Rotorua's top cop says the disappearance of James and Raymond Fleet is every family's worst nightmare.

Rotorua area commander Anaru Pewhairangi said the pair's loss was "shocking and tragic" for their whanau, and the "lovely" family was struggling to come to terms with what had happened.

"They're hurting, devastated. This is a family's worst nightmare in my view," he told media at a press conference this afternoon.

"This type of incident is rare in Rotorua and I expect the news will come as a shock to our community."


Pewhairangi would not rule out drug or gang connections in the men's disappearance and when pressed by media said only that police were not ruling anything in or out of the investigation.

"It's still very early in the investigation. We're still piecing together what has occurred here," he said.

He also refused to say whether drugs were found at a house searched in Mamaku earlier in the week, saying it was "part and parcel" of the investigation.

James Fleet, 25, and his uncle Raymond Fleet, 51, were missing for more than a week before police announced they had found two bodies in the Mamaku forest yesterday evening.

Police believed the bodies were those of the two missing men.

Bodies believed to be those of Raymond (left) and James Fleet were found in the Mamaku Forest. Photo/ supplied
Bodies believed to be those of Raymond (left) and James Fleet were found in the Mamaku Forest. Photo/ supplied

Investigations into the pair's disappearance were ongoing, and a formal identification of the bodies should be released in the next few days, Pewhairangi said.

The Mamaku forest was still being searched today as part of the investigation and a post mortem examination was due to take place tomorrow, Pewhairangi said.

Until the post mortem was complete, police could not say how or when the men died.


Pewhairangi said he was not in a position to comment yet on whether the men had died at the hands of one person or a group of people and police could not yet say whether anyone else was being sought in relation to the deaths.

"I can assure the public police are doing everything we can to provide answers to the whanau and wider community."

A team of 30 officers were working to piece together the Fleet men's movements in days leading up to disappearance and Pewhairangi said police were particularly interested in hearing from anyone with information about either man's movements between August 4 and 9.

Rotorua Area Commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi (right) addresses media on Friday afternoon. Photo/ Steve Parker
Rotorua Area Commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi (right) addresses media on Friday afternoon. Photo/ Steve Parker

"Our focus right now it to establish exactly what had happened so we can provide some answers."

There was no risk at present to the wider public, Pewhairangi said.

"If there's any wider risk to members of community, we will communicate that.

"I'd like to think it's an isolated thing, however we all need to be vigilant, so if any person in our community does feel unsafe please call us and we will attend."

Earlier today locals from the tiny, tight-knit community were gathering at the town hall with food and cups of tea, supporting one another after last night's discovery.

Friends of James, a roofer in Rotorua, were visibly upset over their loss.

A small group was congregating at Mamaku's war memorial hall with more due to arrive as the day wore on.

The sun was shining in Mamaku this morning, ending days of wet and stormy weather in the rural town.

Two young men declined to pay tribute to their friend for the moment, saying it didn't feel right to talk about James before his family.

One of James' brothers was also at the gathering but was not ready to speak with media, his friends said.

Mamaku Primary School principal Gary Veysi said the school's thoughts were with the Fleet family and friends "at this difficult time".

"Members of the school's crisis response team are supporting the school community and
we will be giving out information to the students and parents today.

Parents will be provided with information about reactions following a sudden death and how adults can help young people cope," he said.

They will also be provided with information about wellbeing.

Information may be shared in confidence with Rotorua Police on 07 349 9400.
Alternatively, information may also be shared anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.