The search for a diver missing since Sunday afternoon off the coast of Raglan has been suspended.

John Lindsay, 36, has been missing off the Raglan coast since he went out with his father Jim in their family boat three days ago to catch crayfish for a friend's party.

This morning search coordinator Sergeant Warren Shaw said Mr Lindsay's body had not been recovered, despite the best efforts of searchers over the last three days.

"The case is now a coronial matter," he said.

Mr Shaw said both police and Mr Lindsay's family asked recreational divers or potential rescuers not to place themselves at risk by carrying out their own uncoordinated searches.

"Neither the police nor the family wish to see anyone put at risk carrying out a search of an area that has been subject to the attentions of professional divers, a number of vessels, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft," he said.

"The family have expressed their gratitude to everyone involved at various levels in the search for John and they don't want anyone else to have to suffer similar loss attributed to trying to find him."

Father 'shattered' by death

Yesterday, John Lindsay's mother said after intensive searches by police divers since Sunday she now accepts she will never get him back alive.

Mrs Lindsay said her husband was "shattered" because he had not been able to help his son.

He was on their boat, Venturer, while his son and two others were in the water.

Mr Lindsay came up early, about six minutes before the other two.

"He was only on the surface for a matter of eight or 10 seconds," Mrs Lindsay said.

"He called out to his father. Jim could see he was in distress, and the next minute John just disappeared.

"Jim saw him go back down. He just couldn't get to him in time. He wasn't that far away from him ... He was there one minute and gone the next."

Police dive squads have searched the area for Mr Lindsay, and his father also went back yesterday to try to find him.

Mr Lindsay has four children and a partner, Karen, who he has been with since school.

"She's handling it like everyone else, really," Mrs Lindsay said. "Some parts of the day are better than others."

Her son absolutely adored his children, who were "his life", she said.

"They love him to bits, and he does everything with them - sports, cricket, rugby, swimming ..."

Mr Lindsay had worked for the family business, Te Awamutu Prepackers, since school and had recently taken the business over from his father.

Mr Lindsay had been diving since he was 16, going out 30 to 40 times a year.

He had been out more frequently since the family began hosting chartered diving tours on their boat.

"He knew what he was doing. He wouldn't have taken any unnecessary risks," Mrs Lindsay said. "He had too much to live for."

The cause of Mr Lindsay's trouble is not known, but his family believe he ran out of air. "Whether it was equipment failure, we just don't know," Mrs Lindsay said.

Mr Lindsay still had his weight belt on as he sank, and it was unlikely he had been washed up anywhere as currents in the area were not strong.

"I don't think there's any chance of him coming back," Mrs Lindsay said. "He's definitely not alive. It's not going to happen."

But she prayed that at least his body would be recovered.

"It's devastating. It's your worst nightmare, when you haven't got anything. He just disappeared. Just nothing."

She had been amazed by the support the family had from all over the country, including divers offering to help with the search.

"You don't realise sometimes until something like this happens how many people are out there. They're just amazing."