Missing Waikato family lived in tent in the bush

Phillips and the children were last seen at the family farm at Marokopa. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin.

The family who were reported missing from their Marokopa home on September 13 have today been located safe and well.

Thomas Phillips, 34, and his three young children, Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick Callum-Phillips, 6, and Ember Phillips, 5, were last seen on September 11.

Police say they kept an open mind throughout this investigation and are delighted with this outcome.

“We are so pleased that the family have returned home,” says Waikato West Area Commander Inspector Will Loughrin.

Police received a sighting of the family yesterday from a local who had sighted a man and children on a motorbike heading south on Mangatoa Road.

Police deployed a fixed-wing plane and drones to the area as part of our enquiries, but the family were not located.

Police were then notified this morning that the family had returned home.

The family had been living in a tent inland from Kiritehere beach, Loughrin says.

“A huge range of people and resources were involved in the search for the family, this search wouldn’t be possible without you,” says Inspector Loughrin.

“We are so grateful to you.”

The search included Waikato and local Police staff, search and rescue teams from LandSAR, Fire and Emergency New Zealand staff, Coastguard and members of the community.

“The conditions at Marokopa were often tough and treacherous but staff remained dedicated to bringing the family home,” says Loughrin.

“We want to again acknowledge the strength of the family and local community during this incredibly difficult time, their support was invaluable.”

Police are continuing to speak to the family to clarify their movements over the last couple of weeks.

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@Let's get real

Posted on 01-10-2021 12:59 | By morepork

I agree with you that this is a good outcome (especially for the kids) and that is what matters. But an extensive and costly search was launched and it seems it need not have been. Is it reasonable or fair that a person can cause that with impunity because of their own personal problems? I don’t want a witch hunt and I don’t even need to know the details, but I’d like the guy to take some responsibility and recognize that a community responded whether it was necessary or not.


Posted on 30-09-2021 17:26 | By

No matter the reason for the disappearance, the good news is that they’re alive and well. I have no interest in the inevitable dissection of the family and apportioning blame, that’s for others who can’t help themselves. A good news story...