Marokopa children's mother shares letter she claims is from Tom Phillips

The mother of Jayda, Maverick and Ember Phillips has shared a letter claiming to be from the children's father Tom - which she says shows "all is not what it seems".

Catherine posted the historic letter to Facebook on Wednesday night, a day after she fronted for a police-issued video urging the public of New Zealand to "help bring my babies home".

Jayda 11, Maverick 9, and Ember 8 have been on the run with their father Tom Phillips for two and a half years and last week police posted an $80,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the children.

Catherine, who goes by the name Cat, also shared two photos - one of the last birthdays she said she shared with Jayda before she disappeared, and another of a family picnic in November 2021 shortly before the trio were taken on the run a second time by their father. 

The King Country based mother had been apart from Phillips for almost four years when he initially disappeared with Jayda, Maverick and Ember in September 2021.

He had legal custody at the time. 

Marokopa children's mother shares letter she claims is from Tom Phillips
Marokopa children's mother shares letter she claims is from Tom Phillips
Photo credit: Missing Marokopa Children/Facebook

"I am well aware of the hateful rumours being spread around, I only ask that you know me before you judge me," Cat's post said. "I have decided to share a letter written by Thomas to show that all is not as it seems. I owe my assurances to whoever may have any information, that the children will be coming back to a loving and stable family."

Phillips sparked a major search and rescue operation lasting 17 days, before he returned home from the bush with the children aged 8, 6 and 5 years old. 

He walked into his parents' farmhouse with the children on September 30, 2021, before disappearing again with them in December 2021.

Police said Phillips no longer has legal custody and a warrant is out for his arrest on several charges including aggravated robbery following an armed holdup at the ANZ bank in Te Kuiti in 2023.

It is not clear when the letter shared by Cat, which she claims was written by the children's father, was written.

"I know if I ever give up trying to make things right I will regret it forever. I'm sorry for everything I have ever said or done to hurt you," the letter reads. 

Cat also shared this photo taken during a birthday celebration for Jayda, now 11.
Cat also shared this photo taken during a birthday celebration for Jayda, now 11. Photo credit: Missing Marokopa Children/Facebook

"These past nine months I have suffered everyday knowing I should have dealt with things better and knowing that I f**ked up.

"Hindsight is great right, or not because now I know there was a better way and I have to live with that for the rest of my life.

"You have a beautiful personality and the happiest years of my life are because of you. You have brought me so much joy and I don’t feel complete without you.

"I hope you can remember the man you fell in love with and know that although I make multiple f**k ups I have a good heart and I mean well. 

"We get on so well, and we are an awesome couple. We have an awesome family and that is worth fighting for," said the letter.

Police said Phillips family and the children's mother are being regularly updated as they sift through 40 pieces of information since last week's offer of a reward.

"They want it to be over. Some are engaging with us, others we would like them to be more forthright with their information," acting Det Insp Andrew Saunders told Newshub in an interview on Friday. 

He said immunity against prosecution for those helping Phillips will be considered. 

The children's mother said the substantial reward and the offer of potential immunity for those helping hide Phillips has given her "courage to break my silence in the hope that anyone with any information will come forward". 
"I, along with their 2 Sisters, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunties and cousins, are waiting for them," Cat says in her Facebook post.

Newshub has approached Phillips' parents, Julia and Neville, for comment to verify the letter.