BREAKING NEWS: FIRST @ INFONEWS.CO.NZ: A 16 year old Taranaki teenager has become the first Labour Weekend road toll victim after a crash near Katikati early this morning in the Bay Of Plenty.
Emergency services were called to Hikurangi Rd, Tahawai, just north of Katikati about 1am, where a car with four occupants had crashed.
Police said the driver allegedly ran away from the scene and left the dead teenager and injured passengers.
The two injured passengers, both 16-year-old boys from Katikati, were in a stable condition in a general ward in Tauranga Hospital.
The 18-year-old driver was found walking along State Highway 2 near the scene of the crash about 6.15am.
He was admitted to hospital about 7.20am, where his injuries were being assessed.
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: YOUTH MOURNING LOSS OF 16YO
Friends and family of the 16 year old boy are mourning the loss of the death of a "strong, happy and popular" young kid.
Taranaki youth are being told to "stay strong" by many New Zealand agencies.
Sergeant Mike Owen said the death was "totally avoidable" and "just a waste of a young life".
"The four of them in the car were all teenagers so just an absolute tragedy for them and their families," he said.
Over 100 posts have been made to the young boy over social networking site Facebook after news broke to the public at around 9am.
We are aware that the car hit a tree, the driver fled. The 16 year old was in the middle of the vehicle and was left with two injured young boys.
The official holiday period for Labour Day weekend started at 4pm on Friday and finishes at 6am tomorrow.
The serious crash unit are continuing their investigations into the crash.