Further tragedy struck the South Otago Muslim community yesterday when one of its members died in a crash while returning from helping relatives affected by the Christchurch terror attacks.

Police reported a man had died after a single-vehicle crash on State Highway 1 near Palmerston, northeast of Dunedin, about 3am yesterday.

They said the driver, the sole occupant of the vehicle, died at the scene after his car came to rest in a ditch adjoining the northbound lane at the intersection of SH1 with Bushey Park Rd.

Workers and officials at Silver Fern Farms' Finegand freezing works told the Otago Daily Times the man was a member of the South Otago plant's eight-strong halal slaughterhouse team.


The man had left for Christchurch on Saturday to console family members after a relative had been killed in Friday's terror attack.

It is understood the man had been returning overnight in order to resume work on the plant's Wednesday morning shift when the accident occurred.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer said the close-knit team, and wider workforce, had been ''devastated'' by recent events - feelings compounded by yesterday's tragedy.

The Finegand plant had closed early yesterday to allow friends and colleagues to be with loved ones, and would ''wind down quietly'' towards the long weekend out of respect for the dead man.

''Given this double tragedy, we made the decision to temporarily cease production at Finegand today,'' Limmer said.

''It's important to add, however, that these guys have been amazing, and have wanted to keep working as much as possible despite the circumstances.

''I think there's been a collective, shared comfort within the whole workforce in the normality and routine of work, which has left me proud of their response.''

The company employed about 60 Muslim halal workers across its 14 plants nationwide, and many more Muslims within the general workforce, Limmer said.


Silver Fern Farms was providing a range of support services to staff affected by the Christchurch attacks.

A colleague of the dead man, who did not want to be named, said fellow team members had ''taken the situation pretty hard''.

''There's still a wee bit of shock. People just don't know how to take it.

''But there's a good team spirit at Finegand, and hopefully as a shed we can rally round and see what we can do for the guys and their families.''

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan expressed shock and grief at the news of the accident yesterday, describing it as ''another fatality'' ensuing from recent events.

''The whole situation has been a tragedy and, as a community, our love and thoughts go out to this member of our community, his family and friends at this terrible news.


''It's tragedy upon tragedy, sadly.''

The council will hold a minute's silence to mark recent events during its committee meeting in Balclutha this afternoon.