Loved ones of missing kayaker Koyren Campbell rally together for search to 'bring him home to his family'

Friends and family of a missing kayaker feared dead have rallied together for a mass search off the coast of Wellington.

Your playlist will load after this ad

The 22-year-old has been missing off the coast of Wellington for nearly one week. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after police yesterday called off their search effort for Koyren Campbell, with Senior Sergeant Dave Houston saying it was believed he "is no longer alive, and our best efforts to locate him have unfortunately not been successful." 

"The decision to suspend a search is never taken lightly, and Mr Campbell's family have been made aware," he said.

Campbell's empty kayak was found floating in Tarakena Bay last Sunday, prompting an urgent search.

The 22-year-old's clothes were found on the seabed on Tuesday.

His boss, David Downer, said he called down Campbell's friends and family to join in the search effort to "find my work buddy".

"He's out there, missing. The police have called off the search, we haven't called off the search - for us, it's just bringing him home to his family, bringing him home to us. It's pretty much it, really," he said.

"Whether we find him or not, at least we can say we've given it a go, we've tried our hardest ... it's just about getting out there and looking."

Downer said it was "overwhelming" to have "pure strangers from everywhere" come out to help.

"It's just humble people taking time out of their time just to come out and, whether to jump out on jetskis or whether to walk the beaches - it's just fantastic, you know? Couldn't ask for anything more."

He said many of Campbell's colleagues have shown up to take part in the search, adding that Campbell is "part of the team" and "a family member".

"For us, it's not just a stranger, it's not somebody we just know - it's a family member and that's how we feel. We're only a small company and everybody just works well with each other so for us, it's -- we can't stop 'til we find somebody or find something and that's what it is - just finding something, you know?"

Downer said he would continue the search "back out here tomorrow morning" until Campbell was found, but added that the team would have to "draw a line at some point".

"Until I can come to heart and draw that line at this stage, I'll be out here every day."

He said he was "gutted" after the police suspended their search effort, saying it was "too soon" and "hasn't quite been a week".

Downer acknowledged that the police "have tried everything" with their limited resources, but said "at the end of the day, I think it was a couple of days too soon". 

Your playlist will load after this ad

It’s been nearly a week since the 22-year-old’s kayak was found empty.

In a statement today, Campbell's family called him a "young man who made the most of every day".

"He absolutely loved the outdoors and was a keen hunter and fisherman. He was a wonderful person with plenty of plans for his future alongside his girlfriend of four years," it read.

"Koyren had a fantastic attitude to living life to the full. Although we do not know the complete facts that led to the tragedy at Tarakena Bay, we know that he was doing what he loved, catching a lot of fish with a bar of chocolate in his pocket."

The family thanked "all those who have helped in the search for Koyren," including the "volunteers who gave up their time to help search under harrowing circumstances with poor weather".

"We have been made well aware of the efforts that you have gone to and would like to say a big thank you from us all, your time and effort means the world to us.

"We would particularly like to acknowledge and thank the Police SAR operation for their efforts to locate Koyren, we cannot find words to express our gratitude. Every possible scenario has been identified and investigated.

"The outpouring of love and compassion we have received is indescribable.

"The loss of Koyren has devastated all the people in his life. Koyren has not been located at this time, however we remain hopeful for the sea and tide to return him."