A tree which fell on a work vehicle, killing one person and injuring others, was bowled over by a sudden squall of wind as contractors were about to leave.

The accident happened about 2.15pm on Monday at a rural property in Pukehou Rd, near the Rangitīkei town of Bulls. Fire and Emergency staff were needed to remove people from the vehicle.

Police today named the dead man as 26-year-old Levi Dylan Goodwin, of Feilding. Another person suffered critical injuries and was in a serious condition in the intensive care unit at Wellington Hospital.

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he was caught by the same squall of wind, 2km away, and it was fierce. He was told about the accident later.

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"The crew had decided to knock off for the day because of the weather risk and were in the ute, or loading the ute when a nasty squall came through and blew a tree down on them," he said.

He said people might assume someone was dropping trees in a dangerous manner in the forestry operation, and said that wasn't the case.

"I have spoken to the boss [of the contracting team]. He is a very safety conscious operator and he has taken this very hard."

"There have been a lot of somber faces and discussions around Bulls," he said.