The wife of a hunter found three days after he went missing in bush near Whakatane was last night able to tell their three young children: "Papa is coming home".
Sue Kuik cried for the first time in front of her children, Oliver, 6, Oswald, 4, and Oriana, 15 months, as she spoke of the pain of not knowing how things would turn out for their family.
"I only cried at night when I was alone. I didn't want the children to see me cry," Mrs Kuik said at the family home in Manurewa last night.
"I was still positive, though, because we had so much support. There were so many people praying for us and now our prayers have been answered."
Her husband, 42-year-old Desmond Kuik, was found alive and well yesterday afternoon after search and rescue teams found a note from him in the Kouanui Hut the day before, saying he was lost but had sourced some food.
Mr Kuik, a professional cake maker and owner of the Sweet Secret Cake House in Manurewa, had left for his hunting trip on Saturday as a treat over the Labour Weekend.
A massive search and rescue operation was carried out on Sunday when he did not return after leaving his hunting party camp site near the Waititi Stream, in the Waimana Valley, that afternoon.
Mrs Kuik admitted that after receiving a call on Monday afternoon informing her that her husband was missing, she decided not to tell Mr Kuik's elderly parents until later that day.
"They had gone out but I was home with my children. I called out to one of my boys, 'Come, we need to pray. We have to pray for daddy'.
"I didn't want his parents to worry. At that time I wasn't worried because he is very experienced. But Monday night was the hardest because the weather was bad. I kept thinking about the conditions and whether there was flooding."
Mrs Kuik thanked members of the search and rescue team, volunteers and the local community for their efforts to find and bring her husband home.
"Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support. My children are still young and I am very happy that everything is fine and he is coming home."