Newspaper Articles 2003 – Malcolm McKay

Search for Bay View man widens [14 January 2003]


Police and friends of a Bay View “character” today widened their search for the man who went missing after crossing the Esk River on a four-wheeler motorcycle last Sunday.

Police search and rescue co-ordinator senior sergeant Mike Wright said the 65-year-old man, who has not been seen since visiting a mate’s house, had not been named because his relatives, including some in Australia, had not been located.

“It’s not looking good for him,” Mr Wright said.

One of the missing man’s friends, Rick Graham, of Shoreline Helicopters, joined the search yesterday when he heard he was missing, described him as a “real identity – a good bloke.”

Mr Wright said the man’s disappearance was reported by his elderly mother yesterday morning.

“She thought he must have stayed with his mate overnight after going to see him on Sunday afternoon. His mate thought he had made it home to his mother’s house okay after crossing back over the Esk River on his four-wheeler,” he said.

She started ringing around the man’s friends in the morning after becoming increasingly concerned and by the time police became involved friends had already begun searching the coastline.

Mr Graham lamented that people who found the four-wheel bike in the surf near the rivermouth some time around 7pm on Sunday, had not reported it straight away. Police only learned of the find early yesterday afternoon.

He said had he known about the discovery straight away he would have started looking for him on the air yesterday and searched as far north as Waikare. Sea conditions were murky due to southerly swells.

After police officers became aware the motorcycle had been recovered from the surf they upgraded their search north and south of the rivermouth.

The Hawke’s Bay Coastguard Air Patrol carried out a shoreline search yesterday afternoon and would be back in the air today. Eight police and civilian search and rescue personnel, along with locals, were today searching on foot as far north as Tait’s Beach north of Tangoio and south to the Beacons at Westshore.

Mr Wright said searching would continue all day and tomorrow. It would then be reassessed.

The man’s elderly mother was being comforted by her family.

Photo caption – SHORELINE SEARCH: Police officers Graham Morrell (left) and Bruce Miller, make their way down to the search area north of Bay View this morning.


Pair won’t give up search for ‘old legend’ [15 January 2003]

A missing Bay View man’s mates won’t rest until they find his body, reports ROGER MORONEY.

Bay View men Ray Arthur and Rick Graham have only one thing on their minds at the present – to find their missing mate Mal MacKay [McKay] and “bring him back home.”

Mr Arthur said both knew they were looking for a body but did not want to consider the prospect of never finding the Bay View “legend” and putting him to rest – for the sake of his family and his many friends throughout the region.

“He really was an old legend in the area,” Mr Arthur said.

“We want to bring him back and have a drink over him – he enjoyed a drop.”

Mr MacKay had for many years worked the backblock stations of Hawke’s Bay, doing everything from crop spraying, tractor and bulldozer work, through to cattle droving.

Mr Arthur said his old mate had a great sense of humour and was also a great cook when it came to whipping up a meal.

He added that despite being 65, Mr MacKay had never actually retired and had still been doing general contracting work with his own bulldozers and diggers.

Mr Arthur feared the worst after learning his old friend had not returned home on Sunday night as he had always ensured his elderly mother knew where he was.

“He was always concerned about her health,” he said.

The last people to have seen him were friends he had visited across the Esk River. It was while he was on his way back on a four-wheel drive motorcycle that he apparently came to grief in the river.

Mr Arthur said the river had been blocked at the time he would have gone across the first time, but the tide would have risen by the time he returned late afternoon. Although he knew the conditions well and had crossed the river many times, he may have been caught out by a wave’s backwash.

He had seen for himself the power of backwashes from waves which had surged up the rivermouth and dragged sand and anything else in the river back out with them.

He said Mr MacKay was “past the swimming stage” and had a “crook” heart and may not have been able to handle being thrown into the river.

Another local resident had found the four-wheeler bike, partially submerged, but assumed it had been abandoned.

Fourth day for search [16 January 2003]

The shoreline search for missing Bay View man Mal MacKay [McKay] entered its fourth day today and would continue into the weekend, search co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Mike Wright said today.

Extensive searches north and south of the Esk River mouth, where 65-year-old Mr MacKay came to grief while attempting a crossing on his four-wheel motorcycle, had been carried out by police and civilian searchers.

Mr Wright said searching resumed again this morning and on Saturday there would be an extensive and widespread search at low tide. A decision on where to go from there would be made after that.

Body found at Wairoa [18 January 2003]

Police believe a body found on a beach near Wairoa yesterday is that of missing Bay View man Malcolm MacKay [McKay].

Napier police senior sergeant John Lovatt said the body, discovered on a beach near the Wairoa rivermouth, was likely to Mr MacKay’s, but police were hoping to contact his family to help with the identification.

Mr MacKay, 65, disappeared last Sunday afternoon when returning home after visiting friends across the Esk River.

It appeared he got into trouble while crossing the river on his four-wheeler motorbike which was found partially submerged the next day.

Bay man’s body found [20 January 2003]

A body found on a Northern Hawke’s Bay beach has been confirmed as that of a Bay View man who disappeared eight days ago.

He was 65-year-old Malcolm McGillvray McKay who disappeared in the Esk River on the night of January 12. It was quickly suspected Mr McKay had been dragged out to sea by backwash as he attempted to cross the river on a four-wheeler.

There had been no trace of the man, until the discovery early on Friday afternoon, more than 60km away and north of the mouth of the Wairoa River.

A funeral service for Mr McKay will be held at Eskdale Memorial Church on Wednesday at 11am.

River-mouth crossing risky [24 June 2003]

The death of a man who died after being apparently washed off his four-wheeled farmbike in the mouth of the Esk River was possibly an accident waiting to happen for those who regularly made the risky crossing, says Napier district coroner Warwick Holmes.

Mr Holmes said at an inquest yesterday into the death of 65-year-old Malcolm McKay that he suspected others had been in the habit of crossing the river mouth, instead of taking the longer, safer routes by road.

Mr McKay vanished on his way home from visiting a friend in the early evening of January 12, and while his machine was found in the surf that night, there was no sign of him until parts of his body were found on beaches around Wairoa several days later.

The coroner found that Mr McKay had died either by drowning, or from injuries received as he was rolled off the bike by the waves.

He assured the victim’s family that because of the tides and conditions known to exist in Hawke Bay, there was “nothing unusual” about Mr McKay being found so far away and several days after the accident.

Police told Mr Holmes there were no witnesses, the recovery of the farmbike appeared to not have been reported to police at the time it happened, and that it was not until the next morning that Mr McKay was reported missing.

Extensive land, sea and air searches, by friends of the man and police and civilian search and rescue teams, found no trace of Mr McKay in the four days before they were scaled down after reports that a body had been found on a beach at Wairoa.

Holmes said his concern was with the “apparent habit” people had of driving or riding across the river mouth, and if there was anything to be learned from the tragedy, it was the risk that involved.

Original digital file



Published with permission of Hawke’s Bay Today

Date published

January, June 2003

Format of the original

Newspaper articles

Creator / Author

  • Andrew Labett
  • Roger Moroney


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Ray Arthur
  • Rick Graham
  • Coroner Warwick Holmes
  • Senior Sergeant John Lovatt
  • Malcolm McGillvray McKay
  • Bruce Miller
  • Graham Morrell
  • Senior Sergeant Mike Wright

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