The man who was found dead in Te Puke last weekend had recently adopted a kitten.

Scott Nicholson, general manager at EmpowermentNZ, said the man was known to the organisation.

EmpowermentNZ provides a range of services to homeless and struggling people in the Te Puke district including meals, a foodbank and a drop-in centre.

"He was a regular visitor and lived rough," Nicholson said.


He said there had been a lot of sadness among the homeless community in the town since the man, in his 50s, was found dead behind the town's library around 4pm on May 11.

"As complex as these individuals are, they create friendships and they are part of a community and the individual concerned, even in the last week, he had picked up a stray kitten and was looking after it, so there's a softness and a gentleness that you don't necessarily always see and that typifies the person concerned."

He said there had been a lot of rumours about what had happened and the death had created a degree of anxiety in the homeless community.

"The police did come in and talk to a number of our clients with regards to allaying fears and reducing that level of anxiety among them.

"Basically it boils down to the fact that any unattended death has to be investigated, and so my understanding is that's where they are at this point."

Jeff Orr, manager of Vincent House which, along with Vincent House Recovery Trust, supports clients with mental health issues, said he wasn't aware of the man using any of the trust's services.

But clients had been affected by the death, with quite a few of them being "a bit shaken", Orr said.

He said there had been speculation on the cause of death which had been inaccurate.


"Some of our staff who work with mental health clients have noticed that some of them have been quite upset by the swirling word on the street, and it has been something of a relief for them to learn that some of the details have been a little bit off.

"It has been quite sobering, for all of the street community particularly, and there's been a bit more fear around."

Stihl Shop Te Puke fronts Jellicoe St and has a yard accessed off the service lane near the spot where the man's body was found.

Co-owner Jeremy Fursdon said it was a very sad situation.

"It's never a nice thing to happen anywhere, but it's a bit more real when it's close to where you are and I hope they get to the bottom of it."

He said police had been into the shop to ask if anyone knew anything.

There is a camera in the shop's yard, but "it doesn't have the greatest view past our yard".

Police are treating the man's death as suspicious and would like to speak to anyone who may have been in the vicinity of the service lane at the rear of the Te Puke Memorial Hall and Library between 5pm on May 10 and 4pm on May 11.

Police can be contacted on 07 577 4384. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.