A Tauranga grandmother was comforting her grieving son over the loss of his partner when she received the tragic news her husband had died in a forklift accident.

Carol Shannon was forced to cut a trip to Melbourne short after she was told her husband, 61-year-old stevedore Brian Kevin Shannon, had died after being hit by a forklift load at Tauranga Port about 7pm Monday.

Mrs Shannon had been in Melbourne to comfort her son after his partner, and the mother of his child, died from cancer, the Bay of Plenty Times reported.

She returned to New Zealand yesterday.

Paramedics on Monday worked for half an hour to save Mr Shannon, but he died at the scene.

His death has been referred to the coroner, and the Department of Labour and police are investigating.

Mr Shannon's was the second forklift-related death at the port. Father of six Robert Diamond was crushed beneath a 16-tonne forklift in December 2003.