Police are searching a West Auckland property linked to a man whose remains were found buried in a remote part of the central North Island after a tip off.
It is understood that investigators believe the man was killed there before his body was hidden hours away.
And the Herald has learned the man - who is yet to be formally identified - was never reported missing.
The remains were uncovered last week in an area around Rangipo Intake Road, off Desert Road in the central North Island, after police received information which led them to have "grave fears" for a person.
A police spokesperson said last week the remains appeared to have been "in place for a period of time".
A post mortem examination was completed but formal identification is yet to be confirmed.
However in a press release this morning police indicated they had some idea of who the man might be.
"Police are carrying out a number of enquiries as the investigation continues into human remains located in the central North Island last week," it said.
"A post-mortem has been completed and the death is being treated as suspicious.
"As a result of enquiries to date, police believe the deceased is a Chinese man, aged in his early 30s, whose whereabouts have been unaccounted for since 2017.
"The deceased is yet to be formally identified, and due to the nature of the remains this could take some time to complete.
"Police won't be commenting on the deceased's identity until this is confirmed."
The Herald has learned that for much of today police have been searching a property in Massey, West Auckland, in relation to the investigation.
The current owners do not have any connection to the investigation but the property is linked to the man.
Detective Inspector John Sutton confirmed the search.
"Following a number of enquiries, Waitemata CIB yesterday executed a search warrant at an address on McWhirters Farm Lane, Massey in relation to the ongoing investigation," he said.
"A scene examination is underway and will continue at the address today, involving a team of detectives, ESR and photographers.
"The property has been cordoned off and a scene guard is in place."
The Herald understands officers are pulling the house apart looking for evidence that the victim was killed there.
Sutton refused to be drawn on the identity of the victim.
"The address that is the subject of the scene examination was recently sold to a family and we want to emphasise that the current occupants are not in any way connected to this investigation," he said.
"They have been relocated by police for the duration of the scene examination and are being provided with the appropriate support and assistance."
Property advertisements show the 4 bedroom house was sold to the current owners in October 2019.
It was built in 2012 and had one owner before the sale last year.