Searchers at work in the Tararuas over the weekend. PHOTO/BART STIGGELBOUT

‘Search can’t go on forever’

The weather was on Sergeant Tony Matheson’s mind as he reviewed and previewed a changing of the guard in the Tararua Range search for missing tramper, 49-year-old Wellington man Darren Myers.

Reporting that the situation remained “unchanged”, the Incident Controller bemoaned the trying conditions search teams had faced.

“Windows of opportunity and long periods where we haven’t been able to operate at the ability we would have wanted too,” he said.

“Each day I ask myself why we haven’t found Mr Myers and why hasn’t Mr Myers found us.”

Myers was last heard from on Thursday, May 30, at Arete Bivvy, and was supposed to finish his tramp at Mt Holdsworth, near Masterton at noon on Saturday, June 1.

The day Myers left Arete Bivvy the weather conditions in the Tararuas were poor.

A change of staffing happened on Sunday where the four search teams who had been in the Tararuas for four days were pulled out, and five new teams transported in.

A Wairarapa police officer and LANDSAR volunteer was transported to Wairarapa Hospital by Westpac Rescue Helicopter on Saturday after rolling his ankle and fracturing his leg while searching a creek bed. He is now recovering at home.

There are volunteers from all over the North Island taking part.

“The team is still well focused,” Matheson said. “The aim is still focused on safely finding Mr Myers.”

The teams are concentrating around the headwaters of Waingawa River and Arete Stream.

“Our search is based on a tramper whose sole focus is on a specific destination. We’ve considered all the possible areas where he could have made a geographical mistake. There is also hazardous terrain on that route.”

Myers brother-in-law Duncan Styles was at Hood Aerodrome again on Sunday.

He said the family were “hanging in there”.

“It’s gone on so long … so desperate for an answer.

“Still positive it will be the right answer. We have a lot of hope.”

Matheson said suspending the search was not yet an option.

“Everybody who’s involved, and the public will have ideas about what has happened,” he said. “There can only be two outcomes and the search can’t go on forever.

“There are protocols that need to be followed, which includes a review of our approach to the search and taking into consideration the views of the family.”