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The family of the three missing children from Marakopa have issued a heartfelt plea to have them back home for Christmas.
The statement was made to Facebook and coincides with a birthday message to one of the missing children, Maverick, who turns 8 today.
Maverick, along with his siblings Jayda, 9, and Ember, 6, and their dad Tom Phillips have been missing since early December. It’s suspected Phillips took the children into remote bushland near coastal Marokopa.
“Today is Maverick’s 8th birthday … Happy Birthday Maverick!,” the post reads.
“We hope that wherever you are, you have had an exciting, fun-filled day. We hope you are happy and healthy. We hope you had a yummy strawberry cake with candles to blow out. We hope that Jayda and Ember gave you lots of hugs and kisses from us.”
“We hope to see you all soon.”
“We love you.”
The emotional post continues with a plea for information on the children’s whereabouts as its come to nearly one year since they were last seen.
They ask that any information, big or small, be passed on to police.
“It would be a Christmas blessing to have these children back safe and sound.”
A Givealittle page set up last month to raise money as an incentive for information that leads to the children’s safe return has not done as well as hoped.
A $10,000 goal was listed but it has only raised $5027 from 92 donations.
The page was set up by an older sister of the children and they wrote on the page that a reward seemed to be the most effective way to find them.
After going missing Phillips briefly visited a family member in early February for supplies. The children have not been seen.
In May of this year, Waikato police said they had received information from the community since a renewed appeal for information was featured on the Ten 7 Aotearoa programme.
This information included possible sightings of the family in the wider Waitomo area over the past few weeks. A police spokesperson said they would not be providing specific details on the information for operational reasons.
Newshub also reported a second possible sighting where someone reported seeing someone who resembled Phillips arriving on a four-wheeler at a local farm.
This is the second time the father and his children have been missing in recent times. Police and emergency services, iwi and community members searched for the family for 17 days last September before they arrived at Phillips’ parents’ house.
Phillips was subsequently charged with wasting police resources. His family said he had been staying in a tent in the bush. When he left again in December, police said at the time he was not violating any court orders.
However, Phillips later missed his January court appearance where he was due to face the charge of wasting police resources and Police then issued a warrant for his arrest for failing to show.
In an earlier report, Waikato West Area Commander Inspector Will Loughrin also put out a plea for information.
“If you are sitting on information you think could make a difference, then we urge you to let us know.”
Loughrin said police were continuing to work with the wider family and updating them on the inquiries underway.
“This remains an upsetting and stressful time for them while the whereabouts of the children are unknown and we want to be in a position as soon as possible to ensure the children are doing well.”
Police asked anyone with information to contact police via 105 and quote file number 211218/5611.