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Community comes together to help find missing teenager

Friday 19 May 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Local, National

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Community comes together to help find missing teenager
Families and friends including ANZ bank staff and Fijian nationals Rahul Sharma and Usa Nawabalavu with Maevarangi Browne. POLICE/23051502

The Rarotonga community came together last week Friday to help Police search for a missing teenager who wandered off after school.

Cook Islands Police reached out to the community for help in locating 15-year-old Maevarangi Browne.

In a post on their Facebook page, Police said: “Police are issuing an urgent appeal for the whereabouts of 15-year-old Maevarangi Browne, who has been reported missing from school. She was last seen at Vaiana’s in Nikao around 2pm.  The young teen is a special needs girl and was reported to be wearing a black t-shirt, black shorts, and carrying a black and white school bag.”

After reading the post, two friends and ANZ bank staff Rahul Sharma and Usa Nawabalavu decided to join the search party.

And their decision to take a different route on Friday night helped in locating the teenager.

Speaking to Cook Islands News, Sharma said after reading the post they realised the young Maevarangi was the niece of one of their ANZ colleagues.

Sharma said they started searching for the missing teenager from the Nikao backroad.

He said they initially wanted to go to the Nikao Social Centre but then decided to take the hospital route. They were thankful they chose that route, Sharma said.

“We are very thankful that we did because we managed to find her there. We called Maeva’s aunt as soon as we found her.

“She was a bit damp as it had drizzled. She was a bit scared but talking to her aunt gave her assurance that she is safe with us.”

Nawabalavu says they are grateful to the Cook Islands family, friends and community for welcoming and accepting them here, adding they will be ready to support whenever the need arises.

“We will continue to help and support our friends, families and the community as a whole in whatever way possible.”

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said Maevarangi was located by family members while out searching the roads. She was found on the hospital road, walking by herself.

He said she had disappeared from school that day and was taken to the station when found.