The mother of a pregnant Northland teenager, killed when a drunk driver crashed into her parked car, has called on the public to help find her late daughter's treasured dog.
Rippa, a playful 11-month-old Staffie-cross, is the last physical link Moerewa mum Sarah Rihari has to her 18-year-old daughter Nga Roimata Beattie-Rihari and unborn granddaughter, Pryncess Diana, who both died in April last year.
"When I'm grieving for my baby and my granddaughter, Rippa comforts me. When I'm crying he comes over to me and gives me hugs and kisses," Rihari said.
"It's like Roimata went into him and is there for us."
Roimata had a big heart for animals, Rihari said. Her daughter and her boyfriend had adopted one-month-old Rippa from friends in March last year.
"He was her other baby. She wanted to raise him alongside her baby daughter," Rihari said.
About four weeks later on April 19, Beattie-Rihari and Pryncess Diana were killed when Ioakimi Sale, 43, of Moerewa, ploughed into the back of the parked car the mother-to-be was sitting in.
Sale had a breath-alcohol level of 942 micrograms per litre, almost four times the drink-drive limit of 250mcg, and was on the wrong side of the road when he hit the car parked on Mason Ave in Moerewa about 7.45pm.
Beattie-Rihari's vehicle was shunted backwards into a concrete power pole while Sale's vehicle mounted the kerb and came to rest against a house. He then fled the scene.
Sale was jailed for four years and six months and disqualified from driving for six years by Judge John McDonald in Kaikohe District Court in December last year.
The registered and chipped pup went missing on Thursday last week when Rihari left Rippa at her Moerewa home with family while she went shopping in Kerikeri about 5pm.
"Moerewa is a small town and Rippa has a few favourite places he goes. Either to the park or to an aunty's place or down to my brother's house, and to the shops for kai."
But he always returned home as he loved his food and being around his family who doted on the pup, Rihari said.
"My house is empty without him."
She received a text message from someone outside the Moerewa shops who had spotted Rippa: "I went up there and he was gone."
Family, friends, neighbours - "everyone" - spent hours that evening searching all of Rippa's favourite haunts, with no luck, Rihari said.
"I text everybody, we drove around town. Everybody was out on the street looking for him."
Rippa's other nana - Nana Missie Brown - cut a camping trip short so she could return home to search for the beloved pup.
"No one has seen him and that's a really odd thing," Rihari said. "It's such a small place and everybody knows Rippa and how important he is to us."
An anxious Rihari returned to the family home and waited all night for the sound of Rippa opening the house's doors, a trick Beattie-Rihari had taught him at a young age.
"I was up all night thinking where is my dog, I know something is wrong."
Rihari has contacted the Far North District Council as Rippa was registered there. She has reached out to animal rescue groups both in the area and further down the line, and plastered his photo on multiple Facebook groups.
"I still spend most days driving around trying to find him. We've even looked in the drains and all around the bridge on the way to Kawakawa," Rihari said. "We've looked everywhere."
Rihari has not reported Rippa's disappearance to police but local Moerewa officers are her friends.
She has called on the public to keep an eye out for Rippa and to drop him at any nearby vet clinic or contact Northland animal rescue groups.
"You can even just drop him off in Moerewa, he knows his way back to us," Rihari said. "Please, please help me bring him home - no questions asked."