An aspiring 12-year-old Waipū surfer was left in tears when her custom surfboard, lovingly painted by her dad, was taken from the family's car as they made a pit stop in Whangārei.
Rhys Owen - a HC Surfboards spray painter, sander, and finisher - was disappointed someone had pinched the 5'9" HC "Rumpsteak" custom board proudly owned by his daughter, Nia.
"She has been surfing since she was5 years old. This board has helped her progress to the next step, which is more performance-focused," Owen said. "For her one and only board to be taken, you know, it's definitely made her sad."
Nia and her family were excitedly on their way to the Far North for a holiday on Monday when they pulled into Okara Park shopping complex in Whangārei to pick up some supplies around 11.30am.
The family of keen surfers had their prized surfboards stored in board bags and strapped securely to the roof of their car.
Owen was at work when he received a teary phone call from his daughter.
"She said, 'Dad, I have some bad news'," Owen said.
"Nia had had that board for at least a couple of years. I especially painted it for her. She would come in and watch me paint it."
The family travelled 40km before they noticed the board missing as they filled up their vehicle at a Towai petrol station.
Owen said they immediately backtracked all the way to Okara in search of the missing board.
"If the straps had come loose both boards would've fallen off with it as well. Most likely someone has managed to wriggle it out of the straps."
While Nia can borrow a board from her dad as the family hit the surf together, Owen said it's just not the same.
"She was so excited the day she got the board. She knew she wanted it blue and she picked some sunflowers to go on it. She was chuffed," Owen said.
Anyone with information can contact Owen at HC Surfboards on (09) 432 8110 or 021 033 7047.