Who will mourn the financial ruin of private property developers? Each week brings the fall of more members of this high-living, once-powerful band.

One day, it seems, they have the best clothes and are seen about town with the best-looking models, behind the wheels of the raciest cars.

Now they are crumbling under their creditors and even hocking their bling on the internet.

This week, Starline Group's Jamie Peters announced his bankruptcy after putting his name to about $1 billion worth of development work.

He's the developer who was selling his belongings on the internet a while back, including Cartier and Rolex watches, furniture and even his garden palms.

Peters estimated he had sold more than 1500 properties, starting in 1994 on residential work, buying and selling residential units then moving on to bigger commercial jobs and eventually developing part of Gulf Harbour, Quay Park and big Auckland office blocks.

"I am a proud man and did not want to become bankrupt. I have not run away from my problems. I have dealt with almost every funder face to face over the last two years and with most of them we have resolved the issues," Peters says.

But he could not resolve problems with funder Bank of Scotland International, nor repay $100 million in loans.

Peters is not alone.

Princes Wharf's David Henderson of Kitchener Group has Inland Revenue lodging a bankruptcy application against him in the High Court at Auckland for $3.5 million.

Christchurch's David Henderson - also a developer - has had three of his companies put into liquidation. Others are in receivership and the 31ha $1 billion Five Mile project at Frankton Flats outside Queenstown lies barren.

Mark Bryers, former Blue Chip boss, went bankrupt this month and to add to the misery of this sorry tale, two Blue Chip investors lost their High Court case last week.

Nigel McKenna of Melview Group has two companies in receivership, failed to proceed with Flat Bush in Auckland and has scaled back work.

Greenlane's Neville Mahon has trouble at the Fiji Beach Resort & Spa managed by Hilton. Last month, his Denarau Investments and Denarau International went into receivership. Investors who own apartments there are working with receivers KordaMentha.

Patrick Fontein's Kensington Park went to KordaMentha for a time, then rich industrial developer John Sax bought it. He plans to finish the Orewa housing project but in a scaled-back format.

Korean developer Dae Ju wanted to build a $450 million 67-level Elliott apartment tower almost up to the Sky Tower. It was planned to be ready before the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Asked about progress, New Zealand representative and lawyer Marcus Beveridge this week responded: "No building yet, busy trying to get projects out of the ground."

Dae Ju has unwittingly scored the double, planning to develop two CBD Auckland sites which have lain idle for a good three decades: the ex-Royal International Hotel site for Elliott Tower and the ex-Auckland Star site for an office and apartment block.

Now the sites host carparking and a reverse bungy-jump.

Rick Martin of Cornerstone has suffered issues at his Sentinel tower in Takapuna where apartments are unsold. He put his development properties up for sale, saying he was on a drive for "cash, baby, cash".

Greg Olliver's St Heliers hilltop properties were once meant to become a Neverland-style project but they have been sold and Todd Capital has taken him out of his Landco business.

The Nielsen brothers are no longer active and Mark Perriam and Cameron Marsh's Perron had the KordaMentha crew in, courtesy of CBA a year back.

Layne Kells' Marlin Group attempted to bring a Soho Square vision to Ponsonby. Now, that chasm is being mocked and renamed Sohole.

Once meant to be an intensely built mixed-used $250 million project, its foundations have been used for a beach party complete with boats and inflatables, rather than for corporates and tenants such as TV3.

The Cook St works depot lies silent in the city, Doug Rikard-Bell's $600 million Rhubarb Lane vision never becoming a reality.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander is concerned about the rapid demise of developers, saying the country needs these entrepreneurs because without them we have far fewer large subdivisions and commercial buildings.

"Stuff is never going to be put up without them but the trouble is a lot of the deals are highly leveraged and vulnerable to shock movements in the economy."

Two to four years will have to pass before this breed emerges again in any great strength, he predicts.

The fall of the private real estate development fraternity has cost the country billions.

Investors - many elderly and retired - had helped finance these developers' visions, even if they didn't know it at the time.

The financiers were never very good at disclosing where investor money was going. Now, Hanover, St Laurence and Strategic which loaned the developers big wads of cash are suffering from non-repayment of loans.

One lot is dragging the other down. The financiers are in moratorium, leaving investors high and dry.

Also hurting are consultants who provided marketing, agency, architectural, valuation, engineering, quantity surveying and communications services to those private developers.

"It's a roll of dishonour," said one consultant of the developers' demise.

He is owed thousands and left bitter and disenchanted by hollow promises to "pay you this Friday".

So who is left standing in this multi-billion dollar sector?

The listed property trusts, arguably the more solid and reliable face of the property development business, are all alive.

Answerable to the NZX, forced to comply with listing regulations and having to face shareholders or unitholders, they kept their borrowings mainly below 40 per cent so were able to weather this storm.

None of the listeds went bust. At least eight are trading extremely well on the NZX and now DNZ (formerly Dominion Funds) wants to list.

A temporary dive in unit and share prices, paper losses from real estate devaluations and having to hock a few buildings is about as bad as it got for this group dominated by AMP NZ Office Trust, Goodman Property Trust and Kiwi Income Property Trust.

Investors in the listeds have fared much better than those who poured cash into the financiers.

Listed stock prices have risen 17 per cent in the past three months and holders of units and shares are getting good dividends from robust cashflows.

The Manson family are also still in the market, finishing Telecom's new HQ on Victoria St near the Victoria Park Markets.

McConnell International and Andrew Krukziener are still in play, Krukziener is involved in the refurbishment of the stately old Achilles House on the corner of Customs St East and Commerce St, although Inland Revenue has been on his tail.

Cooper and Company are busy on the new East building and planning their Quay St hotel. Newcrest Group, Tony Gapes and Greenstone Group are also substantial private developers still operating.

Alistair Helm of realestate.co.nz blames the private developers for loading up with too much debt.

Property Council chief executive Connall Townsend predicts a new breed of developer will rise in the next few years but in the meantime he worries about Wellington, dominated by B- and C-grade office buildings.

Continual renewal of the real estate stock is part of the legacy confident developers bring, he says.

Without their presence, buildings deteriorate and the city is left the poorer.

Zoltan Moricz, research director at consultants CB Richard Ellis, predicts the arrival of a more savvy private development community by about 2014 and more institutionalisation of development.

Allan Matson of the Historic Places Trust's powerful registration board does not weep for developers.

"So, look at that, the BNZ built a big new blue box. Gee. Wow!" he said pointing cynically from Queen St to the new Deloitte tower.

He regards the bank as a historic building vandal, first on 125 Queen St and now at 80 Queen St with the Jean Batten Building.

Facades of both properties have been left as remnants of what the city has lost - the worst travesty in his view.

Herald reader Don Roberts was this week scathing about Jamie Peters' bankruptcy: "Oh, how the so-called mighty can fall," he writes.

Blogger Cactus Kate weeps a little for the loss. "Without the developers we have no buildings."

Once, these developers were property warriors. Not any more.