A 2-year-old girl whose disappearance sparked a frantic search in West Auckland this afternoon has been found.
The toddler, named Willow, went missing from her home on Zodiac St in Henderson earlier this afternoon.
Her cousin Aroha Tecklenburg said the girl had been found this evening.
Police confirmed she had been reunited with her family and thanked all of those involved in the search.
A crowd of people cheered as the toddler was returned to her waiting family outside their house around 7.45pm this evening. One person was overheard saying “Oh, little hero”.
Willow gave a wave and people involved in the search gave her a kiss on the cheek. Some in the crowd were in tears.
Hundreds of volunteers had joined Police Search and Rescue in looking for her this afternoon.
Earlier this evening, police said they were seeking information about a black vehicle in the search for Willow.
Anyone who observed the car stopping on Universal Drive around 2pm to assist a child was asked to get in contact with police.
Willow was last seen in the garden playing with a sibling, and was wearing a pink jersey, jeans and black-and-white sneakers.
“All the kids were here on the property and we could hear them playing on the trampoline from inside,” said Tecklenburg.
“Then we came outside, and Willow was in front of us playing.”
The gate at the home was always locked when Willow was in the back garden, but may not have been secured properly this afternoon, Tecklenburg said.
She described the 2-year-old as initially reserved with strangers and “a mummy’s girl”, but said she was very talkative once she got to know a person.
“She has never wandered off on her own before,” she said. “Listen out for your neighbours for a continuously crying baby in West Auckland. Just listen out and bring her home, please.”
Despite the police focus on the black vehicle, volunteers remained on the streets searching for the child.
Many were equipped with torches or were using the light on their phones, and others had children in pyjamas in tow.
A witness said earlier this afternoon, a number of police staff had entered the premises on Zodiac St and taken statements.
“Family and friends have gathered at the home on Zodiac St, hugging and crying, all full of emotion.”
Police Search and Rescue, LandSar, police, Community Patrol and the community were out in force, with images showing police searching a nearby creek.
Police Search and Rescue and LandSar teams remained at their mobile search and rescue base on nearby Ascot Ave, while friends, family and locals walked the streets calling “Willow, Willow, Willow”.
A member of the public also launched a personal drone to help with the search.
Residents in the Zodiac St area were asked to check their properties for the toddler.
Anyone who may have sighted Willow was asked to call police on 111 and quote event number P055661546.