A police dive squad is set to join the search for the missing fisherman in Waihi today.

There are grave fears for the 24-year-old from Rotorua. who was reported missing about 11.20 pm on Monday and the search resumes today with the police dive squad called in to assist.

His 10-year-old nephew and his 28-year-old brother-in-law were found by another fisherman after they washed ashore.

The pair were treated and discharged from Tauranga Hospital on Tuesday.


Search and Rescue coordinator Sergeant Vince Ranger, told the Bay of Plenty Times that the search had been suspended overnight, except for local surf club members continuing to search along the shoreline.

An extensive search of an area totalling 36 square nautical miles had been conducted about 6 nautical miles out to sea which began at 12am on Monday, he said.

Ranger said the search area covered from Bowentown down to halfway towards Tauranga and Matakana Island, including Waihi Beach itself.

The 4m aluminium dinghy was found about .75 nautical miles out from the beach about two-thirds of the way up Waihi Beach from the southern end about 4am on Tuesday, he said.

Ranger said a police dive squad would join the search today and the search focus would centre on the area between the Bowentown bar and where the boat, which was owned by the missing man's brother-in-law, was found.

He said the missing person was last seen near the boat shortly after it capsized as it crossed the bar.

Several items were located during the search - a pair of jandals, a semi-filled bottle of Coke, two petrol tanks, a lifejacket, a torch, a fish box cover, a boat seat and cushion.
Ranger said some of the items had been washed ashore.

He confirmed there was only two lifejackets on board the dinghy, one which was worn by the missing fisherman's nephew.


Ranger said he wanted to reiterate the safety message about how vital it was for people to always wear lifejackets when heading out to sea.

The missing man's family were naturally traumatised and were coping as best they could in the circumstances, he said.

The name of the missing man would not be officially released at this stage, Ranger said.

"Our concerns for the missing person are really high ...Every minute that goes past that is heightened. We know a person has a limited time to survive in the environment he is."

Ranger said the area where the boat was located was in about 40m deep water.

"Being lost at sea is a hostile environment and a particularly dangerous place to be."

Sea conditions on Monday night were quite choppy with swells of up to 2.5m, he said.

"Our concerns are that the missing man drowned at sea, but that is not necessarily the prime focus of our search, but it is the focus of one part of our search," Ranger said.

Ranger said the missing man's brother-in-law had been interviewed by police Tuesday afternoon.

"We continue to search until we find evidence of our missing person," he said.

Search resources included Waihi Surf Club, Coastguard crews from Waihi, Tauranga and Whangamata, the Coastguard air patrol, Westpac Rescue chopper, police Eagle helicopter, and the HMNZS Taupo.