The victim of a suspicious death on a Nelson boat was a man of European descent, police say.

However, police would not release any further details of who he was or how he died during a media briefing this afternoon.

Detective Inspector Paul Borrell, Tasman District crime manager, briefed media near the site of the incident.

He said they would not release the man's name until a post-mortem examination is completed Saturday afternoon.


"The death is being treated as suspicious but we are yet to establish if this is a homicide.

"We believe we know who the person is, however we will not release until formal identification is completed."

Police were altered that a man's body was found in the rear of a white boat in Nelson Haven on Thursday morning.

Police had earlier said that it appeared the victim was subjected to a serious assault.

He wasn't the owner of the boat that he was found on.

Borrell says forensic scientists were onsite, as well as those doing luminal testing and finger print testing.

"We are examining three boats moored in the area gathering any evidence that will assist this investigation to piece together what has actually occurred and has led to this man's death. It is expected that this will take several days."

The boats are located opposite Neale Park playing fields.

Police say anyone who saw people in the area on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning can call 03 546 3895 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- Nelson Live