Global search after Kiwi mum flees with son

Nicholas James Way, 11, was reported missing on February 9. Police are searching for his mother Lauren Smith, also known as Lauren Way, left. Photo: Interpol
Nicholas James Way, 11, was reported missing on February 9. Police are searching for his mother Lauren Smith, also known as Lauren Way, left. Photo: Interpol
An international manhunt is under way after a mother illegally fled New Zealand with her 11-year-old son.

A warrant to arrest has been issued at Hamilton District Court for 40-year-old Lauren Smith for breaching a court order in relation to her son, Nicholas James Way.

Police believe Smith and her son are no longer in the country. Detectives are working with Interpol and overseas agencies to find them.

"This is obviously a stressful time for the father of the victim and police ask Ms Smith, and those close to her, to make contact with NZ Police as soon as possible in order to ensure her son is safe and to resolve this matter," Detective Sergeant Nick O'Brien told the Herald last week.

t's understood the child fled New Zealand with his mother on February 9.

Way was supposed to appear in the Hamilton District Court today on a charge of unlawfully taking her son and leaving New Zealand with intent to deprive a parent having the lawful care or charge of a person.

The abduction charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years' prison.

Police this afternoon also released Smith's photo in the hope of finding her.

Detective Sergeant Terri Wilson of the Hamilton Child Protection Team said the incident was "obviously a stressful time for the family".

"Police are appealing to Ms Smith and anyone close to her to make contact with New Zealand Police in order to ensure that her son is safe and to resolve this matter as soon as possible.

"Ultimately we would like Ms Smith to return back to New Zealand immediately with her son or to contact local law enforcement where she is staying, so that we can facilitate the safe return of her son back to New Zealand."

A "missing persons" post has been lodged on Interpol's global website in a bid to help find Nicholas.

The boy's father, James Peter Way did not wish to comment.

Way used to co-own a daycare, Kids Rock, in Tirau. While the company is still operating, it's no longer linked to Way whose company Kids Rock Elc Ltd has been removed from the Companies Office register.

Documents show her changing her name back to Smith in 2014.

Her address was also updated at the time from being in Tirau to Warwick, Warwickshire in the United Kingdom.

Police receive more than 8000 reports about missing people every year. About 95 per cent of people are found within 14 days, and more than half are found within the first two days.

However, more than 350 people in New Zealand have been missing for more than a year.

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