The strongest lead yet in the hunt for missing man Trevor Smith has been dismissed with confirmation that a sighting of him on Friday night at Waikato Hospital was false.
Information given to police that the 70-year-old Kawhia man with mild dementia and type 2 diabetes, had been spotted at the hospital's emergency department was rejected after CCTV footage was reviewed.
Waikato District Health Board spokesperson Mary Anne Gill said they had gone over the CCTV coverage and informed police that Smith did not appear.
Smith, who has been missing for nine days, was last seen by family members on Sunday March 16, outside the entrance to Waikato Hospital, while visiting a whanau member.
When Smith was reported missing he was clean shaven, wearing a grey cap, dark blue trackpants, white shoes and a distinctive lime-green Warriors league jersey.
His brother-in-law and family spokesperson Homai Uerata said sightings around Hamilton had given the family "hope".
"It is always exciting to hear when you get a message like that, when he's been sighted somewhere, it's exciting in a sense that he's still alive."
The family have worked tirelessly since Smith's disappearance.
They are running daily searches around Hamilton, delivering pamphlets, as well as recently implementing a 24-hour watch at Waikato Hospital's emergency department in case Smith returns.
Hamilton CIB Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Patterson praised the family's efforts in their search.
"All the groups involved in the search for Trevor Smith have worked very long, arduous hours, including his family. They are a determined whanau who obviously love Trevor," Patterson said.
On Saturday the Hamilton Search and Rescue Squad deployed several staff and a large number of civilian volunteers to search the south end of Hamilton.
The Hamilton police boat was utilised to search the banks of the Waikato river and the Auckland-based police helicopter conducted an aerial search of farm land south of the city.
Throughout the week police have used their boat and second helicopter to search inaccessible areas along the Waikato River.
Patterson said that the community should make the police their first port of call if they want to relay a sighting.
"I ask that should any member of the public have any information or see him to immediately contact the police . . . Trevor has been missing a week now, we still hope to find him safe and well."
Whanau have described Smith as a well-loved family man who enjoyed the great outdoors.
The 70-year-old led a very active lifestyle, hunting and fishing regularly. He volunteered as a caregiver to help transfer dialysis patients and Kawhia residents to and from Waikato Hospital when required.
Born in a small rural settlement just outside of Te Awamutu, Smith was lucky that hunger led him to a fish and chip shop in Te Awamutu where he would meet his bride-to-be, Mary.
After a whirlwind romance, the couple married and moved to the big smoke of Tokoroa where he worked at the Kinleith Mill for 40 years. His colleagues affectionately knew him as "Cuz".
The couple have been married for 50 years and have one son Darrin and three grandchildren, with one more on the way.
Uerata and the family are still holding out hope for Smith's return and had one message for their missing whanau member: "Come home you old bugger, we are all here."
- Waikato Times