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PowerNet says a contractor followed the rules after taking over an hour to cut power so emergency services could treat a man after a crash brought electricity lines down on a van.

Dunedin courier driver Gavin George Anderson, 66, died after his van hit a power pole on State Highway 8 near Lawrence in south Otago.

He was trapped in the vehicle after power lines came down in the crash at 5.05am on Tuesday.

Emergency services arrived at the scene 10 minutes after the crash but had to watch on helplessly for 70 minutes while they waited for power to be cut.

Mr Anderson, the sole occupant of the van, died at the scene.

A PowerNet spokeswoman told NZ Newswire a contractor from Balclutha arrived at the scene just after 6am and cut the power.

It then took another 35 minutes for the site to be made safe so emergency personnel could work in the area.

"The normal procedure was followed in this instance," the company said in a statement.

Sergeant Craig Dinnessen of Balclutha Police told NZ Newswire there was a delay in getting the power turned off because the crash was in a rural area and it had been difficult to get resources there immediately.

However, he said it was a concern that an engineer had to be called in from outside Lawrence "but unfortunately that's rural New Zealand where we haven't got resources at the drop of a hat".

A post-mortem examination is to be carried out on Wednesday and the death has been referred to the coroner.

Power, which was cut to 506 customers in Lawrence, was restored at 1.45pm.