Filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson has quietly accrued a property portfolio worth as much as $350 million.
His recent purchase of land in Wellington’s Shelly Bay has seen a long-mooted new housing development scrapped, with Jackson and Dame Fran Walsh set to return much of the land to nature.
This move sparked a flurry of headlines, but it only captures the tip of what Jackson has been up to.
NZ Herald investigative journalist Matt Nippert has dug into the details and uncovered a sprawling empire of properties.
“I did a search through property records and sorted everything by recent purchase dates, and Jackson has been acquiring quite a lot of land,” Nippert tells The Front Page podcast.
“Interestingly, there’s a sort of industrial, low-level commercial block in Rongotai that he has been quietly acquiring every single building on. The one exception was the union building [E tū's Wellington headquarters], which sits right in the middle. That property has indeed been sold, but everyone is keeping very tight-lipped about who the mystery buyer could possibly be.”
Jackson’s enormous wealth comes from a number of sources, according to Nippert.
“He was an A-list film director, and that’s hardly a poorly compensated profession. But more interestingly, Jackson has sort of leveraged that first Lord of the Rings project, 25 years ago, into Wellington and Miramar, a real film hub. He’s got businesses that rent studios, props and cameras. Most of his wealth comes from the success of those businesses.”
So what has motivated him to turn some of that enormous wealth toward purchasing so much land?
“He’s very much a hometown boy,” says Nippert.
“He’s bought up a lot of the churches in the neighbourhood, particularly ones where the congregations have dwindled and the buildings are old and need substantial repairs that the congregation can’t afford. He has also been buying up old movie and performing theatres, and he also helped with the Embassy restoration.
“He has a strong interest in his local neighbourhood. And yes, you say Nimby all you want, but he does seem to treat Miramar, the entire peninsula, as his backyard.”
- So, what does the local community think of Jackson’s land grab?
- Is it worrying that he has financed local Wellington politicians?
- And should we be concerned about wealthy people buying up so much land?
Listen to the full episode of The Front Page podcast for more details about Peter Jackson’s property portfolio and relationship with Wellington.
The Front Page is a daily news podcast from the New Zealand Herald, available to listen to every weekday from 5am. It is presented by Damien Venuto, an Auckland-based journalist with a background in business reporting who joined the Herald in 2017.