Mr Xi was the chairman of the New Zealand branch of the Federation for a Democratic China, Mr Wang belonged to the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and Mr Yu is Secretary-General of New Zealand Value Alliance.
They were heading to Wellington for a planned protest at Parliament the following day and to present politicians with a petition urging them to take Chinese political interference seriously.
The crash involved three cars and happened just after 1pm near Galaxy Road. Two others were injured.
Police say an initial assessment shows a north-bound vehicle crossed the centreline, glancing a south-bound vehicle before colliding head on with a third vehicle.
Today the justice select committee was sitting at Parliament to discuss the possibility of Chinese political interference in New Zealand. Canterbury University academic Anne Marie Brady, who specialises in Chinese politics, opened her submission with news of Tuesday’s tragic crash, saying it had “bearing” on the issues being discussed today.
She said the men’s petition detailed how unsafe they felt in New Zealand.
Photo: Philips Search & Rescue Trust via tvnz