Missing Family NZ – Police say a father and his three children were reported missing on 11th September in South Waikato, New Zealand.
They say the family and nearby community have been through “numerous days of hell” looking for them
Loughlin said “We are in the early stages and working through what has occurred,”
A man in the Kiritehere area saw a man on a bike with three children yesterday, and contacted police.
Several search locations of interest – including bush and farmland – were identified.
Police threw everything they had at the search, with aerial surveillance and searches on foot.
“The search for the family was extensive. If you’ve been out there, that’s dense bush area, a significant amount of area we had to cover.”
Police searched an area 15km south of where a ute was found.
The bike sighting was made at about 5.30am That timing sparked suspicion,
All huts and bush areas were searched to no avail.
Family Found Safe
Loughlin said. “The children are fine. All the appropriate support is being provided to the kids,”
It was still unknown exactly how the four got around the remote, forested areas, and whether anybody else assisted Phillips.
“Our main priority for them is that they’re safe and well.”
Family members, including the three children’s grandparents, were still processing what happened and trying to support one another.
“This has been really hard on a number of these family members.” The goal of everyone involved – local communities, iwi and police – had been to get Phillips and the three kids home.
“We always held out hope the family was alive, To happen this way, is fantastic for the family. This is a family that experienced 17 days of hell, really.”
The community went through hell too, Loughlin added.
“We have been greatly supported, I can’t speak highly enough of the support we’ve had.”
At one point, it was speculated the family might have been lost at sea.
“We identify and priorities where we have to go first.” He said whānau and iwi in Kiritehere and Marokopa provided local knowledge and guidance about where to search.
“They’re just ecstatic that the family are home, We always held out hope that we’d be able to bring the family home alive.”
It wasn’t even clear if the kids understood what had happened.
The kids are happy, They’re playing like children do.
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Maricopa County – US County in Arizona
Tauranga – City in the North Island, New Zealand
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