The family of Matt Smith have returned every day to the coastline that took his life almost a week ago.

Yesterday was no different, his uncle, Steve Smith, told the New Zealand Herald.

Their boy is lost at sea after the 5.3 metre aluminium boat the 18-year-old and a friend were using to check cray pots was tipped by a rogue wave about 1km offshore just before dawn on Monday.

His friend made it to shore almost three hours later. Smith did not.

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He is alone.

But those who want most to find him are not, and that helps, Steve Smith said.

More eyes on the water and the shoreline make a difference, as does the moral support, he said.

"It's amazing, when things like this happen, the community support. We've been inundated with people wanting to help ... even people just sharing food."

Police said on Wednesday they didn't expect to find Smith - who was not believed to be wearing a life jacket - alive and the search was now a recovery operation.

Yesterday Steve Smith and other family members, including Smith's father Kenneth, were among dozens checking the shoreline from Waiwakaiho to Oakura.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
25 Aug, 2016 2:44pm
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More than 30 police officers and volunteer searchers from Taranaki and Whanganui joined the family on shoreline searches as a fixed-wing aircraft patrolled the water from above.

Fitzroy surf lifesavers use an IRB to search for Matt Smith, after the boat he was in capsized off Paritutu Rock near New Plymouth early Monday morning. Photo/File
Fitzroy surf lifesavers use an IRB to search for Matt Smith, after the boat he was in capsized off Paritutu Rock near New Plymouth early Monday morning. Photo/File

They did not find Smith, and a police spokesman confirmed it was suspended early afternoon because of weather and tidal conditions.

The search resumed this morning.

Another relative, Marilyn Fernee, said she was not involved in the search, but other relatives were helping.

"It's horrible for the family."

Fernee is the aunt of Smith's mother, Tracey, who died in 2013.

Steve Smith spoke earlier of the conditions facing searchers, in particular the rough sea.

"We've been out searching every day this week. The ocean's pretty rough today. It's not the best conditions ... but it's important to keep looking, especially for [Matt's] father."