TODAY |

Search continues for Waikato father, children missing for five days

The search for a family missing on the west Waikato Coast will scale up on Thursday. 

Source: 1 NEWS

Surf lifesavers from Raglan will join the search for Thomas Phillips and his three children, who haven't been seen since Saturday. It's also hoped weather conditions around Marokopa will ease enough to allow an air search.

Allan Munday, Surf Lifesaving national livesaving manager said his team would be swimming into caves around the area on Thursday to search for the family. 

“We’re really giving it a full saturation look today.” 

Three boats and jet skis are out on the water. It’s the first time this week they’ve been able to head out because of poor weather on previous days. 

Marokopa local Murray Joseph, who grew up with Phillips, told 1News he was was a “good man” and a “chirpy fella”. 

“He’s a diver, his family’s dived there all their lives. I’ve got a few crayfish from them. So, he knows that water.”

1News reporter Imogen Wells said Thursday's weather was looking "a lot better" and calmer than Wednesday's.

However, winds were starting to pick up, which could make things "challenging", she said.

Phillips and his children were last seen near the small coastal community of Marokopa, west of Te Kuiti, and about two hours drive from Hamilton.

Surf lifesaving crews assist in the search of Thomas Phillips and his three children. Source: 1 NEWS

Paul Phillips, Thomas' uncle, told 1News on Wednesday “there was nothing unusual about Tom’s behaviour on Saturday”. 

"Because of where the vehicle was found we are understandably very anxious and fearful that they all could have been swept off the beach due to the wild sea conditions.

"We are hopeful that he has gone camping with the children, that is our greatest hope, that they are safe somewhere.

"We, however, have no knowledge of this or if he had plans to do so."

Police continue to ask for sightings of the group.

Thomas Phillips' ute, a 2004 silver/grey-coloured Toyota Hilux. Source: NZ Police

They're also looking for information about any movements of his 2004 silver/grey-coloured Toyota Hilux prior to it being located on the beach at Kiritehere on Sunday.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 105 and quote file number 210913/1952.