A former South Waikato woman has allegedly fled the country with her 11-year-old son sparking an international manhunt.

Waikato police confirmed they are now seeking Lauren Way, who now goes by her maiden name, Smith, after she fled the country last month.

Way was supposed to appear in the Hamilton District Court today 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.


The offence date is listed as February 9 and the location Auckland - understood to be Auckland International Airport.

Way's address is listed on the court documents as being Zimbabwe - understood to be her home country - but police declined to comment about her suspected location.

Way was a no-show in court this morning so a warrant was issued for her arrest.

"Police believe that Ms Way and her son are no longer in the country and are working with Interpol and overseas agencies to locate them."

The boy's South Waikato-based father did not want to comment.

Police wouldn't comment when asked if they had concerns for the safety of Way or her son but urged her to contact them to allay any fears.

"This is obviously a stressful time for the father of the alleged victim and police ask Ms Way and those close to her to make contact with New Zealand police as soon as possible in order to ensure her son is safe and to resolve this matter."

Way used to co-own a daycare, Kids Rock, in Tirau. While the company is still operating, it's 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 being in Tirau to Warwick, Warwickshire in the United Kingdom.

People known to Way didn't believe she would hurt her son.

Way was relatively well-known in the South Waikato, Tirau and Matamata area. She had lived in the area for more than a decade, having set up the childcare business in 2008.