26 Apr 2017

Gisborne bus crash driver appears in court

11:48 am on 26 April 2017

The driver of a bus that crashed on Christmas Eve, killing three people, has appeared in court for the first time.

Sione Taumalolo, 11 died along with Talita Fifita, 33 in the bus crash near Gisborne on Christmas Eve.

Sione Taumololo, 11, and Talita Fifita, 33, were killed in the crash at Wharerata, about 30km south of Gisborne. Photo: Supplied

There were 53 people on the bus when it plunged down a steep bank south of Gisborne last year.

The group was a school brass band on a month-long fundraising tour from Tonga.

Talakai Aholelei, who is 65, faces 27 charges of careless driving causing injury and three counts of careless driving causing death.

Mr Aholelei appeared in the Manukau District Court this morning with his family and members of the Tongan community, but entered no plea.

He was remanded on bail to appear again next month.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs