A man who spent three days lost in Te Urewera near Whakatane has made sizeable donations to his rescuers and searchers and says he will continue to donate the same amount each year.
Siow Hong Kuik, better known as Desmond, left his hunting companions on Sunday October 22 and was not seen again until searchers found him three days later. He survived freezing conditions by crawling into a pig hole and filing plastic containers with his own urine to stay warm.
Mr Kuik has spent the past week writing letters.
"I have written to the Whakatane police to say thank you. I have also written another letter to Whakatane LandSAR and enclosed a cheque for $1500.''
This cheque, he said, will be the first of an annual donation of the same amount to the organisation.
Whakarae Marae will also be getting a letter, another containing a cheque for $1500, and again, it will be the first of an annual donation to the marae.
Mr Kuik said he would return to Whakatane to hunt again but this time would keep a personal locator beacon on him at all times.
At the peak of the search, based at Matahi Valley's Whakarae Marae, 60 people including Whakatane police, Whakatane Land Search and Rescue, volunteers and Waimana locals were trying to find Mr Kuik.
When he was eventually found and returned to the search base, an emotional Mr Kuik could not thank his rescuers enough. The following day he returned to his wife and three children in Manurewa, a reunion he described as very special.
"It was great to be with my kids again, I missed them so much and thought of them all the time when I was lost,'' Mr Kuik said. "They missed their dad, too.''
Describing the hunting trip that went terribly wrong as a nightmare, Mr Kuik admits it has also made him change a few things in his life.
"There are some things that used to be very important to me that aren't so important any more.''
Mr Kuik said his story was a good testament to the Christian faith. "In the Bible there is a tale about Jonah who was eaten by the fish and remained alive in the fish's belly for three days - that was kind of like me,'' Mr Kuik said.
"I had so many people praying for me when I was lost, from America, from Singapore and from many other places - and I think their prayers were heard.''
He still couldn't believe he got away with his life but was looking forward to the next time he could return to the Eastern Bay to hunt.
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