15 Sep 2021

Mother of missing children 'holding out every hope' they are safe

7:16 pm on 15 September 2021

The mother of three children who are missing along with their father says she's holding out hope during an incredibly difficult time.

Locals and Landsar personnel at the Marokopa River estuary during the search for Thomas Phillips and his children.

Locals and Landsar personnel at Kiritehere Beach where Thomas Phillips' car was found. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Thomas Phillips, 34, and his three young children, Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick Callum-Phillips, 6, and Ember Phillips, 5, were last seen by family at Marokopa on Saturday evening.

Thomas had custody of the children and had been looking after them for the past three years, after returning from the South Island when his marriage did not work out.

In a statement via the police, the children's mother has pleaded for anyone with information as to their whereabouts to come forward.

"We are just asking that anyone who might have any information, no matter how small or insignificant they think it might be, to contact police and tell them," the statement said.

She thanked all those who have offered support and who have been involved with the search.

Phillips' vehicle was found south of Kiritehere Beach on Sunday by members of the public.

Police vehicle parked at Kiritehere Beach.

A police vehicle parked at Kiritehere Beach. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

In a statement the Phillips' family said they immediately contacted authorities when they were advised that Tom's vehicle had been found on Kiritehere Beach as this was out of character.

They said it was not unusual for the family to visit the farm where they were last seen so the children could visit cousins and grandparents.

The statement said that Tom loved to whitebait with his children and the family did not notice any noticeable change in Tom's behaviour when they last saw him.

"It is possible that they were all swept off the beach as the sea was particularly wild over the weekend," the statement said.

The Phillipps family said that they hoped Tom had taken the children camping somewhere and that they were safe - but that they had no knowledge that he planned to do this.

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Inside the police-Landsar base that is co-ordinating the search. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Police said further ground-based coastline searches were conducted today in the Marokopa and Kiritehere areas, but an air search could not be conducted due to unfavourable weather.

Police said Raglan Surf Life Saving Club began a shoreline search this afternoon using inflatable rescue boats and a jetski and it's hoped conditions will allow this to continue tomorrow.

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