The family of missing man Thomas Phillips and his three children remain “hopeful” they have just gone “camping”, as the search for the missing family continues.

Tom, 34 and his three children Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick Callum-Phillips, 6, and Ember Phillips, 5 were last seen on Saturday afternoon.

In a statement, the Phillips family said there was no gathering, party or occasion and said there was “no noticeable change” in Tom’s behaviour.

“We are hopeful that Tom has taken the children camping and that they are safe somewhere,” the family said.

However, there was no knowledge that a camping trip had been planned.

The Phillips family said Tom loved to whitebait with his family and they would often spend time with their cousins and grandparents at the family farm.

They were advised on Monday morning that Tom’s vehicle had been found on Kiritehere beach and had been moved away from the incoming tide late on Sunday afternoon.

The family said they were “understandably very anxious and fearful” for the safety of Tom and his children.

“It is possible that they were all swept off the beach as the sea was particularly wild over the weekend.”

The family then contacted authorities as this was out of character.

The Phillips family also thanked the local community for their support and the family would like to express their gratitude.

Those in the local community including Kiritehere woman Nora Haupokia has been making food and lunches for emergency staff and volunteers.

Waikato West area commander Will Loughrin said the current weather conditions had not made it possible for either the Eagle helicopter or the Coastguard NZ fixed-wing plane to begin searching today, but search teams were back scouring the coastline.

Loughrin said police were committed to finding Thomas and his children and bringing them home and would continue to work with and support their extended family.

A rahui has been placed on the areas between Tirua Point and Motunau Rocks in the Marokopa and Kiritehere areas – where the family is last thought to have been.

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