Police say the quick thinking of a passenger avoided further danger after a truck driver was fatally struck by a piece of timber.
The 36-year-old man was driving south along State Highway 1 in Pukerua Bay, near Wellington, when a piece of timber struck a wing mirror on the truck about 7am on Friday.
The wing-mirror then hit the driver, knocking him unconscious. He later died in Wellington hospital.
Sergeant Mike George says the quick actions of the driver's niece who was in the passenger's seat avoided a much bigger accident.
She managed to steer the vehicle to the side of the road before emergency services were called.
Mr George says police want to speak with the driver of a white Nissan ute seen travelling in the opposite direction shortly before the accident, with a length of timber protruding over the cab. It is believed the timber fell off the vehicle.