The parents of a Chinese student missing in Auckland since nearly three months ago are holding on to hope their son might turn up after offering a $200,000 reward.
University of Auckland student Guoquan Wu, also known as Laurence Wu, has been missing since March 10. His vehicle was found at Piha Beach car park two days later.
After months of searching for Wu, including hiring a helicopter to scour Auckland's west coast beaches from Whatipu to Kaipara Harbour, his family this week posted a reward of $200,000 for information.
The sum is thought to be the largest offered in the country for information on a potential crime - double what police announced last month in their bid to flush out the cold case killer of Christchurch mum Angela Blackmoore.
Police today said the case had been referred to the Coroner, but speaking from China his brother Lucas Wu told the Herald the family was "holding on to hope" he could turn up.
Lucas, his sister and parents had spent about six weeks in New Zealand after Wu went missing, desperately searching for him.
"We did everything we could. We went to Piha, we went everywhere my brother could have been, even hired a helicopter, and still no luck."
The family had forked out for the reward with their own money, in a last attempt for answers.
"We are all very sad, especially my parents, they are desperate, they just want something. Right now they continue to believe he is still safe, out there somewhere, they are holding on to hope. That is why there is the missing reward."
Wu was last seen on March 10 on Sainsbury Rd, in the Auckland suburb of St Lukes.
His vehicle - a Hyundai Santa Fe - was found at Piha Beach car park two days later.
Lucas Wu, who left Auckland two years ago after eight years living in the city, said it was quite out of the ordinary for his brother to go missing without speaking to them.
Wu had broken up with his girlfriend recently, and she told the family Wu had said he was going to Piha to "clear his mind".
However, the family did not believe Wu had deliberately harmed himself, Lucas said.
"He was very outgoing, and he liked to play video games."
Since launching the reward Lucas said they had received some information about potential sightings, but police were still verifying this.
Sergeant Tania Kingi said police understood how "devastating his disappearance has been for his family" and that their hearts went out to them.
"The police staff involved in this investigation wanted nothing more than to be able to provide the answers that the family so desperately seeks at this time, and it is unfortunate that we have not been able to achieve this, despite our best efforts."
Since his disappearance and the discovery of his vehicle in Piha, police had carried out multiple land searches in the surrounding area, she said.
"We have also undertaken several aerial sweeps of the region, while ground searches have also been carried out across the wider Waitakere coastal area.
"Sadly, none of these searches has uncovered any trace of Laurence."
Kingi said police had issued multiple public appeals for information and as a result had spoken to a number of people in the Piha area, and those who were last in contact with Wu.
CCTV footage was extensively reviewed, including footage of when he was last seen on Sainsbury Rd.
Police also examined the contents of his vehicle, including his laptop, as part of their investigation.
"After completing all lines of inquiry, there is no evidence to suggest foul play in connection with his disappearance.
"Police are not treating his disappearance as suspicious and the matter is being referred to the Coroner.
"We have been working closely with his family and our sympathies are with them at this difficult time."
WHERE TO GET HELP
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email email@example.com or online chat.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
• SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.