Body found in NZ river feared to be Paul Arber
Police have yet to confirm if a body found in Hamilton's Waikato River is that of Melbourne man Paul Arber, who has been missing since Saturday.PT0M55S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2z7bk 620 349 December 12, 2013
A schoolgirl rowing crew this morning discovered a body in the Waikato River, near to where New Zealand police have been searching for missing Melbourne tennis coach Paul Arber.
Arber, 38, was last seen early on Sunday, walking in and out of the river near Hamilton East, about 120 kilometres south of Auckland.
A member of the public called police at 7am today after seeing a man's body in the water near Fairfield Bridge, downstream from Hamilton East.
Paul Arber was last seen in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photo: Peter Haskin/The Australian Jewish News
The Waikato Times understands the body was found by a school rowing crew.
Hamilton woman Beth Lynch was walking her dog down the west side of the river when she heard the girls in the boat screaming.
"I thought one of them had fallen out of the boat, but then I heard one of them yell out 'Oh my god, I've hit him, I've hit him,' " she said.
Detectove Insector Karl Thorton (left) with Richelle and Sam Arber, parents of missing tennis coach, Paul Arber, at a press conference in Hamilton on Wednesday. Photo: Bruce Mercer
Mrs Lynch said she then saw a body floating swiftly down the river.
"I just feel so sorry for the girls in that boat, it's just horrible."
Senior Sergeant Peter van de Wetering said it had not been officially confirmed whether the body is Arber's.
Arber's parents, Richelle and Sam Arber, flew in from Melbourne on Sunday to join the search.
Arber was in Hamilton coaching eight young tennis players who competed in the Waikato Christmas Junior Tournament at the tennis centre in Dey St.
He was part of a wider group of about 50 Australian coaches and players.
He is a former Kooyong Tennis Club captain and the 2012 Victorian Jewish Tennis Champion.
As police ramped up search efforts yesterday, Arber's parents spoke of the kind, positive son whom they wanted to cuddle again.
"He's a terrific kid, there's not a bad word to say about him," Mrs Arber said.
"We love him so much. We just want to hold him and hug him and help him in any way that we can."
Both the Arbers and police were adamant that he did not seem to be exhibiting any behaviour that would point to self harm, or to him harming anyone else.
Six months ago, Arber split up with his partner, but close friend Mark Sheppard said to connect his disappearance with this was "drawing a long bow".
"I spoke to him about it quite a lot and he was fairly accepting of what happened there, and he'd moved on and said he was quite happy."
But Sam Arber said he noticed his son was acting differently just before his trip, with a newfound love of nature, animals and love.
"He came to see us the night before he left and he seemed very insightful, and was talking about love.
"He wanted us to love ourselves.
"He said he had never felt better in his life, he suddenly felt this warmth.
"He wanted us to experience the warmth. I was a bit concerned because he just seemed a bit too passionate about it."
But although Sam Arber said it "slightly disturbed" him, he decided to wait until his son returned from his trip to talk to him about it.