The spokesperson for a family who lost seven members in a sickening crash near Taupō over the weekend has shared her whānau's grief in a heart-wrenching press conference.
Eight people died in the Atiamuri crash on Sunday - seven of who were from the same family. The victim in the other vehicle was a long-serving member of Scouts New Zealand.
Speaking on Tuesday from Waikato Hospital, where the sole survivor of the crash was airlifted in a critical condition, Sherilyn Poutawa spoke of the pain her family had suffered in the days since.
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"This tragedy of losing our loved ones has been devastating - a shock," she told media. "No words can fully describe the agony, the anguish that our whānau are experiencing at this time."
Poutawa says the family were on their way home when the crash occurred. She was waiting at home for their arrival, which never came.
The only member of the whānau to survive the crash, Poutawa's nine-year-old grandson, has been receiving treatment in Waikato Hospital. She says he is recovering well after midnight surgery, which she described as "very successful".
"Two grandsons survived, and our legacy is they're both surrounded by a very big, loving family; a close unit who are waiting for them to return home in good time," Poutawa said.
"We would like to thank whānau, friends, work colleagues, school teachers, friends, neighbours for all their condolences and their heartfelt aroha, prayers, thoughts, awhi.
"I ask our family and friends to please continue to pray as we grieve and mourn our loss, which will be a long journey for us."
On Monday, Tokoroa North School, Tokoroa Intermediate and Tokoroa High School issued a joint statement expressing their grief at learning of the tragedy.
Taupō Mayor David Trewava told The AM Show on Monday it's "getting ridiculous" how often crashes are occurring in the region.
"I'm absolutely sick of it. I'm lost for words, I just don't know what to do - people have got to slow down."