The man killed while pruning a tree in Feilding today was apparently crushed against the trunk by safety equipment, police say.
The man in his 60s was pruning the tree about 11.45am ahead of felling it at a friend's property in Seddon St, Feilding.
Sergeant Kaine Austin said early indications were that as the man cut a limb of the tree, the safety equipment holding him has been caught and pulled him into the trunk of the tree, fatally crushing him.
Mr Austin said police were working to clarify the exact order of events that led to the fatal incident.
"We are in the early stages of this investigation and we will be speaking to witnesses to determine exactly what has occurred.
WorkSafe New Zealand has been notified and will be assisting Police with our inquiries."
The man had a family member with him at the time of the incident, though he was working alone in the tree.
Mr Austin said he was left suspended from his harness, which made it difficult for emergency services to reach him, but every effort was made to help him.
He was removed from the tree about 2pm this afternoon.
Mr Austen said it was an obviously tragic situation for his family to see.
Seddon St was cordoned off this afternoon as police, the fire service and ambulance attended the scene.
The matter has been referred to the coroner.