A Melbourne teenager's Christmas holiday visit home to New Zealand with family has resulted in his death when the car he was driving crashed into a culvert and caught fire near Longburn, Palmerston North, on Monday morning.
The youth was Matthew Lee Gibbs, aged 15 years, who was the sole occupant. He had been driving from the Himitangi area towards Palmerston North when the crash happened on State Highway 56 at Tiakitahuna about 4.35am on Monday, 13 December.
Senior Sergeant Sue O'Neil, Palmerston North Police Response Manager, said Matthew, a college student, had been living with his family in Melbourne for the last two years. The family had only returned to New Zealand on Sunday to visit relatives for the holiday period.
"Matthew was an inexperienced driver and his death has devastated family and friends," Senior Sergeant O'Neil said.
Police have yet to complete an investigation into the cause of the crash. Officers would like to hear from people who were in the SH56 Himitangi to Longburn area between 3.30am and 4.30am and who saw the white Honda Accord being driven to contact Palmerston North Police on telephone: 06 351 3600.
There's no indication of any other vehicles being involved.