Missing family: items found by Surf Life Saving teams unrelated to Waikato’s father and three children

A search is underway on a remote beach on the west coast of the North Island for a man from Otorohanga and his three children. Video / NZ Herald / Google Earth

Objects found in the west coast sea where researchers are looking for missing man Thomas Phillips and his three children are not believed to be related to the Waikato family.

This morning, police said items recovered by surf lifeguards were not found to be significant in determining the whereabouts of Phillips and his two daughters and son who were last seen near a beach in Marocopa.

“No item of importance has been located,” said the police spokesman.

Efforts to track down Thomas Phillips, 34, and his three young children, Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick Callum-Phillips, 6, and Ember Phillips, 5, continued today in the vicinity of Marokopa and Kiritehere Beach.

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The family were last seen in Marocopa on Saturday evening.

Speaking to TVNZ’s Breakfast program this morning, Surf Life Saving’s Allan Mundy revealed that a number of items were recovered by members of the search and rescue team.

“At this point we have found some items, but we have given them all to the police and it is up to them to decide if it is of interest.”

Thomas Phillips and his children Jayda Phillips, Ember Phillips and Maverick Callam-Phillips.  Photos / Pauline Sallet and Fourni
Thomas Phillips and his children Jayda Phillips, Ember Phillips and Maverick Callam-Phillips. Photos / Pauline Sallet and Fourni

Mundy, the national search and rescue official, did not specify what the objects were and admitted that they could not make any sense of them.

“What we’re focusing on is something different. Just about anything that isn’t marine life, we’ll collect it, tag it and then pass it on to the channel.”

Mundy said the weather conditions today were much better than other days of the week; which would help search and rescue teams to get back on track today.

Other crew members are also expected to join the effort.

Inflatable lifeboats go up to the cliffs in search and swim in caves to check absolutely everything and everywhere, he said.

The Toyota Hilux ute owned by Thomas Phillips found on Kiritehere beach near Marokopa.  Photo / Supplied
The Toyota Hilux ute owned by Thomas Phillips found on Kiritehere beach near Marokopa. Photo / Supplied

“We’re looking for anything – bottle caps, cookie wrappers and up to, hopefully, family.

“It’s a tough search. We cover a lot of area but really completely.”

Mundy said the teams remained optimistic in the search and, despite the difficult conditions, maintained their energy levels.

“We go out every time to look for them and find them,” he said.

“We just have to focus on the right game – winning the Lotto – which is finding the family and that’s about what we do.”

About Larry Fletcher

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