The body of a missing 5-year-old non-verbal boy has been found in the Hutt River.
In a post to Facebook, Wellington Police said the boy was last seen in Ngāti Tama Park, Upper Hutt wearing a black shirt and grey shorts just before 6pm.
"An extensive search involving multiple agencies had been carried out in the area of Ngāti Tama Park, Upper Hutt, since the boy was reported missing at 5.40pm," a police spokesperson said.
He was found by searchers at 9.15pm.
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"This is an absolutely tragic outcome and our thoughts are with the boy's whānau."
Police thanked all those who assisted in the search.
Over 30 people have drowned so far this summer. With 12 deaths, Wellington recorded the highest number of drowning fatalities since 1998.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Daniel Gerrard said 2021 had been on track to be a lower-than-average year, but December had recorded 20 drownings – the most in 25 years.
"Every preventable death is devastating to a family/whānau and the community," he said.
"Despite much of the country being in lockdown for a lengthy period again last year, drowning contributed to 74 fatalities."
Over the Christmas and New Year period, 14 people lost their lives in New Zealand waterways – the deadliest holiday period for drownings in nearly 25 years.