Monday, 27 June 2005 - 5:01pm |

Park closes for new search for missing woman

2 min read

Rimutaka Forest Park will be closed to the public tomorrow for at least two days as police take a fresh look for signs of missing Wellington woman Kaye Stewart.

Mrs Stewart, 62, failed to return from a short walk in the Catchpool area of the Park two weeks ago. A four-day police and civilian volunteer search and rescue operation at the time of her disappearance was unsuccessful, despite covering numerous trails, tracks, streams, bush and roadside edges.

Weather conditions during the search were appalling - it was cold, wet and windy. After four days the search was suspended with no obvious sign of Mrs Stewart and little likelihood of finding her alive in the search area given the weather conditions.

Detective Senior Sergeant Soni Malaulau, Lower Hutt CIB, says there is no fresh or specific information which has prompted the search to resume, simply the search team's wish to confirm they have thoroughly covered the area.

Mrs Stewart went to the Catchpool part of the park late morning on Monday, 13 June. She was lightly clad and planned a short walk before meeting family in Wainuiomata at 12.30pm. When she failed to arrive, they went to the park, found her locked car and, after a check of nearby tracks, contacted police.

"The time is right for us to go back in now and have a fresh look for Kaye; her clothing, jewellery or glasses. Anything that might help explain what has happened to her and where she is," Detective Senior Sergeant Malaulau says.

"There's no information to suggest Kaye's disappearance is suspicious, however we do want to be absolutely certain that we have exhausted every line of enquiry in terms of our routine enquiry work," he says.

Media coverage has prompted the drivers of two campervans in the park on the day Mrs Stewart disappeared to contact police. But investigators are still keen to hear from the driver of a four wheel bike seen driving down the Forest Park Road towards the Wainuiomata Coast Road about 1.50pm, and a grey car driving in the opposite direction on Monday, 13 June.
The Department of Conservation has agreed to the police request to close the park for the next two days as up to 80 people including police SAR staff, police divers, police specialist search group, Land SAR volunteers and 20 Army personnel comb the area.

The search headquarters will be the Visitor's Centre and teams are expected to head out into the field at first light tomorrow.


Issued by:
Kaye Calder
Wellington Police District Communications Manager
Tel 04 496 3464 or 0274 373 020