Whakatane Police have still not located any sign of an Ohope man who was reported missing to them by his family on Monday afternoon.
Marquis John Reed Jeffery, more commonly known as John, aged 71 years old of Ohope has been named as the missing person (refer photo attached to this website post).
All indications are that Mr Jeffery went kayaking on the Ohiwa Harbour on or about Tuesday last week (29 June) and has not been seen or heard of since.
This follows the recovery of Mr Jeffery’s vehicle, a black Toyota Windom sedan, which was found on Monday afternoon (5 July) in the gravel car park at the very end of Harbour Road, Port Ohope, several hundred metres past the Ohiwa Harbour Boat ramp and Ohope Golf Club entrance. Police have received reports that this vehicle had been parked there for several days.
Police together with Search and Rescue volunteers, Coastguard and members of the missing man’s family spent Tuesday conducting an aerial, sea and shoreline search of the Ohiwa Harbour and coast from Ohope to Opotiki.
Approximately 45 people were involved in the search, which included the search of an estimated 70-100 kilometres around the perimeter of the harbour’s shoreline, estuaries and nearby coastline. A very large proportion of this area was covered on foot. Water craft were used to check water ways, double check land based searchers and cover areas not accessible by foot. A helicopter was also used on late Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning to provide an aerial perspective of all areas.
Three of Mr Jeffery’s son’s returned from overseas last night to be near family and in the hope of finding out more about their father’s disappearance.
Locating Mr Jeffery’s kayak, described as an orange plastic molded sit on type kayak similar to the one depicted (refer photo attached in website post) and his paddle are very high priorities to establish his movements and to narrow down a search area.
If anyone recalls seeing Mr Jeffery in the above area or has seen, located or heard of anyone finding an unmanned kayak similar to this or the paddle since 28 June, they are urged to contact Whakatane Police urgently on (07) 308 5255. The kayak may have had a black canvass soft seat attached with the words “Viking kayak” on it. The paddle has a black aluminum shaft with white blades.
Police want to assure anyone that may have found the kayak or paddle that their priority is to recover these items, rather than taking any further action against them in this regard.