Case 17: Baby Kahurautete

LOWER HUTT. WELLINGTON. Saturday. 13th of April 2002. 11.20am. Donna Hall gathered her two nieces, Manumea and Erena Durie to take a morning stroll along the Hutt River with ‘baby Kahu’ and the family dog. The fivesome left their house and wandered through the suburbs of Woburn. The two nieces pushed Kahu in the pushchair a few metres ahead of Donna who walked the dog behind.

Eventually the quintet walked southwest onto Saint Albans Grove. As they made their way down the road towards the riverbank a Mitsubishi Magna passed them and parked ahead at the end of the grove, near the stairs to Strand Park

As the quintet approached the stairs leading up to the riverbank, a man wearing a balaclava, gloves and weilding a .22 Ruger semi automatic rifle burst out of the Mitsubishi and quickly approached the group. The attacker pointed the rifle at the head of Erena Durie and threatened to kill her along with her sister Manumea if they didn’t leave baby Kahu.

Visit for additional information on this case. Including a transcript of this episode, with supporting pictures, sources, and credits.

Hosted by Jessica Rust

Written and edited by Sirius Rust

Music sourced from:

Kevin MacLeod (

“Anxiety”, “Clear Air”, “Day of Chaos”, “Dreams Become Real”, “Ghost Story”, “Lithium”, “Private Reflection”, “The Way Out”, “Touching Moments One – Pulse”, “Vanes”

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0

The podcast version is the intended way to consume this story but we make a transcript available for those that would rather read instead. This can be found below.

Case 17: Baby Kahu


Edward Durie, or Eddie was born on the 18th of January 1940. Eddie graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law from Victoria University of Wellington. Entering into a career in law, Eddie was appointed to become a Judge in 1974. His illustrious career led Eddie to being appointed the Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court before being promoted to the High Court in 1998.

It was sometime during Eddie’s time working in law that he met Donna Hall, a leading Treaty of Waitangi lawyer and the twosome became a couple; eventually marrying. The couple struggled to conceive a child, but eventually did in 1997. Unfortunately, the child died in utero at 7 and half months due to issues with spina bifida. Devastated by the event, Donna’s family offered the next born child to the struggling couple.

On the 15th of August 2001, a baby was born in Lower Hutt.  Born from a caesarean to her mother Anaha Morehu and father Jarmie Piripi. Due to the family’s pledge it was decided that the child was to be ‘whāngaied out’ to Anaha’s sister Donna Hall and her husband Eddie Durie.

Whāngai is a customary practice within Māori culture where a child is raised by someone other than their birth parents — usually a close relative. A tradition dating back to the demigod Maui. Upon his birth, Maui’s mother believed him to be dead so she cast his body onto the sea. However, Maui survived and when he washed ashore he was found by his grandfather who raised him as a whangai. His grandfather taught him about his genealogy (whakapapa) and tribal traditions before Maui eventually returned to his birth mother and father.

While similar to adoption, whangai is closer to being a foster home as the child knows both their biological parents and exists mostly outside of the legal process of adoption.

The child was named Kahurautete, or Kahu; named after Eddie Durie’s grandmother. 

In 2001, the Sunday Star Times printed a ‘rich list’ of prominent NZ citizens. Donna Hall appeared on that list with an estimated wealth of $10 million dollars. Together with Eddie Durie’s considerable income, this put the couple in a fortunate financial position to raise their new tamaiti whāngai.

13 APRIL 2002

Saturday. 13th of April 2002. 11.20am. Donna Hall gathered her two nieces, Manumea and Erena Durie to take a morning stroll along the Hutt River with ‘baby Kahu’ and the family dog. The fivesome left their house and wandered through the suburbs of Woburn. The two nieces pushed Kahu in the pushchair a few metres ahead of Donna who walked the dog behind.

Eventually the quintet walked southwest onto Saint Albans Grove. As they made their way down the road towards the riverbank a Mitsubishi Magna passed them and parked ahead at the end of the grove, near the stairs to Strand Park

As the quintet approached the stairs leading up to the riverbank, a man wearing a balaclava, gloves and weilding a .22 Ruger semi automatic rifle burst out of the Mitsubishi and quickly approached the group. The attacker pointed the rifle at the head of Erena Durie and threatened to kill her along with her sister Manumea if they didn’t leave baby Kahu.

Upon seeing this Donna hurried to catch up to the action. The man waved the gun in the direction of Donna and yelled at her to get rid of the dog before returning his attention and rifle to the two young girls. Donna obliged out of fear, she led the dog to a nearby property.

As Donna secured the dog, the two young girls were forced to back away from baby Kahu by more threats of violence. The man grabbed hold of the pushchair and rushed it over to his Mitsubishi Magna. He entered the car and placed Kahurautete in the front passenger seat. He placed the .22 rifle between his legs and started the engine.

The Mitsibishi with kidnapped Kahu sped off east back up Saint Albans Grove. Donna Hall ran out on the road in an attempt to stop the car but had to quickly leap from danger at the last moment to avoid being run over. The car exited the street and disappeared.


Police were contacted immediately. Based on what Donna remembered of the kidnapper the police put together an ‘all points bulletin’ (APB) with the description: a caesausion man in his late 30s to early 40s, about 1.78 metres tall, of slim build and either balding or with close-cropped graying hair.

Police set up road cordons in and out of the city checking any cars with a baby and a man matching the description. However, hours passed and the sun fell; Kahu wasn’t found. 

The next day, Sunday the 14th of April 2002, police made over 50 house-to-house inquiries looking for any information on the who, why and how of the situation. With no leads and no contact yet from the kidnapper, Detective Inspector Stuart Wildon confessed to reporters that they didn’t have much, “We are working with the family to try to establish a possible motive. At this stage we don’t have any.”

In a short statement released by police, Donna Hall, along with her husband Eddie Durie pleaded with the kidnapper to return the baby, “Baby K is an innocent little girl, she can’t speak, walk or even crawl. She needs regular feeding and to be kept warm. Please, just wrap her up warmly and deliver her to somewhere where there are people and she will be quickly found.” The day turned to night and there was still no sight of baby Kahu.

The following morning, Donna Hall spoke at a news conference addressing the kidnapper:

Good morning New Zealand. I’m Donna Hall and I’m [the] mother and I’ve agreed to this interview this morning because Kahu [is] very important to her father and I. She’s a very special little girl, she’s only eight months old. She turned eight months on the 15th of April [today]. She can’t talk, she can’t walk, she’s not yet crawling, but I would think in the next week she would start to crawl. She has developed two very sharp bottom teeth and one top tooth. Her teeth have grown beyond her motor skill ability so if you give her a biscuit she’s likely to bite her finger.

Kahurautete is a child who is placed with my husband and I by my family. Four-and-half years ago we lost a child to spina bifida at 7-1/2 months in pregnancy. The time that happened, I thought the world had ended. My mother and my family said if we ever have another child in the family she would be given and placed with us. And last year God gave my family Kahurautete. That’s our baby and that’s how she came to us.

Kahurautete is my husband’s grandmother’s name. She will be known as Kahu for all her growing life. She has a rose garden her father planted for her at her birth. She was born here in Lower Hutt in our home… The only home she has known is the one she’s been taken from. She is a strong child, she has her birth mother’s beautiful eyes, she is intelligent, but she would be very frightened right now, just as I’m very frightened.

I want to speak to the gunman who took her by force from me and my nieces on Saturday. You know who you are and you know me. You put a rifle at my niece’s head and told me you would shoot them if we didn’t do what you wanted — you wanted the dog removed — and then you took Kahurautete.

You can put this right now. Because if she’s frightened — and I’m very frightened — I would think that you would be frightened too. And you could fix this problem for all of us, by returning her to somewhere safe, with humanity. You can put right the wrong you have done to her and to my husband and myself by wrapping her in a blanket and putting her somewhere safe and dry.

You don’t have to go to places where you might be frightened to go like a police station or a post office. You can place her in a church, she is christened Anglican, I am Catholic, but all denominations who care for children would receive this child.

I have stressed that Kahurautete cannot talk. She does gurgle, and she chuckles, she’s a very biddable, easily pleased child. The reason I stress she can’t talk is that she cannot identify you. You have nothing to be frightened of, in return you can only gain back your humanity.

Now it may take time for you to think about returning her. I have brought some things because I think you will have help. I know you and I doubt you will be the carer of Kahurautete right now, but you will have someone I pray who is caring for her. If you give her the things she’s used to she will be very biddable, very easily pleased.

I’m asking you that you send her back to us.

Two days later on Wednesday the 17th of April 2002, a letter arrived to the letterbox of Eddie Durie and Donna Hall. The letter was intercepted by police under suspicion it was a ransom letter; they were correct.

Contained in the envelope was five polaroid photographs of baby Kahu sitting on a couch with a newspaper article relating to her kidnapping pinned to a wall behind her. The baby did not look distressed and looked in good health.

Also found within the envelope was a letter. It read:















That night, Finance Minister Michael Cullen gave police approval to negotiate over the $3m dollar ransom, “Police sought the authority to negotiate in good faith, and the Government gave them that authority.”

The next day the message was published in the NZ Herald classifieds: “Tomme. Bunnies are ready to run. Call me…” followed by a cell phone number.

That afternoon, about 4pm. The phone rang, Donna answered. It was the kidnapper, he asked Donna if the money was ready. She answered yes. The man reiterated the terms, if he saw any police involvement the deal was off before telling her he would call back in a few days. The call lasted less than a minute.

Even though the call was abbreviated, the police were able to trace the call. They traced it to a public payphone in Te Awamutu. Telecommunications giant Telecom explained this was possible because all of its 5,400 payphones sent unique signals.

Once police identified the payphone, they began inquiring into the calls made from the phone subsequent to the ‘ransom’ call. Two calls were made immediately after the ‘ransom call’, perhaps from the kidnapper the police thought. When detectives tracked down the recipients of those phone calls and asked who was on the other end of the line. They were told the calls had come from a ‘friend’ of theirs, 54 year old Terence Traynor.


Terence Ward Traynor was born in 1948 in the suburbs of Lower Hutt. Not much is known about Terence’s formative years growing up in ‘The Hutt’

What we do know is that Terence Traynor married sometime around 1970, he had a son with his wife. Terence’s ex-wife told the NZ Herald that he was a “good father and had a kind heart”. Although sometime in the 1970s, Terence divorced his wife and became estranged from his family. Eventually moving to Australia. 

While Terence was still living in Australia, his son, five-year-old Nicholas who was living in the South Island of NZ, died in a freak accident involving an overturning tractor.

In the aftermath, Terence got caught up in crime. Terence ran up a series of convictions in the late 1970s and 1980s, mostly for firearm offences. Then in 1987, Terence was convicted for armed robbery and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

After serving his sentence, Terence returned to NZ and lived on Waiheke Island. Traynor made friends on the small island, one being his landlord Norm Burnand who said Terence was a helpful and pleasant tenant.

Another was Roy Skinner who said of Terence, “I’ve never found him anything else but a great friend… He was a panel beater by trade and he used to come round and give me a hand with my cars.”

While liked by most. In 1996, Terence did have an issue with one neighbour, Alton Shinnick. A neighbour, Owen Martin recalls the bad blood between Alton and Terence, “This solo mother next door had three dogs … They barked all day, it damn well annoyed me.”

Terence complained to the council about the barking. In the aftermath, Terence was confronted by his neighbour’s friend. According to Owen’s account Terence had undergone recent surgery to his hip, due to this he feared the neighbour may attack him first. So, Terence struck the neighbour’s friend over the head with his makeshift crutch, a shovel. Owen who witnessed the event concluded, “It was self-defence”. The police saw it differently and charged Terence with assault.

According to neighbours, Terence seldom worked during this time, claiming he had plenty of money to live on from the divorce settlement with his ex-wife. 

Terence was a keen yachtsman and dreamed of owning his own boat. To fulfill this dream, Terence invested his savings in the stock market. However, Terence lost much of what was supposed to be his retirement savings after the global stock market crash that happened in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

It was during this time Terence looked for means of reacquiring his lost fortune. He concocted a plan to abduct and hold at ransom a wealthy individual. Terence used the 2001 ‘rich list’ printed in the Sunday Star Times to pick his target — a wealthy Waitangi Tribunal lawyer Donna Hall.

After obtaining Donna Hall’s address from the electoral roll, he began conducting a plan to kidnap the renowned lawyer. In early 2002, Terence purchased a house on Hikumutu Road in Taumarunui for $45,000.

Upon obtaining the deed, Terence commenced making alterations to the house. Terence chose one room to be the ‘cell’ he would hold his victim. He altered the room to have access to the toilet area but preventing access to the rest of the house. Before padlocking all the windows shut and covering them with gib board.

In the early months of 2002, Terence made regular trips to Lower Hutt to surveil Donna and her family. He stayed at the local holiday park under the pseudonym Reg Baker

It was early March when Terence’s attention turned away from Donna Hall to her 7-month-old daughter Kahurautete. Terence theorised it would be simpler to ‘snatch’ a baby than a grown woman. The plan was to kidnap baby Kahu while she was out on a walk with her mother. Having observed mother and daughter for a while, he knew their schedule well. Terence decided to take the baby when the twosome were out on their Saturday walk.

Near the end of March, Terence acquired a storage locker in the Lower Hutt suburb of Seaview. At Easter, Terence travelled to Auckland to the Ellerslie Car Fair and purchased a car — a Mitsubishi Magna. He drove the car back to Lower Hutt and stored it in his Seaview storage locker.

At around 9pm on the 12th of April 2002, Terence entered the carpark at the Lower Hutt Countdown. He located a Mitsubishi Magna similar to his own and stole its number plate. Terence returned to the storage locker and swapped out the Mitsubishi’s original plates with the new stolen one on the back — AHL171; along with a different stolen plate for the front — UL3802.


13th of April 2002. The morning of. At the holiday camp Terence heated up some milk and put it in a thermos. He put on his disguise; wearing a balaclava and gloves. Terence grabbed his sawn-off .22 Ruger semi automatic rifle loaded with ten rounds and hit the road.

Terence travelled in the Mitsubishi Magna with the stolen plates and lay in wait outside Donna Hall and Eddie Durie’s property. At 11.20am, Terence observed Donna Hall, baby Kahu and Donna’s two nieces Manumea and Erena Durie along with the family dog leave the property.

Terence followed the group down Saint Albans Grove. Seizing the opportunity, Terence drove past the group and parked at the end of the road. He watched as his victims got closer, before pouncing out of the vehicle and aiming the sawn-off rifle in one hand. Terence yelled at Donna to get rid of the dog. When she complied, Terence snatched baby Kahu and escaped the scene in his Mitsubishi Magna.

Terence drove to the Seaview storage locker and transferred Kahu into another car, his Mazda. Terence drove in the Mazda with baby Kahu, still asleep, back to the holiday camp. Terence waited three and a half-hours at the camp to avoid any police roadblocks. Kahu awoke during this time and Terence fed her the previously prepared bottle and Kahu settled.

Terence and his kidnapped victim left the holiday park around 3.30pm and journeyed to Hikumutu Road, Taumarunui; only stopping once in Levin to purchase nappies and kindling. He settled his infant victim into her new dwelling for the foreseeable future.

By all accounts Terence was an attentive kidnapper and kept a diary of Kahu’s feeding times, when he changed her and how long she slept.

Two days later, Terence watched as frightened mother Donna Hall made an impassioned plea to return baby Kahu. He paid particular attention when Donna spoke of the items that would make Kahu ‘very biddable’.

The next day, Tuesday the 16th of April 2002, Terence left baby Kahu alone and travelled to Hamilton to obtain these items, including a soother, baby formula and weetbix. While he was there he posted the ‘ransom note’ to Donna Hall’s Lower Hutt address.

Two days later, Terence picked up the NZ Herald and looked in the personals. There it was, what he had been waiting for: Tomme. Bunnies are ready to run.

That afternoon Terence left baby Kahu alone once more and travelled to Te Awamutu, arriving around 4pm. Terence pulled up at a random public telephone box. Using a phone card, Terence called the number he saw in today’s personals. Terence spoke to Donna Hall, reiterated the threats in the ransom note; he needed three million dollars or she would never see her baby again. Concluding the call saying he’ll call back in a couple of days. Terence hung up.

Feeling he was safe, believing the police couldn’t trace the call as he had kept the call to under a minute. Terence decided to use up the remaining credit on his phone card calling two friends. He chatted for a bit, catching up with old pals. Before Terence returned to his kidnapped victim in Taumarunui. 


Once police identified Terence Traynor as the lead suspect in the crime. Detectives looked into what assets he owned. They uncovered that he owned a property on Hikumutu Road in Taumarunui. 

Police travelled quietly to Taumarunui and staked out the house. Three days passed with no activity.

Sunday the 21st of April 2002. 4pm. Police observe as Terence Traynor leaves his property on Hikumutu Road, gets in his vehicle and leaves the premises. 

Police used this opportunity to move in with caution, unknowing if Terence was working alone or there were others in the property. Police forced their way into the building and discovered the ‘cell’ which one police officer described as looking like a set from Silence of the Lambs. As police entered the ‘cell’, they found baby Kahuraurete ‘alive and well’. Police whisked her to safety.

At 7pm that night. Terence Traynor returned to his Taumarunui property. Police lay in wait. As an unsuspecting Terence exited his vehicle he was pounced on, restrained and arrested by police.

Baby Kahu was flown by helicopter to Wellington Airport and was reunited with her parents Donna Hall and Eddie Durie nine days after she was abducted. Speaking through police, the couple thanked the nation for their support throughout this dreadful time, “Words cannot express what we truly feel. Thank you so very much.”


Terence Traynor pled guilty to five charges relating to the kidnapping, one count of kidnapping, one count of committing a crime with a firearm, one count of rendering a victim incapable of resisting the kidnapping and two counts of threatening to kill. He was sentenced to an 11-year prison term.

In 2009, Terence Traynor was released from prison. Not much is known about his life subsequent to his release. Although, his brother did give some details to the NZ Herald in 2019; including that he lives off the grid “somewhere in the North Island”, he doesn’t drink alcohol and is “into fitness”.

Adding that the family’s relationship with Terence was always a little strained, “It’s not like we couldn’t believe it. I think my mother was in more shock than anything. He snapped for some reason and no one could understand why. We’re an odd family, our upbringing wasn’t the most picturesque… I regret what happened and so does my brother. I wish the girl all the best — it must be weird being the $3 million baby… Everyone with half a brain knows it was a ridiculous and stupid thing to do, including him. But he did it and he has to live with the repercussions and the consequences. But remaining anonymous is high on his list of priorities.”


The ‘$3 million baby’s’ reunion with her parents Donna Hall and Eddie Durie was short-lived. She was returned to her biological family shortly after the reunion. A decision according to Kahu in a 2019 interview with the NZ Herald that was made by her biological father Jarmie Piripi, “He didn’t want me in that environment so he came and got me himself. I grew up with all my siblings like I’d never been whangaied out.”

In that same interview, a now 18 year old Kahu explains that she doesn’t remember anything about the kidnapping, “I learned about what happened from articles I read and little bits Dad would divulge. I had dreams about the kidnapping but that was from reading the articles. That was the only trauma I got from it.”

Kahu explained further she has a ‘nonexistent’ relationship with her adoptive parents Donna Hall and Eddie Durie. When asked if she ever thinks about a life in which he wasn’t kidnapped, Kahu answered, “I always think about it… My life would have been privileged. I would probably be more eloquent, and poised I assume because they are constantly in some sort of spotlight. But I wouldn’t give up the life I had… I grew up very humbled and I’ve never really had what I wanted but I had everything I needed, such as love, support, animals, and schooling. I would feel ungrateful if I asked for a different life. I was never in need, I was loved, which is the most important thing.”

The interview continues with Kahu explaining that she is looking forward to the future, after high school she was hoping to go to drama school or university, “I want to be an actor but I’m not quite ready. I want to wait until I am comfortable and not push myself too early to go. I love my life with the horses, I own eight of them and I can’t imagine being away from my animals for months on end.”

Kahu concluded that she wouldn’t change anything about her life and as she moves forward with her life, Kahu doesn’t want to be defined as the ‘$3 million baby’, “I don’t really think about the man who kidnapped me. I look at life now and I have no regrets. I am not asking questions anymore. I don’t feel like I need to reconcile anything for myself.”


NZ Herald, Critics say kidnapping sentence longer than for some murders,
NZ Herald, The Ransom Note,
NZ Herald, Summary of facts read in court,
NZ Herald, Picture: Inside the kidnapper’s hideaway,
NZ Herald, Details of Kahu kidnap revealed,
NZ Herald, Government underwrote $3m ransom demand,
NZ Herald, Kahu kidnapper trapped by phone calls to friends,
NZ Herald, Kahu’s kidnapping: A crime long in the planning,
NZ Herald, Transcript: Donna Hall’s statement to news conference,, SATURDAY APRIL 13 2002: Baby Kahu snatched at gunpoint,
Police, Baby Kahu found safe and well,
Police, Summary of facts re: Terence Traynor court appearance (Kahu kidnapping),
NZ Herald, The kidnapped ‘$3m Baby’ on trauma, family and growing up,
NZ Herald, Quiet kidnapper’s double loss,
NZ Herald, Kahu’s kidnapper meets his mother after 25 years,
NZ Herald, Whanau gave baby Kahu to couple,
Wikipedia, Eddie Durie,
News 24, NZ judge’s baby girl abducted,
Te Ara, Story: Whāngai – customary fostering and adoption,

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