Police and local volunteers are searching Maketū this afternoon for missing elderly man John Kohi Mohi, also known as Johnny Moses.

Mohi went missing on Monday from his homestead on Church Rd and was last seen on Wilson Rd in the Maketu area.

Today there are 56 searchers who have split into teams of eight, each one with a trained search and rescue person, who are doing a shoulder search in a 500m grid around the homestead, checking grass areas, bushes and trees.

A police Eagle helicopter was looking for Mohi last night.


A police media spokeswoman earlier said the 77-year-old had dementia and "would be very confused".

Mohi is 6ft tall, with a slim build and short white hair and a mole above his left eyebrow.

When he went missing, Mohi was last seen wearing a dark business-style button-down shirt with a blue and white check pattern on it. He was also wearing a pair of black or grey long pants and jandals.

Notably, he walks with his head down in a stooped position, a police spokesperson has confirmed.

Mohi's granddaughter Ronnie Tapsell-Walters spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times about her grandfather.

She said he took a one or two hour walk every day around midday and believed he may have become confused and disoriented.

"My grandfather is humble, a humble principled man, like I've told a lot of people.

"So if you were to see him you'd be able to just walk up and say 'hey John'.

"I wouldn't approach him and say 'are you John Mohi? You've been missing I've been looking for you', I would more put it in a friendly mannerism. If he replied to 'John' it must be him – maybe have a yarn to him."

She stressed to the public if they had any sightings to take a photo on their phones so police could identify him and investigate.

"He's definitely approachable, if you happen to come across him, don't be shy to approach him. He's a man of God. He's spent all his life dedicated to God and doing his teachings.

"He's a lovely man. He suffers from dementia, so he may be disoriented.

"He might just need a ride home, to be honest."

She believed he was alive and was not giving up hope.

Volunteers in Maketu searching for missing man John Kohi Mohi. Photo / George Novak
Volunteers in Maketu searching for missing man John Kohi Mohi. Photo / George Novak

Inspector Zane Smith says John has not been in contact with family since Monday and they have concerns for his safety.

"We are working closely with John's family at this time and a number of Police staff are working to locate him. We have Land SAR and Police continuing to comb the Maketu area today and into the evening."

If anyone sees John, or someone fitting this description, they are encouraged to contact Tauranga Police as soon as possible on (07) 577 4300.

More to come.