Bale body dad had been laid off amid dairy slump
When the dairy downturn started biting, Daniel Bindner's world started unravelling.
The Waikato father lost his job as a farm worker, broke up with the mother of his children and ended up homeless before he disappeared.
It was almost a week after the 40-year-old was last seen that workers at a Hamilton recycling plant discovered the father of three's body in a compressed bale of cardboard.
Police are treating the death as unexplained after a post-mortem failed to pinpoint an exact cause of death.
But police know he was picked up in cardboard by a recycling truck in Te Awamutu and transported to the factory in Frankton.
They were called after workers found his body in a bail at OJI Fibre Solutions recycling plant, sparking two days of investigations and mystery before police identified him.
It was a sad end to a life that had been heading downhill in the last few months.
For the last two years Bindner had been living and working as a farm hand on a dairy farm between Te Awamutu and Ohaupo.
But a season of low dairy payouts had forced his employers to restructure which resulted in Bindner being laid off, his former employer and farm owner Graeme, who asked his surname be withheld, said.
"Hard times" had left them no choice.
"With the financial situation we have gone from two workers down to one. Everybody is struggling."
Graeme tried to set Bindner up with a couple of jobs, but nothing had worked out.
"He was laid off a couple of months ago, he knew it was happening after the last payout."
"We had found him a job but that fell through too - nothing seemed to work."
His official last day was June 1.
"It's come as a bit of a shock."
Bindner had worked for Graeme's son for a year before coming to work for him on the farm.
He was an obliging worker, Graeme said, who would pitch in on all farm jobs.
"He milked all the time, was a regular worker, loved his kids."
Bindner and his partner lived together on the farm with their two children, and another from a previous relationship.
Police said the children were aged 16, five and seven. A son of Bindner's lives in the South Island.
Over the last few months, Bindner's relationship with his partner became rocky and the pair split a few months ago.
Graeme said Bindner's partner had since moved from the farm.
POLICE PUT TOGETHER MOVEMENTS
At a press conference on Thursday Detective Inspector Hywel Jones revealed that Bindner was last seen at McDonald's Te Awamutu at 11.04pm on Tuesday, June 21, where he was recorded on CCTV.
He was reported missing on Monday - just 24 hours before his body was discovered.
Jones said Bindner was unemployed, homeless and estranged from his partner.
"We believe he was sleeping rough in the Te Awamutu area...certainly in the days leading up to his death," Jones said.
Police were focusing on building a picture of Bindner's movements after he was seen at the McDonald's in Sloane Street.
"From that point we are trying to establish what his movements were, information from the public is key to the investigation," he said.
He wanted to hear from anyone who could help police track Bindner's movements before and after that date.
Jones said the cardboard Bindner was found in appeared to have come from the Te Awamutu area and they were tracking trucks that worked that route to establish exactly where Bindner was picked up.
Bindner was described at a European man, about 176 cm tall, of medium build and with dark brown medium length hair. He was last seen wearing a beanie, jeans, and was carrying a dark satchel.
Jones would not comment on what he was wearing or the state of his body when he was discovered.
His family were receiving support from Victim Support, he said.
"They seem to be holding up okay at this time," he said.
Jones said they were awaiting forensic reports to establish the exact cause of death.
"A post mortem was conducted yesterday and concluded yesterday.
"But at this time the results of that are inconclusive. We await further results over further weeks to pinpoint the cause of his death.
Police scene examinations at the OJI Fibre Solutions recycling plant have now been completed.
In a statement OJI Fibre Solutions chief executive Officer Jon Ryder said the body was isolated to one bale due to removed from the site on Thursday.
"Because of our ability to track our product, we have been able to identify when the material in which the body was found arrived at our Hamilton site", said Ryder.
"We also know when any surrounding product was recycled and we are confident that we have tracked and isolated every piece of recycled material and processed paper from that time."
The Hamilton Baling site collects, sorts, bales and distributes recycled material to Kinleith Mill in Tokoroa where it is made into paper, he said.
"Given the unprecedented circumstances the company has taken extremely rigorous steps to identify and safeguard the entire product that has been on the Hamilton site to ensure there was no contamination of any downstream product.
"We will continue to hold material at our Kinleith site for police evidentiary purposes only," he said.
Six staff work in the small Frankton site. All had been offered emotional support and counselling after the find, he said.
"It is a very distressing time for all of us and we are also very concerned to respect the deceased. Our sympathies are extended to his family and loved ones."
Hamilton Christian Nightshelter Trust manager Peter Humphreys said many of the city's rough sleepers choose to sleep in cardboard bins and skips as it was relatively safe and warm.
But it could also be dangerous.
"You have to be careful about where you sleep at night, it can be quite dangerous to sleep in skips and cardboard bins - it is not a safe place to be."
Te Awamutu did not have a large homeless population, he said, but did get the odd person sleeping rough who just got out of jail.
Sometimes they would make their way to Hamilton.
Late last year a Hamilton bar worker was almost crushed in a compactor truck after falling asleep in a recycling cage outside a Hamilton bar.
After spending a late night out drinking in town and at a friend's house, the Good George part-time kitchen hand decided to head to the bar on Somerset St for his 8.30am shift.
He had to be rescued from the back of the rubbish truck at 5am by firefighters after he was tipped inside.