Northland woman Barbara Moka has disappeared

By Peter de Graaf


Police and search and rescue volunteers are scouring the bush around a small South Hokianga settlement as mystery deepens around the disappearance of a Northland woman.

Barbara Moka, 32, was last seen at a tangi almost two weeks ago. Driving home with her partner about 1am on June 9, she had a minor accident just 200m down an unsealed road from the marae.

Police are now trying to unravel what happened next as they attempt to find the missing mother of four.

They have been told she made it back to the marae, but exactly what happened after the accident is for now a mystery.


 


Family members were not overly concerned at first because she had previously left her Rawene home to travel to Auckland to see friends. However, they are now growing increasingly alarmed.

Her cellphone and bank account have not been used since the accident; nor has the avid social media user updated her Facebook page.

Police called a rare media conference at the Kaikohe police station yesterday in the hope of shedding some light on her disappearance. They also want to speak to everyone who was at the tangi at Te Piiti Marae, also known as Omanaia Marae, off SH12 near Rawene, on June 8-9.

The head of the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston, said police had not ruled out foul play. They were keeping a "very open mind" and speaking to people in Auckland and the Far North. Mother-of-four vanishes after crash

People came to the tangi, which was for a close relative of Ms Moka's partner, from as far away as Wellington.

"Our number one priority is to locate Barbara. Her family have become increasingly worried," Mr Johnston said.

Police were trying to track down everyone who attended the tangi and was still there after midnight on Saturday. Mr Johnston urged anyone who had not yet been contacted to call the Kaikohe station on (09) 405 2960 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

The last person known to have seen Ms Moka was her partner. The 43-year-old had been with her since she moved to Northland about a year ago. He had been highly co-operative and police were due to speak to him again yesterday, when police also started searching a rough track through scrub and pine forest from the crash scene on Omanaia Rd.


 


Today, search and rescue volunteers are due to boost numbers involved in the search to about 20. Forensic experts have been examining Ms Moka's 1996 Honda Accord station wagon.

Ms Moka's mother, Isobel Moka, of Manukau, has made heartfelt pleas on Facebook for her "baby" daughter to get in touch. Aunt Katherine Siaki, of Auckland, said no one in the family had heard from her.

"There's absolutely nothing. She just vanished."

Ms Moka had been working at the Copthorne Hotel in Omapere since November.

Barbara Ann Moka is 1.5m tall, slim and with black shoulder-length hair usually tied up in a pony tail. She has a Japanese symbol and an Aquarius star sign tattooed on her neck.

Her four children, aged 7-15, do not live with her. The whanau is originally from the North but most now live in Auckland.

- Northern Advocate

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