A police homicide inquiry is under way in Hawke's Bay today after the discovery of a body beside a rural road in remote country north of Tutira, between Napier and Wairoa.

Police were called about 9.30am after the body was discovered in a roadside drain beside Matahorua Rd, west of Putorino and 6-7km from the road's junction with State Highway 2 to the south at Tutira.

The body was understood to be male, with significant injuries and unlikely to have been in the shallow drain any longer than overnight.

A formal identification process was underway, police said, as well as a scene examination.

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It was understood to have been discovered by a milk tanker driver who could see into the drain from an elevated height, unlike drivers of cars.

One resident said he'd had a couple of youngsters visiting yesterday. "They went for a run down there," he said. "I'm sure they would have seen something if it was there then."

The sealed road is the route to the popular Shine Falls, but hadn't been particularly busy over the weekend, Hawke's Bay Today was told by the resident, who did not want to be publicly identified.

Hawke's Bay Sheep Dog Trial Association president and Matahorua Rd farmer Clark Chrystal said he had heard a siren this morning and found police stopping vehicles on the road.

He had seen the body from a distance, and said it appeared to be male but he couldn't be sure. There didn't appear to be any vehicle nearby which could be linked to the body.

In a media release shortly before midday, police confirmed the discovery was reported about 9.30am.

The stretch of road, about 50km by road from central Napier, was still closed early this afternoon as police investigated at the scene.

There had been a small amount of drizzle, which farmers said was needed in the area, although there had been about 30mm of rain last week.

Hawke's Bay Police has asked anyone who was in the area this morning or over the weekend to contact them.

A post-mortem was expected to be carried out tomorrow.

-Hawke's Bay Today