Missing for two years but whānau still hold on to hope

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Daniel Te Wake has been missing in Australia for over two years. His whānau is desperate for answers and has been exhausting all options to get any information to locate their whānau member - but with no strong leads in over two years, this is proving to be impossible.

“He was proficient in the outdoors way of life. He could go hunting in Australia. He wasn't afraid of snakes, crocodiles or anything. He used to go bush quite a bit,” one whānau member told Te Ao Māori News.

Te Wake went missing in April 2020. He left the Cairns City Backpackers at Draper Street, Parramatta Park in his vehicle, a white 1989 Toyota Camry. The vehicle was located on April 7 parked "crookedly" on the side of the Bruce Highway, south of Fishery Falls. His aunty Clare says he had a passion for the outdoors.

The whānau member says his disappearance has been really difficult for the whole whānau. With him going missing at the height of the Covid pandemic, it made things more difficult.

Declared dead

“All our communications have been through phone calls and emails over to Cairns where he went missing from to the family over there. That was really hard because we couldn't be there with his children and his mum,” she said.

An extensive land and air search failed to locate Te Wake. Despite a coroner’s report declaring him dead, the whānau remains hopeful. His cousin, Lisa James in Australia, refuses to accept that decision.

“That's not a good enough answer for me or for his mum or his kids. It's the unknown, not knowing where he is,” she said.

Clare keeps in regular contact with his whanau in Australia. 

“I didn't think we'd be a family that would ever go through this, that someone is missing in our family. But something hit home when he was registered on the Australian Missing Persons register. Just flicking through all the people listed there, it's just horrific.”

Queensland Police didn't respond to our requests for an interview but have used social media to get the message out there.