Missing schoolgirl spent night up tree

A nine-year-old Wainuiomata girl spent a cold night up a tree after she became lost when she left her parents' home yesterday afternoon.

Veetia Vaculik-Hamilton was found alive and well about 11.40am today when four builders heard her yelling, Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Borrell, of Lower Hutt CIB, said.

After becoming upset with her parents, Veetia left her home and was last seen walking to Arakura School.

"I think what's happened from then on is she's got herself lost and has headed to what she thought was a safe place, which was a tree, which is where we found her today," Mr Borrell said.

When the builders went over to the tree they found Veetia up it and contacted police.

"She's had one night out in the open by herself, she's cold, she's tired, with a few scratches."

She had been admitted to hospital where she would spend the night under observation.

More than 40 people had been involved in the search and rescue mission and Mr Borrell said they had not searched in the area she was found in.

Usually searchers look in a 300 metre circumference from where the person went missing, but Veetia was "well outside that", Mr Borrell said.

Where she was found was "totally out of the blue, she was lost so there was no pattern" to where she was found.

Her father, George Vaculik-Hamilton, who earlier pleaded for her to come home and anyone who knew her whereabouts to come forward, said the family was still coming to terms with it.

"We've been quite shell shocked and we're still processing it, it's still going to take a couple of days."

The teary father said she just wanted cuddles when he got to see her this morning.

"She kind of realised it was a bit of a stupid thing to do, she's been a bit freaked out from it, but she seems alright, just a bit scratched and so forth from sleeping in the bush for the night."

- NZPA

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