Former clients of missing Taupō woman Jan-Marie Burton say she once put fuel in their car when they couldn’t afford to get to the hospital to have their twins.
Though this was 20 years ago, the Waihī couple remember it to this day, and say the generous act reflects “the type of person she is”.
The comments come as police and Land Search and Rescue (LandSar) teams continue the search for Burton this weekend.
She was reported missing on Wednesday.
Police have previously said the 51-year-old was last seen at her Kinloch home at 7am that day and her family were increasingly concerned for her welfare.
In an update on Friday night, Taupō area commander Inspector Phil Edwards said Burton was last seen on a walking track near Kinloch.
Edwards said police would be in the Kinloch and Kawakawa Bay areas this weekend, searching along walking tracks.
“These tracks will remain open to us all but please consider our teams as they continue searching for Jan-Marie.”
“If you happen to come across Jan-Marie please stay with her and telephone police via 111,” he said.
The search began on Wednesday, assisted by the police Eagle helicopter, and continued with search dogs on Thursday and Friday.
Janelle Rae said she and her husband Brian met Burton 20 years ago in Waihī when she was their midwife.
At her first scan, Rae found out she was having twins, and Burton provided the couple with a lot of excitement and support as a twin herself.
Rae remembered Burton being available around the clock and going above and beyond for them.
“She even came to my house when I was about to go and have my twins … at that stage, we didn’t have any money to put petrol in the car to get to Tauranga Hospital and she put petrol in our car,” she said.
“That’s the type of person she is. She’s willing to help anybody.”
Burton was also the midwife for the couple’s next two pregnancies, one and four years later.
Rae said she was a “lovely and caring person” and had been with the family through the children’s lives.
She remembered Burton as being a keen hiker and camper, and said her going missing was “heartbreaking”.
“I can’t imagine what her family is going through.”
Her message to Burton was: “Come home to your family and please be safe.”
Burton was also the midwife for Emily Haskell when her daughter and son were born in 2008 and 2011 in Paeroa.
“She was an excellent midwife who was fully with you when she was with you and dropped everything the moment you went into labour.”
Haskell said Burton was “a great advocate” for her when she had to be transferred to hospital with her daughter, and would take her 4am calls when her daughter was not feeding.
“She was absolutely a big part of my life for those few years,” she said.
“She was kind, calm and sincere in all that she did as a midwife … She would have touched a lot of people’s lives I am sure.”
Haskell said it was “heartbreaking” to see Burton’s face in the news as a missing person, and said she was waiting and hoping for the good news that she was safe and well.
A Kinloch local, who did not want to be named, said searchers gathered at the Kinloch Store yesterday and a boat was out on the water searching.
Kinloch Neighbourhood Support’s Simon Smith told the Rotorua Daily Post today members of the community had put their hand up to help in the search.
He said there were lots of offers on social media and several had sent direct emails.
“The big issue is where do we search? We’re not wanting to put other people in danger. If there are people who aren’t experienced searching in rugged terrain, we don’t want to end up looking for someone else.”
Smith said police had contacted him two nights ago to get help from Neighbourhood Support to make the community aware that Burton was missing.
Smith’s advice to locals and anyone keen to help was to check their properties, be vigilant, and report any sightings to the police.
He also urged those going on local trails to “keep an eye out”.
Burton was reported missing at 10.30am on Wednesday. It was not known what she was wearing, but she is described as having a very thin build.
Police have confirmed Burton previously went missing in 2021.
On that occasion, she was reported missing after 4pm on December 29. Items of her clothing were found on Kinloch Beach near the boat ramp on Kinloch Esplanade. She was found alive and well the next morning.
- Anyone with information that could assist search efforts is asked to contact police on 105, referencing event number P055454939.
Cira Olivier is a social issues and breaking news reporter for NZME Bay of Plenty. She has been a journalist since 2019.