The children, two girls, were aged 7 and almost 3, at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. The children and mother are German nationals. The parents married in June 1991 in Germany. The parties had lived in Australia for a period of time but returned to Germany in September/October 1998.
On 17 June 2001, with the mother’s consent, the father travelled to New Zealand, his country of origin, with the children for a holiday. The children were due to return on 8 August 2001. It was agreed after arrival that the return date be put back to 13 September.
Some time in late July 2001 the father notified the mother of his wish to remain permanently in New Zealand with the children. The mother objected. There were a number of telephone conversations between the parties. The mother also spoke regularly to the children.
During a conversation shortly before 23 August 2001 the mother advised the father that she would not insist upon the children’s return. Following the phone call the mother recorded her consent in writing and faxed the statement to the father. On 31 October the mother filed a petition for the return of the children.