Kerry Knight

Brownmail scuppers LOTR museum

Diabolical liberties and stand over appear to have stopped a Lord of the Rings museum being created in Wellington. Just like with water and wind and anything else that is thought to have some value there is now gang-like stand over tactics in place extracting or attempting to extract large sums of cash.

If it was anyone else the folks at the SFO or Police would be paying a visit. The behaviour of Ngatata Love and his minions at the Tenths Trust are another reason I would look at decamping the bureaucracy from Wellington.

Sir Peter Jackson’s plans to build a world-class film museum in Shelly Bay were scuppered when Sir Ngatata Love’s partner sought $750,000 in consultancy fees to help secure the land.

Months before the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust gained the right to buy the former air force base on the Miramar Peninsula from the Crown, Jackson wrote to Sir Ngatata outlining a plan to create a permanent home for his vast array of Lord of the Rings props.

“I have always thought that Shelly Bay would be an ideal site for a state-of-the-art exhibition building of international standard,” Jackson wrote in March 2008.

He added that he was concerned about commercial exploitation of coastal Wellington and he would be “honoured” to discuss the plans personally with Sir Ngatata. Discussions over the following months were expanded to include a digital training school on the site.

But the plans were abandoned after Sir Ngatata’s partner, Lorraine Skiffington, approached Matt Dravitzki, general manager of Jackson’s Wingnut Films, seeking up to $750,000 plus GST – including $250,000 up front.

In return, Ms Skiffington, a lawyer, undertook to conduct work including securing the acquisition of the land, and composing a master plan and publicity plan.

Under the proposal, Jackson and partner Fran Walsh would pay Ms Skiffington $250,000 on execution of the agreement. Further funds would be paid on monthly invoices following receipt of tax invoices.

Services were to be capped to a maximum of $750,000, plus GST.

A source close to Jackson called the consultancy proposal “a serious turnoff” for the director.

Days later, Ms Skiffington pursued Mr Dravitzki for progress on the agreement, as Sir Ngatata was about to have a meeting with Wellington City Council chief executive Garry Poole about the plan.

“He [Sir Ngatata] and I resonate with their core values,” she said. “Now that the [deed of] settlement has been signed, we cannot delay.”

Jackson and Walsh were unimpressed when they were shown the consultancy deal draft – and refused to sign.

So Peter Jackson would not be a party to such activity, yet Kerry Knight and Tony Gapes were quite happy to part with the sum.