Tributes flow for respected Southland firefighter killed by stag

Ben McLean was a long-serving New Zealand firefighter.
Ben McLean was a long-serving New Zealand firefighter. Photo credit: Supplied/NZPFU

Tributes have been flowing for a senior Southland firefighter who died after he was attacked by a stag on his farm near Invercargill.

Emergency services were called to a rural address at Makarewa just after six o'clock on Wednesday night.

In a statement, the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union said the death was a tragic loss.

"It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the tragic death of respected Invercargill Senior Firefighter Ben McLean," said NZPFU national secretary Wattie Watson.

McLean's fellow firefighters were first on the scene after the attack.

"The Invercargill career crews attended the fatal incident of their colleague," Watson said.

The long-serving firefighter was well known in the community, first joining the Tapanui Volunteer Brigade before becoming a professional career firefighter.  

"He has dedicated more than 43 years to serving and protecting the community as a firefighter.

"He was highly respected by his crews and colleagues and would be remembered as a true character of the Invercargill brigade." 

"His crew, colleagues and many others will be remembering him at this time retelling stories and re-living memories.

"We extend our sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues and offer any support needed."

Police said the stag had been put down.

"The circumstances of the man's death will be investigated on behalf of the coroner," police said in a statement.