The mother of a suspected murdered Napier teenager returned to the scene of her disappearance yesterday, humbled by police and community efforts to maintain the site's memorial 27 years afterwards.
Kirsa Jensen was a 14-year-old of Colenso High School when she vanished on the Awatoto foreshore reserve south of Napier on September 1, 1983.
While horse Commodore was left tethered by an abutment, a huge search and police inquiry found no trace of Kirsa. No arrests were made, a witness who became a suspect took his own life, and the police file remains open.
Yesterday Mrs Jensen, a career school teacher now working as a counsellor in Auckland, gathered with five mainly retired Kirsa-inquiry police officers affirming plans Ahuriri Sunrise Rotary club plans to reposition a commemorative plaque so that it will be visible from the Rotary Pathway.
Among them was original inquiry head Ian Holyoake, a member of the club which this year decided to do a "site makeover". Three more trees are in place with protective cages, and the original will be similarly protected.
Mrs Jensen said: "I felt absolutely delighted that they wanted to do that. I am very humbled that she's still important to them. There are people in the club who weren't even around then."
She went to the site for the first time in three years immediately after arriving in Napier on Tuesday. "I sat here and thought: This is all totally surreal. It's something that makes no sense, and never will."
Despite the mystery, the setting was "beautiful," her love of the region undiminished, and she said: "Hawke's Bay didn't do this to me."
Mr Holyoake marks the anniversary each year at the site or in some other way if out of town.
Joining them, with club president Peter Graham, were fellow former Napier CIB head and current Eastern Police crime manager and Rotarian Detective Inspector Ross Pinkham, and retired inquiry officers Mick Cull, Noel Hawkins and Alan Monk. A sixth, Murray Sawyer, arrived later.