Police have confirmed Hendrix Atutolu, 23, and Pia Korewha, 29, were the two people killed in a west Auckland crash on Wednesday morning.
Numerous friends and family members have taken to social media to pay tribute following their tragic deaths.
“My 2 cousins Hendrix Atutolu, True Korewha my heart aches for our whanau losing two beautiful souls to our aunties, uncle’s, cousins and whanau so sorry for your loss. Wish we could be there right now with use,” one person wrote.
Korewha was a road worker who continued working during alert level 4 restrictions as an essential worker.
A man who worked with her in traffic management for Chevron told the Herald she was loud, loving and funny.
“She is a person that fears nothing but God and [had] a beautiful voice, you would want to sit there and listen to her all day,” the friend said, who the Herald has agreed not to name.
“She always had a kind heart for people, always there when someone needs a hand, hardworking and never [backs down] when challenges came her way.”
She is being remembered for her talent for singing, with many of those who knew her sharing videos of her singing online.
“No one could sing this like you,” one person wrote.
“I miss your amazing voice,” another person wrote.
“I’ve been off and on crying ever since I found out.”
A third said: “Pia was one of the sweetest cousins we have but you could bloody hear her from a mile away and as for Hendrix well he was a cheeky fula but I still loved him just the same.”
It’s understood Atutolu, from Northland, was father to a young son and was part of the Far North MMA Kaitaia group.
An update posted on behalf of the victims’ families said the bodies would be released to funeral home Nga Hau E Wha Tangihanga in Panmure, from the Coroner, and they will remain there until Covid-19 restrictions allow larger gatherings.
“We ask you to pray, keep sending your love, your strength, your courage, your words of comfort, for our whanau whom are only just beginning their journey through such heartbreak, our parents who lost their big babies, for our taonga whom lost their lives,” a family representative wrote.
Currently Auckland remains in alert level 4 where funerals and tangihanga are not permitted.
Detective Inspector Kevin McNaughton said the pair died and another person was in a critical condition after the crash just after 12.30am on Henderson Valley Rd.
“A police unit observed a vehicle travelling at speed in the opposite direction on Henderson Valley Rd,” McNaughton said.
“The vehicle has driven past our officers, who have then carried out a U-turn.
“The vehicle has continued along Henderson Valley Rd at speed, some distance from our officers.
“The officers did not activate lights and sirens.”
McNaughton said a short time later police found the car, which appeared to have its lights turned off, crashed into a power pole.
“The officers have immediately attempted to provide first aid to the occupants,” he said.
“Tragically, two people have died.”
Another person is in a critical condition and one person is in a stable condition in hospital.
Lockdown fatal crashes
Atutolu and Korewha are among nine people who have died on New Zealand’s roads since the country entered lockdown on August 18.
“9 lives that could have been saved had they not been drinking, wore a seatbelt or simply slowed down,” Police wrote in a sobering statement on Facebook.
“8 devastated families were unable to give their loved ones the goodbye they deserved due to the alert level restrictions.
“When are you going to get it New Zealand? We are losing the people we love over poor decisions on the road which impact families and first responders for the rest of their lives.
“Do your bit. Slow down, leave the phone alone when you’re driving, wear your seatbelt and stop driving impaired.”
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