The Police Serious Crash Unit is investigating a fatal crash that occurred in Taneatua overnight.
About 11pm a pursuit was initiated when the driver of a Mazda Familia vehicle failed to stop for Police in Whakatane.
Within one minute, officers in pursuit determined the vehicle’s excessive speed posed too great a risk to its occupants and the public and abandoned the pursuit.
Approximately four minutes later Police located the vehicle on Taneatua Road, about 6.5km south of the point of abandonment.
Initial enquiries indicate the vehicle lost control on a sweeping righthand bend, left the road at speed, become airborne and struck a large tree.
The 27-year-old male driver died at the scene.
A second person, the back seat passenger, was taken to Waikato Hospital with critical injuries.
A front-seat passenger sustained minor injuries.
The Serious Crash Unit attended, with the road reopening at around 3.30am today.
While Police were not pursuing the vehicle when it crashed, the circumstances surrounding both the pursuit and the crash will be thoroughly investigated and the Independent Police Conduct Authority notified.
No further detail will be released until all next-of-kin have been notified.