Police hope to confirm teen sighting

MISSING TEEN: Nikolao Meafua has not been seen since Monday afternoon.
MISSING TEEN: Nikolao Meafua has not been seen since Monday afternoon.

Police are investigating a possible sighting of missing teenager Nikolao Meafua.

A specialist search and rescue squad was called in yesterday to assist in the search for Niko, 16, a student at New Plymouth Boys' High School who left his home on Monday morning after an argument.

Police were anxious to get good news to alleviate the distress of the family, Detective Sergeant Brent Matuku said yesterday afternoon.

One possible sighting, about 6.30am on Thursday morning on the Coastal Walkway near Fitzroy, was yet to be confirmed, he said.

"We're not 100 per cent sure it was him but we are hopeful it is."

Other leads from members of the public were being followed up but had not yet come to anything.

The search and rescue squad, assisted by a police dog and handler, searched the Coastal Walkway yesterday for any place the boy might have been using to shelter.

"We hope he's OK and only hiding. It's been five days now.

"We will continue looking over the weekend and reassess late on Sunday," he said.

Niko's family has sent out a heartfelt plea to the community to help them search for their only child.

He left barefoot, without his cellphone or any money.

Police say they hold grave fears for his safety because the actions of the boy described as "such a good kid" are totally out of character.

Yesterday, family spokesman lan Moffitt asked for people from New Plymouth to Mokau to check anywhere the boy might have taken shelter.

These could be tree huts, sheds, barns, sleepouts, caravans, tents or lean-tos, or under any canvas covers or tarpaulins that may be in or near them, Moffitt said.

Niko was last seen running and might have gone into a nearby reserve which ended at the foreshore, he said.

"When younger he loved to climb trees and he may well have done this to take time out to think.

"It is also a possibility that Niko has fallen or slipped whilst running or climbing and may be suffering from concussion which could explain the reason he has not yet made contact with anyone known to him."

His mother told the Taranaki Daily News on Thursday night she wanted to take back the words she spoke during their fight on Monday morning.

She told him he was not the son she remembered after she believed he had become withdrawn and isolated from her.

"I want him to know, wherever he is, that I'm so sorry for what I said," she said.

The family has been grateful for all the community help during their own searches for him.

Extended family and friends are distributing the flyers and posters around the neighbourhood and they are searching public libraries, parks and school grounds.

"We ask that you send out prayers of guidance and healing to Niko so that he may return to his family who love him deeply and are shattered by not knowing his whereabouts," Moffitt said.

Taranaki Daily News