Staff took to Facebook’s Rarotonga Community and Beyond page in the hope someone could shed light on the whereabouts and identity of the young journal writer.
“Kia Orana, please help!” wrote Air New Zealand country manager, Marisa Newman.
“We are looking for a young boy named Jason Land and his family. They arrived on Sunday. Jason left a wee travel journal on the aircraft. We would love to return it so Jason can record his amazing adventures in it.
“If he is staying with you could you please let me know.”
The journal contains only two diary entries and was originally thought to belong to a young tourist named Jason Land; the name on a boarding pass left inside it.
However, after contacting Edgewater Resort and Spa, where the Land family were residing, the group of budding detectives learned their search wasn’t over.
Newman then drafted a list of facts they were “almost certain” of; taking to Facebook once again in the hope someone could give some answers.
“We know we are looking for a mother and child, and due to the writing we believe the child will likely be around nine to 13 years old,” she wrote.
“They travelled for one hour on a plane and arrived in Auckland. From this we determined that the family was probably from New Plymouth, Napier, Tauranga, Rotorua - somewhere in the North Island. And we know they arrived in Rarotonga on Friday night via on NZ18.”
Yesterday she said they had received several leads, but none of them had turned up the owner of the journal.
“So now we are going for third time lucky.”.
The unusual search has acquired a large Facebook following, with residents from the Edgewater and other resorts checking their bookings and asking guests who checked in around the time the journal must have been lost.
The Edgewater’s director of sales and marketing, Emile Kairua, became deeply involved in the search.
“I want to find this person and help give him some cool stuff to write about in that journal – come on Rarotonga, let’s turn this into a project and help find this kid,” Emile posted on Facebook.
Though the hard copy list of passengers who were aboard NZ18 stretched over two metres long, Air New Zealand staff still hope they will find the youngster before he returns to New Zealand.
“We have eliminated those who have flown in from Australia, we have eliminated Rarotonga residents as they would have flown here before, and we have highlighted children who may possibly be our little traveller,” Newman said.
Now the search has even gone global, with Air New Zealand staff member Rachelle Lekasa, a Cook Islander living in New Zealand, also checking possible leads.
The Cook Islands Immigration department has jumped on the bandwagon, checking lists of visitors and trying to piece together the puzzle.
As it is now almost 10 days since the journal was found, Newman is aware that the youngster’s trip to Rarotonga may have already ended.
But she says the airline will get the journal back to its rightful owner, even if they are back in New Zealand. And if they do find the owner, the journal just might be sent back with a few Rarotonga-inspired souvenirs.
“It’s a little person, and it is the first time they have ever travelled,” Newman said. “What an amazing experience for them to know that they are not just a seat number to us, that we genuinely care about the journeys Air New Zealand passengers go on.
“It is really nice for us to have the opportunity to be involved in someone’s story,”
Newman said the number of staff from different companies who had contributed to the search was “astounding.”