The man who died in a head-on collision in Palmerston North yesterday has been identified as 34-year-old Kent James Bond from Fielding.
Police say the crash occurred at around 2pm yesterday on westbound passing lanes of State Highway 3 near Mount Stewart and involved a car and an SUV towing a horse float.
The car is thought to have been overtaking a number of vehicles before losing control and crashing directly into the path of the oncoming SUV.
Acting Inspector Nigel Allan says police are still confirming the exact sequence of events but says it's clear the actions of other motorists saved the lives of the SUV occupants.
"I have no doubt the selfless and heroic acts of those persons who came to the assistance of the people trapped in the burning vehicle have saved four lives," he says.
A detailed investigation will take place but police say excessive speed was a likely factor.
The surviving occupants were taken to Palmerston North Hospital, where one person is currently in a critical condition and the other three are reportedly satisfactory.