Police have yet to name a man in his 40s who received serious injuries before his death in Flaxmere on Sunday night.
Emergency services were called to the Flaxmere Tavern on Swansea Road at 10.45pm, after a man was found in a critical condition outside the tavern.
The man was unresponsive when emergency services arrived and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Due to the nature of the man's injuries, Detective Senior Sergeant Marty James said the death was being treated as a homicide.
Cordons were in place between the tavern and Flaxmere Pool while police worked at the scene.
Police were yet to formally identify the deceased man and no further details regarding him were available, although Mr James said the victim had been "known to quite a few people in and around the local area".
Mr James said there were a "number of items within the scene that may be relevant or not relevant to what we are doing."
They currently had 25 staff working on the case, including a specialist search group from Wellington who will be conducting scene examinations into the evening.
At Swansea Retirement Village, which sits across the road from the Flax Bar and Eatery, resident Moewaka Hinepare said she had heard activity at 2am.
"I saw all these police cars and then saw them putting a tent up - this is terrible, this has never happened outside the pub before - there's been little accidents, but nothing like this."
She said the pub was regularly frequented by locals, and there was usually no trouble, except sometimes when out-of-town people were there.
"It's the only place to get together with whanau and socialise."
She said Flaxmere needed to "wake up" and adults needed to keep an eye on their younger family members who were often out and about late at night.
"This is dangerous for our young people - parents and grandparents have got to say stop."
Flaxmere resident and Hastings district councillor Henare O'Keefe said he believed the incident was near the Flaxmere Boxing Academy, which he founded, and which was promoted as encouraging healthy living, pride, self-esteem, affirmation and a sense of value for those attending.
Asked if the area was a trouble spot, he said he was more inclined to think the incident was a random act, "it's not good".
Chief executive of Trust House, which owns the bar and eatery, Allan Pollard said the pub closed at about 8.30 and "nothing untoward happened that evening or day".
"We can't categorically say whether the chap was drinking or not drinking in the pub, we actually don't know. What we do know is that the pub was closed for one hour and forty five minutes before he was found," Mr Pollard said.
He said they passed on their condolences to the victims family.
It is not known when the tavern will re-open.
"The only thing we are thinking about is to catch the culprit and assist the police in any way possible."
Police said they would like to hear from anyone who was in the area of the tavern/pool last night.
"We are very interested to speak to anyone in that area of Flaxmere that may have any information relating to an altercation that occurred in that area last night at around sometime between 9pm and 10.30pm."
Information could be passed to Hastings Police on 06 831 0700 or provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.