May 8, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Using Facebook to find wayward kids, a guide for whanau

3 min read

Well we’ve had a couple of harrowing days, our most loved 15-year old niece decided to go AWOL on her birthday. She took off on Sunday from Rotorua and had the whanau stressing over the next couple of days (her poor Nanny who she lives with, even went to hospital with an anxiety attack).

Our girl had her phone on her (of course) but was not answering any of our calls or txts, thankfully we’d seen that she was posting on her Facebook account (liking all the birthday wishes which were being posted on her page) so we knew she was OK.

Then a breakthrough! We saw that she just changed her status to “in a relationship” with a boy her age. Thankfully HIS privacy settings were open and we were able to see what was written on his wall… This was our first clue:

As a result we were also able to see that the boy lived in Tauranga (we even worked out how old he was and where he went to school), he also had whanau in Tokorua and although we didn’t know his last name, we were able to see some of his relations (so were able to work out what his surname was).

Next step was to use the online, we searched for his last name online in Tauranga (thankfully it was NOT Brown or Smith LOL) and saw there was no one listed, next we had a look in Tokoroa, and SHOT, there was one listing.

Lasa gave them a call, although it was a bit awkward having to explain what happened, the man we talked to turned out to be the boy’s koro! He was kind and gave us his grandson’s details, most importantly his address.

We then had a quick look on Google Maps and worked out EXACTLY where the boy’s house was, jeez street view is great! Even worked out the colour of the house!

Turned out we also had a great friend and relation in the area who offered to go round and find our niece (the boy lived near the local marae, so we figured we’d find them somehow – as you’d know in our small communities, everyone knows everyone!) – importantly we didn’t let any of THIS info out on Facebook or via mobile, just in case they did a runner.

No doubt our niece got the shock of her life, when her Auntie turned up on their doorstep, she had told her boyfriend’s father that her mother had dropped her off (a lie) which was why he wasn’t concerned.

Regardless, it was a combination of social networking and digital technology that helped us find her. 15 year-olds do stupid things is it’s up to us to be smarter and more determined. In the end she was safe and that is what matters to us.

Importantly, understanding these technologies is what allowed us to find her, so just passing this story on, in case one day your baby goes tipi haere and you can’t find them, aue!

4 thoughts on “Using Facebook to find wayward kids, a guide for whanau

  1. Well done you two, and I’m glad she’s safe. If anyone needs help in a hurry finding runaway kids via the Net, this is permission for Potaua to give you my contact details. I’m a retired computer professional so I might be able to figure things out fairly quickly. I’m in Rotorua,

  2. Tu Meke,my niece & her tamariki’s moved from Taranaki to Hamilton out of the blues,privately she gave us her address,so i too googled her address and walla i could see her place i described it to her and she was ecstatic,im in Australia we laughed & i told her @ least i know where she is,technology alright can be marvellous when needed

  3. Massive…I love people who use their brains & skills to do good. Nga mihi to you all 🙂 kindest, Boris

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