Arber parents continue appeal for information

MISSING: Australian tennis coach Paul Arber.
MISSING: Australian tennis coach Paul Arber.

Sam and Richelle Arber just want to know their "loving and caring" son is safe.

The couple flew in from Melbourne on Sunday to join the search for their son, missing Australian tennis coach Paul Arber.

As police ramped up search efforts yesterday, Mr Arber's parents spoke of the kind, positive son who they wanted to cuddle again.

WORRIED SICK: Richelle and Sam Arber are worried but staying positive in the hope that they will be reunited with their son, missing Australian tennis coach  Paul Arber.
WORRIED SICK: Richelle and Sam Arber are worried but staying positive in the hope that they will be reunited with their son, missing Australian tennis coach Paul Arber.

"He's a terrific kid, there's not a bad word to say about him," Mrs Arber said.

"We love him so much. We just want to hold him and hug him and help him in any way that we can."

Mr Arber said he believed his son was alive, however his wife posted on Facebook that she believed he would be "in an irrational, psychotic state".

Both the Arbers and police were adamant that the missing 38-year-old did not seem to be exhibiting any behaviour that would point to self harm, or to him harming anyone else.

Six months ago, Mr Arber split up with his partner, however close friend Mark Sheppard said to connect his disappearance with this was "drawing a long bow".

"I spoke to him about it quite a lot and he was fairly accepting of what happened there, and he'd moved on and said he was quite happy."

But Mr Arber said he noticed his son was acting differently just before his trip, with a newfound love of nature, animals and love.

"He came to see us the night before he left and he seemed very insightful, and was talking about love.

"He wanted us to love ourselves.

"He said he had never felt better in his life, he suddenly felt this warmth.

"He wanted us to experience the warmth. I was a bit concerned because he just seemed a bit too passionate about it."

But although Mr Arber said it "slightly disturbed" him, he decided to wait until his son returned from his trip to talk to him about it.

Now, he just wants to be able to say he loves him. And so does his wife.

"No matter how small it might be in detail, if you think you saw Paul in any of this time, please come forward, just let us know, we just want to know that he's safe and well," Mrs Arber said.

There have already been sightings reported since the 38-year-old vanished on Saturday night but there is still a six-hour gap between his disappearance from the group he was travelling with and the last time Mr Arber was seen at 4am in the Waikato River.

Detective Inspector Karl Thornton said a crucial part of the investigation was finding Mr Arber's clothes, which he abandoned when he went for a swim.

"When Paul was seen about 10pm on Saturday he was wearing quite distinctive blue, orange and white Adidas sports shoes and a grey Wilson's tracksuit.

"But when seen in the Waikato River he was described as only being clad in a pair of black shorts."

In between that time, Mr Arber was also spotted in Galloway Park, wearing his grey tracksuit, but without his shoes.

Mr Thornton urged people to search their properties and neighbourhood for any items of clothing or property that might seem out of place.

After the response of the public, police yesterday shifted the mobile police station that was in Grey St to Victoria St by the Waikato Museum.

The area is nearer the last confirmed sighting of Mr Arber, by the western river bank near the Victoria Bridge.

Police have scoured the river banks on foot in response and searched the waterway from the police boat. The Eagle chopper also searched from above.

Mr Arber was in Hamilton coaching eight young tennis players who competed in the Waikato Christmas Junior Tournament at the tennis centre in Dey St.

He was part of a wider group of about 50 Australian coaches and players.

And as day five of the search commences today, Mr and Mrs Arber are taking a leaf out of their son's book and remaining positive that they will track him down.

"We feel he's still alive somewhere, it's a gut feeling."

Waikato Times