The land search for a teenage boy missing off Whatipu Beach since Saturday will be called off indefinitely today.

But the police Eagle helicopter and local surf lifesavers will continue to carry out aerial and water searches.

Avondale College student Leka Pasiaka, 16, has not been seen since he was swept out to sea on December 29.

Leka was at the beach with family when he got stuck in a rip and dragged out to sea.

Advertisement

His sister ran into the surf to try to help him.

Leka Pasiaka was swept out to sea by a rip on Saturday 29 December. Photograph/Facebook
Leka Pasiaka was swept out to sea by a rip on Saturday 29 December. Photograph/Facebook

She managed to grab on to him but he let her go, pushing her away so she did not get drawn out into the ocean with him.

Emergency services were alerted about 1.30pm and since then the police, Coastguard and volunteers have been carrying out exhaustive searches of the water and shoreline.

Leka has not been found.

His family have been waiting at the beach for almost a week now, and told the Herald earlier this week they would not leave until his body was recovered.

Police confirmed this morning that the land search would not carry on.

Saulala Jr Fononga, left, and Litani Jr Katoa write a tribute to their cousin Leka Pasiaka. NZ Herald photograph
Saulala Jr Fononga, left, and Litani Jr Katoa write a tribute to their cousin Leka Pasiaka. NZ Herald photograph

Tributes have been posted online for Leka by family and friends who are struggling to comprehend what has happened.

They are using the social media hashtag #prayforleka and asking the community to keep him in their thoughts.

Posts have appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with photographs of Leka and messages of hope and support for his family.

Some of Leka's family, including his sister, have been staying at a campsite just inland from the beach that claimed him.

Leka Pasiaka's family have been waiting at the beach for his body to be recovered. Today the land search was called off. NZ Herald photograph
Leka Pasiaka's family have been waiting at the beach for his body to be recovered. Today the land search was called off. NZ Herald photograph

This week a memorial to Leka was crafted on the beach by family, including a bandanna and the teen's name spelled in rocks.

A large message, "COME BACK LEKA", was carved in the wet sand.

Whatipu Beach is not patrolled and when Leka disappeared surf lifesavers from nearby Karekare Beach raced to join the search.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills said it was vital, especially in the ocean, to stop and think before entering the water.

"We've got this idyllic coastal nation and our waters are absolutely inviting but they can also be really unforgiving," he said.

"We have a lot of rips and currents and from a drowning-prevention perspective, the safest beaches are those that are known to be safe and patrolled."