Family grieve for Hope police pursuit victim Carmen Marie Yanko

The woman killed in a police-pursuit-gone-wrong near Nelson was a 53-year-old cancer survivor thought to be on her way to a Sunday market.

Police have named three victims of a crash near the village of Hope on Sunday morning, including mother Carmen Marie Yanko, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The other deceased were Johnathan Tairakena, 25, and Phillip Jamie Stretch, 33, the driver and passenger in a car being chased by police, when it crossed the centre line and collided with Ms Yanko's vehicle.

On Monday afternoon, Ms Yanko's family expressed their grief through a police statement.

"We, as Carmen's children, are heartbroken and reeling from this senseless tragedy that occurred early yesterday morning.

"She lived to be a mother and was there for us always.

"Carmen loved and lived fiercely, and will be terribly missed by her family and friends." 

NZME has reported online messages of love and support for her family, including the comment "taken because some idiots think they've above the law".

"Thinking of you mate," offered one well-wisher.

"How absolutely heartbreaking and outraging," posted another.

One described her as "a special lady", while another told a relative: "You and the family are in my thoughts!!!"

Mr Tairakena was a disqualified driver, and had previous convictions for burglary and theft, while Mr Stretch had pleaded guilty to charges of drink-driving causing death in 2001 and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Fabian Tairakena, the older brother of Johnathan, described his sibling as "a go-getter" and "positive motivator".

"He was always smiles, always looking out for his friends and family, always helped those in need, and always looked out for his older brother."

The serious crash unit is investigating the incident, which has reignited debate about police pursuits.

On Monday, the Police Association told The AM Show it wasn't to blame for the deaths.

Tasman District Commander Superintendent Mike Johnson said police pursued the car for about six kilometres before the crash.

An internal investigation into the pursuit will be conducted.