Staf at a timber mill where a 38-year-old was crushed to death on Wednesday are "shocked and angry" at what happened.
The man from Edgecumbe, in the Bay of Plenty, was killed at the Carter Holt Harvey Tasman No 2 pulp machine in Kawerau in the afternoon.
He is understood to have gone through a roller machine but was able to talk to two men who came to his aid before dying.
A close colleague said workmates were devastated by the loss of a young hard-working friend.
"He was a gun operator and a very popular young man. The crew are shocked and angry at what has happened."
The worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his workmate had been cleaning around the machine when the accident happened.
No one saw what happened, but staff were alerted by his cries for help.
Police are investigating.
The man has not been named because relatives are still being notified. A Department of Labour spokesman said an investigation had begun and it had six months to determine whether charges would be laid.
In February 2006, Carter Holt Harvey was ordered to pay $100,000 to the family of worker who fell through PVC roofing at the Tokoroa plant.