Simon says he knows what the senior social worker means about the strange madness that occurred off the mainland. "The law on Great Barrier Island is a lot different from the mainland."
Nearly 20 years on, he says the memory of that day with the spade, thinking his body would fall into the hole he had dug, has never left him.
"Did it last two hours, did it last four hours? However many hours it was life-changing. It changed me."