Tramper now faces Immigration probe
Wednesday 24 Apr 2013 9:51 p.m.
An American who spent a week missing in the bush and whose companions ate worms as their food ran low now faces a probe into how he got into the country.
Guy Verschuur, 51, along with fellow American Kristine Mattiace, 22, and Finnish woman Jenny Rautio, 26, were rescued by police in Kahurangi National Park on Monday, 10 days after they set out on a three-day hike.
Media coverage of the missing trampers revealed Mr Verschuur, who had spent time in the Nelson region on and off over the past decade, was listed on the official Nebraska Sex Offender register for a 1998 conviction for first degree false imprisonment of a minor.
Immigration New Zealand has confirmed Mr Verschuur first arrived in New Zealand on a visitor visa in 2002 and is now a New Zealand resident. It is reviewing his file in light of media coverage.
People are required to declare if they have a criminal record, and in Mr Verschuur's case, if he had been sentenced to at least 12 months' prison he would have been refused an entry visa.
The offenders' register does not say what sentence Mr Verschuur was given, and the detail was not revealed in an interview with the Nelson Mail.
Otherwise, he was up front about his conviction when he spoke to the paper.
He blamed the conviction on a hypoglycemic attack forcing him to reach out to someone and "there was fabrication on the other side of what my intention was".
He said he had informed Immigration of his conviction when he applied for residency.
Mr Verschuur had the support of his tramping partners, with Ms Rautio saying she knew of his past but trusted him completely.
The tramp started going wrong after two days when Mr Verschuur suffered from stomach cramps, forcing the trio to seek the Anatoki Forks hut, but a misleading map meant they took longer to reach the hut.
They spent seven days there, where the two women ate worms to supplement their food.