Erno Bedo, who went missing on Sunday 23 May, has been described by friends as a cheeky person and a free spirit.
The 73-year-old yachtsman, who has a home with his wife in Whakātane, was a regular at the Kai Conscious Café at the Sustainability Centre on Mako Street. He also utilised the community fridge and pantry on site.
“Erno always said this resource was fantastic for people living on boats; he always took what he needed – not too much, not too little,” says coordinator Kathy Voyles.
Police say that when Erno failed to show up at Kai Conscious Café last week, their concerns for him became significant. “That was one of a few places that he went regularly and this is when we elevated our search response,” says Sergeant Raymond Matthews.
Sgt Matthews says Erno also spent a lot of time at Kennedy Point supporting the opposition to the marina.
Emily Weiss, who has spent more than two months protesting the development of a marina at Kennedy Point, first chatted with Erno at Kai Conscious Café.
“I told him about the occupation at Kennedy Point and asked him to come along anytime. He spent some time there with us – he was kind and cheeky.
“He also came to our stall at the Ostend Market, he signed our petition, and we chatted for about 20 minutes. There was something about his spirit that was so strong. There is something really piercing about him.”
On Sunday, 30 May, Erno’s yellow tender was spotted by members of the public on the east side of Motutapu Island at around 9.15am and it was recovered by officers from the Police Maritime Unit. However, his yacht called Holly remained in Oneroa Bay.
The Police National Dive Squad searched the Bay on Sunday, but nothing of significance was located. Extensive air and sea surface searches were also carried out over the past week and a half. •Sophie Boladeras
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