For the last half dozen years Wellington property developer Ian Cassels has engaged in a heavily publicised war of attrition over his proposed 400 apartment development in Shelly Bay.
The site is a former military base covered with ugly old wooden buildings. Ian purchased it from the local iwi plus some extra land from the Council. Then two typically Wellington events occurred. First a collective of local residences, although “local” is stretching it there being no residents in the area, protested on largely specious grounds.
They were duly seen off in a Court case but have since successfully appealed that verdict. Then, also, perhaps predictably, a faction of the iwi protested at the tribe’s management sale, saying they weren’t consulted.
At that stage, normally out of sight, children’s film-maker Peter Jackson piped up, describing the development as a soviet style block and began a campaign against it. In particular, he funded a challenger to the then mayoral incumbent who had approved the development.
The press had a field day. Accusations of corruption flew and at least in the eyes of the Dominion Post, it became the salient mayoralty election issue last year. In the event, by a tiny majority, Jackson’s bloke Andy Foster became the mayor.
But still the issue rages on with division in the Council, litigation and so on. Cassels is now threatening to sue Jackson.
Throughout all of this the Dom’ has run photos of Cassels, always in a conservative suit and looking intensely serious. It has not helped and sensing he’s losing the battle, Ian has now adopted a new strategy, presumably hoping to win over the capital’s arty-farties.
Like his protagonist Jackson, Ian’s been bald for 30 years. Now gone is his conservative toupee and suit and tie. Instead he’s adopted a sort of part Liberace and part David Bowie outfit, the type of garb one might expect to see in a bar occupied by chaps with names like Sebastian.
Most startling of all is the former conservative toupee has gone and in its place, a new one modelled on Andy Warhol’s hair style. So too the grim sober glare in the Dom’s traditional photos of Ian. Now it’s a suggestive come-hither leering which will certainly attract the Sebastian market.
Perhaps Peter Jackson will take on this style challenge and abandon his 1960s hippy style wig for a short, back and sides toupee.
Will this strategy work? I doubt I’ll ever find out as this thing will carry on long after I’m dead.