The head of Hawkes Bay police has offered assurances that police are taking seriously the disappearance of a 13-year-old Hastings girl, despite a senior officer saying it was "not the story of the century" and he was "tired of speaking to media".
Shakahn Te Rangi was last seen heading to a house in the Hastings suburb of Akina on Sunday about 5pm.
Worried friends and family created a Facebook page, which last night had drawn more than 1700 supporters.
Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt, of Hastings police, confirmed to a news website yesterday that the girl was missing.
"She is missing, but it's not the story of the century. And if we had a major concern about the disappearance, we would have [issued] a media release about it," he said.
Mr Shadbolt said if there were concerns for her safety, police would investigate.
Shakahn's mother, Yasmine Munro, said the comments were disgusting. Shakahn's disappearance was "very out of character for her" and police had been "quite useless", she said.
Senior Sergeant Kevin Stewart said police were making inquiries, but said Shakahn had gone missing with another girl who was a constant runaway and that the media interest appeared to be sparked by the Facebook page.
"We obviously don't have the manpower to act on every single bit of information we've got.
"But we prioritise the work that we do get and we act on anything that is credible, and obviously trying to ensure the safety of the 13-year-old."
However, in a later statement, Eastern district commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle said comments attributed to Mr Shadbolt were incorrect and Shakahn's disappearance was out of character and there were concerns for her safety.
Police had launched a missing person's inquiry the day she was reported missing, Mr Hoyle said.
"The earlier comments attributed to the senior sergeant were inappropriate and may have given the impression that police are not taking this incident seriously. This is not the case.
"I can assure people that we are doing all we can to find the girl and working with her family to find out where she might be."
Police had discovered that the missing pair sent a text to a friend yesterday saying they were "running away" and on their way to Rotorua.