Police in Taupo are urging residents to be vigilant after a prison escape Tuesday.
Jamie Paamu Hughes fled a forestry work party at Tongariro-Rangipo prison near Turangi in a Corrections Department vehicle he hotwired.
He was seen in Taupo later that day wearing black trousers, a black long sleeved shirt and a blue hoody.
Police say Hughes has associates in Taupo and Rotorua and could be travelling in the central North Island.
Acting Senior Sergeant Neale Saunders says he was serving a prison sentence for assaulting his partner two years ago, and should not be approached.
His former partner and child have been moved to safety.