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Searchers scour Pipiwai farm – Jan 2007

Searchers scour Pipiwai farmSearchers scour Pipiwai farm

By Kristin Edge

Concerned neighbours joined police and search and rescue volunteers to scour bush-clad farmland in search of a missing 76-year-old Northland man yesterday.

Keith Saul was last seen at his Pipiwai home, 43km north-west of Whangarei, about 11am on Wednesday by a neighbour who was working on a bulldozer.

But the alarm was raised by worried neighbours yesterday after their own search around the farm he was living on failed to find Mr Saul. About midday yesterday a police search and rescue team gathered in the paddocks next to the grey weatherboard home Mr Saul has lived in for about 22 years.

Angus cattle grazed beneath mature totara trees outside the home unaware of the drama unfolding around them.

Five search teams split up and covered the Moore Rd farm, which Mr Saul sold about three months ago but where he still lives.

His green four-wheel-drive vehicle was parked beneath a lean-to next to the house, but his tractor was found about 600m away in a valley.

Neighbour Jewel Faro-Thorburn said she was worried about the safety of her elderly neighbour who had bad asthma.

“He struggled to go very far without finding it difficult to breathe. It’s a worry he’s not close by,” she said.

Mrs Faro-Thorburn had been into some of the bush area near the house in search of her neighbour.

“It’s all we could do. My husband and another neighbour searched until dark last night. When he didn’t turn up in the morning the police were called.”

Kamo police Sergeant Stephen Duckmanton said Mr Saul lived alone at the house, which was unlocked when searchers arrived.

About 30 people have joined the search for Mr Saul, including police, Northland Land Search and Rescue members and members of the local community. The search continued until 9pm last night, and was due to resume this morning.