Police have named the woman found slumped dead in the back seat of an abandoned car near Christchurch International Airport.

Tracey Lee Morris, a 46-year-old from the Christchurch suburb of Papanui, has been named by police as the woman found by a runner at 8.47am yesterday on Grays Rd.

Ms Morris' blue Honda Civic was found parked on a grassy roadside, with the deceased owner slumped in the back seat.

Detective Inspector Le Bas said that a formal identification process was yet to be completed, and a forensic post mortem examination would take place this morning.

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Ms Morris was last seen at Phoenix Bar on Main North Road, where she worked as a barmaid, said Ms Le Bas.

"The information we have to date is that Tracey was last seen on the afternoon of Tuesday, 3 January 2012, at the Phoenix Bar.

"We request the assistance of people who know Tracey to come forward and to provide information as to her whereabouts in the following days."

Police were speaking to work colleagues and friends of Ms Morris to create a picture of what lead to her death, said Ms Le Bas.

Ms Le Bas said police would continue to search for more information and were searching the wider area around Grays Rd.

She asked anyone with information about Ms Morris' blue Honda Civic, registration RN 7333, to phone the Operation Gray investigation on (03) 363 7400.