In a statement, police said they were made aware of the case last week when the family, from Manurewa, a South Auckland suburb, reported finding human body parts in several items they bought from a warehouse.
The family had nothing to do with the children’s deaths, police said, and they were “understandably distressed.”
The children – likely between the ages of 5 and 10 – may have been dead for a number of years, maybe three or four, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said at a news conference Thursday.
A post-mortem will be conducted to try to establish the children’s identities, Vaaelua said. Investigators are also looking for clues as to how, when and where the children died.
Vaaelua said police are working with Interpol and have opened inquiries with foreign authorities, but initial investigations indicate relatives of the victims are in New Zealand.
“I really feel for the victims or the families of those victims. And right here, right now, there are relatives out there who don’t know their loved ones have passed,” he added.
The case is “extremely disturbing news for the community,” he said.
Police are attempting to view video footage from closed-circuit television which may provide some leads, although they acknowledge it may be difficult to obtain given the considerable amount of time that has elapsed.
The storage company is assisting police in their investigation, and other household and personal items sold from the storage facility are being examined to link them to the suitcases, police said.