Police, Customs and Ministry of Justice staff have not been able to explain how an Auckland man was able to leave New Zealand with his daughter despite court orders issued to prevent contact between them.
Now a wanted fugitive, Auckland man Nai Yin Xue left the country with his 3-year-old daughter who was found abandoned at a Melbourne railway station in Australia on Saturday.
The daughter, Qian, was nicknamed "Pumpkin" because of her Pumpkin Patch clothing, in a case which has gained international attention.
Auckland police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said yesterday that a "temporary protection order" against Xue was imposed on September 29, last year.
She said the order - intended to prevent him making any contact with his wife, An An Liu, and Qian, their daughter - was finalised on December 29 last year.
Ms Hegarty said a "day to day parenting order" had given the mother exclusive custody of the child.
The order prevented Xue initiating any contact with An An and Qian, although An An was allowed to contact him.
Alerts are supposed to appear before Customs staff when a person involved in a court custody order tries to leave the country.
But a Customs spokeswoman said no such alert appeared when Xue left New Zealand.
Questions remained last night as to whether a mistake had been made, or if there was a loophole in the law allowing the situation to be overlooked.
The officer in charge of Auckland Airport police, Inspector Richard Middleton, said a "stringent" system was operating e to stop people leaving Auckland Airport with children when custody orders were in force.
Mr Middleton said he could not comment on the Xue case because he was not familiar with the facts and because the Auckland CIB was handling the case.
However, he said speaking generally, in cases where court-ordered custody arrangements were in place, a "flag" alert appeared on a computer screen viewed by Customs staff as soon as someone tried leaving the country.
If a flag appeared, Customs officers would contact airport police who would look into specific cases.
Mr Middleton did not know whose responsibility it was to enter the alert into the Customs system.
Customs officials confirmed yesterday that there was nothing to alert them to the fact that Mr Xue should not be allowed to leave the country with his daughter.
"The New Zealand Customs Service was not in possession of any information or directions that would enable intervention of the child and/or father to leave New Zealand," the spokeswoman said.
The matter was one for police.
Ms Hegarty and the officer in charge of the case, Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Scott, could not be reached last night for further comment.
The Ministry of Justice was also unable to confirm the charges Mr Xue faced this year or details of any protection and custody orders taken out against him.
"The ministry doesn't comment on individual cases - we can't, it's part of the rules," a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, police are apparently looking into a statement posted by an anonymous person on an Auckland-based Chinese website.
The message, placed by someone with a username which means "she's alive" in English, was posted at 9.41pm on Tuesday.
Journalist and editor of the website "www.skykiwi.com" Hewitt Wang told the Herald the person's message stated that An An was still in New Zealand and that she was safe.
Mr Wang said that five people had responded to the website posting, urging whoever wrote the message to go to police.
The responses also requested that An An contact police because of the number of people who were now concerned for her safety.
Attempts to contact the person who wrote the message had been unsuccessful, Mr Wang said.
"We have tried to contact her or him but still didn't get a reply."