A man who had just returned to work after being knocked out with a punch outside a South Auckland takeaway shop more than a month ago has died in a workplace accident.

Leslie David Remuera Laing, 28, died Monday afternoon at a timber exporting business in Mangere.

His devastated family are now preparing for his funeral in Napier, his eight siblings gathering from as far away as Perth.

Dad Doug Laing described a compassionate, hard-working young father who just wanted to get back to work to support his kids.

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It was Les Laing's first day back on the job, having been off work because of injuries suffered when he was punched by a stranger as he was going to buy dinner from Ezmeralda's Cafe in Papakura on July 31.

Doug Laing has been told a man was arrested and pleaded guilty to common assault. He is set to appear for sentencing at Papakura District Court this month.

Meanwhile Les Laing had been keen to get off ACC and start earning again for his family, his father said.

Doug Laing was still processing his son's death and trying to find out more information about what happened.

"It involved heavy machinery of some sort. He was effectively run over by the sound of it or struck by heavy machinery.

"All I was told is they got him to [Middlemore] Hospital and were unable to revive him."

Police said the circumstances of Laing's death were being investigated and had been referred to Worksafe NZ and the coroner's office.

WorkSafe confirmed it was investigating a fatal accident at a lumber yard in Auckland but could not comment further. Investigations could take up to a year.

An autopsy is to be carried out today before Laing is taken back to Napier where his funeral will be held at Pukemokimoki Marae.

Doug Laing said his son had been living in Papakura with partner Yvonne Atkins and two of his four young children, as well as two of hers.

He had moved from Hamilton a year ago to take a job as a log scaler at a timber plant on Savill Drive in Mangere.

Les Laing grew up in Napier, attending Richmond School, Napier Intermediate and Napier Boys' High School. He was a talented sprinter and represented the city in the Ross Shield rugby tournament alongside Zac Guildford and Daniel Kirkpatrick.

When he left school he worked in wool and shearing sheds before finding his way into log scaling at the Port of Napier.

Doug Laing visited the Mangere timber plant today and spoke with his son's colleagues, who he said had been through a "pretty horrible" experience.

"He was very much enjoying working there by the sound of things," he said. "He was described as a real asset to the staff. They basically saw him going a long way in the industry."

He could dish out "a bit of cheek" but "wherever he was at work, he was a very hard worker".

Les Laing's determination to make something of himself meant younger relatives all loved and looked up to him.

"People used to remark about how much compassion he had for others. He had a sense of justice even as a young kid," Doug Laing said.

"It's just a devastating situation."

It's not the first time the family has struck tragedy. Laing's first cousin Robert Hickland died after suffered injuries in a rugby match in 2009.