Show goes on for kapa haka group in bus crash

20:25, Jul 28 2014

The show will go on for Turakina Maori Girls' College, who are expected to perform at the national secondary school's kapa haka competition despite being involved in a bus crash.

Twelve students and three adults, including the 54-year-old male bus driver, were taken to Gisborne Hospital with minor to moderate injuries following the crash, in Wharerata Rd near Morere Springs about 3.30pm on Sunday.

A 14-year-old girl suffering broken bones remained in hospital, but was expected to be discharged later tonight or tomorrow.

The bus, full of students from Turakina Maori Girls' College's kapa haka group, in Rangitikei, was headed to Gisborne for the national secondary school's kapa haka competition, which started today.

All were discharged yesterday bar the 14-year-old girl.

A 13-year-old from the original group was re-admitted last night for observation and remains in hospital, but is expected to be discharged today.


Turakina Maori Girls College board of trustees co-chairwoman Piri-Hira Tukapua said today the kapa haka group would take the stage as scheduled tomorrow, with just the one student, who she said had a broken leg, not expected to participate.

Tukapua said two board members flew to Gisborne today to assess the situation, and parents were consulted in an email sent last night before the decision was made to carry on with the performance.

Patchy mobile phone coverage had hampered communication but paramedics had reached the incident about 4.20pm.

Turakina Maori Girls' College, Hato Paora College and Maori cultural group Te Piringa, which has students from Te Wharekura o Mana Tamariki, Freyberg High, Palmerston North Girls' High and Palmerston North Boys' High schools, were travelling close together when the crash happened.

Senior sergeant Dan Foley, from the Eastern District command centre, said the bus, which had about 40 people in it, left the road and crashed into a ditch and came to a halt in a patch of dense bush and trees.

There was a possibility the brakes had failed, Foley said.

Hato Paora College principal Debra Marshall-Lobb said parents, staff and students were providing support in what ever way they could.

''When we came across the accident everyone helped,'' she said.

''Te Piringa took the uninjured girls in their bus and support vehicles and looked after them until help arrived.

''The hospital staff were very good and the Turakina girls and staff [did] tremendous given the difficult situation.

''We all remained there until all, bar one, were discharged.''

The bus has been removed from the ditch and was being examined by police, and mechanics, to determine the cause of the crash, Foley said.

A Tairawhiti spokeswoman Toni Lexmond said one girl remained in hospital this morning with broken bones, but the rest of the group had been discharged to a nearby motor camp, where the group was staying. They had suffered mild to moderate injuries in the crash, including cuts and bruises, but were doing OK now.

Four ambulances attended from Gisborne, Mahia and Wairoa; all patients were taken to Gisborne Hospital.

The week-long kapa haka festival is being hosted at Te Poho o te Rawiri Marae in Gisborne, with about 40 school groups competing for the national title.

On Saturday, more than 150 friends and family gathered at Marton Memorial Hall to watch the Turakina Maori Girls' College group's dress rehearsal before they departed.

At the event, head of department Maori Mare Ponga said the 33 girls in the group had been practicing for the last 10 weeks. 

Manawatu Standard