A friend of Whanganui man Whetu Hansen, who police suspect has fallen victim to foul play, says he was a "beautiful man" who had been trying to get his life back on track.
Whetu Teaola Hansen, 48, was last seen on November 24, and was noticed missing by police on December 2.
He was last seen driving his 1980s primer-grey Ford ute toward Palmerston North. His disappearance started out as a missing persons investigation at an Akers Rd, Linton property, but it has since been elevated to a homicide inquiry.
Mr Hansen's ute was found parked at the house on December 5.
The Whanganui friend, who said she was most commonly known as Angelique, said she considered Mr Hansen to be "like a brother".
She described him as "kind, humble and loving", but not one to be crossed. "People knew not to mess with him."
She accepted he did have an extensive criminal history, but said he had "gone down the wrong path and realised it wasn't worth it and tried to turn his life around".
They shared a passion for V8 cars, and the last time she saw him, some time near the end of November, she hailed him as he drove past her Whanganui home.
She always knew Mr Hansen to drive a blue Fairlane, not the grey ute found at the Akers Rd property, although it did belong to him, she said. When she last saw the ute, it was on blocks. As they parted for the last time, he told her to visit him and that he had parts for her V8.
She does not remember the date of that meeting.
Mr Hansen had friends in Palmerston North and was a regular visitor to the city, she said.
She felt he had been killed because "he wouldn't just disappear".
Police remain at the Akers Rd property, where their investigation is expected to continue until Saturday. The army is assisting with the search of the property.
Police have collected security footage from Palmerston North petrol stations in their attempt to trace the movements of Mr Hansen, and have received more than a dozen phone calls from the public.
Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Harrison said there had been a steady flow of information coming in regarding sightings of the ute and Mr Hansen's movements up until his disappearance.
"We have received some valuable information relating to sightings of his vehicle at petrol stations in the Palmerston North area and we have taken CCTV footage from these stations. Officers are currently analysing the footage to try and piece together his movements."
On Monday afternoon a man spoke to detectives for the first time and was subsequently charged, Mr Harrison said.
He appeared in the Palmerston North District Court this week, where his name, age, any identifying details and the charge he is facing were all suppressed until he reappears next week. He was remanded in custody.
When asked if this man was also helping with the homicide investigation, Mr Harrison would not comment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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