Police are undertaking DNA and forensic testing on a human placenta found near a Rotorua stream.
Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Brendon Keenan said the Criminal Investigation Branch was called to the Utuhina Stream about 5.30pm on Friday, after children playing near the stream found a human placenta and umbilical cord.
Keenan said while it was possible the placenta had been buried for cultural reasons and later unearthed that was unlikely.
"It looks like it had been a result of potentially a stillborn situation but we're going to be doing DNA testing to get some analysis back on how it's come about and whose it is," Keenan said.
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Police had been concerned there was a woman in distress after the discovery and that was still a possibility, Keenan said.
"There could be someone that needs help in terms of medical help or even emotional help. They can contact the police or another social service. It's not going to be about blame, it's about getting the person the help they need."
Anyone with information should contact the Rotorua police on (07) 348 0099 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.