Kukama Waa whānau thanks searchers for finding him

By Te Ao - Māori News

The whānau of Kukama Waa, the Tai Tokerau tāne who went missing 18 days ago, has thanked friends, police and the broader whānau for helping locate him, so he can be laid to rest.

The 58-year-old Kukama, who had intellectual and visual disabilities, went missing in the bush near Pipiwai on January 5. On Saturday, three days after Police had called off their search, whānau found remains they say are Kukama, in the area where he went missing.

“We had four teams out searching all day for our whanaunga and on Saturday at 3pm we got the call we have all been longing for, The whānau now has closure to move forward and for Kukama to rest,” Patricia Tohu of the search and rescue group Te Roopu kimi me te awhina mo Kukama Waa said.

“The 18 days of not knowing have been the toughest emotionally and physically,” she said.

Tohu said the "love and support" from the community had been "beautiful".

“Massive mihi to our whānau and friends who pushed through all the heat throughout the 18 days hikoi to find Kogi.

"All the support and mahi from the Police, Search and Rescue has been awesome, Thank you all for your support.”

“We would like to send our love and condolences to the Kukama whānau. You will be missed, Kogi.”

Police say the remains were found in the area where Kukama was missing; a formal identification process is underway.