Missing family: Police release images of missing father and his three children

Police have released images of the missing Otorohanga family and are now asking anyone who was at Marokopa or Kiritehere Beach over the weekend to come forward.

Tom, 34, and his three children Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick Callum-Phillips, 6, and Ember Phillips, 5, were last seen on Saturday afternoon.

Police are broadening the appeal for information and now want to speak to anyone who was in the Marokopa or Kiritehere Beach areas either Saturday 11 or Sunday 12 September. No matter how insignificant it may be.

This includes bach owners or visitors who may have left the area after the weekend.

The search for the missing family centred today on the water with sea-based searches conducted in the Marokopa and Kiritehere Beach areas by the Raglan Surf Life Saving Squad and the Taranaki Surf Life Saving Rescue Squad.

Ground-based coastline searches are still being completed by LandSAR volunteers and police.

As hours turn into days, the family of Thomas Phillips still cling on to hope that he has taken his three children on a camping trip.

But Uncle Paul Phillips knows that as each day ticks over, the chances of finding them along the Marokopa coast alive dwindle.

“It’s looking more and more likely that it’s not the answer we want,” he told the Herald.

Paul Phillips said the family was hopeful but anxious and fearful for the safety of their loved ones, especially as Thomas’ grey Toyota Hilux was found on the beach, with waves crashing against it.

“Our biggest fear is that a rogue wave swept them out to sea. Because Tom was an extremely resilient person we’re hopeful that Tom has taken the children camping.

“That’s something that he was more than capable of, yes, he was a very resilient man, a capable hunter and he knew how to look after himself and knew his way round the bush.”

The children’s mother, and Tom’s former partner, was holding out “every hope that my children Jayda, Maverick and Ember are safe”.

“We are 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.”

Paul Phillips said Tom was a qualified fencer but since breaking up from his partner he had been a full-time dad the past three or four years.

A keen whitebaiter, an experienced outdoorsman and devoted dad, Tom was in good spirits when he visited his Marokopa family on Saturday.

He home-schooled his children and lives in Otorohanga but would often drive the bush-clad, winding, narrow road to the coast.

Police are asking people to make contact with the investigation team via 105 and quote file number 210913/1952.

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