Regional | Missing Person(s)

Cheers of joy as missing two-year-old Willow found safe and well

Two-year-old Willow was found safe and well Sunday evening after going missing from her West Auckland home earlier in the afternoon. Hundreds of volunteers joined police search and rescue in the search for her.

An Auckland whānau who were “incredibly worried” after two-year-old Willow went missing Sunday afternoon from her Henderson home were surrounded by happy well-wishes as the toddler was reunited with her family, safe and well about 7.45pm that evening after a six-hour search.

Carried in her Auntie’s arms, the justifiably upset toddler was brought through the crowd – but stopped a few times to receive a rub on the shoulder or a quick hug, Stuff said.

Her Aunty thanked everyone for getting out and looking, “I’m going to take her home, inside now,” she said.

She joked to the crowd that they could now go home and sleep.

Willow was last seen in the garden of her Zodiac Street home playing with a sibling.

“All the kids were here on the property and we could hear them playing on the trampoline from inside,” her cousin Aroha Tecklenburg told the NZ Herald.

“Then we came outside, and Willow was in front of us playing.”

“She has never wandered off on her own before,” Tecklenburg who described Willow as “a mummy’s girl” said. “Listen out for your neighbours for a continuously crying baby in West Auckland. Just listen out and bring her home, please.”

Hundreds of volunteers joined police and an eagle helicopter in the search for the toddler, who was wearing a pink jersey, jeans and black and white chucks. Friends, family and locals walked the streets calling “Willow, Willow, Willow”.

“Her family is incredibly worried for her and Police request if anyone has seen her to get in contact,” Inspector Jason Homan said at the time.

Earlier in the evening, police asked for information about a black vehicle in the search for Willow.

Anyone who observed the car stopping to assist a child was asked to get in contact with police.

Despite the police focus on the black vehicle, volunteers remained on the streets searching for the child. Many used torches or the light on their phones, and others had children in pyjamas in tow, the NZ Herald reported.

Police search and rescue and LandSar teams were observed searching a nearby creek.

Just after 8pm, police confirmed Willow had been reunited with her family.

“There was a fantastic response from the community, who assisted with the search and provided support,” Inspector Jason Homan said.