A 6-year-old boy missing in South Auckland for more than 15 hours has been found safe and well after a spending the night at a mate's place.
Counties Manukau Police Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander said he was pleased to announce that Walter Everitt, who had not been seen since 6.25pm yesterday evening, was located this morning.
"We would like to thank members of the public for their help in this search," he said.
Earlier, the distraught mother of Walter told the Herald hundreds of people were involved in a search.
Police were coordinating the search with volunteers preparing for a shoreline search this morning near the child's home.
Earlier today, CCTV footage emerged showing Walter entering a South Auckland Warehouse store accompanied by two adults about 8pm last night.
Police said Walter's mother had positively identified her son from the photo.
He had gone missing from his mother's home on Silver Creek Rd, Weymouth, Manukau City.
His aunt Meri Everitt said Walter was riding his bike near his mother's house before he disappeared. He was with his older sister and friends from a Silver Creek neighbour.
"His sister popped back home and came back and he was gone."
After news emerged that Walter had been found this morning, Everitt said it appeared that he had stayed at a friend's house and hadn't told his mum.
His mother, Barbara Bichan, became concerned and started looking for him at 7pm and raised the alarm when he still hadn't been found by midnight.
"There are hundreds of people out there out looking for him, who don't even know him," Everitt said.
Everitt said Walter was a bright child who would talk to anyone.
"He's so happy and outgoing he would talk to anyone and that's what we are concerned about."
While police continue their search, Everitt said hundreds of people were about to start searching the shoreline.
"The beach is about an eight-minute walk from his house ... he loves anything to do with water and is just such a curious child so it's possible he wandered there."
The community were gathered at Weymouth Primary School - where Walter attended school - for a meeting before the search continued.
The school's acting principal Moana Lese said obviously staff and students were very concerned and have been helping police with the search since early hours of this morning.
"We've been talking to lots of the students who saw him after school yesterday and we are just trying to piece it all together."
Lese said the whole community had been assisting with the search.
"We are a really strong community and everyone is chipping in for support."
Walter was a Year 1 student known by many.
Bichan told Stuff that people from "central Auckland, North Shore, from everywhere to help me find him".
"Everyone's been looking everywhere, the whole of South Auckland from Ōtāhuhu down to Papakura."
Bichan described the response as overwhelming.
Bichan said one of the searchers believed they had spotted Walter yesterday afternoon at a skate park.
"He was seen around 4pm at the skate park and he was getting bullied from some older kids."
Walter's father Kyle Taimerua told Stuff his son's disappearance was unusual as the boy wasn't allowed to go out by himself.
"All we want is to find our son."
Walter was last seen wearing a grey T-shirt with black sleeves, and navy blue shorts.
His T-shirt has a light green and black paint splash print on it, police say.
Police urge anyone with information on Walter's whereabouts to contact them on 09 261 1300.
Walter's aunt posted to the Manurewa Facebook community page that the boy's mother was "beside herself".
His mother then commented, pleading to share the post as much as possible.
"To those of you sharing this post and helping to look for him thank you so much," Bichan said on Facebook.