Kiwi dies after South American cleansing ceremony

  • 22/09/2015

A New Zealander has died in Peru after taking part in a local "cleansing ceremony", according to a report.

Aucklander Matthew Dawson, 24, took part in a seven-day ayahuasca tea retreat designed to "foster a spiritual awakening and bring inner peace" but died on September 3.

His body was returned to New Zealand on Monday, the New Zealand Herald reports.

His father Stuart Clarke was unwilling to go into details about the death, but said his son had packed a lot into his life.

Ayahuasca, or yage, has been venerated for centuries by South American tribes as a divinatory tool and miracle cure for all sorts of ailments.

It was popularised in the West in the 1960s in William Burroughs' The Yage Letters, describing his search for mind-altering experiences.

Last year a 19-year-old Briton died after drinking the drug in Colombia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns ayahuasca tea contains the hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine.

Deaths were uncommon but there had been reports of "psychological damage, and assault, theft and rape of people under the influence".

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