Missing family of four found 'safe and well' long after search abandoned

By Will Trafford

A man and his three children thought missing for weeks in Marokopa on the North Island’s West Coast, have been found "safe and well".

Tom Phillips and his children Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick, 6, and Ember, 5, were last seen on September 11.

The family’s disappearance sparked a three-week Police and community search operation.

Fears for the worst set in when the man’s vehicle was discovered unoccupied and being smashed by waves on the beach at Kiritehere.

Newshub reports Phillips' sister Rozzi Pethybridge saying he "just walked in the door".

"As Dad [had] said, 'I just hope he walks in,' and he has. This is the best-case scenario," Pethybridge said.

"I talked to him for about two minutes and there were lots of tears. I want to be respectful of Tom's wishes, so I can't say too much at the moment, but Tom was in a helpless place - he chose a safe place to clear his head."

This afternoon Waikato West Area Commander Will Loughrin said Police were still trying to piece together the man's movements but said the best possible outcome had occurred.

"To happen this way, is fantastic for the family." he said.

Loughrin said It had been an anxious 17 day wait.

"This is a family that experienced seventeen days of hell, really."