Woman missing in Palmerston North

Aquitania Luxford, who goes by the name Tai, hasn't been seen since Thursday. Photo / Supplied via Police
Aquitania Luxford, who goes by the name Tai, hasn't been seen since Thursday. Photo / Supplied via Police

There are growing fears for the safety of a 73-year-old woman suffering dementia who was last seen in Palmerston North on Thursday.

Aquitania (Tai) Luxford has been missing since 11am on Thursday, February 25, after she was seen leaving Awapuni in Palmerston North.

At 12.30pm on Thursday she used her eftpos card to buy fuel at BP in Bulls, police said.

There were no further sightings or bank transactions since then.

Ms Luxford is described as being about 150cm tall, Maori, with short salt and pepper coloured hair.

At 12.30pm on Thursday Luxford used her eftpos card to buy fuel at BP in Bulls. Photo / Supplied via Police
At 12.30pm on Thursday Luxford used her eftpos card to buy fuel at BP in Bulls. Photo / Supplied via Police

She was driving a dark grey 2008 Subaru Impreza station wagon registration EPG780.

Her car was described as having a large scratch and dent on the passenger rear door on the driver's side.

Police were uncertain what clothing she was wearing.

For the past two days, three aerial searches were conducted on areas she may have been in, without success. Police said the key to finding her may rest with her car.

Ms Luxford's son Ray Luxford said his mother was playing tennis and then had a hair appointment on the day she went missing.

Because she suffers from dementia, Mr Luxford said she had only a couple of regular driving routes and otherwise wasn't allowed to use the car.

Ms Luxford is described as being about 150cm tall, Maori, with short salt and pepper coloured hair. Photo / Supplied via Police
Ms Luxford is described as being about 150cm tall, Maori, with short salt and pepper coloured hair. Photo / Supplied via Police

"She's quite forgetful but she is quite a reasonable driver," he said.

On Thursday, the day she went missing, Ms Luxford had driven to Feilding, where a concerned local tried to lead her back to Palmerston North by driving ahead of her.

"She had shocking disorientation," Mr Luxford said.

The local woman stopped her car to give further directions to Ms Luxford but "she took it as goodbye and waved back to her".

Ms Luxford then took the wrong turn again and headed to Bulls, her son said.

She is driving a Dark Grey Subaru Impreza station wagon. Photo / Supplied via Police
She is driving a Dark Grey Subaru Impreza station wagon. Photo / Supplied via Police

Mr Luxford said his mother worked as a district nurse in the lower North Island in the past but most likely had forgotten the area.

His family had driven around the Whanganui, Manawatu, Horowhenua and Masterton region in hopes of finding her.

"She's never been missing before."

Lynnaire Hickmott was at her mother's house in Feilding when Ms Luxford knocked on the door at midday on Thursday.

"She told me she was lost and that she was playing tennis.

"She wanted to go back home to Palmerston North."

Ms Hickmott said the elderly woman "didn't have a clue of the landmarks" when she tried to give her directions.

Concerned about the woman, Ms Hickmott got into her van and drove in front of her, directing her towards Palmerston North.

She pulled over just outside Feilding to give Ms Luxford her contact details but Ms Luxford drove off.

"I was really worried. She just seemed really confused.

"I went back to mum's and told her I had a feeling she had Alzheimer's."

The following day, Ms Hickmott, a Palmerston North resident, saw the woman was reported missing via a Police Facebook page.

"Oh my gosh, that's the same lady. I felt absolutely sick," she said.

Ms Hickmott said she and her sister would be driving around a nearby town, Rongotea, today, hoping to find her.

"It's worth a shot. She might be parked in a paddock somewhere.

"It's a needle in a hay stack but at least I feel like I'm doing something."

She said she was extremely concerned about the woman.

"I just wish I had kept her with me."

Anyone who sees a vehicle that matches the description should contact their nearest police station or call Palmerston North police on 06 351 3600.

- NZ Herald

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