Toddler dies in Auckland driveway

A 2-year-old boy died after being hit by a vehicle in a South Auckland driveway last night.

Police are investigating the incident at Orpheus Place in Papakura, which is believed to have happened at the home of the toddler's grandparents.

It is understood the boy's father was taken to the police station to be interviewed. An uncle was seen yelling at officers, asking why his brother had been taken and saying he should be "here with his grieving whanau".

Devastated family members last night called a local kaumatua to bless the toddler's body before it was taken away. About 25 family members were seen huddled in a group about 9.30pm, sobbing as a man spoke in Maori and touched the child, who was wrapped in blankets on the ground.

Another man then told the group to go inside before washing the driveway with a bucket of water.

A silver people-mover was parked in the driveway at the end of the cul de sac, which had been cordoned off by police. Up to 10 patrol cars lined the street. A tow truck arrived about 10pm and removed the vehicle.

Operations manager for St John ambulance in Counties Manukau, Patsy Carlyle, told the Herald the toddler was dead when she arrived about 7.30pm. His body was still at the scene two hours after the incident.

"He is in the back of the ambulance and we're just waiting for the local kaumatua to bless the body."

Police communications Inspector Ian Brooker said there were between 10 and 12 people at the property who were being interviewed.

"We're not sure whether they're all related, or friends at this stage.

"The family is obviously really cut up, it's a tragedy."

Mr Brooker said they were are not seeking anyone in relation to the incident and were speaking to a number of witnesses who were co-operating with the inquiry.

The fire service also attended to provide lighting for emergency services.

A street resident said the couple who lived at the property had been there for a number of years and had several grandchildren who visited.

A woman was seen kneeling on the ground wailing. She said: "People told me you had so much potential, I knew they were right. They said you were so intelligent. I miss you already, now you're gone."

New Zealand has one of the worst rates of children being killed by cars in driveways, with an average of five a year and an estimated serious injury every two weeks.

Several campaigns have been launched in the past few years in an attempt to prevent driveway deaths.

Safekids last year recommended councils include safety information in residential design guidelines.

Road safety charity Brake runs the Rino campaign, which urges drivers to think of their vehicle as if it was a rhinoceros - a huge heavy beast that can easily kill.

In March, Housing New Zealand said it would review recommendations of Auckland coroner Morag McDowell who suggested it build fences between its houses after a toddler was run over in an unfenced driveway.

Eighteen-month-old Sirj-Michaels Siaea was killed in an Amuri Place driveway in Otara in September 2010.

There have been 22 deaths as a result of being run over in a driveway since 2007.

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