Family come together for missing fisherman as search efforts called off

The family of a missing fisherman in Auckland have come together as search efforts are scaled back.

They gathered at a Manurewa property on Friday, not far from where the 52-year-old man went missing in the Manukau Harbour on Wednesday afternoon.

The family did not want to speak at length but said the eight-year-old girl, who had been on the boat and miraculously survived after treading water for two hours, was doing as best she could.

The Coastguard was on Friday morning stood down from searching the harbour awaiting further orders.

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The young girl was interviewed by police on Thursday.

An alert was raised late on Wednesday afternoon after an empty 3.6 metre aluminium boat was found adrift on the high tide sparking an air, sea and land search.

Police, coastguard and a hovercraft from airport crash rescue conducted a search and found the girl treading water around 7.30pm before the search was called off for the night at 11pm.

The girl was taken to Middlemore hospital and released on Thursday morning to her family. 

It was not clear whether the pair had been wearing life jackets.

On Thursday, volunteer skipper Rod Frost said the dinghy was anchored near Auckland Airport. 

When his crew reached the vessel it was upturned and partly submerged, but it had not been upturned when local fishermen located it last night, Frost said.

It was unclear who had anchored the boat.

The 3.6m dingy was in good condition "for its age". 

When the coastguard brought the dinghy ashore at the Weymouth boat ramp, police took it away.

On Thursday, the conditions out at sea hampered the search for the fisherman.

Coastguard northern operations manager Daniel Pearce said: "It's a little bit rougher than yesterday, winds are up to 45kmh." 

 - Stuff