Police are searching Northland for a woman who has disappeared with a baby a week after the infant's mother was stabbed to death in a murder-suicide.
Ten-month-old Konway Dobson was in the house when his mother, Reipae Dobson, 19, died with her estranged partner, Eldorado Waerehu, 20, eight days ago.
Detective Sergeant Rob Huys, of the Whangarei CIB, said yesterday that police believed Konway was taken by Emily O'Sullivan, who was known to Ms Dobson and was a friend of her dead mother.
Mr Huys said 38-year-old Ms O'Sullivan did not have legal custody of Konway, and police believed she could be deliberately evading them.
Although they had no immediate fears for Konway's safety, Mr Huys said, they wanted to find the pair and enforce a Family Court order granted on Saturday, giving temporary custody of the baby boy to another family member.
Mr Huys said that since his mother died, Konway had been in temporary custody under a family arrangement.
But when further arrangements for the boy could not be agreed on, some family members sought a court order for his custody.
It is that order that police are trying to enforce.
"Emily O'Sullivan needs to realise this is only a temporary order," Mr Huys said.
"She can make an application for a fulltime order after she hands the child over. It's important she contacts police so we can negotiate Konway's handover. "
Mr Huys said Ms O'Sullivan, who is 171cm in height and of medium build, was not in any trouble yet.
"But the further this progresses, the more likely it is that she will be."
Police believe other people may be helping Ms O'Sullivan to hide Konway and said they could also face charges if it was found that they were trying to help to conceal the boy's whereabouts.
Mr Huys said that Konway's disappearance was helping nobody.
"This is the last thing that any of the family need. They are going through enough already, and everybody should be focusing on grieving for Reipae."
Mr Huys said police had checked several Whangarei addresses looking for Konway and Ms O'Sullivan, without success.
They believe the pair are somewhere in Northland, probably staying with friends or relatives.
Can you help?
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Whangarei police, in confidence if necessary, on (09) 430-4500.