A Chinese teenager on the police missing persons list told a Polynesian family his name was "Bob" and lived happily with them for nearly three weeks as police combed the streets of south Auckland for him.
Sixteen-year-old Chunji Gao, also known as Gary, was last seen leaving his home in suburban Botany on April 16.
Police said they had growing fears for his safety because he spoke limited English and took no clothing, possessions or his wallet.
However, he was found yesterday with the Polynesian family in the south Auckland suburb of Otara, where he had been living happily for several weeks, Sergeant Brett Meale of Otara police said.
Mr Meale said he slept in a park for three nights before one of the children of the family befriended him.
"They took him home, as they do, and provided him with hospitality and a roof over his head."
The family were nice people and did not know he was missing, he said.
"They went visiting last night and arrived with all their Polynesian boys and one little Asian tagging along and the people told them they had seen him in the paper."
Police were called and his true identity was revealed.
"They provided him with clothing and food and he is learning to eat taro," Mr Meale said.
"He is very, very happy in this house. They all refer to him at the house as 'Bob' because he told them his name was Bob."
His father was relieved his son had been found, but the boy wanted to stay with the Polynesian family.
Mr Meale said it was a happy but bizarre ending and police would look into why he did not want to go home to his father.
The teen, 17 tomorrow, arrived in New Zealand a couple of years ago.
Police initially said his school was worried he would not survive by himself.
Pals and playmates (pictures)
Reacting to a sudden cancellation
New Zealand's best deck built yesterday
Appreciating Tony Allen
The meaning of blogging