Police suspend search for missing father and three children

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 24 Sep 2021, 6:39PM
Tom Phillips' vehicle was found at the southern end of Kiritehere Beach, pictured above. (Photo / Belinda Feek)
Tom Phillips' vehicle was found at the southern end of Kiritehere Beach, pictured above. (Photo / Belinda Feek)

Police suspend search for missing father and three children

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 24 Sep 2021, 6:39PM

Police have met with the family of Tom, Jayda, Maverick and Ember Phillips who have been missing for 12 days to inform them the search will be suspended.

Waikato West Area Commander Inspector Will Loughrin said he discussed how the search will be managed going forward.

For the past 12 days a team of searchers, supported by the local community, have been combing the inland and coastal areas of Marokopa and Kiritehere looking for Phillips and his three children all aged under 10.

At this time we have not located any sign of them, Loughrin said.

"The family understands police remain committed to bringing their loved ones home, however at this time the daily physical searches will be suspended and we will move into a 'reactive' phase.

"This means police will be available to react to any new information as it comes to hand and initiate searching as required," he said.

Loughrin said the inquiry phase of the operation is still ongoing with investigators continuing to follow-up information as it comes in.

He asked anyone who finds any items of interest, including clothing, on the coastline areas extending as far north as Papanui Point (near Raglan) and as far south as Waikawau Beach, to contact police.

"If you locate an item that might have significance, please photograph it as you have found it, and contact police on 111.

"If you can secure the item then do so.

"If you are not sure whether to inform us about what you have found, we would rather have the opportunity to discount the item, so please let us know."

Police thanked all of those who have put their time and energy, many on a voluntary basis, to help search for Phillips and the children.

This includes Fire and Emergency NZ, Surf Life Saving NZ, LandSAR volunteers, Coastguard NZ, Maniapoto iwi, local community members, and others who have donated vehicles, food and other resources.

"We would also remind anyone who is choosing to conduct their own ongoing searches to do so taking safety into consideration.

"Much of the coastline area is challenging and people should stay in sandy beach areas only," said Loughrin.