20 Apr 2017

Mud banks scoured for signs of missing fisherman

2:51 pm on 20 April 2017

Searchers are scouring Manukau Harbour's mud banks from the air, as they try to find a man still missing after his eight-year-old daughter was pulled from the water last night.

Manukau Harbour

The 52-year-old man and his eight-year-old daughter were fishing in the Manukau Harbour but got into trouble yesterday afternoon. Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

The pair went out fishing yesterday afternoon, but their 12-foot aluminium runabout was spotted adrift with nobody inside it about 4.30pm, sparking an air, sea and land search into the evening.

Coastguard spokesperson Georgie Smith said conditions yesterday were a bit choppy but not dangerous.

The coastguard got involved shortly after 5pm and found the girl just before 7.30pm, she said.

"She was cold and shaken but otherwise okay. Papakura Rescue One then met up with the hovercraft from Auckland Airport, who transported her to a waiting ambulance."

The Pahurehure inlet in the Manukau Harbour, as seen from the Weymouth boating club.

The Pahurehure Inlet in the Manukau Harbour, as seen from the Weymouth Boat Club Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

Ms Smith said the girl had been separated from her 52-year-old father for about an hour by the time she was found.

The girl was taken to Middlemore Hospital to be assessed and was discharged this morning.

Police said it was still unclear what went wrong and they could not confirm if the pair were wearing life jackets.

The coastguard said the low tide had exposed extensive mud banks, and the police eagle helicopter and a coastguard plane were being used to search them.

The aluminium runabout would be recovered today.

A waka ama paddler said weather conditions in the harbour could be tough for those who did not know the area well.

TK Ngataki, who has been paddling in the Pahurehure Inlet nearly every day for the past four years, said good weather conditions could be deceiving.

He said he wanted to paddle out to Auckland Airport this morning but had to turn back, despite it being sunny, because the tides and the westerly wind were making the waves too choppy.