The discovery of a body in Whangarei Harbour was "the worst news and the best news as well" for the family of Geoffrey Wallace.
Although formal identification was still in progress, Mr Wallace's brother-in-law, Peter Holder, said the family was reasonably sure the body was that of the 46-year-old eye surgeon, who disappeared while trying to cross the harbour in a dinghy a fortnight ago.
Mr Holder said the family was glad that Mr Wallace's wife, Kathryn, and the three children could now have "some sort of closure". After 12 days of waiting amid worries that Mr Wallace's body could have been swept out of the harbour and never found, the family had planned a memorial service.
"That is now going to be a funeral," Mr Holder said. He voiced the family's appreciation and paid tribute to the scores of volunteers who had helped in the search and said he would like to "look each of them in the eye" and express the family's gratitude.
The body was found on Monday by David Blackley, who had spent four hours every day for a week searching from his Bell Longranger helicopter. It was sighted on Snake Bank, a sandbar between One Tree Pt and McLeod Bay.
Mr Blackley believed the body had surfaced only a short time before it was spotted.
Mr Wallace disappeared on October 24 after leaving Marsden Cove to cross the harbour to his home at Parua Bay in a 2.5m aluminium dinghy with a small outboard motor.
The dinghy, without its motor, was found the next day overturned off Home Pt at the harbour entrance. An intensive police and coastguard search went on for two days.
- Northern Advocate