Legal wrangling for a multi-million-dollar lifestyle property development is taking as many turns as the Tukituki River it overlooks.

Last summer the former director of the development company GLW Group, Garth Paterson, visited a house on the proposed 24.3ha subdivision on the river's Horseshoe Bend, near Havelock North.

A bankrupt in New Zealand and Australia, Companies Office records show GLW is now owned and directed by his former wife Elizabeth O'Neil.

He returned to Australia, leaving Ms O'Neil in the house.

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After a linesman disconnecting the electricity supply to the house was allegedly bitten she was charged with assault with intent to injure.

Resultant consultant Denis O'Reilly says retaking a disputed property was an unpleasant business, but a pleasant place to do it. Photo / Warren Buckland
Resultant consultant Denis O'Reilly says retaking a disputed property was an unpleasant business, but a pleasant place to do it. Photo / Warren Buckland

The linesman was sent by Stefan Lepionka, who has the legal status of mortgagee in possession of the property and claimed they had no right to be in the house.

Before he became the mortgage holder Mr Lepionka paid a deposit of $463,000 to GLW for several sections in 2014.

When the GLW defaulted on its mortgage he bought the mortgage from Westpac, fearing he would lose his deposit.

He wishes to complete the subdivision and its property sales to himself.

Police declined to act on Mr Paterson and Ms O'Neil's occupancy, saying it was a civil matter.

In November last year Mr Lepionka, who lives in Auckland but wishes to move with his family to Hawke's Bay, hired Denis O'Reilly.

Mr O'Reilly holds the degree of master of social practice and is an anti-drug campaigner and programme facilitator.

His business card describes him as a "resultant".

Mr O'Reilly told Hawke's Bay Today he hired "younger, fitter men than me" to observe the property and confirm it was unoccupied before a locksmith was called.

"We went to the police and instructed the respective duty sergeants as to the law under which we were operating and the instructions of the solicitor," Mr O'Reilly said.

Despite the notification, he said several carloads of police visited the Kahuranaki Rd property.

"I suggested to the sergeant that, having some indication of the law firms involved, then perhaps this manner was above both of our pay grades and best left to the courts," Mr O'Reilly said.

Mr O'Reilly's first job on the property, apart from occupying it 24/7, was eliminating fire risk, he said, with 16 large bales of hay harvested and long grass surrounding the house removed.

He said the Lepionka and O'Reilly whanau had a lot in common - both were Catholic with children at the same school.

A blessing for the house, named Lepionka Lodge, was held.

With Mr O'Reilly residing in the house, Mr Paterson took Mr Lepionka to the Tenancy Tribunal, which dismissed the case.

Mr Paterson has applied for a rehearing.

Mr Lepionka could not complete his 2014 deposit-paid purchase agreements because of caveats placed by Andy Coltart, who sought compensation for work on the development with GLW.

The Black Barn co-founder lives in the property's original homestead and designed Lepionka Lodge.

Mr Coltart had an option to buy the homestead from GLW.

Mr Coltart made an offer to the Lepionka mortgagee company to purchase the whole property for $6.93 million, which was declined, and the Lepionka mortgagee company successfully applied to the High Court to remove Mr Coltart's caveats.

Mr Coltart appealed to the Court of Appeal which ruled in his favour, saying the Lepionka mortgagee company was arguably not entitled to cancel Mr Coltart's agreement to buy the homestead and the mortgagee company actions "invite the inference that its predominant purpose was to secure collateral advantages for the Lepionka purchasers, not to recover its loan".

The Court of Appeal said the matter should be argued in the High Court but Mr Coltart settled with Mr Lepionka, finally securing his homestead home of more than 10 years.

"It has been a long, unpleasant struggle," Mr Coltart said.

While Mr Coltart has put court action behind him, GLW has not with cases waiting to be heard in the High Court.

Mr Paterson, who has permission from the Official Trustee in Australia to assist with GLW litigation, declined to comment.

Mr Lepionka, the co-founder of Charlie's Juice Company, said he will persevere in the courts.

"I'm not one to give up and will do what's right - that's what I'm about as a person," he said.

"All we want to do is complete the purchase, put our kids into local schools and get on with life."