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Mother of missing Marokopa children appeals for information

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 May 2022, 3:25pm
Thomas Phillips has been missing for months with his three young children, Jayda, Ember and Maverick Phillips. Photo / File
Thomas Phillips has been missing for months with his three young children, Jayda, Ember and Maverick Phillips. Photo / File

Mother of missing Marokopa children appeals for information

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 May 2022, 3:25pm

The mother of three children who have been missing for six months has issued an appeal to the public for information that could help police find them. 

Marokopa man Tom Phillips and his children – Jayda, 8, Maverick, 7, and Ember, 6 – have been missing since early December 2021. It's suspected Phillips took the children into remote bushland near coastal Marokopa. 

Phillips made a brief visit to a family member in early February to top up supplies. The children have not been seen. 

Waikato police confirmed today they had received information from the community since a renewed appeal for information was featured on Ten 7 Aotearoa programme. 

This information included possible sightings of the family in the wider Waitomo area over the past few weeks. A police spokesperson said they would not be providing specific details on the information supplied to them for operational reasons. 

Newshub reported yesterday police had received information on two possible sighting in past weeks – including a possible sighting of the children in a vehicle with a female known to the family. 

A second possible sighting was of someone who resembled Phillips arriving on a four-wheeler at a local farm around two weeks ago, Newshub reported. 

In a statement via police, Ember, Jayda and Maverick's mother issued a public plea for anyone who knew where Tom and the kids were to contact police as soon as possible. 

"As people can imagine, we are beside ourselves with worry and need more than anything to know the kids are well." 

She said the family and police believed Tom and the kids were getting help from someone else and that had allowed them to stay off the grid for the past six months. 

"Practically, everyone knows that growing and active kids like Jayda, Maverick and Ember need food, clothes, bedding, warm shelter, healthcare, and things to keep them occupied – someone will be assisting with all of these things. 

"People will understand our wider family situation is complex, but putting that aside, our focus is solely on the children and putting their well-being first." 

This is the second time the father and his children have been missing in recent times. Police and emergency services, iwi and community members searched for the family for 17 days in September last year before they arrived at Phillips' parents house. 

The children's mother says it was hard to believe they were back in a similar situation, asking for the public's help and support to locate the children. 

She said in September last year she sent out a message via the police thanking everyone who put time in looking for her children. 

The extended family was humbled by the generosity and support shown during the search for the kids and their dad, she said. 

"So once again I am making a very public plea… if you know where Tom and the children are, please get that information to the Police as soon as possible." 

She said the family had also discussed with police potential issues around mounting a private search for the children, which they had planned for June 11. 

However, the family had reconsidered this idea as they did not anyone to be hurt while looking for the children. 

"We want to thank those who had said they would help." 

Police also conducted an aerial search over the weekend for the Marokopa father and his children. 

Inspector Loughrin said specific details on the search area or the findings would not be provided at this time. 

Waikato West Area Commander Inspector Will Loughrin pictured at a previous press briefing. Photo / Mike Scott 

"While we are yet to locate the family, our message to the community remains unchanged – If you, or anyone you know is assisting Tom, do the right thing and get in touch with police. 

"If you are sitting on information you think could make a difference, then we urge you to let us know." 

Loughrin said police were continuing to work with wider family and update them on the enquiries that are underway. 

"This remains an upsetting and stressful time for them while the whereabouts of the children are unknown and we want to be in a position as soon as possible to ensure the children are doing well." 

Police asked anyone with information to contact police via 105 and quote file number 211218/5611. 

Information could also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. 

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