The father of a woman at the centre of an international manhunt says his daughter will ignore the police warrant and prefer to live in the United Kingdom.

Lauren Christy Smith, who was known as Lauren Christy Way during her time in New Zealand, remains on the run six weeks after illegally fleeing with her 11-year-old son to Zimbabwe last month.

A warrant to arrest was issued in the Hamilton District Court for 42-year-old Smith on Friday, March 16 after she failed to appear on an abduction charge.

Police say she has breached a family 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.

Smith used to live and work in South Waikato. She co-owned a daycare centre which she sold in 2014 before moving to the United Kingdom.

"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 to ensure her son is safe and to resolve this matter," Detective Sergeant Nick O'Brien told the Herald last week.

Court documents show the offence date as February 9 - the day it's understood Smith left the country with her son to travel to Zimbabwe.

Smith's North Island-based father, Gerald, confirmed they were originally from Zimbabwe. The last he'd heard about her daughter she had been in her home country, he said.

His daughter was most recently living in the UK with her new fiance. He confirmed she was holidaying in New Zealand up until she took off with her son.

Gerald Smith said they had spent time with her on holiday but she hadn't mentioned any plans to abduct her son.

"She was here on holiday to spend time with Nick. She was here for a couple of weeks with us, it was great."

When asked if he'd heard from her since she'd fled, Gerald Smith said he hadn't heard from his daughter since "the warrant to arrest".

"No there's been a total blackout, ever since that warrant to arrest. We got a note from her to say she's basically no comms. Through a friend of ours she sent a message."

Gerald Smith, who is the former president of the right wing conservative African political party The Rhodesian Front, believed it could all have been avoided.

"The first we heard about it was when her ex-husband phoned us to tell us what happened, so really, we're pretty in the dark of what happened."

He wasn't concerned about the safety of his daughter or grandson and said there was a good education system in Zimbabwe if they decided to stay there.

He said his daughter was "absolutely and totally" frustrated with the family court system, he said.

"She wanted a hearing so the judge could make a ruling and that would have been final ... but it didn't happen.

"I think it's a desperate move by a desperate person. She never discussed it with us."

He didn't think she would return to New Zealand, even with a warrant out for her arrest.

"She won't come back to New Zealand. If she were to do anything she would probably move to the UK ... I don't think NZ police can go and pick her up, there's got to be an understanding between the two governments.

"I don't know, they're only in nappies for a limited time, she's 42 years old, there's not a hell of a lot I can tell her what to do."

Gerald Smith described his daughter as a "strong-willed person".

"She's no pushover. I think this was a spur of the moment thing. She got advice and she took it," the staunch Donald Trump supporter said.

He believed the whole thing could have been avoided.

The Herald has learned Smith was only supposed to take her son away for the weekend. Instead, the boy's father is believed to have received a phone call three days later from Smith saying that she was in Zimbabwe.

It's believed she may have moved to a neighbouring country since being wanted by police.

Smith was supposed to appear in the Hamilton District Court last Friday 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.

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

Lauren Smith, whose married name is Lauren Way, is the subject of an international manhunt after fleeing the country with her son on February 9, bound for Zimbabwe. Photo/Supplied
Lauren Smith, whose married name is Lauren Way, is the subject of an international manhunt after fleeing the country with her son on February 9, bound for Zimbabwe. Photo/Supplied

"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.

Lauren Way used to co-own a daycare, Kids Rock, in Tirau. The company is still operating but is 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 Tirau to Warwick, Warwickshire, in the United Kingdom.