Distinctive tattoos on a man found dead in an alleyway in central Napier this week could help to identify him.

Police say they are not treating the man's death as suspicious, but they have not been able to identify him since his body was found on Monday.

He is described as possibly Polynesian or Maori, aged in his 50s or 60s, with a solid build, grey receding hair, a grey goatee and about 1.78m tall.

The man has two distinctive tattoos - a snake wrapped around a skull and a sword on one arm, and a line of narrow squares on one hand, police said.

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He was found wearing a dark blue jacket, jeans and brown suede walking boots.

Detective Sergeant John McCarthy said police had not been able to identify the man through formal police procedures such as fingerprints, photos and missing person records.

He had no identification or any other items on him when he was found.

"We are hoping that someone may know this person or at least recognise the tattoos," he said.

"Our next step is to look at forensic options such as dental records and DNA, but in the meantime we want to hear from anyone who might know who this man is.

"There will be a family out there missing someone so we would like to bring closure for them."

Anyone with information about the man were asked to contact Mr McGregor at Hawke's Bay Police on (06) 211 3810.