An ageing population is putting stress on the nation's emergency services, with one in five missing-person searches involving people with cognitive impairments.

Statistics showed 23 per cent of all land searches were for wanderers, including people living with conditions such as dementia-related illnesses, autism disorders and intellectual disabilities.

This number was expected to rise as the New Zealand population aged.

Senior Constable Garry Learmonth said there had been a growing number of callouts for elderly people since he joined the Auckland Search and Rescue squad 18 years ago.

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"Back in the first days when I joined, most of our searches

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