A farm worker had been drinking before the farm utility vehicle he was driving crashed and trapped him underneath.
Steven Bidois died when the Honda Pioneer 700 crashed at a Pohokura Rd entrance to Landcorp's Opuahi Station on Friday night.
The 22-year-old had been head shepherd there for just a few months.
Senior Sergeant Greg Brown, of the Eastern District road policing unit, said early inquiries indicated that Bidois had been returning to his farmhouse from dinner and drinks.
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The multi-purpose, fitted with roll-bars and safety belts is similar in appearance to a golf cart. The tray of the vehicle on Friday also had a dog cage with three dogs. Mr Brown said it appeared to have mounted a grass verge, tipped over and trapped Mr Bidois beneath the frame.
It was not clear how long he was trapped. It took five men to lift the vehicle free, but Mr Bidois died at the scene.
His funeral will be held in Raetihi today. He was the younger son of Roger and Julie Bidois, went to primary school in Waiouru and to Ruapehu College in Ohakune.
He then trained as a farm cadet at Otiwhiti Farm, near Hunterville, in 2010-2011.
"We realise that this is a tough time for all concerned, especially family, friends and co-workers. It is an absolute tragedy that a young man is taken from us in entirely preventable circumstances, " Mr Brown said.