Manawatu crash victims named

Two elderly women who were killed when a car lost control and crashed into a ditch in Manawatu early this morning have been named by police.

Kathryn Dinah Matenga, 70, of Gisborne, and Annie Tamanui, 69, also from Gisborne, died following the crash on State Highway 56 at Longburn at 1.30am today.

The white Mitsubishi Chariot station wagon they were passengers in was travelling north when it was believed to have crossed the centreline and crashed into a ditch near the intersection with Works Rd, police said.

A 53-year-old man was driving and Ms Matenga was the front seat passenger. Ms Tamanui, a 29-year-old woman, and a 10-year-old boy were in the back seat. It is not yet known where a 3-year-old boy had been sitting at the time of the crash, police said.

The two women died at the scene, while the other four injured people were taken to Palmerston North Hospital.

It is believed all six were related.

"We believe the vehicle was travelling back to an address after having picked up a family member when the crash occurred," Senior Sergeant Ashley Gurney, Manawatu area response manager said.

"This is a horrific tragedy for the families of the victims and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this dark time."

The driver and the 10-year-old are in a stable condition, the 29-year-old woman is in a serious condition, and the 3-year-old sustained minor injuries and is being monitored, Mr Gurney said. All remain in hospital.

A local kaumatua attended the crash scene earlier today and performed a blessing and karakia.

An investigation into the crash was ongoing, and police appealed for witnesses to come forward.

"We are working to determine what factors have led to the crash as well as the probability that the back seat passengers may not have been restrained," Mr Gurney said.

"We want to speak to anyone that was driving down State Highway 56 around 1.30am as they may have seen something that could help us piece together the vehicle's movements on the road prior to the collision, and I encourage them to contact police."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Mr Gurney on 06 351 3843 or anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ

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