Police have located a body after a person reportedly fell from a Wellington ferry on Friday.

A massive search effort was first launched just after 6am that morning when the ferry arrived in Days Bay, Eastbourne, having left Queens Wharf.

Members of the police dive squad, working with the Royal New Zealand Navy, made the discovery in Wellington Harbour yesterday evening.

Police said inquiries will continue, including the formal identification of the person.

“Police would like to thank the New Zealand Defence Force and members of the public for their assistance during this search, which has covered a wide area of Wellington Harbour.

“Local iwi Te Āti Awa assisted police by conducting karakia and have placed a rāhui over the inner harbour.

“The rāhui will be lifted at 6.00am on Thursday morning.”

The iwi requested that kaimoana was not taken from the inner harbour out of respect for the whānau pani, grieving family, as they faced the challenge ahead of them.

“A number of enquiries still need to be made, and at this time, police are unable to comment further.”

‘Shock of finding a passenger missing’ — ferry operator

In a statement this afternoon, East by West Ferries general manager Mat Jonsson said it was, “with sadness, we acknowledge the passing of the passenger missing from our Friday morning service”.

“Our thoughts will continue to be with the passenger and his family and friends, as they come to terms with their loss.”

He also acknowledged the “impact” search efforts had on team members.

“In particular, we recognise the professionalism of our onboard crew to call an emergency and then participate in an active search for hours after the shock of finding a passenger missing. We are thankful for the many supportive messages that we’ve received looking out for our team.”

He said East by West would continue to “fully co-operate” with police and will also conduct a “detailed review” into the incident.

“We are full of admiration for the Wellington Maritime Police, Wellington Harbour radio service, and the National Rescue Coordination Centre for their professional leadership, well supported on the water by Coastguard and the Wellington Airport marine rescue service and in the air by the Westpac rescue helicopter,” Josson said.

“We also thank the many other commercial operators and private vessels that dropped their plans for several hours (in some cases for most of the day) to participate in the search — this quickly became an “all hands” response, and we thank our counterparts for stepping forward to assist.”