Police hunting for the man who snatched a 5-year-old girl from a Palmerston North street on Friday are appealing for sightings of a Nissan Maxima.

Inspector Sarah Stewart, Manawatu Area Commander, said officers were unsure of the year of the model, but believe it to be a 1988-95 vehicle.

"We would like to hear from anyone who was in the Shamrock Street area at 8.30am on Friday, 12 February, and then again in the Hind Place area at 11am who saw a vehicle matching the model," Stewart said.

"We are also keen to hear from any drivers who may have been in a similar vehicle in these areas to contact police so we can speak with them.


"Quite often, the smallest thing could help solve a case, so while you may have dismissed a similar looking vehicle as nothing, Police still want to hear from you."

The young girl - a student from Te Kura o Takaro primary school - was taken by the man as she was walking to school on Shamrock St with her two sisters around 8.30am on Friday.

About two hours later she was dumped outside a house on Hind Place.

"This type of incident, while rare here in New Zealand, is every family's worst nightmare," Stewart said.

"We've a much loved young girl who has been taken by someone not known to her and we currently do not know why. While she was dropped off sometime later, it does not change the devastation and panic of the family in what would have seemed like an extremely long time while she was missing.

"No family should ever have to feel this way, and that is why it is important we continue to receive support from the community through contacting us and giving any information they have."

Anyone with information is asked to call Palmerston North police on (06) 3513600.

Alternatively, information can also be provided anonymously via the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.