A boat located by Matakana Island this morning has been confirmed as the boat that capsized in Tauranga Harbour last night with four men on board.
The vessel was discovered by the Mount Surf Club searching the waterways on an IRB. They located the aluminium dinghy upside down by the bottom of the cliffs between Matakana Point and Tahunamanu Point, directly north of Omokoroa Point where the men set off from last night.
From the information known at this stage it would appear that after the boat has capsized the winds and currents have pushed it towards Matakana Island where it has grounded.
Inquiries indicate that the boat was stolen. The full facts and circumstances which led to the incident are still being established and the primary focus at this stage is locating the man who was not seen to make his way to shore.
Police expect to name the missing man later today. His family are being supported by Police and Victim Support and request privacy at this time.
It's possible a helicopter will be brought back in this afternoon at low tide, as the search continues for a man missing in Tauranga's inner harbour.
The Trust-Power TECT Rescue helicopter, equipped with a Night Sun search light and night vision goggles, spent over an hour in the area last night.
The man was one of four fishing onboard a small aluminium boat that sank near Motuhoa Island.
Only three of them managed to make it to shore.
An Omokoroa resident who did not wish to be named told the Herald how one of the group came to his house for help, freezing, wet and distraught.
"I didn't know what to make of the situation... I thought he was on drugs - then I realised he was just panicking, he was in shock and just beside himself."
He said the man told him the four men had been in the boat when it started taking on water.
"Water was coming over the front of the boat and they couldn't fix the situation, so they jumped out of the boat and one of them stayed with it."
He assumed that was the man, in his 20s, who police were still searching for today.
"He was real distraught and panicking and I couldn't make much sense out of him for a while ... I didn't know what to say until he started talking.
"He said that he had his mates had sunken the boat and he started to get really worried ... he said his mates were still out there."
The man told him that when he made to the Omokoroa shoreline in the darkness, "he could hear his mates out there screaming".
Two of his mates had been 100m away from him when he left the boat, but one had stayed behind, he said.
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The TECT Rescue Boat has this morning transported nine LandSAR volunteers to Matakana Island, Motuhoa Island and Omokoroa Peninsula (three at each location) to search the shoreline.
Members of the Mount Surf Club and Omanu Surf Club are searching the water on four Inflatable Rigid Boats (IRBs). All boaties in the area have been asked to look out for the missing man and boat.
The search is being coordinated by Police and Coastguard.
Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair said: "We are still hopeful that the missing man has made it ashore somewhere but the strong winds last night made for very poor conditions. The wind has eased a little this morning which will assist the searching."
The family of the missing man, who is in his 20s, have been advised and are being supported by police and Victim Support. His name is not being released at this stage.
A police spokesperson said that a land and water search operation is still underway for a man who was lost from a small boat in Tauranga Harbour near the Omokoroa Peninsula last night.
The operation is being coordinated by the Tauranga Coastguard.
A team of around ten volunteers have also joined the search for the missing boatie this morning.
They have split up over the Omokoroa Peninsula, Motuhoa and Matanana Island.
Mount Maunganui surf Club and Omanu surf club have four inflatable boats (IRBs) on the water, with volunteers assisting with the search.
More soon on www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz
A Search and Rescue Operation started in the Tauranga Harbour last night after a man was reported missing from a small boat that sank near Motuhoa Island.
Three other occupants of the boat spent sometime in the water but manged to come ashore on the Omokoroa Peninsula.
They raised the alarm at about 8.00pm.
The immediate area has been searched by Coastguard and the TECT Rescue Helicopter overnight.
TECT Rescue Helicopter pilot and Base Manager Liam Brettkelly said they had used the winch in last night rescue operation.
A further search is underway this morning.
It is possible the man may have made it to shore, but he has not yet contacted police.
There are no further details to release at this stage.