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Father, son among five killed in crash

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/08/2016

A father and son are among five Tongan coolstore workers killed in a collision with a logging truck in the Bay of Plenty.

Their car was struck by the truck while turning onto State Highway Two at Dawson's Road just after 8pm on Tuesday, killing the driver, 28-year-old New Zealand resident Halani Fine.

Passengers Sione Teulaka, 21, Samuele Taukatelata, 28, Uloupini (Stephen) Vaipulu, 44, and his son Koli Vaipulu, 21, also died.

Police say the crash was a tragedy for the men and their families, and for the truck driver who is also being offered support.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the families of all five men, including the Vaipulu family, who have lost two loved family members in this tragic crash," Commander Clifford Paxton said on Wednesday.

Pacific Peoples Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga says four of the men were seasonal workers.

"They were working hard to support their families back home," he said.

"They had been here only a few months ... my sympathies are with the families, we offer any support we can at this difficult time."

The men had just finished a shift, coolstore managing director Allan Dawson said.

The coolstore was closed on Wednesday and fellow workers offered counselling.

The incident forced the closure of the highway in both directions between Morton Road and Thompson's Track on Tuesday night.

However, the road was open on Wednesday morning.

A lot work had been done to try and make the stretch of highway safer, Mr Paxton told reporters at the scene.

"It continues to remain a challenge for us. It can be particularly unforgiving with the volumes of traffic."

The accident was one of four fatal crashes that claimed eight lives across New Zealand in just 24 hours.

Earlier on Tuesday a person died in a truck rollover in Marlborough.

On Wednesday morning a 70-year-old woman died after being struck by a car in south Auckland and a person died in a crash at Eltham, near Mt Taranaki.

"We are also very mindful of other families who have lost loved ones in crashes in other parts of the country since Monday night, and encourage all drivers to please take care and drive to the conditions, as we don't want to see anyone else needlessly lose their lives on our roads.

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