Mystery surrounds the identity of the woman who jumped bound and gagged from the boot of a moving car in South Auckland last night.

With the critically injured Asian woman fighting for her life in Middlemore Hospital investigators hope someone will recognise the two distinct tattoos that decorate her shoulder and lower leg.

The woman made a bid for freedom from the late model sedan's boot by jumping from it as it travelled along Huia Road in suburban Papatoetoe.

Neighbour's rushed to the heavily restrained woman's aid as she laying bleeding on the road.


Police today revealed they did not have a clue who the victim was and were pinning hopes someone would come forward and solve this critical piece of the puzzle.

She was described as a petite Asian woman believed to be anywhere between 35 and 55-years-old with two colourful tattoos.

One is of a dolphin on her left shoulder and the other an angel on the inside of her left ankle.

Police Media press conference on Huia Road, Papatoetoe after woman was bound and gagged escaped from a car boot

Counties Manukau Crime Manager detective Inspector Dave Lynch said the tattoos were the best hope of identifying the mystery woman.

"We're still trying to establish the identity of the victim," Mr Lynch said.

"We are looking for people who will recognise that description and come forward today."

"That really is the focus of the investigation today."

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A tattoo artist may help solve the mystery of identifying the woman.

The owner of Manukau's Primal Piercing and Tattoo James Lyon said artists generally recognised their work and if it was done locally there was a strong possibility they would remember the design and even the person.

He said in this case the colourful dolphin tattoo, released by police today, showed signs of age with once thin lines now stretched wide.

"That tattoo is very old," said Mr Lyon.

"You can tell by how blurred the lines are."

He said it wasn't a particulary high quality tattoo and could be at least seven years old.

It was not certain if the colourful ink was etched into the mystery woman's skin in New Zealand or Asia.

Police said they were now hunting for up to two people involved in last night's incident.

However, they wanted to reassure the public they were doing everything they could to find them.

"We want to assure the public we are doing everything we can to locate the person or persons involved in this crime. However, we still need members of the public who saw anything they think may be relevant to contact us."

There were officers who were fluent in Thai and Chinese assigned to the case, he said.

Mr Lynch said police were still trying to identify the car which they believed to be a late model silver sedan.

He said a car following initially gave chase when the sedan sped off but lost track of it and did not get a clear look at its registration plate.

They appealed for anyone who saw a vehicle fitting the description in the surrounding area acting suspiciously to contact them.

Police cordon at the corner of Huia Rd and East Tamaki Rd in Papatoetoe earlier this morning. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Police cordon at the corner of Huia Rd and East Tamaki Rd in Papatoetoe earlier this morning. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Police this morning lifted a cordon blocking off a section of Huia Rd more than 12 hours after the woman jumped for freedom but say they are continuing investigations in the area today.

Doctors treating the woman at Middlemore Hospital said she remained in a critical condition but was "causing concern".

Last night police canvassed every home close to where the woman lay injured on the road in the hope they could piece together the shocking incident.

Detectives also turned their attention to the skies with the Police Eagle helicopter hovering above the South Auckland neighbourhood to take aerial photographs of the crime scene.

A health board spokeswoman said the condition of the woman, rushed last night to Middlemore Hospital with wounds all over her body, was "causing concern".

Police said she also had a significant head injury but were unsure if it happened before she was bundled in the boot or as she struck the road.

LISTEN: Witness tells Newstalk ZB's Alicia Burrow what he saw:

Huia Rd resident Jay Shah said he was bringing in his rubbish bins when the car sped past about 7pm.

Its boot popped open and the woman - who was tied around her neck, legs and arms - fell on to the road.

"I was getting the rubbish bins back into the house and I saw someone jump out of the boot of the car," Mr Shah said.

"When I saw the body fall out of the boot, I ran towards the body to make sure everything was all right. I thought she was about to die.

"She had a metal rod next to her ... so I think she used the metal rod to jack open the boot and then jump out.

"Her legs were tied and her hands were tied up and she was strangled around the neck with cloth strips."

Police had a large area around Huia Road, East Tamaki blocked off last night. Photo / Dean Purcell
Police had a large area around Huia Road, East Tamaki blocked off last night. Photo / Dean Purcell

Mr Shah told the Herald he could see bruises on her hands and wrists, where she was tied.

"I untied the tie around her neck so that she could breathe and by that time, a few others came and they helped me get other strips of cloth off her neck as well," he said. "She couldn't talk. Her nose was bleeding and she was frothing from her mouth."

The car continued speeding down Huia Rd and towards Motatau Rd.

He did not think the driver realised the woman had managed to free herself from the boot.

Police appealed for anyone who had information to call 0508 422 443.