Correction: The article has been amended after incorrectly saying Eleanor Marr had applied to suspend payments because she was not able to make them. This was incorrect and Mrs Marr had been making payments to the trust.

A long-running family feud over a $22 million South Island farming estate has come back to the High Court.

The case over 11 Canterbury farm properties stretches back to 2012 when the patriarch of the family, Norman Thomas, died.

The saga has seen surviving members of the family going head to head over the instructions and terms of the will.


Under his will, the deceased left all his estate, including the interests he had in the farm properties, to his daughters Alison Syme and Eleanor Marr.

Thomas' son, Philip, was not listed as a beneficiary in a will. However, Philip Thomas had farmed several of the farm properties for many years in partnership with his father until the relationship broke down in 2010.

Philip Thomas had a half share in those farms, while his father owned the other. Following the dispute, Philip Thomas claimed an entitlement to his father's share in those farms, but the matter remained unresolved at the time of the father's death.

Following his death, two of Norman Thomas' grandchildren, Simon Reed and his brother Mark and other relations of the deceased, brought claims against the estate.

The various disputes related to the estate stretched to 20 September 2015, when the parties held a four-day mediation to resolve the matter.

This mediation allocated the estate's interests in the various farm properties and other assets between Philip Eleanor, and Alison, Mark and Simon together.

The mediation also provided for payment of tax, it included an agreement to abandon any claims against the estate, and it provided a formula for payment of any shortfall that arose in the estate.

By March 2016, the trustees responsible for the will - namely John Mackintosh and Matthew Hall - reached the stage where they required urgent access to significant cash resources to fund the completion of the administration of the will.


In a 2017 decision, the Court of Appeal ordered the family members to pay the trustees sufficient funds to complete the administration.

Philip Thomas was ordered to pay $81,000, Alison Syme to pay $206,000 and Eleanor Marr to pay $275,000 into the trustees' bank account.

In addition, these parties are to make a quarterly payment to the trustees' account of $52,000 ($156,000 in total) commencing on March 1, 2018.

While Marr has fully paid her $275,333 plus $104,000 being the quarterly payments due March 1, 2018 and June 1, 2018, Syme and Philip Thomas have not paid anything.

In the latest hearing, the lawyers acting for the trustees complained that this had been the sixth time they had come before the court seeking funds for administration of the estate.

The High Court noted these comments with some concern.

In his application to the court, Phillip Thomson said he had been unable to meet his obligations unless a property was made available to him to take out a loan using the security of a title to partnership property.

The court refused his request of an outright transfer to him of estate properties, saying that "his agreed funding of the trustees, it seems without question, is available from a bank loan that can be made to Philip".

Syme applied for the suspension of court orders on account on account of not being able to make the payments. However, the High Court rejected this, saying she would be able to attain funding.