Laid off from work and in the wake of a relationship breakdown, Daniel Bindner had fallen on hard times.
The 40-year-old father of three was sleeping rough in the Te Awamutu area when his body was picked up by a recycling truck and taken to OJI Fibre Solutions in Frankton.
It was there, a week after he was last seen, that workers discovered his body parts in bales of compacted cardboard.
Police were unable to tell what caused Mr Bindner's death and are still trying to shed some light on the last days of his life.
Detective Inspector Hywel Jones said Mr Bindner, who had three children aged 16, 7 and 5, was reported missing on Monday but he was last seen at Te Awamutu McDonald's at 11pm on June 21.
He said it was believed Mr Bindner was sleeping rough in the area in the days leading up to his final sightings, but a post mortem on Wednesday had proved inconclusive.
"We are now awaiting further testing to help determine the exact cause of his death," said Mr Jones.
They had not ruled out foul play saying they were treating it as an "unexplained death".
Mr Jones said the dead man was known to police but it was not for any significant crime.
Mr Bindner was a longtime resident of Te Awamutu and had been working on farms in the area, but was recently laid off, said Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group national chairman Andrew Hoggard.
"He had been working on a farm and his marriage had just come to pieces and he had just been made redundant, and then this happened."
Mr Hoggard did not know the man personally, but said it was a shocking incident.
Waipa District Councillor for Te Awamutu, Marcus Gower, said the whole community was hurting following Mr Bindner's death, which came after four people were killed in a horror car crash last week.
"People are concerned with the spate of things happening with the car crash ... and now we have this.
"Everyone is feeling a bit down and it's affected everybody in Te Awamutu. Everybody is hurting and thinking about the family members and his poor kids that have been left without a father.
"If you talk to anyone they are all going to be touched in some way by it, it's so sad."
Kainga Aroha Community House manager Kane Rangitonga said Te Awamutu homeless frequented the centre for cups of coffee but he did not recognise Mr Bindner.
Mr Rangitonga said there was no homeless shelter in Te Awamutu and the community centre did not offer emergency accommodation.
In his experience with homeless people he said they often used cardboard to keep warm when sleeping rough. "I'm thinking did he get in [the bin] to have a sleep. He might have been on medication and maybe he's gone in there and gone to sleep and didn't wake up. Someone's come along to empty it."
The manager of McDonald's in Te Awamutu said she did not know Mr Bindner or recognise him as a regular customer.
Oji Fibre Solutions chief executive Dr Jon Ryder said a blessing was held at the factory yesterday morning before operations resumed.