A 79-year-old Belgian woman claims she was tested for AIDS and syphilis as Immigration New Zealand tried blocking an extension to her 19th annual visit to Queenstown.
Luce Wilsens says she’s previously never had problems getting two-month extensions to her regular summer holidays in the resort.
But she says she’s endured nightmare treatment since going to Immigration NZ’s new local office at Remarkables Park last November to prolong a three-month stay.
This includes being sent for intrusive medical tests by two doctors and a heart specialist to see if she’s fit enough to be here, as well as queries over whether she was pregnant.
Wilsens says she can’t understand the fuss by Immigration – she says she has comprehensive health insurance that would pay for any treatment she’d need in NZ if she fell ill.
“They’ve spoilt my holiday,” she fumes.
Wilsens alleges her ordeal began when a male Immigration NZ officer at Remarkables Park told her that over the years she’d accrued some two years’ worth of extra time in the country that she wasn’t entitled to and ordered her to take medical tests.
Wilsens, who lives in Switzerland, insists she’d never been asked for these before.
She says in December she saw a Queenstown Medical Centre doctor who organised tests – including checks for AIDs and syphilis – and was told she had a suspected shadow on her heart.
As a result, her Immigration case officer referred her to a medical assessor due to what the officer referred to as “some issues of possible concern”.
In early February, a Wakatipu Medical Centre doctor then arranged for her to have an electrocardiogram.
Before those results were even back, Wilsens says Immigration NZ ordered her to see a Dunedin-based cardiologist.
During this time, Wilsens claims she became increasingly concerned Immigration wouldn’t let her extend her holiday and she’d have to cancel pre-booked accommodation at Fernhill’s Aspen Tanoa Hotel plus re-arrange her return flight to Switzerland.
After more than two and a half months’ stress, she says in February she eventually employed a Queenstown lawyer who took just two days to get her extension approved.
But the elderly holidaymaker’s ordeal didn’t stop there.
At the start of this month, Wilsens finally saw the Dunedin-based cardiologist she’d earlier been ordered by Immigration to attend.
Dr Belinda Green examined her on a working visit to Queenstown, and in her evaluation stated Wilsens “is very well”.
“She is a very active person…She has no difficulty with chest discomfort nor does she have any palpitations.”
According to Green, Wilsens did have two conditions but they were controlled.
Wilsens is due to go back to Switzerland next Wednesday and wants to return to the resort in October to celebrate her 80th birthday with local friends.
But she’s upset by her treatment from Immigration on this trip.
“I do nothing here but spend my money,” Wilsens says. “Do they want tourists or not?
Wilsens says her medical consultations have cost almost $2000, and she’s still to pay her legal bill.
Immigration NZ wasn’t able to reply to enquiries from Mountain Scene by deadline last night.