Intensive beach searches for 'precious' Hokitika girl to continue for days

Emily Branje.
Emily Branje. Photo credit: Supplied/NZ Police

Intensive beach searches will continue for days, in an effort to find a nine-year-old girl missing in waters off Hokitika.

Emily Branje and a 69-year-old man were washed away while whitebaiting on Thursday morning.

She'd been spending school holidays with extended family.

On Friday, Senior Sergeant Brent Cook told Newshub conditions were still too rough to search the water. 

"A helicopter will come in later on this afternoon [Friday]," he said. "So we're looking at mapping how far out we'll go, but that's still under assessment."

Emily's family have described her as their "precious" only child.

Snr Sgt Cook said brilliant support is coming from the local community.

"There's offers of food, there's offers of support," he told Newshub. "There's offers of time, there's offers of equipment.

"I think if we want it, or the family wants it, the local community will deliver in spates."

Emily's family released a statement on Friday saying they're in shock and grief.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn told Newshub in times of adversity, New Zealanders can't do enough to help.

"It's so tragic - our heart goes out to them," he said. "They've got all the sympathy and all the support that we can give them."

Beaches will be scoured through the weekend in the search for Emily.

A Givealittle has been set up to support the family.