One person has died in a head-on crash on State Highway 1 north of Kaitaia which left several others badly injured.

Police confirmed one person involved in the three-car collision had died while one was in a critical condition and two were serious.

Another five people — thought to include three children — had moderate to minor injuries.

The crash occurred about 12.20pm a few kilometres south of Pukenui township and just north of Houhora Heads Rd.

As of 1.30pm police said the highway was open but anyone travelling in the area could expect delays.

SH1 was initially closed at the junction with Houhora Heads Rd.

Three people were initially trapped in the wreckage.

They were extricated by firefighters from Houhora, Kaitaia and Mangonui.

Police and St John Ambulance also responded, along with three rescue helicopters from as far away as Auckland.

Motorists were advised to avoid the area if possible.

The police Serious Crash Unit and Victim Support were also on their way.

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