Fatal bus crash killed four of her family - but it's time to let go

The bus crash killed 15 of the 36 people on board.
NORTHERN ADVOCATE/SUPPLIED

The bus crash killed 15 of the 36 people on board.

"It still feels like yesterday," Sabrina Nathan-Kidwell says.

The Massey resident was still grieving the loss of four family members more than four decades after a bus crash claimed their lives.

The Brynderwyn bus crash on February 7, 1963 killed 15 of the 36 people on board.

Sabrina Nathan-Kidwell looks at her family members that were killed, from left, her great-grandmother Beryl Abraham, ...
DANIELLE CLENT/STUFF

Sabrina Nathan-Kidwell looks at her family members that were killed, from left, her great-grandmother Beryl Abraham, grandmother Miriama Nathan, mother Levia Nathan-Kidwell and sister Cecelia Nathan-Kidwell.

A brakes failure caused the bus to careen down a cliff off the Brynderwyn hills.

Nathan-Kidwell's mother Levia Nathan-Kidwell, 17-year-old sister Cecelia Nathan-Kidwell, grandmother Miriama Nathan and great-grandmother Beryl Abraham, died in the crash.

Her two older brothers survived the crash, but spent 18 months in Whangarei Hospital.

The Maori people of Rewiti mourn the victims of the Brynderwyn bus crash.
STUFF

The Maori people of Rewiti mourn the victims of the Brynderwyn bus crash.

"That left me the only female in my family," the 62-year-old said.

Nathan-Kidwell's family were coming back from Waitangi Day celebrations. They'd been part of a kapa haka group being presented to the Queen.

A last minute decision made by her father saw the Massey woman stay home with her two younger brothers.

Sabrina Nathan-Kidwell was seven-years-old at the time of the accident.
DANIELLE CLENT/STUFF

Sabrina Nathan-Kidwell was seven-years-old at the time of the accident.

She said a documentary about the crash revealed to her how "cheaply made" the bus her family travelled on was.

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"I think the biggest trauma for our family to get over is the actual bus that they were picked up on," Nathan-Kidwell said.

"Why did they save a few dollars and give my family a cardboard box to travel in?"

Sabrina Nathan-Kidwell's family members who were in the bus crash from left, Beryl Abraham, Miriama Nathan, Levia ...
DANIELLE CLENT/STUFF

Sabrina Nathan-Kidwell's family members who were in the bus crash from left, Beryl Abraham, Miriama Nathan, Levia Nathan-Kidwell and Cecelia Nathan-Kidwell. The two men, her brother Byron Nathan-Kidwell and uncle Pirangi Nathan survived the crash.

The mother-of-five said the accident was a topic her family rarely talked about to this day.

She said the relationships she had with her surviving siblings was "not good".

Nathan-Kidwell claimed her brothers blamed her for not having a mother around.

Helensville resident and Te Waka Huia playwright Naomi Bartley says she hopes the play will honour those who were killed.
DANIELLE CLENT/STUFF

Helensville resident and Te Waka Huia playwright Naomi Bartley says she hopes the play will honour those who were killed.

At one point, she had not spoken to one of her older brothers for 36 years, she said.

The victims of the bus crash would be honoured in an upcoming play, Te Waka Huia, created by Helensville playwright Naomi Bartley.

Although a fictional story, Bartley said the play had been designed to honour the memories of the victims.

It was also to acknowledge the Brynderwyn bus crash and the impact it had on Helensville, as many victims were from the area.

"I think it's really important that we as a town know that this is kind of a dark thread in the fabric of who we are as a town," she said.

Nathan-Kidwell said the play had woken up some feelings for her that needed to be let go.

"The more we hold them, the more we suffer," she said.

Te Waka Huia would play at five venues including Te Pou theatre in New Lynn from August 17-19 and Kaipara College in Helensville from September 29-30.

Tickets are $20 and available here.

 

 - Stuff

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