Disappearance of Iraena Asher

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Iraena Asher
Iraena Asher.JPG
Iraena Te Rama Awhina Asher

(1979-07-17)17 July 1979
Disappeared11 October 2004 (aged 25)
Piha, New Zealand
StatusPossibly drowned
OccupationTrainee teacher, model

Iraena Te Rama Awhina Asher (born 17 July 1979) was an Auckland trainee teacher and model who disappeared under controversial circumstances at Piha, a West Auckland beach, on 11 October 2004.


Asher apparently spent time at a new boyfriend's home at Piha on 10 October 2004. At 9 pm that evening, she called the New Zealand Police using the 1-1-1 emergency telephone number, expressing fears for her safety.[1]

Although a patrol car could have been made available to attend this incident, police decided to call a taxi for Asher to pick her up. Police said later that people sometimes obtained a free ride home in a police car after making a false emergency call.[citation needed] A taxi was dispatched, but it went to the wrong street in Onehunga, on the other side of the city from Piha. Asher was later found wandering the streets by a Piha couple, Julia Woodhouse and Bobbie Carroll, who took her into their home for several hours. At 1:10 am, she left their home and was subsequently seen by others, semi-clad, walking towards the beach. She ran off before she could be approached. This was the last known sighting of her.[1]

Asher's family told police that she suffered from bipolar disorder.[2]

In May 2005, Asher's family held a memorial service for her, telling mourners that if police had responded properly to her emergency call, she might be alive today. Her parents, Betty and Mike Asher, were said to be considering bringing a lawsuit against the New Zealand Police, on unspecified grounds.[3] No legal proceedings were ever commenced by her parents.


An inquest into her disappearance began on 17 July 2012.[4] The police investigation into her disappearance found that she most likely drowned.[2] During the inquest, the coroner criticised Woodhouse and Carroll for not calling the police themselves. The High Court subsequently found that the suggestion that their failure to call the police had contributed to Asher's death was based on speculation.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Naked Iraena Asher 'vanished' into the night". Stuff.co.nz. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Model's inquest: Drowning death likely - cop". nzherald.co.nz. 17 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  3. ^ Elizabeth Binning and Louisa Cleave (13 May 2005). "Iraena's family will sue police". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  4. ^ Powley, Kathryn (24 June 2012). "Inquest over missing student, eight years on". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Iraena Asher case: Couple cleared of wrongdoing". The New Zealand Herald. 29 April 2013.