Immigration New Zealand says it is taking allegations made by a Canadian denied entry to the country at Queenstown Airport earlier this month "very seriously" and has directed her to an internal complaints procedure.
Yesterday Mountain Scene reported Taisha Neil-Seebohm, 23, who had a working holiday visa, was refused entry at the international airport on June 11.
She spent four days in Queenstown police cells before being deported, but has levelled allegations of sexism and harassment against an INZ staff member.
Neil-Seebohm said she was ushered into an interrogation room within five minutes of entering the terminal building.
"He [the staff member] did harass me; he was not nice; he freaked me out and scared me within a minute and then entrapped me in a bunch of questions.
"The way he treated me was not OK. I was barely fed.
"It ripped my whole life apart and I sat there in a cell for four days - my toilet didn't even have a seat."
Neil-Seebohm said she was questioned for about half an hour before a taped interview and claimed the staff member did not want to see her visa, or documentation proving she had a job offer at Cardrona skifield.
She was allegedly asked about drug use and how much money she had.
She was now questioning his "unfair" methods and said they "suggest sexism and he neglected to inform me of several things which I was meant to know".
Neil-Seebohm further questioned why she was not released to an agreed address, rather than being held in police cells and told Mountain Scene, from Canada, she was now seeking legal advice.
INZ told the Otago Daily Times yesterday it had "no further comment to make" on the matter.
However, INZ national border manager Senta Jehle told Scene the woman had not complied with "conditions of her visa" and the staff member had "followed the correct process" in dealing with her.
"In many cases a full interview is not undertaken, when it is clearly established from the outset that the passenger does not meet entry requirements.
"The passenger was given the opportunity to comment on the concerns and the border officer followed the correct process throughout this interaction," Jehle said.
With regard to holding Neil-Seebohm in police cells, Jehle said that was being trialled at three New Zealand airports.
"All passengers who are refused entry permission are liable for turnaround ... which means that they may be liable for arrest and detention."
Two years ago, Queenstown's border controls made international headlines after French au pair Manon Pache, 18, was held and deported due to concerns she might babysit for her Australian employers.
She later got an apology from INZ.