Police have removed what they believe are the remains of a missing Auckland woman from a crude burial site in the Waitakere Ranges west of Auckland.
Carmen Thomas, 32, was last seen on 27 June. Police believe she was killed in her home in Ngapuhi Road, Remuera, and her body was dismembered and disposed of.
The investigation team has been working at a site in the Waitakere Ranges since Thursday.
A Radio New Zealand reporter at the scene says flowers were laid at the start of The Incline walking track by Carmen Thomas' friends on Saturday afternoon.
Later, up to a dozen of the police investigation team solemnly flanked the entrance to the track, as a hearse carrying what is believed to be the remains of Ms Thomas left the scene.
Detective Inspector Mark Benefield says up to 15 police have been involved in the operation.
"The site excavation has had to be carried out with sensitivity and with great care."
Mr Benefield says several plastic containers have been removed from the excavation site for examination by Environmental Science and Research (ESR).
The site has been blessed by local kaumatua.
The remains of Ms Thomas have been taken to a mortuary. Police hope a post mortem examination can begin on Sunday or Monday, and say it will take several days to complete.
Woman's former partner charged
A former partner of Ms Thomas, Bradford Callaghan, 32, appeared in the Auckland District Court on 21 August charged with her murder on 29 June.
He was remanded in custody.
Ms Thomas worked as an escort. She and Mr Callaghan had a son, now aged five. Police say he is being cared for by family members in New Zealand.
The dead woman's mother, Teresa Scott, who lives in South Africa, this week issued a statement saying that the boy will live with her.