Northland police have praised the public help they received during the separate searches for two well-known local men who went missing less than a week apart.
The search for 73-year-old Brian Bench on July 7 was the largest search operation carried out in the last 17-years in Northland.
Before then, the disappearance of Korean man Sun II Keum – two days after he arrived in Whangārei back in 2004 - was the biggest scale search undertaken.
More than 40 police Search and Rescue (SAR) staff plus volunteers, and the Northland Rescue chopper were involved in the search for Keum in Morningside, Raumanga, and Otaika.
It wasn't until 2018 when Keum's skeletal remains were discovered in Morningside by Northpower workers clearing thick scrub in the area.
The search for Bench triggered a major response as police, Northland and Far North LandSAR, helicopters, sniffer dogs, Coastguard, surf lifeguards, and community volunteers combed waterways, backyards, and streets for five days.
He was eventually discovered by police staff near a walking track on Mt Parihaka and sadly passed away at the scene.
Within a week police SAR were once again launching a search, this time to find 95-year-old Charles Strange last seen at the Whangaroa Marina.
Sadly, the body of 'local legend' 'Chas' was found at the marina on Monday by members of the Far North Search and Rescue team.
In a mark of respect the hapū of Karangahape Marae declared a rāhui over the harbour, from Hopekako (St Peter's Rock) to the Kāeo River, where no shellfish or fish were taken until it lifted on Thursday.
Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe, the head of Northland Police Search and Rescue, said the contribution from the public and volunteers, in both cases, had been crucial in finding the men.
"It's not the result we were hoping for but we were able to return these loved ones to their families, for which they were very grateful.
"The community rallies in these sorts of times of adversity and police really appreciate the support."
Metcalfe said public support in the search for Bench – with 160 people involved at its peak - meant they had been better able to cast their net over a large area and more properties within days as opposed to weeks.
"We would have only been able to scratch the surface...it was like looking for a needle in 1000 haystacks.
"We were hugely grateful and blown away by the people coming forward to help, even if they didn't know Brian."
Metcalfe said there was a shared "steely determination" between volunteers and official search and rescue staff to find Bench.
"...the whole team operated at 150 per cent and there was never any thought of giving up."
He thanked groups – such as Soul Food and Rapid Relief – who helped sustain searchers by providing food.
Metcalfe said further north, Whangaroa residents leant a hand to find Strange – well-loved by locals.
"Once again the community rallied and the hospitality was phenomenal."