A ship carrying the body of its captain berthed at Port Taranaki last night.
Police said they have limited information but believed the the ship's captain died of a heart attack.
A post mortem would be carried out today and the death referred to the coroner.
The ship, called the Seameridian, was on its way from Botany Bay to load condensate at Port Taranaki.
Police attended the arrival of the body about 11.30pm and spoke to the crew.
Yesterday harbour master John Ireland said the situation was under police control and he was unable to give any further information.
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