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Police are searching an estuary on the North Shore after a pursued car hit a constable and later ploughed off a wharf into mudflats.

Police would not comment early this afternoon on speculation some of those in the car may have drowned. One occupant was arrested late this morning.

At least another three are missing.

A witness told Radio New Zealand of hearing groaning coming from the car, stuck in mudflats in the estuary at Beach Haven near Takapuna.

The car was being pursued by police when it hit the officer at a Takapuna intersection about 4am.

The 23-year-old constable was flung into the air when struck by the car.

The officer, who has been in the force just over 18 months, suffered serious injuries but was in a satisfactory condition in hospital and "recovering well," police said this morning.

The force of the impact was such that the constable was thrown into the air, area commander Inspector Les Paterson said.

"He landed heavily and is believed to have received serious injuries," he said.

The injuries were not considered life threatening.

The car went through road spikes set up on Esmonde Rd, striking the officer at the intersection with Fred Thomas Drive.

Police pursued the car, which by then had deflated tyres, until it was driven off the Beach Haven wharf into mudflats. Some of the occupants were seen fleeing.

A large police team comprising the Eagle helicopter, the police marine unit Delta and an estimated 60 ground staff are looking for at least three others - two males and a female - who were in the car.

The search is focused in an area on the seaward side of the Greenhithe Peninsula, where it borders the estuary with Beach Haven.

Hobsonville - across the water - was also included.

Mr Paterson said a police pursuit was in progress before the officer was hit.

The incident is being investigated by the North Shore CIB, he said.

"The constable had set up road spikes at the intersection and soon after he has been hit by the speeding vehicle.

"It did not stop. The vehicle continued at speed for eight kilometres on deflated tyres before being driven off the Beach Haven wharf and into the sea."

A crane was being used to recover the vehicle from the mudflats at Beach Haven before the tide came in.

"This may not be an easy task," Mr Paterson said.

A man was arrested earlier this morning and will be charged with theft of outboard motors.

Police said it was not known yet if he was involved, or an occupant of the stolen vehicle.

Police have urged residents in the coastal areas of Beach Haven and Greenhithe to be alert for any suspicious behaviour.

Anyone with information on the incident should call police on (09) 477 5000 or the confidential crime line on 027 2727669.

- NZPA