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Kate Gutry, a Christchurch Girls' High School student, died when her vehicle left the road and crashed into a power pole on South Eyre Rd near Swannanoa.
Principal Christine O'Neill said Kate had just been made a whānau prefect.
She said the teenager was an inspirational student who was a talented equestrian at national level and she led the school's kapa haka.
Everyone at the school was devastated by the loss and the focus today will be on being together and caring for each other, O'Neill said.
As of yesterday there had been 28 deaths on New Zealand roads this year so far.
Of those 14 were drivers.