Interpol has joined the hunt for an alleged paedophile who skipped the country on a yacht and disappeared off the Cook Islands.
Auckland businessman Christopher Michael David Peppiatt, 62, fled New Zealand six weeks before he was due to stand trial for sex offences against children.
He made it to land in Rarotonga in January, telling authorities his name was Kevin Maitland, but that he'd lost his passport and had a heart problem.
When searchers later responded to a distress call from the yacht, which Peppiatt still owed money on, no sign of him was found, and Cook Islands police believed he had fallen overboard and died.
New Zealand prosecutors decided not to continue the case against Peppiatt on the likelihood he had died.
However, his name has now been added to a list of wanted persons sought by international crime agency Interpol, Fairfax reports.
Waitemata police confirmed that Peppiatt's details have been circulated in Interpol's 190 member countries, and authorities will request his immediate extradition if he is found.
Police refused to speculate on the chances of Peppiatt still being alive, referring queries to the Cook Islands police.
"We believe that they consider him to be a missing person. If they have similar laws to us then he would be classified as 'missing' for seven years before a coroner's final finding," Waitemata police said.
A former Australian police detective, Rod Henderson, is also investigating Peppiatt's disappearance as part of a book he is writing on crime in the Cook Islands.
Mr Henderson says witnesses have told him they saw a second person aboard the yacht when it reached Rarotonga.