The Missing

9:30pm Tuesday, August 17 on TV One

Using up-to-date scientific technology and investigative techniques, the second series of The Missing will re-explore some of New Zealand’s unsolved missing person cases.

Each episode goes behind the headlines and conducts a new investigation. The Missing enlists a team of experts to re-examine all the case details, follow up new leads, review old interviews, retrace searches, explore theories, test existing evidence and statements, conduct new interviews, and apply new technology – all seeking to find out what really happened to the missing. Witnesses, detectives and scene examiners, plus family members and friends also tell their part of the story.

Tonight’s episode (at 9.30pm on TV ONE) examines the case of John Buxton. At dusk on Friday 1 June 1984, Buxton took his sailing boat out on Lyttleton Harbour. The next morning the yacht was found drifting, abandoned on the other side of the harbour. On board was some half-eaten food and the sails were not set; but there was no sign of John Buxton.

Buxton was a journalist by profession and also ran a small concrete business. Letters that he had recently written suggested that he may have taken his life and his ex-wife, employees and friends say that he was an eccentric and colourful character prone to massive mood swings.

However, there were some unusual features around Buxton’s disappearance that raise questions about the suicide theory. John had just landed a prestigious new job in Wellington and seemed to be in good spirits. He was also seen with a large amount of cash the day he went missing; and several months before he disappeared John had radically changed his appearance, which some think may have been to get some new identification.

Was the abandoned boat left after a suicide or was it purely a ruse to cover Buxton as he headed off to create a new life for himself?

8:30pm Monday, August 17 on TV One

Everyone who knew Marion Granville agreed she was a great mum. So when she did not return from a quick trip to the dairy one Sunday morning, foul play was quickly suspected.

Nearly 30 years on, her family are still waiting for Granville to turn up. On TV ONE tonight, The Missing takes a look at her case (tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE). Her friends and family believed Granville – a tall, attractive, outgoing woman – would never have abandoned her adored children, a son and pre-school twin daughters.

Granville was last seen being escorted into a white car by three men. Since Marion was facing minor drug charges, they could have been plain-clothes police. But as she has not been seen again, it’s likely they had links to the drugs underworld.

8:30pm Monday, August 10 on TV One

It should have been just a routine half-hour drive home for Aucklander Peter Chaffe, but neither he, nor his bright red Simca car, has been seen since he left work decades ago. The Missing takes a look at what happened to Chaffe that night, and how his car could disappear without a trace (tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE).

Chaffe wasn’t feeling very well on the day he was last seen in July, 1974. He’d been diagnosed as a diabetic 18 months earlier, and had uncharacteristically lost his lunchtime squash game that day against a workmate from Auckland University’s chemistry department.

After work he drove a friend home to Avondale and, after stopping for a drink and crackers, left to drive to his own home in Massey, West Auckland. Although his friend worried Chaffe was too ill to drive, Chaffe insisted. As he pointed out, his friend’s home was only a stone’s throw from the north Western motorway route he normally took home – but he never made it.

Son Tom Chaffe says his father Peter was somebody who enjoyed the outdoors and loved his job. “When somebody disappears the implications of them going on the family, especially if they are the sole provider at the time, is massive.”

He says his mother has never married again, and remembers him as her husband. Daughter Judith Chaffe adds that the pair were childhood sweethearts who’d stayed that way: “I wouldn’t have said it was a household under stress.”

She says having a missing family member is unforgettable: “It leaves echoes in a lot of your life, every time they find a body you think, ‘is this it?’, it’s not a thing you can comfortably bury. It’s always there.”

“A lot of people were concerned about him and put time and energy into talking about it and theorising and stuff, and they still ask, ‘did anything happen; have they found him; did you ever get any answers?’, and you have to shrug your shoulders and say no. They say, ‘well how can that happen?’, and well, it does.”

Although a search was mounted for Peter Chaffe within an hour after he had left Avondale, neither Chaffe nor his unusual bright red Simca car has been seen since.

Monday 3 August, 8.30pm

Sydney Patrick Fisk, known to his family as ‘Pat’, was an adventurous Englishman who had served in India in the Punjab Police Force. On returning to England, he was bored. When he found it could take months to become a ’10 pound’ immigrant to New Zealand, he bought a yacht, taught himself to sail it in 10 days, packed up his young family, and set sail.

The Missing takes a fresh look at the disappearance of Sydney Patrick Fisk (tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE). He was working as a tax inspector in the Tauranga, Murupara area when he vanished, on a routine work trip.

His government issue Vauxhall car was found in a remote location in Urawera country, known to locals as ‘The Summit’. The car door was open; his thermos of tea was there with a cup poured two thirds full; his suitcase, tax files and briefcase were intact.

Maureen Thomas, who was married to Fisk, says life was good for the pair. “He was a real family man, he loved the kids, when he got back from work he’d take them down for a swim. We were just so happy.”

When Fisk failed to return home on schedule Maureen began to worry. She says a few days later she was informed that Fisk’s car had been discovered and that a police investigation was underway. “It was a terrible time, a terrible time. Just not knowing what had happened to him.”

The Police inquiry was called off, and friends and family joined together to organise a search party. They thoroughly looked for Fisk, but found nothing – no body, no clues, and no trace of him.

While Police at the time believed Fisk staged his own disappearance, the family believed he was murdered.

Watch The Missing tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE.

Monday 27 July, 8.30pm

New local series The Missing goes behind the headlines and conducts new investigations on missing people, taking a look at the lives of the families who have lost a loved one, and the impact that having no reunion, and no closure, has had. Tonight’s episode takes a look into the disappearance of four Southland men more than three decades ago (at 8.30pm on TV ONE).

Thirty years ago a Cessna-180 piloted by a Southland parish priest took off from Big Bay in Fiordland to return to Riversdale. The passengers were three men from Riversdale who’d been with him on a hunting and fishing trip in August 1978. Despite more than 550 hours of aerial searches over 250,000 square miles in often atrocious conditions, no trace of the aircraft has been found.

Many of those involved in the original search knew the missing men personally, and the failure to find ZK-BMP is still on their minds decades later. Now the families, who for years coped with southern stoicism, believe they have a clue that will help them to find their missing husband, father and brother.

Katie O’Connor, the daughter of missing passenger Peter Robinson, says she can remember the day her dad disappeared vividly: “I don’t really know when my father first became part of the group, or even why he was part of the group because there were a few changes. The four that eventually went were not the four that were originally going to go.

“I was 19 years of age and it was significant for me because Dad asked me to cut his hair. So I have a very personal, vivid memory of being with him and being very close to him. Touching his face and trying to cut his fringe straight and him cracking a lot of jokes – and that’s my last vivid memory of dad before he set off.”

She says her dad was apprehensive about flying on a small plane, but O’Connor, who worked for Air New Zealand at the time, told her father it would be great.

When the plane first went missing, a search was launched with optimism that the men would be found alive. There were a number of landing strips and a number of places where an aircraft could make a successful forced landing.

Tonight’s episode of The Missing sees the team investigate a piece of plastic located in a river that could hold some clues as to where the plane ended up, and new information from some experienced trampers who came across what they believe to be a plane in the bush. The possible aircraft wreckage was in a place too dangerous to reach on foot, so the trampers reported the wreckage to the police.

Be watching The Missing tonight to see if the discovery gives the family members the closure they are looking for.

Monday 20 July, 8.30pm

Lance Kapua was last seen in the early hours of the morning of his 31st birthday in downtown Rotorua. A brilliant student, who had at one stage considered entering the priesthood, Kapua had become ill with schizophrenia and returned to his hometown to be closer to his family. He went out to have a few drinks with mates and didn’t come home. The Missing takes a fresh look at Kapua’s disappearance (tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE).

In stark contrast to the two Swedish tourists who went missing around the same time, there was little publicity and few official searches for Lance Kapua, much to the family’s frustration.

While Kapua’s parents have both died, his remaining family and friends continue to search for answers. His older sister says she still holds hope he is alive and will one day come home.

She says: “Initially I thought that Lance was running away from himself – the person he had become – and then other times I think something terrible has happened to him. I don’t know, I just don’t know and I wish I did. I just wish I knew where he was now.”

Tonight, The Missing asks, is the body of Lance Kapua in a thermal pool in Rotorua’s Kuirau Park; or did he end up, as his mother believed, in a commune on the west coast of the South Island?

Monday 13 July, 8.30pm

New local series The Missing goes behind the headlines and conducts new investigations on missing people, taking a look at the lives of the families who have lost a loved one, and the impact that having no reunion, and no closure, has had. Tonight’s episode looks at the story of Connan Bolitho, a fit, enthusiastic 21-year-old who went missing on a solo month-long tramp in the Arthur’s Pass region 18 years ago.

One of the experts involved in The Missing is researcher and Missing Persons author Scott Bainbridge. He says it is difficult to imagine what life would be like if a loved one were to simply vanish without a trace. “Try then, to fast forward 10, 20, or 30 years – maybe even more – and still have no answers. This is a reality for a number of New Zealand families.”

Connan Bolitho was a member of the NZ Alpine Club, and when he disappeared, he had gone tramping as part of a significant training regime he had set himself to prepare to represent New Zealand at an international mountaineering event in the Himalayas later in 1991. Five days into his trip, Bolitho left a logbook entry at Harman Hut outlining his intended route to Crawford Hut – something an outdoorsman of his experience should have been able to accomplish easily in a day.

Despite extensive searches by Police, Search and Rescue, and members of his Tararua Tramping Club, Connan Bolitho has not been found. So how did he go missing on what should have been a day’s excursion for the fit and hugely experienced tramper?

Monday 6 July, 8.30pm

Statistics indicate around 14,000 people are reported missing in New Zealand every year. Many of these people are found, or turn up of their own accord, but there are still approximately 250 official unsolved cases.

TV ONE’s new local series The Missing goes behind the headlines and conducts new investigations into these cold cases to find out what could have happen to New Zealand’s missing people, taking a look at the lives of the families who have lost a loved one, and the impact that having no reunion, and no closure, has had. With the support of the families, The Missing brings in the best experts available to re-examine the missing persons’ case details; follow up new leads; review old interviews; retrace searches; explore theories; test existing evidence and statements; conduct new interviews; and apply new technology – all seeking to find out what really happened.

One of the experts involved in The Missing is researcher and Missing Persons author Scott Bainbridge. He says it is difficult to imagine what life would be like if a loved one were to simply vanish without a trace. “Try then, to fast forward 10, 20, or 30 years – maybe even more – and still have no answers. This is a reality for a number of New Zealand families.”

Tonight’s episode focuses on Craig Hampton who disappeared Wellington Anniversary Weekend, 1999. Life was looking good for Hampton: he was happily married with a new son whom he doted on, and was looking forward to meeting up with an old mate who was back in town wanting to catch up for a spot of surfing, or to perhaps dive for a few crays. With boards on the car roof and dive gear in the boot, Craig and his beloved dog left home early. But he never made it to his friend’s – and he never returned home.

Craig’s wife Judy says it’s the unknown that is difficult: “It’s hard all the time – not knowing. And in the end you stop talking about it so much and you kind of … I kind of came to an acceptance that this was my story – or his story – that he went missing and we don’t know.”

“I think if the car had been found by the sea I might have felt differently, but the fact that his car was moved from Arthur Street, broken into, that his dog was left in the car for five hours – all those things around the car make me think something else might have happened.”