It may be time to look into policy around farm machinery and children after the tragic tractor death of a woman and a 3-year-old child in North Otago yesterday, Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies has said.

But National Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said families and farm machinery are part of the fabric of New Zealand and any change without all the information would be a knee-jerk reaction

The National Police Dive Squad are working to recover the bodies at the address, a rural property in the Waihemo area, near Dunback-Morrisons Rd.

Waihemo is 20 minutes inland from the small town of Palmerston, which sits in between Dunedin and Oamaru.

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The incident happened about 5pm when a woman driving a tractor and trailer lost control of the vehicle and drove into the reservoir.

Davies said it would be a shock to the small community of Dunback, and after the family and friends of those affected had time to process the event it was time to look into safety around children and farm machinery.

"First off, sympathies and condolences to the family and immediate friends. The wider community, it will be a big shock for them.

"Yes, I'm not sure the time is right yet but, in a general term, yes, it needs to be looked at and talked about."

But Milne said while the event was a terrible tragedy, to call for a review when it was not clear what all the facts were, was a knee-jerk reaction

"Not knowing the circumstances, it's a big call to say it needs a review.

Families, with their children nearby, operating day-to-day farm business was "part of the fabric of New Zealand life", she said.

"It happens after school or before school. Thousands of families will be doing this in the school holidays.

"It is too early to make any decisions."

Typically when Federated Farmers made any changes to policy they were dictated by coroners' reports and guidelines for best use, she said.

The two deaths was the second tragedy to strike the Dunback farming community in the last few months.

Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher said the recent death was tragic for the community, especially after the death of Palmerston farmer Craig Porter, who died in June after his ute rolled.

"Earlier this year there was another farmer killed in the community, it's on top of that, it's been a very sad time.

"It is a time for the family and the community to grieve, I have expressed my condolences to them publicly, it is a tragic time for the community."

He described the community of Dunback and Waihemo as a lot like many other "conservative areas in provincial New Zealand".

"There are a lot of long-standing families that know each other well there."

A Dunback woman who did not want to be identified said she knew the woman and her family.

They were "lovely", "really hard workers", and "really nice people", she said.

"It's terrible, it's really terrible."

The two deaths in Otago yesterday were also marked by another death in the rural community in Canterbury.

The 11-month-old child was taken to hospital in a critical condition after drowning in a water race in Rolleston, near Christchurch.

The child died in hospital soon after.

Earlier this month the tight-knit West Coast community on the South Island was rocked by the death of Reuben Nolan, who was found dead in an effluent pond.

There was a big search effort for Reuben after his mother had posted a request for help after he had been missing for three hours.