Kaipara Harbour tragedy: Search for remaining fisherman to be suspended

Despite further efforts to scope the Kaipara Harbour for the last remaining fisherman of the capsized boat 'Francie', Waitemata Police Inspector Mark Fergus says the search for Mr Taulagi Afamasaga will be suspended at midday today.    

Last night the Police Eagle Helicopter conducted further aerial sweeps of the area in search of Mr Afamasaga. 

Inspector Fergus says, "We have reached the point where there is no further information to support the continuation of an air and land search.

We have also consulted with specialists, including medical specialists, and sadly we have now well passed the survivability expectations in the conditions. If we receive any new or additional information that could allow us to search the shoreline further by land or air, it will be assessed and we will look to act on it.

The decision to formally suspend the Search and Rescue operation is not one that is made lightly. It is a formal process that is subject to independent review, to ensure that all possible search options have been exhausted."

Inspector Fergus adds that activity is continuing to find the boat and Police believe they have narrowed down the area where the capsize occurred. 

"We intend to conduct aerial searches, and subject to weather conditions, possibly some underwater or sub-surface searching. We will not be in a position to provide further details of the water search until tomorrow, when we have met with experts and discussed the options. The tides, currents and sea conditions in the area where the boat capsized are notoriously difficult," he says. 

Waitemata Police have spoken with Mr Afamasaga’s family about the search and the next steps.

"We still hope to be able to return Mr Afamasaga to his family and we continue to support them through this terrible time," Inspector Fergus concludes.