigation is ongoing.

The section of State Highway 3 that had been closed most of the day would remain closed until further notice according to the NZ Transport Agency.

Cars had to be diverted off SH3 down Ihupuku Rd and motorists were advised to avoid the area.

About 20 large trucks had to park on the side of the road or in the town of Waverley as the diversion road couldn't take their weight.

White couldn't give much detail about the driving conditions at the time of the collision, which appeared to be clear, but Taranaki police had warned about ice on the roads earlier in the morning.

"Today our priority is dealing with those at the scene and also providing some support and comfort to their families and that's where our thoughts are.

"Our investigation is in really early stages but I can say that it would appear the cars have collided head-on on the slight bend on the road."

Three rescue helicopters, two fire engines, three ambulances and multiple police officers were at the crash.

Yesterday's crash followed a fatal truck smash in Waverley on Monday.

In warning about ice on the roads, Taranaki police said there had been four crashes between 5am and 7am all caused by ice.

A third helicopter arriving at the scene of the crash. Photo / Bevan Conley
A third helicopter arriving at the scene of the crash. Photo / Bevan Conley

"We need motorists across Taranaki to be extremely cautious on the roads this morning after four crashes caused by ice on the road since 5am," police said.

"Any patches of road which appear wet will likely be ice and should be treated as such.

"Police are also advising people to check their vehicles and tyres are roadworthy and ensure all windows are completely clear of ice before getting behind the wheel."

As of yesterday 187 people had died on New Zealand roads so far this year, up from 183 at the same point in 2017.

Emergency services at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on State Highway 3 near Waverley. Photo / Bevan Conley
Emergency services at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on State Highway 3 near Waverley. Photo / Bevan Conley

Over the past 12 months 382 died, up from 343 in the previous 12 months.

Six people are dead and others are critically injured in a horror crash near Waverley in South Taranaki. Video / Bevan Conley