Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Tense moments for Kiwi hostages in West Papua

Murray McCully. Photo / File photo
Murray McCully. Photo / File photo

Four New Zealanders who were part of a group of 10 mountaineers captured by militia in the Indonesian province of West Papua have been released unharmed.

Kiwi mountaineer Christine Burke, who was among them, told APNZ there were some tense moments when they were held captive by the armed men for about 20 hours.

"It was a very volatile situation where you had people with bows and arrows, machetes and guns. You really do what you're told in that situation, there was really no other option that we could see."

Although the group had obtained all necessary permits from Indonesian and West Papuan authorities, the militia had been angry that they had not received payment, she said.

The militia eventually escorted the group to an airport and told them to leave the region.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade advised against all tourist and other non-essential travel to central Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua provinces.

"I direct people to our website which I think offers a sensible caution about security issues in that part of Indonesia," Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

The group was on an expedition to climb Carstensz Pyramid, the highest summit of Mount Carstensz in the Sudirman Range.


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