Private Search Log

January 2 1998

Notified police of Olivia’s disappearance at 3.00 pm.

Evening search at Punga Cove (Sutherland, Avery)

Support from Picton Police.

January 3

Sea and ground search Furneaux Lodge/tracks/moored boats/The Pines.

January 4

Air search, Furneaux and Punga and surrounds.

Contact with Gill Barrett on D'Urville island. An island coast watch in place and secluded waterways are being checked.

January 5-9

Daily media news releases and live to air broadcasts.

Sounds residents and holiday makers undertaking ground and sea searches. Independent air search underway (C Bint, J Sinclair, G Orchard, P Anderson).

January 9 (evening)

C Bint, P Anderson air search of Forsyth Island area.

January 19-14


Local searches underway organised independently.

January 15

Full sounds search. Includes Tory Channel and Cape Jackson (refer maps).

January 18

Meeting and briefing with David Baker, re flotsam areas in the vicinity of the sounds areas being targeted.

January 19

Sector 1 and 2 search 2 boats 9 pax

January 20

11 pax

2 boats

January 22

14 pax 3 boats

Kaitepeha Bay, Ngaruru Bay, Te Rua, Ruakaka, Kumutoto, Waterfall Bay, Pukekoikoi, Hitaua Bay.

January 23

5 pax, 1 boat

Long Island, NE section of Blumine Island, PukekoikoiEdgecombe Point.

January 24

Key sector searches.

5 boats (Avery, Kennedy, Tripe, Rose, Gifford).

January 27

1 boat, section 2 (plus head of Ruakaka Bay along bushline).

January 30

Private dive in Ngaruru Bay (opposite Erie Bay).

Dive master Robin Mitchell,

Blenheim Dive Shop x 6 divers

January 31

7 boats 30 pax (Tripe, Rose, McAlpine, King, McDermid, Parker, Hope).

Key 3 sectors searched.

February 6 (Waitangi Day)

9 sector sounds search (refer to master maps for areas covered).

120 boats

500+ searchers

Refer to registration sheets and to Call Care Blenheim for details.

Logged details regarding frequency of actual days on the water were discontinued from this time. With the establishment of the master boat owners schedule (January 13 1998) it was left up to the captains to organise when to go out and over their designated area. For verification direct contact with the captains may be necessary.

Organised private searches were stopped on March 24 1998.



With the commencement of the private search phase which was up and running from the week beginning January 5, the objective initially was to locate a ketch. This priority diminished and became secondary to search organisers from January 12 with the seizure of a sloop by police.

From this time on search areas were plotted based on possible movements of the sloop within the inner Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel area. With information available at the time searches beyond Long Island in a line westward to Little Waikawa Bay was assessed to be unnecessary. Including the area from Erie Bay to the Tory Channel entrance also rated as being of lower priority. Therefore concerted effort was applied in the area from Marine Head north to Little Waikawa, Motuara Island, Long Island, Pickersgill and Blumine Islands, Arapawa Island south to Dieffenbach Point, Snake Point, Deep Bay in Endeavour Inlet. These areas were systematically walked over many times.

Reference to the attached maps of the Sounds show the sectors targeted and marked in highlighter ink. These are the designated areas allocated to boatowners (captains) who were required to organise crew and search dates. For logistical simplification these searches were conducted independently by the captains at their discretion.

Reporting in at the completion of a search was direct to the police if items had been found, or on most occasions by cellphone from the water to the Hope/Smart families. A briefing sheet was supplied to all boats relating to communication numbers, key contacts, and information relating to items that might be found belonging to Ben or Olivia.

In the early weeks of the coastline search, three to four days at a time were committed by many volunteers. Many of us were out successively on these back to back days. It became apparent from these intensive search periods that burn out became a factor and a safety consideration. The compounded emotional strain relating to a very high expectation ‘that something would be found today’ necessitated a review of search frequency, and the rotation of new crew with fresh legs.

This resulted in the allocation of dedicated search areas (sectors) to the captains and allowed the regular volunteers to become intimately familiar with their section of coastline.

To date no estimate of total manhours expended in the search for Ben and Olivia, or other real operating costs contributed by the community search effort has been undertaken. It is generally accepted by those members of the Hope/Smart families that the overwhelming community input was substantial in time and material, and with all that goodwill and dedication that nothing of relevance or significance was recovered. This is the unfinished business that the community remains alert and sensitive to.


Gerald Hope

11 July 1998


Private Search Map

Navy Report