Police working with family as Marokopa man takes kids bush again – Stuff.co.nz

Police say they are actively monitoring the situation around a Waikato man and his three children who gone bush for the second time in four months.
Thomas Phillips initially disappeared in September for nearly three weeks with his three children aged under 10​. Despite an extensive search they walked from the bush themselves, sparking charges for the father.
Stuff reported earlier this week that the group was understood to have gone bush again.
On Thursday night police said they were aware Thomas and the children were not at the family home but would not comment on whether a missing persons report had been received.
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“We are actively monitoring the current situation which includes regular engagement with both Tom’s family, the children’s maternal family, and others working with them.
Police will continue to assess the situation, with the well-being of those involved at the centre of any decisions made.
As this is a family court related matter Police won’t be making further comment at this stage.”
Alarm bells first started ringing in September when Phillips’ ute was found below the tideline at Kiritehere Beach, with no sign of the occupants.
The child seats in the back were empty, and the keys were under the driver’s side mat.
Phillips and the children, who live in Ōtorohanga, had been at his family farm on Marokopa​ Rd, about 6km inland from Marokopa Beach.
The police and search and rescue volunteers scoured the desolate coast at Kiritehere to no avail. Despite extensive searches, including with heat-detecting drones, a helicopter, a fixed-wing plane, an inflatable rescue boat, and a jet ski, no sign of the family was found, bar a few “items of interest”.
The police also went through the family’s home in Ōtorohanga hoping to find clues.
Phillips and the children were not seen for nearly three weeks, until they walked through the door.
He was later charged with causing wasteful deployment of police personnel and resources, and is due to appear in the Te Kūiti District Court on January 12.
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