The sudden death of a preschooler has rocked a tiny tight-knit farming community for the second time in nine months after the death of a 3-year-old yesterday.

The preschooler died as a result of an incident at a farm in Harihari, a small farming area of about 350 on the South Island's West Coast.

It follows the death of 4-year-old Rueben Nolan in Harihari in September last year after his body was found in an effluent pond on another farm after a frantic search by locals.

Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith said he knew the family of the 3-year-old and was "shattered" by the news.

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"I know the people. I'm aware of the circumstances. It's absolutely tragic. It's not necessarily a farm accident. It's an accident that's happened on a farm.

"My thoughts are for the grandmother and the grandfather and the parents of the wee kid - it's terrible."

Smith described the death on Friday afternoon as an accident but said authorities would determine what happened.

He would not say if the child was a boy or a girl but said the residents would be knocked hard by the second death of another child.

"It's going to be incredibly raw. Harihari is a close community. I had the unfortunate experience of going to the last wee fellow's funeral and it was gut-wrenching and I don't expect this will be any different.

"Hey, 3 years old - they hardly come up to your knees. I'm just shattered."

Last year, Rueben Nolan's mother Jenna Marie Thomson made an urgent post on Facebook saying her son had been missing for three hours and imploring residents to help search for him.

The youngster was located in a sewage pond a short time later.

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A police spokeswoman said police were called to yesterday's tragedy but were not treating the death as suspicious.

It's understood a rescue helicopter was called but the child was not transported to hospital.

The death has been referred to the Coroner.