One of the seven people who died in Wednesday's horrific Waverley crash had survived a serious crash up the road a year ago.

In May 2017, Rosalie Porteous was critically injured in a crash between a car, a truck and a motorcycle on State Highway 3 in Pātea.

She had to be cut free from the wreckage by firefighters, and was air-lifted to Whanganui Hospital.

Waverley Fire Station chief Alan Hickford was one of the rescuers.

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He was also there on Wednesday, at the two-car crash on SH3 which killed four of his friends: Rosalie, her husband Ian Porteous, his sister Ora Keene and their friend Brenda Williams.

Travelling in the other car, 8-year-old Nivek Madams, her 8-week-old sister Shady Thompson and Shady's father Jeremy Thompson, 28, were also killed. Ani Nohinohi, Nivek and Shady's mother, was this morning in a critical condition in Wellington Hospital.

Hickford said the small community of Waverley was in "shock".

"There are some shocked people around town, that's for sure.

"I knew those four really well. Everyone in the town knew them. They were members of the bowling club, and a few other groups. They were good people."

In small towns, firefighters were often dealing with people they knew, he said.

"Just 12 months ago Rosalie had been in a crash in Pātea.

"It is crazy. But a small community like this, 80 per cent of the time it is people we know."

On Monday, the same crew had responded to a truck accident, which killed another local person.

"It has been fairly traumatic for the crew. We go to accidents all of the time, but this was the second bad one for the week."

The crew kept in close contact offering each other support following events like this, he said.


Community rallies together

Jockeys at Waverley Race Club wore black arm bands yesterday as a mark of respect to the four locals and the bowling club was said to be mourning "a big hole".

Waverley Bowling Club president Joe Smith was still taking in what had happened.

He has put the bowling club's flag at half-mast to acknowledge the death of close friends.

"We've been good friends for quite a while … since they came here anyway," he said.

"We've been here since '62 and Ian came here just after that ... we were all great friends, the whole lot."

Smith said Ian Porteous would be remembered as a man who loved cricket and a face to be seen whenever there were dog trials on.

"There's a lot of people in town that would know Ian through cricket. Quite a few other things as well … dog trials and all that. A cricket man, all right - he was a big cricket fan."

In a further blow to the bowling club, the man who died in the truck accident on Kohi Rd on Monday, Anthony Stubbs, was also a member.

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

As the news of the crash was unfolding on Wednesday, a police officer turned up at the bowling club looking for relatives of Ian Porteous.

After that, Smith saw media photos of the cars and his worst fears were realised, recognising the couple's car.

It was that same car Pam Hurndell had seen in the driveway of Ian and Rosalie Porteous' house just hours before the crash.

"To think I'd gone up the road and seen their car in the drive up there and then next thing you hear it's smashed up five minutes down the road," said Hurndell, who was a close friend of all four of the deceased.

"I've lived here all my life so I've known them all. They're all good workers and good people ... good family people. Yesterday was a shocker," she said. "I couldn't believe it. Still can't."

"They'll be so sadly missed around the place … I'll definitely miss them."

A granddaughter of Ian and Rosalie Porteous, Shay Starrenburg, said on behalf of her family that they were in shock.

"We are a very close family and still can't believe this has happened."

The couple had been married for 54 years and were "extremely loving family people".

"Rosalie was great with social media and used this to keep up with what all the family was doing.

"She would always make beautiful handmade birthday cards for the family with her impressive Photoshop skills.

"Ian had an awesome, cheeky sense of humour and was extremely proud of all his grandchildren and was often found on the sideline at their sports events.

"We are so grateful that we were all together and able to celebrate a birthday only last weekend and were able to get a few photos which we will cherish."

The couple had three sons, two of whom are travelling from Australia to be with family.

"Our love and thoughts go out to all the families involved in this tragedy.

"We would like to thank all the emergency services involved in the accident for all their help."


Just celebrated her eighth birthday

Nivek Madams, who had just celebrated her eighth birthday on Tuesday, was blessed by a Waikato Hospital pastor before she died yesterday morning.

The blessing was performed at the request of her father, Kevin, who is in prison for the murder of a Black Power gang president.

A family member said a phone was put to Nivek's ear in her hospital bed so her father and other relatives could speak to her.

Nivek's sister 8-week-old Shady Thompson and stepfather 28-year-old Jeremy Thompson had died shortly after the crash.

A Givealittle page set up to help the family with funeral expenses said Nivek and Shady were "close sisters and part of a caring whānau, deeply loved by their friends & family. Their tragic passing has been devastating for everyone.

"As the new cluster of Matariki stars for those who have left us were announced these little lives sadly slid away."