The local South Taranaki community has been left confused and heartbroken after seven people died in a horrific crash on Wednesday.
The crash is the worst road accident occuring in New Zealand since 2005.
A newborn baby, four elderly people, a young father, and an eight-year-old girl died in the head on collision north of Waverley.
There was no way we were expecting this situation to happen.
All occupants of the northbound car died on or shortly after impact. The male driver and newborn infant who were in the southbound car both died at the scene.
A woman injured in the crash is still fighting for her life in Wellington Hospital.
Emergency services, many of them volunteers local to the area, were left traumatised after attending the crash.
South Taranaki mayor Ross Dunlop told The AM Show the community was caught by surprise by the crash.
- Kiwis suffer anxiety when driving - study
- Should we be able to stop drivers from driving dangerously?
"Yesterday morning started with a beautiful sunny day, there was no way we were expecting this situation to happen," he said.
"By lunchtime the whole community was in absolute shock."
Mr Dunlop said the stretch of road was not particularly abnormal, he had driven down it the a few days before and not thought anything out of the ordinary about it.
He didn't believe it was the kind of area where a tragedy would occur.
In fact according to Mr Dunlop a lot of money had been spent improving the roads between Hawera and Whanganui over the past few years.
The names of the dead have not yet been released, but Mr Dunlop is aware the family killed were local to the area.
Watch the full interview with Ross Dunlop above.
The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.