Family hopeful while search operation continues
As a search and rescue operation continues for Thomas Phillips, 34, and his three children, the family are expressing hope for their safe return, and gratitude to everyone who is helping to find them.
The mother of Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick Callum-Phillips, 6, and Ember Phillips, 5, says she is holding out every hope that her children are safe.
“This is an incredibly difficult time for both myself and our wider family,” says the children’s mother.
“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.”
She wants to express thanks to everyone who has reached out to the family and offered support.
“We also want to pass our gratitude and thanks on to the people who are out searching. It is so greatly appreciated.”
Police say that further ground-based coastline searches were conducted today in the Marokopa and Kiritehere areas.
“Due to unfavourable weather conditions, an air search could not be conducted,” says a Police spokesperson.
A team from the Raglan Surf Life Saving Club using inflatable rescue boats and a jetski began a shoreline search this afternoon.
“It is hoped the conditions will allow them to be utilised further tomorrow.”
Thomas’s vehicle was found south at Kiritehere Beach on Sunday by members of the public. They informed the family who alerted police on Monday morning.
An extensive hunt along the coastline and in dense bush has failed to find any sign of them.
Thomas had custody of the children and had been looking after them for the last three years, after returning from the South Island when his marriage did not work out.
Paul says Thomas had been farming and done fencing contract work in the South Island, and now worked for his father on his farm. The children's mother was in the Otorohanga - Te Kūiti area.
The Phillips family have also expressed their gratitude and asked for privacy at this time.
“Tom and his three children, Jayda, Maverick and Ember were last seen by the family late Saturday afternoon at the farm,” says a Phillips family spokesperson.
“There was no "Family gathering" or "Party" or "Occasion". Although Tom lived in Otorohanga, he and the children visited the farm often to spend time with their cousins and grandparents.”
The family say that Tom loved to whitebait with his children and that they observed no noticeable change in his behaviour.
Tom's family were advised on Monday morning that his vehicle had been found on Kiritehere Beach and had moved away from the incoming tide late on Sunday afternoon.
“We immediately contacted the authorities, as this was out of character,” says a Phillips family member.
“Because of where the vehicle was found we are understandably very anxious and fearful for the safety of Tom and the children.”
The family say it is possible that Tom and the children were all swept off the beach as they say sea was particularly wild over the weekend.
“We are hopeful that Tom has taken the children camping and that they are safe somewhere. There is no knowledge that he had plans to do this.”
The family have thanked the Police and SARs for their dedication to finding Tom and the children and bringing them home.
“The local community have been extremely supportive and the family expresses their gratitude. At this time, we would respectfully ask for privacy.”