An Air Force helicopter has successfully hoisted a car that plunged down a bank into the Mohaka River, killing three Mongrel Mob members.
The three men - and another man, who was injured - were on their way to the gang's 50th anniversary celebrations in Hastings on Saturday when their car fell about 150m into the river near Wairoa in northern Hawke's Bay.
The three men killed were Terry Stone, 31, Ronald Rigby, 53, and Nathan Isaac, 29 - all from Wairoa.
It took some hours for the crew on the NH90 to lift the Honda out of the water today.
Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said it was a fairly challenging operation and the water inside the car added to its weight. The car was handed over to police and taken away.
A crane brought in yesterday was not able to retrieve the vehicle from the water, a police spokesperson said.
State Highway 2 near the Mohaka Viaduct was closed while the helicopter retrieved the car.
Town in shock - mayor
Police investigating the crash are trying to find out whether the car was run off the road.
Officers were hoping the injured man, who was now out of hospital, would be able to help them find out what happened.
Police are also appealing for sightings of a blue Japanese model car with a dent in its bonnet. They do not know who was driving the vehicle, or who it belonged to, but know its colour from evidence found at the scene.
Wairoa mayor Craig Little said the small town was still in shock after the crash.
The men who died needed to be remembered as more than gang members, Mr Little said.
There had been no escalation in any gang tensions since the men died, he added.