A concrete power-pole was shattered when a car smashed through trees and fences before hitting it, killing three of the four occupants after a police chase.
The sole survivor lay in intensive care last night, in a serious but stable condition.
Her father said he believed she would make a full recovery.
Peter Bunyan, 27, Dylan Kingi, 28, and Holly Gunn, 25, were killed in the crash in Nelson Rd, Gisborne, about 9.45pm on Saturday.
Trainee nurse Claire Badger, 25, managed to climb out of the wrecked car.
Paul Badger said his daughter was an outgoing young woman.
"We have been with her pretty much constantly all the way through since it happened . . . I absolutely think she'll make a full recovery."
Ms Badger was in her first year of nursing training in Gisborne.
Paul Badger and Miss Badger's mother, Margaret, did not really know the others who died.
"We have visited with one of the families so far but we weren't particularly familiar with them.
"They were all just mates out socialising for the evening."
Police said the driver of the white Mitsubishi car failed to stop after police signalled for it to do so near Wipere St, instead fleeing at speeds "well in excess" of the 50kmh limit in the area.
After chasing the car for about 90 seconds, police lost sight of it at the intersection of Lytton and Nelson roads. After speaking to witnesses, police continued to hunt the car, finding it crashed into a power-pole on a bend in the road about two minutes later.
St John Ambulance Gisborne operations team manager Shane Clapperton said the car crashed through trees, fences and a large concrete power-pole before coming to a halt.
"It's smashed the power-pole into a number of pieces."
He was "amazed" one of the women, believed to be a backseat passenger, had survived.
"The car, you wouldn't recognise it really.
"It was extensively damaged."
There had been one previous fatality on the road but it was generally a safe corner with a low speed limit, he said.
"It's just a tragedy; it's a loss of life that didn't need to happen."
Acting area commander Senior Sergeant Maui Aben said the car first came to the attention of police about 9.40pm.
A police officer saw it travelling at speed in the opposite direction but the driver did not stop for the red and blue police lights.
"Due to the speed of the vehicle and the manner in which it was being driven, the officer was unable to catch up to the vehicle and subsequently lost sight of it."
The police officer spoke to several witnesses, who showed him the direction the car had gone in.
Mr Aben said it was not known why the driver fled but police had been called to an earlier incident at an address where all the occupants of the vehicle were.
Police Minister Anne Tolley said any road death was tragic.
However, as there were separate police and Independent Police Conduct Authority investigations into the crash and the circumstances surrounding it, she would not comment further until those were complete.
The crash was among several separate accidents in which five people died over the weekend.
In Mangere, South Auckland, a motorist died after crashing into a power-pole at 5am yesterday.
A motorcyclist collided with a turning car in Ngongotaha Rd, about 10 kilometres north of Rotorua, at 5pm on Saturday.
On Friday, Wairarapa helicopter pilot Brian Bowden was killed in a car crash in Hawke's Bay.
Mr Bowden, 39, was a passenger in a van that collided with a 4x4 vehicle.
- This story has been updated. An earlier version included a photo that incorrectly identified a man as Gisborne crash victim Peter Bunyan. We regret any distress caused.
- © Fairfax NZ News