Crash victim named

A 4-year-old girl who died when the car her mother was driving left the road and flipped has been named by police today.

Kahui Matauwhati was pronounced dead at the scene when the family's Isuzu Bighorn 4WD crashed near Taumarunui in the central North Island yesterday.

Sergeant Paul Dowie said the mother and father, believed to be in their early 40s, were conscious as they were treated at the scene.

"They have crossed the centre line, hit a culvert on the other side of the road and the vehicle has rolled a couple of times." he said.

Alcohol and speed did not appear to be factors, he said.

Both parents were taken to Taumarunui Hospital and were released last night.

They were yet to be interviewed and police enquiries were continuing, Mr Dowie said.

The fatal crash came after an 11-month-old girl died on Saturday when the van her mother was driving left the road on the Kapiti Coast, flipping up to six times before landing on its roof.

As firefighters worked to free the woman from the wreck, her baby lay about 2m away in the care of an off-duty paramedic.

The baby's father, a passenger in the van, escaped the crash with minor injuries.

Paraparaumu fire station officer John Arthur said the mother asked after her husband and child as she slipped in and out of consciousness.

It took the fire crew about 30 minutes to cut the mother from the car, Mr Arthur said. She was taken by ambulance while her baby was flown by helicopter to Wellington Hospital where she later died.

"It was a single vehicle crash," Mr Arthur said. "It went off the road to the left and they've gone into the flax. They came back on to the road and they started rolling. It rolled five or six times."

The mother, in her early 30s, was last night in a serious condition in intensive care, a Wellington Hospital spokesman said. The father had been released from hospital.

The holiday road toll climbed to four with another fatal crash in Southland yesterday afternoon.

One person died and two others were injured in the head-on crash about 3.30pm between Te Anau and Mossburn.

Car passenger Sandy Paul Waenga Brown, 21, from Paua, was the first person killed in the holiday period, in a crash near Cape Reinga about 2.30am on Christmas Day.

Six people died in the last Christmas and New Year holiday period which runs from 4pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on January 3.

- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ and Sam Boyer of the NZ Herald

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