A spooked horse may have contributed to the death of a woman whose body was found in a paddock on the outskirts of Hastings.

Police last night said they were treating the death of 53-year-old Napier woman Camille Reremoana Ferris as "unexplained" while they await the result of a post mortem examination, due to be carried out on Monday.

Ms Ferris' body was found on a laneway between two paddocks at Hawke's Bay Equestrian Park and may have been there for 24 hours before being discovered about 4pm on Thursday.

Ms Ferris, who has competed in dressage events in Gisborne and recently moved to Hawke's Bay, had been grazing a horse on the property.


Her body was discovered by another rider near the back of the Hastings property.

There was speculation on social media yesterday that duck shooters firing nearby may have upset horses in the park and one may have kicked or trampled her.

A fence separating the laneway from a paddock, where horses were grazing, had two broken posts and a loose top wire but police would not say whether the damage was related to the death.

It is believed she may have died on Wednesday night, as her car was spotted parked near the paddock late that evening.

A woman who spoke to Hawke's Bay Today at the equestrian park said while she could not comment on the circumstances surrounding Ms Ferris' death, it had come as a real shock to the close-knit community.

"All I can say is that she was a lovely person and she will be missed - we are all very devastated by the loss, we are all very close here."

Detective Sergeant Darren Pritchard said the body had been removed from the scene yesterday afternoon and would undergo a post-mortem examination Monday.

"The results will help us ascertain how she died," he said.

"Until then, we cannot confirm if the death is suspicious or otherwise.

"There is still a lot of work to be done to find out the circumstances of her death."

Police had cleared the scene by late afternoon yesterday but were still interviewing possible witnesses.

A scene guard was put in place overnight on Thursday to preserve evidence.

"We can't confirm exactly when [she was found] but it appears her vehicle was there on the Wednesday night - the day she had gone to feed out," Mr Pritchard said.

Ms Ferris had moved from Gisborne to Napier about three weeks ago.

Kim Moss, secretary of Gisborne Dressage, said she was shocked to hear about the death via social media yesterday.

She said Ms Ferris had ridden a couple of times with the group.

"I didn't know her that well ... it's really sad."