Police say the driver of a stolen car was killed in a head-on crash after he sped away from a police vehicle.
Police said it appeared the stolen car was being followed by police when it ‘‘suddenly sped away out of sight’’ then collided with an on-coming vehicle on State Highway 2, near the Bay of Plenty township of Katikati, about 5pm today.
The male driver of the stolen vehicle died at the scene, while the driver of the other vehicle, also a male, was taken to hospital and where he was believed to be in a serious condition, police said.
No one else was in either of the vehicles.
Police said the stolen vehicle was followed from the Waihi area.
Bay of Plenty district commander Superintendent Glenn Dunbier said the full details of the crash were still being investigated.
‘‘The Independent Police Conduct Authority has been notified as a matter of course and we will ensure that there is a thorough and independent investigation into the circumstances that led up to this tragedy."
Serious Crash Investigation Unit was on scene and diversions were in place. Police will endeavour to re-open the road as soon as possible.
A number of witnesses are in the process of being interviewed but anyone else who witnessed the crash or has information relevant to this investigation is asked to contact Tauranga Police on 07 577 4300.
Meanwhile, one person was killed and three others were injured in a collision in Otaika, Northland about 2.20pm.
The injured, who are believed to have suffered moderate injuries, were taken to hospital
These latest deaths takes New Zealand's road toll to 252, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Last year's road toll was 284, compared to 375 in 2010.