Expat's family clinging to hope

PAUL WEEKS: Had left New Zealand for a better life.
PAUL WEEKS: Had left New Zealand for a better life.

The last time Paul Weeks' mother saw him in Perth she ''kissed him goodbye'' and wished him well in his new job.

Now she and his family ''cling to that last little bit of hope''.

The former Christchurch man was one of two New Zealanders named on a passenger list for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared off the coast of Vietnam on Saturday.

FATHER: Paul Weeks with his two children.
FATHER: Paul Weeks with his two children.

Also on board was Ximin Wang, 50. He lived in Auckland, the Herald on Sunday reported. Nephew Ned Wang told the paper his family were too distraught to comment. 

Wang and  Weeks, 38, were two of 227 passengers and 12 crew on the airliner travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The search continued overnight for the missing aircraft, amid fears of foul play after Malaysian authorities announced they were investigating up to four people who may have boarded the plane on stolen passports.

European officials said two passengers names on the plane manifest matched those of passports stolen in Thailand.

As of last night, there had been no confirmed sightings of wreckage, though a Chinese administrator said some debris had been spotted in the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam. 

Weeks was on his way to Mongolia for his new job with Transwest Mongolia, a mining and construction equipment company.

He left Christchurch for Perth in 2011, with his wife Danica and two young children, in search of a better life. 

Weeks' older sister, Sara Weeks, said her family spent yesterday gathered at her grandparents' house in Kaiapoi.

They still had hope, while ''bracing for the worst'', she said.

All they knew, apart from the fact that he was on the flight, was what had been reported in the media.

''I think we're hoping that [the aircraft] landed somewhere nicely and he's sitting having a coffee, but I think when you put two and two together ... it's not looking good.''

Sara Weeks said she spoke to Danica in Perth early yesterday morning and ''she is very, very upset - naturally. ''She is of the understanding that it's looking like the plane has crashed. She is bracing herself for the worst.''  

Sara Weeks' mother, her youngest brother and eldest daughter had all moved to Perth after her brother moved there.

They arrived in Christchurch yesterday morning, on pre-booked flights, ahead of her 40th birthday celebrations next weekend.

But instead of a happy reunion, they spent the day glued to the television at her grandparents' house.

Weeks said her mother, who ''actually lives about two doors down [from Paul] on the same street'', saw him before he left.''

She kissed him goodbye before he got on the plane.

''He had just taken on a new role. That's why he was heading to Mongolia. He was going to be based there for a month on [at a time]. It was a really good job and he was going to be paid very well,'' she said. 

Weeks attended Aranui High School, studied at the University of Canterbury and also spent time in the New Zealand Army.

He spoke to Fairfax Media in 2012, saying he would have preferred to stay in New Zealand, but the odds were stacked against them.

''Career-wise it is far better in Australia. There is a mining boom here. I sent out 100 job applications before moving and within a week had three job offers. It is chalk and cheese with what is happening in New Zealand,'' he said.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday spoke of the ''awful ordeal'' the Weeks and Wang families must be going through. 

''The thoughts of New Zealanders everywhere are with them at this most distressing time.''

Fairfax Media