New Zealand police call off search for missing man and daughter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 2:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 10:41pm

New Zealand police have called off the search for missing six-year-old Que Langdon and her father, who disappeared at sea after setting sail on a small catamaran more than two weeks ago.

The massive search involving the Royal New Zealand Air Force, coast guard and marine patrols scoured the entire west coast of the north island from Wellington to Cape Reinga, police said, and had searched in all areas “physically possible” to a distance of 65km out to sea.

Sergeant Vincent Ranger of Waikato police said the case would remain an active missing person’s investigation, but there was nothing “to suggest anything near criminal” had taken place.

The father and daughter set sail on December 17 from Kawhia Harbour in a 6.4 metre white catamaran with the intention of travelling to the Bay of Islands on the east coast to meet up with friends and family for Christmas.

The pair were reported missing on the December 27 after failing to arrive. Sergeant Ranger said the search was made more difficult because Alan Langdon hadn’t lodged an official trip report or told anyone detailed plans of the intended voyage.

Since the pair went missing they have made no contact, either via maritime radio or mobile phone, although there have been unconfirmed sightings by other vessels in the northern seas of the north island, police said.

Although Alan is an experienced sailor and Que has spent most of her childhood at sea with her parents, police said they have concerns for the pair’s safety and continued to appeal to the public for information or sightings.

Que’s mother Ariane Wyler Langdon, who is estranged from her former partner and is currently in Switzerland, has hired a child recovery expert to search for her missing daughter.

The investigator, Colin Chapman, said he believes Alan Langdon may be trying to sail to Australia with his daughter. Chapman arrived in New Zealand over the weekend to conduct further inquiries on the ground.

“We have no evidence at the moment that something untoward happened at sea, whether it is an accident or what not,” he said.

Police, who alerted Interpol last week to the pair’s mysterious disappearance, said there was a chance Alan Langdon may be attempting to sail to Australia with his daughter, but such action would be “foolhardy”.

“That they may be headed overseas is just one of many possible scenarios, and we’re keeping an open mind,” said Ranger.

“At this stage our focus has been on searching NZ waters. We can’t discount anything at this point.

“It’s a possible scenario that he’s headed for Australia, but we’re keeping an open mind. For him to do so would seem foolhardy.”

Que’s mother told Fairfax Media she believed the pair were okay, and she trusted in her ex-partner’s sailing skills.