Beach dig for missing man comes to 'disappointing' end

Joseph Ahuriri
Joseph Ahuriri

A beach dig for clues into the disappearance of Gisborne father Joseph Ahuriri has failed to yield any clues, police say.

The father of eight was attempting to head to Gisborne from Napier as Cyclone Gabrielle hit the region in February last year.

He was last seen at the Waitomo fuel stop in Bay View, Napier, on February 14.

This week police have been searching the Bay View area focusing on an area of beach at the mouth of Esk River, just off North Shore Rd.

Officers and specialist search teams used an excavator to move about 2000 cubic metres of sand.

Detective Sergeant Alex Simister said the result of the search had been "disappointing".

"Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate Joseph or any items of interest in relation to his disappearance."

He said police had been committed to finding Ahuriri since his disappearance.

"I want to acknowledge the resilience of his family throughout this operation.

"They were present at the river throughout the search and were obviously hopeful for some form of resolution."

Simister said police would continue to search for answers.

Late last year, police and GNS Science searched the Eskdale area with a magnometer drone system - which can identify large metallic objects buried underground.

GNS was reviewing the results, and police were expecting to receive them last month. But they would not say whether the current search was related to those findings.

Ahuriri had been trying to head back to Gisborne from Napier, but his family previously said they feared his ute was washed away by the floodwaters.

Last year, police searched Whakatu, Clive, Esk Valley, the Napier-Taupō road, State Highway 5 and State Highway 2 for the 40-year-old.

Police divers and personnel from the Navy's dive and hydrographic unit, HMNZS Matataua, also searched the coastline near Esk River.