Key Points:

He married for love. She appears to have married for residency.

As the hunt for the 28-year-old missing mother of Qian (Pumpkin) Xue enters its third day, a picture is emerging of a woman who was in a loveless marriage that was plagued by domestic violence. A sad young woman who had gone to online dating sites saying she was single and childless and looking for friendship in a "hard, uncontrollable and lonely life".

An An (Annie) Liu married Nai Yin Xue at a central Auckland registry office in July 2003, a year after the young language student arrived in New Zealand from China.

She was three months' pregnant at the time and her new husband was twice her age.

But yesterday it was discovered that Annie has advertised on three dating websites under the pseudonym Flower on the other bank (Lycoris).

She says on one website she is looking for friends from any region, and in one listing denies having any children.

A friend of the couple said Annie didn't love Mr Xue.

"His second wife didn't marry him for love or the child, she married him for New Zealand residency," said the friend. "He loved her, but I don't think she loved him. They have always had problems in their relationship."

Mr Xue came to New Zealand in 1996 "alone and poor" and with "very little belongings".

One friend has described lending him a sleeping bag and arranging "for a roof over his head" at a place on the North Shore.

Mr Xue was married to another woman at the time and the couple had a 17-year-old daughter called Grace. The family soon joined him in New Zealand but in 2000 the marriage was officially dissolved. His first wife is believed to have returned to China, while Grace stayed with her father.

According to a short film made by Unitec students last year, she ran away from him in 2002. More recently she is believed to have been involved in running martial arts classes but could not be reached last night.

By 2003 Mr Xue was married to Annie and becoming a father again, to Qian Xue - the child nicknamed Pumpkin after she was found abandoned in Melbourne on Saturday.

Family friends have described Mr Xue as a caring and proud father and have been at a loss this week to explain why he left his daughter at the train station in Melbourne just hours before fleeing to America.

Mr Xue, who is from Fushun in the Liaoning province in China, is the owner of the Chinese Times magazine, which has until recently been run out of a New Lynn shop.

According to his website, he is also a "Grandmaster" in taiji (tai chi), a martial art which he says he has been practising since he was 8.

Mr Xue has had a number of articles about his sport published in magazines and has also made a video.

When he first arrived in New Zealand he started teaching his wu-style taiji with the help of a friend. Classes were held at what is now the Coral Reef Chinese Restaurant in Beach Rd but moved to Aotea Square, the Auckland Domain and eventually Cornwall Park as their popularity grew.

In 2004 he also established the NZ Energy Kungfu Association, a separate organisation from his wu-style taiji. However, Mr Xue is believed to have exaggerated his expertise in the sport.

"He introduced himself as the professor, or great master, so as a martial arts practitioner I paid him the respect by addressing him as see-fu [master]," said one of many who used to train with him.

The more the friend got to know of the "master" the less he admired him.

"He asked me to translate a book he wrote, but after I read it, I did not want to do it. I felt he was so full of himself in the book and in one chapter, he even described himself as the son of God."

His expertise has also been challenged on martial arts forums.

One contributor said: "Xue nai yin is so bad. He doesn't have anything. He is so bad in his city. There are many people who knows that xue nai yin is fake."

Auckland restaurant owner Raymond Tang said Mr Xue was known in the Chinese community for exaggerating the truth.

"Some people in the Chinese community say he's a liar," he said.

He said a group of people, including a tai chi master, went to Beijing several years ago to check with a martial arts association if Mr Xue had trained there and was a tai chi master.

"The feedback was that he was a liar."

However, friends still say Mr Xue's behaviour in abandoning his daughter in Melbourne is out of character.

"We are all shocked. Nai Yin may be a little eccentric but, overall, we saw him as a nice guy," said Mr Tang.

In 2005, Mr Xue became a New Zealand citizen while Annie became a resident but the couple were having problems. They lived in Mt Wellington after marrying but moved several times. A year ago they were in New Lynn where a family friend said police were called after Mr Xue assaulted his wife.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said Mr Xue told her Annie had left him and was in protection after he threw a cellphone at her face.

She is believed to have gone to Wellington but to have returned to Auckland after a short separation.

"A few months ago he told me his wife had come back. The little girl was also with his wife," the friend said.

She also thought Annie married Mr Xue to gain New Zealand residency.

"I think he was happy with his wife but his wife is not happy with him. There is always the violence. Another problem is the age gap."

After leaving the New Lynn house the couple moved to Mt Roskill where neighbours say they saw more of Annie than they did of her husband.

One woman said Annie's car broke down about a month ago and she asked for help to jump start it.

Apart from that she didn't see much of her except to say hello each morning.

She said she hadn't seen Annie for at least a week and a half.

Another neighbour, Charles Rata, said he often saw Annie and that they would say hello to each other but that her husband was less friendly.

"He was a bit kooky," he said.

"He would walk around in his underwear outside, going to check the mail, which is odd.

"She was quite cool, she spoke quite good English. The husband never really said much."

Mr Rata said Mr Xue often worked from home and that he had seen photographs being taken for the magazine on the front porch.

But he had never heard any "yelling or screaming" coming from the house.

"They were good neighbours, you never heard anything from them."

On Friday night Mr Rata said an Asian looking woman in her mid to late 20s came to the house looking for Mr Xue.

"She said, 'but I have got some airline tickets for him'. I told the police that as well but apparently by then he was already gone."

Mr Rata said he hadn't seen Annie for about a week.

Yesterday a young Chinese man, believed to be a flatmate, was at the couple's white weatherboard house, but did not want to speak to the Herald.

While neighbours said they saw little of the couple's young daughter, there were plenty of signs a child had lived there.

A Garfield teddy bear lay discarded on the lawn, a pair of black and white girl's shoes lay on the front porch, and at the back of the house there was a pink-handled skipping rope.

By last night the house had been cordoned off with police saying they were growing increasingly concerned for Annie's wellbeing and treating Qian's abandonment in Melbourne as an abduction.

- additional reporting - Lincoln Tan and Maggie McNaughton