Farm tragedy will be 'felt across the rural community'

The impact of a tragic farm accident near Raetihi will be felt across the district, a spokesperson for the victims' families said on Monday.

Three people died after a side-by-side off-road vehicle crashed into a farm pond on Sunday morning.

The victims were later named as Bev Hiscox, 66, and her two grandchildren, Luka and JJ Sirett, aged 10 and 5. 

The children's grandfather Mike Hiscox, 69, was also present but managed to escape the submerged vehicle and survived with minor injuries.

Speaking to media on Monday, family spokesperson Elijah Pue said the family was spending "quality time" together when the tragedy struck.

Emergency services responded to a call just after 11am on Sunday after the vehicle crashed into a dam on the farm. However, by the time they managed to recover the submerged vehicle, Hiscox and the two boys had passed away.

The whole community was mourning the loss, Pue said.

"It's felt across the district," he said.

"Everyone knows these families...and so everyone is mourning for this loss of a stalwart and two young men in our community. It's really sad and it's a real tragedy for the Waimarino area."

Earlier on Monday, Lisa Clark, principal of Ohakune Primary School, where both boys were students, said the school was "devastated" by the accident.

"We as a school are completely devastated by the loss of our precious boys and their dearly loved grandmother," Clark told Newshub.  

"Our thoughts and love are with the family at this very difficult time."

Pue said the reality was still setting in for many of the school children.

"Naturally all of their friends are mourning, some of them are probably coming to terms with what's happened and realising that their friends won't be coming back to school. So it's important that we as a community allow those kids and the people across our community, including at the primary school, to mourn the loss of their friends," he said.

He said the families involved were currently at home "surrounded by their loved ones".

"The good thing about being in a small-knit community is you have people turning up on your doorstep with baking and with hugs and sending their condolences all the time," he said.

"It's going to be felt across the rural community, that's for sure."

Pue said although the family asked for their privacy to be respected while they grieved, they acknowledged that the community also needed to be part of the mourning process.

"It's important that the community are part of the funeral process, but what that looks like at the moment we're not sure of."