Road under scrutiny in Invercargill crash that claimed four lives


The four teenagers killed in a fatal crash in Invercargill on April 22. From top left clockwise- Indaka Rouse, 16, of Bluff, Maru Tawhai, 17, of Invercargill, Konnor Steele, 16, of Bluff and Kyah Kennedy, 16, of Bluff.


The four teenagers killed in a fatal crash in Invercargill on April 22. From top left clockwise- Indaka Rouse, 16, of Bluff, Maru Tawhai, 17, of Invercargill, Konnor Steele, 16, of Bluff and Kyah Kennedy, 16, of Bluff.

The impact of an Invercargill crash that killed four teenagers is still being felt widely across the Southland region.

Trauma teams have been visiting schools, and the road where the crash happened has been tested following claims by residents that it had become slippery following a recent resurfacing.

Now, Stuff can reveal new data from Waka Kotahi in Southland that shows young men are at much higher risk of dying on our roads.

Konnor Steele, 16, Indaka Rouse, 16, Kyah Kennedy, 16, all from Bluff; and Omaruhuatau “Maru” Tawhai, 17, from Invercargill, died when the ute they were in collided with a truck on Queens Drive, a straight stretch of road in the city with a 50kmh speed limit.


Family and friends were emotional as they said their final goodbye to the 17-year-old.

* Loss of four teenagers felt through Southland community
* Third Invercargill teenage crash victim farewelled in Bluff
* Uncle of teen who died in Invercargill crash says his passing has caused ‘immense sorrow’

The April 22 crash occurred on a wet Friday afternoon, with a witness, Logan Lalovaea, telling Stuff the ute slid into the truck in what was a brutal collision.

Following the tragedy, residents told Stuff they believed the resurfacing of the road in early March had made the road slippery in wet weather.

An Invercargill City Council assessment of the road is still under way, and the council closed the road this week so police could assess its surface.

Police didn’t respond to questions on the matter, but said enquiries into the crash were ongoing, and they had spoken to a number of witnesses as they pieced together the circumstances of the crash.

The truck driver had received support through victim support and had co-operated with police throughout the investigation, the spokesperson said.

Police acknowledged the community’s patience as enquiries continued, saying the investigation would take “some time” to complete.

Police have refused to answer many questions, including who was driving the ute, what type of licence they were on and whether speed was a factor, saying the release of details has the potential to prejudice any court proceedings that could arise from the investigation.

Robyn Edie/Stuff

Nathan Tane says it’s the sound of the fatal crash in Invercargill that’s stuck with him after multiple people died just metres away from his home on Friday afternoon.

The tragedy has been devastating for the port town of Bluff where three of the teens lived, and for Southland Boys’ High School​ where all four teens were former pupils.

The Ministry of Education has been providing traumatic incident support to schools impacted by the deaths.

The impact was wide-ranging across numerous schools as the boys were popular, sporty and belonged to a number of clubs throughout Southland.

The ministry’s traumatic incident teams have helped students understand the emotional and psychological impacts of an incident and how they affect behaviour, and the teams have linked the schools with other services where necessary.

Figures provided by Waka Kotahi showed the number of male deaths on Southland roads since 2012 is more than double that of female deaths – 67 compared to 32 – and those figures do not take into account the April 22 tragedy.

Also, 38 of the total 99 deaths were in the 15-to-29 age group; well over double each of the remaining age categories.

Road Safety Education general manager Maria Lovelock said the crash risk for young drivers increased by 100% when carrying two young passengers in their car, and the risk increased by 400% when three or more young passengers were in their car.

“If you are inexperienced and have all these other young people in the car it adds to the distraction and mood and focus in the car. So even without [alcohol or drug] impairment, it’s still going to increase your risk, and this is why there are restrictions on carrying passengers in that age group.”

Driving alone gave young people time to focus on their driving, identify potential hazards and get used to their cars, without having distractions around them, and they should put their phones in the glove box, she said.