Bunnings management has "put its foot down'' and forced its Dunedin staff to gift the store's defibrillator to a community group.

A Bunnings staff member, who did not want to be named due to fear of disciplinary action, said Bunnings New Zealand manager Jacqui Coombes visited the Dunedin store on Wednesday.

The management "put their foot down'' and forced staff to remove the defibrillator from the store and give it to a community group.

"They said 'it has to go, it's not staying here'.''

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The staff member did not know which community group would get the defibrillator.

A petition to retain the life-saving apparatus in the store, signed by most of the Bunnings Dunedin staff, was ignored by management, the staff member said.

"It was presented to Jacqui but she is staying firm with her decision that it [the defibrillator] is not staying in-store.''

Social club members from Bunnings Dunedin raised $1300 to buy the defibrillator about three years ago, after one of their colleagues died from a heart condition.

In a leaked email, Ms Coombes said the defibrillator was removed because "as a group, we do not hold defibrillators at our stores''.

"There are a number of reasons for this, including maintenance of the units and the availability of trained teams to operate the units,'' she wrote.

When contacted about the fate of the defibrillator on Wednesday, Bunnings NZ marketing manager Valerie Staley said Bunnings had "nothing further to add''.