A New Zealand woman whose children are being held in an Algerian house amidst a custody battle has praised the actions of a diplomat who tried to intervene.
Mihi Puriri, 33, and her daughters, Iman, five, and Assiya, two, and 11-month-old son Zakaria, travelled from Northland to Algeria in September with the children's father, Algerian boxer Mohamed Azzaoui, 36.
Once there, Mr Azzaoui took their passports and the children were not allowed to leave an apartment in the town of Mostaganem, about 300 kilometres from the capital of Algiers.
New Zealand diplomatic staff carried out a welfare check on the family last Thursday, and Ms Puriri had hoped she would be able to flee with her children.
Armed police and dozens of locals prevented that happening, despite a six-hour standoff with New Zealand consul Barbara Welton, who sat on the floor and refused to leave without the children, Ms Puriri told Radio New Zealand.
"I really admire her doing that because there were in excess of 50 people, some of them armed policemen and gendarmes, in the house, and she just stood her ground, doing as she was supposed to do," she said.
Ms Puriri eventually left with the diplomatic staff, leaving her children behind.
She is now in Algiers, and says she and her husband are trying to negotiate a resolution.
"We've just reached the stage now where we just want this over with. In the best interests of the children, we need to put aside our differences," Ms Puriri said.
Mr Azzaoui has since alleged the consul staff acted illegally, telling Algerian media he had laid a complaint of attempted kidnap with Algerian authorities.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade rejected the kidnap claim.
"At no time was any action taken by the consul that contravenes Algerian law," he told the Dominion Post.Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has begun a review of how the ministry handled of the case.
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