Police believe they have found the body of missing rugby league stalwart Mike McClennan this evening in dense bush near Hatfields Beach, north of Auckland.

While formal identification was yet to take place, police said they believed it was the 75-year-old, former international league coach and Kiwi league fullback.

He had been missing since last Wednesday from the Milton Court Rest Home in Orewa, sparking a massive search effort.

Brian "Bluey" McClennan, himself a former Warriors and Kiwis coach, said his father's dementia had intensified over the past several years and the family had been increasingly worried for his safety.

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He told the Herald this evening his family were going to view his father this evening.

Emotions were running high at the news and he did not want to say much, but he passed on gratitude from the family for all of the support they had received in the search effort.

"My family are really rapt with the police and our community – they have been brilliant."

He previously said his father's dementia had developed over the past four to five years, and he was now at a stage where he needed to be in care.

"He is a good, kind man, but very confused. His favourite place to go back to is the city, Maidstone St in Grey Lynn, where he grew up - in his mind he is still there, and Fowlds Park where he coached a lot of rugby league."

Tributes have been flowing on social media at the news, including from rugby league team the Mt Albert Lions, where Mike McClennan was a former coach.

"It is with a heavy heart the club advises the body of Mike McClennan has been recovered.

"From the whole Mt Albert Rugby League Family, we send our deepest sympathies and condolences to the McClennan family in this time of great sadness. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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"Rest in Peace Mike."

Police said in a statement they and McClennan's family would like to thank the community for their support during the search period.

Police extended their condolences to the family.

The matter has been referred to the Coroner.