A vehicle resembling that in which Nelson teenager Leo Lipp-Neighbours was last seen seven years ago has been hauled from Nelson Harbour.
A small crowd gathered in silence at the public wharf at Port Nelson. Anglican archdeacon Harvey Whakaruru performed a karakia as the car was hauled ashore by crane just after 7pm.
Mr Lipp-Neighbours, who was 19, was last seen leaving a friend's house on 24 January 2010, driving his bright orange Toyota Corolla station-wagon.
Police said the car might be linked to Mr Lipp-Neighbours' disappearance. He has been the subject of intensive searches over the years.
Nelson Bays police area commander Inspector Matt Arnold-Kelly said it was a delicate procedure to recover the vehicle and evidence within it.
"From this afternoon, the dive squad have been working to remove sediment from the vehicle and we've been filtering that to extract anything of interest.
"There's speculation around it being associated to Leo Lipp-Neighbours and we just want to confirm for the family one way or another whether it is, or not," he said.
A painstaking police operation has been under way since yesterday, when the car was found submerged in several metres of water near Wakefield Quay in Nelson.
Police divers helped emergency services, including the Fire Service and surf rescue volunteers, in freezing conditions.
The car was initially hauled up from the sea floor by a crane on a boat, then taken to a wharf where a larger crane hauled it off the boat.
Police have collected material from the scene and analysed it on the boat.