A visitor from Japan is trying to track down a woman who rescued his family when they struck car trouble during a holiday in Northland last year.

Clemens Zamboni, a Kiwi who has lived in Japan for the past 20 years, was taking his young son, his Japanese wife and his mum to see Tāne Mahuta last August when they got a flat tyre near Waima in South Hokianga.

"We stopped maybe 500m down the road from Waima School and honestly we were stuck, no cellphone signal, unfamiliar place and not sure what to do. The car was a rental and at first I couldn't even get the nuts off the wheel to remove it. They were on pretty tight," Zamboni said.

The stranded family was wondering what to do when a "really kind woman" came out of a nearby house to see if they needed help.


"She helped me change the tyre — to be honest she did the hard part and I just helped her — and I wrote down her address, but when we got back to Japan neither me nor my family could find it. I really want to send her something to say thanks," he said.

All he could remember was that her name was Whina, or maybe Fina, and that she appeared from a grey pre-fab house on State Highway 12.

He hadn't touched a jack in 20 years — there was no need in Tokyo — so Whina "ran the whole show", to the amusement of his wife and glowing admiration of his mother.

He had searched the internet and Google Earth and even contacted the school in a bid to find her address, without success.

Zamboni was now hoping an Advocate reader would recognise her and put him in touch with her.

"It has really started to nag me that such kind, unsolicited help hasn't in some way been acknowledged ... We had such a good trip and the biggest reason was because of the people we met," he said.

"The guys at Real Deal Tyres Kaikohe and the Bridgestone Tyre Centre were also fantastic. Whina on top of it all was more than special,"

■ If you know how Clemens Zamboni can get hold of the Waima woman who helped his family, email the Advocate's Far North office at peter.degraaf@nzme.co.nz or call/text 021 516 468.