A second body has been removed after two workmen were crushed to death under a collapsed house in south Auckland early this afternoon.

The two were killed when they were trapped under a house being relocated at Manurewa Marae.

Two others were taken to Middlemore Hospital, one with serious injuries and one with moderate injuries, this afternoon.

Another two people escaped uninjured.

A lighting plant had been set up to enable the search to continue for the second body.

It was recovered about 6.30pm.

The first body had been removed earlier and taken to the marae for identification.

The accident happened about 12.45pm after a digger excavating at the site apparently slid on a bank, flipped and crashed into the house in Finlayson Ave, Clendon.

The people trapped underneath were understood to be contractors working on the house's relocation.

The house was understood to be a gift from the Manukau council and was to be used as a health centre at the marae.

Manukau Mayor Len Brown spoke of his "deep distress" about the incident.

"This is a tragic accident. Details are sketchy but our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have been affected by this sad event.

"Manukau City Council has a close relationship with Manurewa Marae and I am offering my personal condolences to the marae and to any contractors who may be on site," Mr Brown said.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said he was shocked and upset to hear of the incident.

"Any death is a tragedy, and an accident that cuts down workers on the job is a terrible shock. I feel for their families, who will be so distressed at this time.

"The whole of the iwi kainga of Manurewa Marae will be devastated by this accident. I know the people so well, I visit Manurewa Marae all the time.

"I am keeping in touch with developments, and I know the people will be doing all they can to help the emergency services to rescue the injured and get them to hospital, and to care for the tupapaku in the proper way," Dr Sharples said.

Manurewa Marae chairman Eru Thompson said the building was only bought on to the site yesterday and was to be converted into a health centre.

Mr Thompson said the collapsed building was an old community house but which had only arrived onsite yesterday morning. Contractors had been employed to do the work.

"We bought it on to the marae to develop our new health clinic. It was up on stilts - they had to put it on stilts to take it off the truck yesterday," he said.

"Today they were going to consolidate the foundations and everything and it's fallen over. All I want to do is get back to my whanau."

He said he was stuck in Wellington desperately trying to get a flight home.

"I'm breaking my bl**** arse to get home so I can get home to be with my people. My committee and my staff, I know what they're like going through without me," Mr Thompson said.

One resident who lived near-by said she passed the scene on her way home.

She said the house was moved on to the marae property a few days ago and workmen had been working on the house.

The Department of Labour is investigating the accident.

- NZHERALD STAFF, NZPA