A grieving mum is facing fresh heartbreak after a dog that belonged to her pregnant daughter, who was killed by a drunk driver last year, disappeared.
Sarahera Rihari says the dog, called Rippa, is one of the only things the family has left linking them to their beloved Nga Roimata Beattie-Rihari, who tragically lost her life and her unborn baby, in a crash nine months ago.
The crossbred pooch, which was both registered and microchipped, was last seen at the Moerewa shops on Thursday evening.
With no fresh sightings, the family are fearing the worst. They suspect it has been stolen and spirited out of the small Northland township.
Today, growing increasingly desperate to see him return home, the family issued a heartfelt plea to those who took him.
"He is all we have from my baby Roimata. Please give him back," said Rihari.
"Bring him back to Moerewa or let him go. He'll come home. He's very missed."
Rihari said Rippa meant more to her than people would ever know, providing a healing salve on the back of an awful year.
"He's not just a mutt dog, he's part of my baby," she said.
"When I'm crying he knows and comes by me and gives me kisses, and cuddles me at night.
"He's slept with me since he was a pup. In the middle of the night when I'm up crying he's there."
The Moerewa grandmother said the dog, who was only a month old when her daughter died, was intended to have a special place in the young family.
"My daughter got a dog when he was only a little pup.
"The baby was going to grow up with the pup but five weeks later my daughter was killed by a drunk driver and so was her baby.
"Nothing is ever going to come out of my daughter so what was left behind was her dog. He's all we have."
Rippa has lived with Rihari since the accident.
She said despite mounting searches across the local community there hadn't been a single sighting.
"We're all driving around, looking in drains and up the turntable. The family are walking the alleyways, and we've contacted the vets and the council and posting on animal pages on social media but nobody has seen him."
Now all they wished for was to be reunited with Rippa.
"We really need the dog back," she said.
Last year Ioakimi Sale was sentenced to four years, six months jail and disqualified from driving for six years for causing the teenager's death.
At the time the young mum-to-be was a passenger in a car parked on the side of the road when Sale, who had been drinking seven hours prior to getting behind the wheel, and four-times over the limit, careened into the stationary vehicle.
That car struck another parked car and then a power pole, throwing Beattie-Rihari onto the road where she died.