Mona Elizabeth Blades - 1975

Back to Cold Case

Mona Elizabeth Blades - 1975

  • Mona Blades as a bridesmaid
  • Mona Blades - identikit
  • Reconstruction of a sighting in Taupo
  • Red station wagon
  • Sightings of Mona Blades in Taupo

Cold Case, Episode

29th July 2018

It was Queen’s Birthday weekend, Saturday 31 May 1975, when 18-year-old Mona Blades vanished while hitchhiking from Hamilton to Hastings for her young nephew’s birthday.

Mona’s disappearance sparked one of this country’s largest manhunts with over 500 suspects investigated. Despite spending six months and 5000 hours on the original search, not one piece of physical evidence was ever found and her body has never been located.

Many believe everything that could be done has been done in one of New Zealand’s most infamous cold cases.  But our COLD CASE team of detectives won’t give up and have reviewed and reassessed every aspect of the file.

They believe the photo below of Mona as a bridesmaid which circulated in the media and used by police in 1975 may have confused the public, especially people who may have seen Mona but not recognised her from the photo police were distributing.

Using the latest computer technology the COLD CASE team thinks it is far more likely Mona looked like this (below).

Mona was wearing light green slacks, a green rugby jersey with a white collar which was worn under a fawn jersey, a black duffle coat, brown shoes with yellow laces and she was carrying a hitchhiker’s brown pack and an old brown shoulder bag.

The COLD CASE team also concluded she spent a lot longer in Taupo than originally thought and perhaps never left Taupo alive.

There were a several sightings that were never fully investigated:

  • At approximately 10am, Saturday 31 May 1975, a witness saw a girl matching the description of Mona Blades wearing a long green parka, on the corner of Lake Terrace and Titiraupenga Street, Taupo.
  • Soon after, a woman at the information centre reported a young woman coming in.  She had a conversation with the young woman who told her she was going to Hastings to visit her parents.  The young woman had a pack which she left by the door.
  • At 10.30am on Saturday 31 May 1975, a man working at the Waipapahi fruit shop saw Mona Blades walk past the shop, join another female hitchhiker and them both get into a darkish blue/green station wagon car which drove away in the direction of the Napier-Taupo highway.  The witness personally knew Mona.
  • There were three independent sightings of a woman matching Mona Blades’ description between 12pm – 1.30pm on Saturday 31 May 1975 at the Spa Hotel in Taupo.
  • One of those witnesses spoke to the young woman who identified herself as Mona Blades.  He says she got into a red Toyota station wagon outside the Bottle Shop at the Spa Hotel.

red Toyota station wagon – Mona Blades case
Did you see red Toyota station wagon –
perhaps at the Spa Hotel or Wairakei?

  • The other two witnesses both remember two girls, one matching Mona Blades’ description, drinking together at the Spa Hotel.

Mona Blades near Spa Hotel (reconstruction)
This is a reconstruction of a sighting in Taupo

There were many female hitchhikers passing through Taupo that holiday weekend.  Were you one of them?  Did you see Mona Blades or did you hitchhike with her?

Were you at the Spa Hotel on Queen’s Birthday weekend, Saturday 31 May 1975?  Were you the girl drinking with Mona at the Spa Hotel?

Did you see a red Toyota station wagon – perhaps at the Spa Hotel or at Wairakei?

The COLD CASE team believe it’s likely that Mona met people she knew in Taupo and went off with them, perhaps to the Spa Hotel.  Mona had friends in bike gangs.  Bike gangs were passing through Taupo that Queen’s Birthday weekend in 1975. 

Were you part of a larger group and have you heard members or associates talking about Mona?

Police need your help to solve the homicide of Mona Blades.

Map of Moana sighting
Sightings of Mona Blades in Taupo