Family of the two primary school aged children whose remains were found in suitcases bought as part of an online auction for abandoned storage unit goods are in Asia, the Herald can reveal.
The Herald confirmed from several sources on Thursday, the remains uncovered in suitcases bought online by the occupants of a property in Manurewa on August 11 were two young children.
In a press conference later Thursday afternoon, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua revealed the children were between five and 10 years old and had relatives living in New Zealand.
Sources have now also confirmed to the Herald family of the two young children are in Asia.
Vaaelua had confirmed NZ Police were also working with Interpol as part of the homicide investigation.
"We've commenced inquiries with overseas agencies. I cannot state any further than that," Vaaelua said.
Throughout Thursday's press conference, Vaaelua was hesitant to reveal too many details about what police knew of the renters or owners of the storage unit over concerns it may compromise the investigation.
Vaaelua said he was "not in a position to comment or give ... an answer at this stage" when asked if the people who had rented the storage locker were now overseas.
When asked if police knew the identity of the people who were renting the storage unit, Vaaelua said: "Yes, we are following positive lines of inquiry in regards to the storage unit with the assistance of the storage company."
Vaaelua confirmed the bodies of the children had likely been stored in the Papatoetoe Safe Store storage facility for three to four years before being discovered.
"Today's update will be extremely upsetting news for the community to hear," Vaaelua said at Counties Manukau Police Station on Thursday.
"Initial post-mortem examinations have been carried out and the results show that the remains found in two suitcases are that of two primary school-aged children.
"Early indications suggest these children may have been deceased for a number of years before being found last week."
He said at this stage police could not confirm the genders of the two children.
Earlier this week, a neighbour on the scene at the time of the discovery told the Herald there was "kids stuff in the back of the trailer: prams, toys, walker" which transported the suitcases.
According to police, people living at the Moncrieff Ave house brought "unowned property to their address" last Thursday.
"We reiterate that the occupants of the Moncrieff Ave property are not connected to their deaths," Vaaelua said yesterday.
"They are understandably distressed by the discovery, and they have asked for privacy. We are ensuring there is support in place for them."
Police were following "positive lines of inquiry" in terms of the storage unit rental, Vaaelua said, but the formal identification procedures of the remains were "still ongoing" and they were not able to comment on the identities of the children yet.
Once this is complete, police's priority will be to notify the children's next of kin.
"What I can say is we are making very good progress with DNA inquiries," Vaaelua said
"We want to reassure the community our investigation is continuing to establish the facts to ascertain the full circumstances around the deaths of these children.
"This includes establishing when, where, and how. The nature of this discovery provides some complexities to the investigation."
Vaaelua said the investigation had been difficult for officers and detectives at the Counties Manukau Police Department, but that they had a duty to the relatives of the children who were still unaware of the devastating situation.
"I really feel for the families of these victims and right here, right now there are relatives that aren't aware that their loved ones have deceased," Vaaelua said.
"As for the investigation team there are a number of them that are parents. This is no easy investigation and no matter how long or how many years you serve and investigate horrific cases like this it's never an easy task. I myself am a parent of young kids but we have a job to do."
A neighbour told the Herald earlier this week the Moncrieff Ave family found the remains in suitcases while they were unpacking and sorting through a trailer-load of the property on their front yard and driveway.
A man at the property on Moncrieff Ave, Manurewa, on Tuesday morning said he was looking after the house for his immediate family who had allegedly left Auckland after making the find.
"We're doing all right. As long as everyone leaves us alone we'll be all right," the family member said.
"They've gone away [the family who discovered the remains]. I wasn't here."
A police cordon was set up at the house during the weekend while forensic workers undertook a scene examination.
By early this week, police had left the address but large metal gates across the driveway were closed.