Inquiries into the whereabouts of up to a third of the Indian pilgrims who disappeared in New Zealand on their way to see the Pope in Australia last year were continuing.
And the missing men are now "well-settled overstayers", says an Indian community leader.
A group of 39 pilgrims arrived in Auckland in July on their way to the World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney and vanished not long after arriving.
The group was believed to have paid $17,000 each to an agent in India who organised their travel visas and told them they could stay in New Zealand "forever".
New Zealand Sikh Society spokesman Daljit Singh, who was in contact with some of the missing men last year, said they had gone to ground in the Nelson and Bay of Plenty areas.
Singh said they had probably found work and had no intention of coming out from hiding, he told the New Zealand Herald.
"When they came here it was with the intention to stay in New Zealand forever, and that is what they will try to do.”
The Labour Department, which oversees New Zealand Immigration Service, said 19 of the group had been expelled but the whereabouts of another 14 were not known.
Investigations to find them were continuing.