A man who chewed gum "all the time" possibly fell asleep while chewing it and choked, a coroner has found.

Stephen Ngatai, 60, was found dead in his bed at his Patea home on January 23 this year after his boss phoned his brother, who also lived with him, when he did not show up for work.

When his brother, James Old, went to check on Mr Ngatai in his bedroom, he found him dead in bed and with ants crawling on him.

Coroner Tim Scott today released findings into Mr Ngatai's death saying that while the cause of death could not be ascertained with certainty, it was possible he died of asphyxiation or choking caused by chewing gum.


Police who attended said there appeared to be a ball of chewing gum coming from Mr Ngatai's mouth.

A post-mortem examination of the body concluded that the death was not suspicious.

Mr Old said Mr Ngatai chewed gum "all the time", and Coroner Scott said he was confident that this was key to what happened.

"That is to say that Stephen was chewing gum in bed and choked - possibly because he fell asleep while doing so."