8 Feb 2017

Search for Langdon and daughter cost $40k

12:44 pm on 8 February 2017

The extensive air and sea search for yachtsman Alan Langdon and his six year-old daughter Que cost more than $40,000, the police say.

Que Langdon and her father, Alan.

Alan Langdon and his daughter Que were missing for three weeks before they were found in Australia. Photo: Courtesy of ABC News, photographed by Greg Nelson

The pair were the subject of a large search after they left Kawhia in a small yacht before Christmas and were not heard from until they turned up three weeks later in Australia.

Information released to RNZ shows the search cost was around $43,000 and would be shared between the coastguard, airforce and police.

Que Langdon, who is the focus of a long-running custody dispute, was reunited with her mother, Ariane Wyler, in Australia last month. The pair then returned to New Zealand where family court proceedings had started last year.

On 17 December, when the pair left Kawhia, an inlet south of Raglan, it was thought they were on a pre-Christmas journey to the Bay of Islands.

Ms Wyler hired private investigator Col Chapman to help track her daughter and return her to her care. Mr Chapman told RNZ he thought the tax-payer funded search cost was modest, given the scale of the search. He had expected it would be closer to the $200,000 mark.

A spokesperson from the Waikato district police headquarters said the search involved a total of 506 voluntary hours, mainly from the coastguard, and about 200 hours of police time.

The police are subject to an international agreement that precludes reimbursement for a search and rescue operation.

Mr Langdon maintained gear failure in the yacht's steering system meant he could not reach the intended destination, so decided to sail to Australia instead. He said earlier that Que was never in any danger.

It transpired later that he had breached a family court order by taking Que out of New Zealand, but police would not seek his extradition.

Mr Langdon failed to appear at a scheduled court appearance in New Zealand last month. A warrant was issued for his arrest for failing to appear in court, but he said at the time he could not afford to leave Australia and had not been served with a summons.

Mr Langdon told RNZ recently that he missed Que and hoped they would be reunited in the future. Que had an Australian passport, he said, which expired in 2015.

Mr Chapman said he was still in regular contact with Ms Wyler and it appeared Mr Langdon had made some legal moves to have Que returned to Australia.

"I do understand that Alan is attempting to make an application under the Hague Convention for the return of Que to Australia. He feels she belongs there, but my understanding is the New Zealand courts had made a decision last year that New Zealand was the appropriate jurisdiction."

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