The disappearance of Hawke's Bay man Hugh McAllister from a gold mining site on the West Coast remains a baffling Kiwi cold case. A decade on, his family tell reporter Doug Laing they believe he was murdered, and that someone with a conscience could still reveal all.
When Hugh McAllister's sons found their missing father's ute, there was a glass of gold nuggets inside.
Ten years after that day, his family are searching for something more precious than gold - a nugget of information that could lead them to the truth about what happened to him.
Ex-wife Bev and daughter Juliette have had little closure. A coroner found five years ago that McAllister must have died, but authorities have struggled to determine how.
The pair say there's only one way he could have died, and that is at the hand of another.
The mystery goes back to January 21, 2010, the day on which then 70-year-old McAllister is believed to have been last seen alive.
He was last spotted leaving the gold mining site where he worked near Kumara, a township of barely 300 people about 30km south of Greymouth on the South Island's West Coast.
It will be the 10th anniversary on Tuesday, and much of the story of McAllister and the first half of the decade since his disappearance was told in the finding of Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean delivered in Auckland on November 21, 2014.
He determined that Hugh Charles McAllister died "on or about" January 21, 2010, "in or around" Kumara, as a result of "unknown causes".
Unless further evidence was uncovered it was presumed that his body was "permanently lost or irrecoverable," said Judge MacLean, who added: "On the basis of the available evidence I am unable to make any determination as to the manner of his death."
His ex-wife and daughter both believe it was not a case of a man falling into a river and disappearing, or into a hole in the ground, but that there is someone else who knows exactly what happened who may finally reveal all, sparked by the anniversary and knowledge of the impact on the family.
They concede there remains the slimmest possibility that McAllister may not have died at that time, and staged his own disappearance.
But they insist he would never have done that.
"He could not have done it," says Juliette McAllister, who, like her mother, lives in Central Hawke's Bay.
Police did have reports of sightings of Hugh McAllister in the days after January 21, but have publicly said none were regarded as credible.
The first indication of anything amiss came when Hawke's Bay friend Bernie Kaye, of Napier, arrived in Kumara in the evening of the day afterwards, about 28-30 hours after McAllister was last scene driving from the mining site in his white Mitsubishi ute.
They had planned to go fossicking a nearby river, but when Kaye arrived all he found was an unlocked house, with belongings such as phone and wallets, with money, inside. Neither McAllister nor his ute were anywhere to be scene.
Kaye tried the work site and the family members in the North Island, but nothing was revealed and on the Tuesday, four days into the mystery, a missing person's report was filed with Greymouth Police.
The family hadn't seen Hugh McAllister for years, and the first indication to them of anything amiss was when Kaye called second daughter Brenda Wilkinson, in Australia.
A search was launched on January 27, with Hugh McAllister's sons, Mark and Matthew becoming involved and finding the ute parked awkwardly into some gorse on a track leading down to the Greenstone River. Inside was a glass of gold nuggets.
The search and inquiry was extensive, including McAllister's sons taking several weeks off their jobs trying to find any sign of their father. The family offered a $25,000 reward, the Crimestoppers line was in an attempt to draw-out information and the inquiry featured on Police Ten7.
A team of five Nelson detectives had returned to the area more than two years after the inquiry started, and door-knocked every house in Kumara.
At the time, Detective Paul Heathcote said the case still wasn't being treated as a homicide, but there had been a recent report of a possible sighting and that the status of the inquiry could change at any time.
Such inquiries were being reviewed annually, said Heathcote, who is no longer with the police.
His affidavit to the Coroner said that while it was impossible to rule out any option, a staged disappearance was the least likely of what he believed were three possibilities.
While there had been no sign of a body in the vicinity of the river or where the ute had been parked, it was more likely that he had suffered either a fall or a medical event, or died as a result of foul play.
But the detective acknowledged that although McAllister had some difficulties there was no evidence that he died as a result of criminal activity, and concluded that death by accident was the more likely option.
The area where his ute was found was densely bushed, with many deep crevices and abandoned mine shafts, but as time wears on family become even more convinced that he could not have been in the area, because after 10 years some evidence would have been found, even if itself by accident.
Police inquiries revealed that at the time of McAllister's disappearance he had been sued for $7500 in the Disputes Tribunal, and a date had been set for March 2010 for hearing of an application to declare him bankrupt. But police inquiries found both he and his business were solvent.
He could not have left the country under his own name, his passport and bank account had not been used since he was last seen, and he would not have had the resources to survive in any other community in New Zealand.
Hugh McAllister was one of a family of two brothers and three sisters. Only brother Colin died about five years ago, and the sole survivor is sister Audrey.
Juliette McAllister is the only one of the sons and daughters remaining in New Zealand, and for that reason feels closer to it, to the extent she asks herself the questions every day.
"I think he was murdered," she says, conceding he was "no saint and did a bit of a wheeling and dealing", but not to the extent of being involved in cannabis-growing or such a lifestyle that would have such risks.
"He was totally against it," she says.
She says she's not the only one who thinks that murder is the most likely outcome, and adds: "There have been names mentioned, just not the evidence."
"The thing is that if he had simply gone missing, he should have been found. The only thing that was gone was my dad."