Massive search to find fisher's body

By Mike Dinsdale of the Northern Advocate -
A view across the northern side of the Hokianga. File Photo / The Listener
A view across the northern side of the Hokianga. File Photo / The Listener

A big land, sea and air search will get under way tomorrow in a bid to find the body of a Hokianga man missing for 10 days.

Darrell "Deli" Hamilton- Singh, 46, has not been seen since he set his net on a tidal flat at Motukauri, on the northern side of Hokianga Harbour, west of Kohukohu, about 3am on July 9.

Members of the Far North Search and Rescue (SAR) team joined friends and family of Mr Hamilton-Singh to search for him in the days after his disappearance.

SAR will be back tomorrow undertaking a massive search operation covering the whole of the Hokianga Harbour in the hope that Tangaroa, the Maori God of the Sea, has returned his body from the cold depths of the harbour, which extends inland for 70km from the Tasman Sea.

SAR boss, Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe, said SAR volunteers, coastguard and private boats and a fixed wing spotter plane would be used to scour the harbour from the land, sea and air in the hope of finding the body of the father of three boys.

His partner told the Northern Advocate yesterday that the family had also hired a helicopter to take part in the search, which would look closely at the many areas of mangroves in the harbour.

"We think that's the best way to get into those mangroves to have a look. If they see anything [from the helicopter] they can mark it on the GPS and we can go in by boat or foot to have a closer look," she said.

She said searchers had to go out in pairs as there was a danger of people getting trapped in the mud in some parts of the harbour and pairs made the search much safer for all.

"We don't want anybody else getting into trouble here, we just want Deli back," she said.

A rahui has been placed on the area stretching from Rangi Pt to Motukaraka and will remain in place until he is found.

Meanwhile, the Advocate's fishing guru Mike Burgin is warning that no fish is worth dying for after a man died while fishing from the notorious spot, The Gap, near Taiharuru, on Sunday. Mario Openshaw, 29, was swept off the rocks and his brother jumped in to save him, but was unsuccessful.

Mr Burgin said the weather forecast for Sunday was for four-metre seas and 45-knot gale warnings.

"They should not have been out there and that's the sad truth. If people are going to go out in these sorts of conditions they need to understand what the weather is going to do during the day and when the tides are going to turn," he said.

"What is fishable on an in coming tide may turn ugly once the tide turns to head out and vice versa ... and most importantly never put yourself somewhere that you cannot retreat from a large wave and never ever turn your back on the ocean even for a brief moment."

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