Well, that's one way to ruin a long weekend - a scathing letter from the country's most famous movie director landing in your inbox on a Friday afternoon.

Sir Peter Jackson sent lawyers and politicians scrambling yesterday with his second pointed attack on Wellington City Council - and its handling of a contentious local housing development.

Representatives from The Wellington Company had to be called in from leave to assess his claims, which included sweeping statements about a potential cover-up over roading costs at Shelly Bay.

Jackson said he was deeply concerned about the council's approach to the development near his home suburb of Miramar, and on a dilapidated military site where he previously planned and failed to build a movie museum and convention centre.

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"It has been alleged the conduct of some WCC officers might be reminiscent of the unsavoury political practices normally found in countries like Albania (and that's with apologies to Albania)."

An artist's impression of a drone's view of the proposed development of Shelly Bay, Miramar, Wellington.
An artist's impression of a drone's view of the proposed development of Shelly Bay, Miramar, Wellington.

The Wellington Company, with local iwi, wants to develop area with 350 new homes, an aged care facility and a boutique hotel.

It has faced several setbacks, including a major blow last year when the Court of Appeal sided with community group Enterprise Miramar, quashing a decision by the council to grant resource consent.

Jackson has previously expressed his distaste for the idea, writing to Wellington mayor Justin Lester to refuse an invitation to him and his wife Frances Walsh to meet about the project.

"Fran and I are not, and never will be, interested in associating with a team who seem determined to turn Shelly Bay into something that has been described as 'Sausalito' - but which, in reality, will invoke blocks of Soviet-era apartments dumped on Wellington's picturesque peninsula," he wrote.

A graphic showing the spatial principles of the proposed Shelly Bay development in Miramar, Wellington.
A graphic showing the spatial principles of the proposed Shelly Bay development in Miramar, Wellington.

His latest missive was sent after Stuff revealed this week that councillors had been told to refrain from commenting on the development to prevent further legal action.

It also included commentary on several 2016 emails about roading upgrades that might be required for the development to go ahead, and the amount road widening would cost.

Jackson said internal emails suggest the size of the infrastructure cost had not been made public.

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"... They probably assume that if Wellington ratepayers were aware of the actual cost of this roading, it would create a lot more opposition to this development," he said.

"Better to keep the ratepayers in the dark about the financial hit coming their way, get the Greta Point From Hell development underway ... and forever contaminate what is currently one of our last precious undeveloped sections of Wellington harbour."

Shelly Bay as it looks now. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Shelly Bay as it looks now. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Greta Point is another housing development in Wellington.

Parts of the email - in which Jackson uses Lester's name at least 10 times - make personal attacks on the mayor and his leadership.

"Do you consider this ... to be acceptable practice within council, Justin?," he wrote.

"People are saying there has been a marked deterioration of trust in local government - under your leadership, Justin."

He also references doublespeak, says the emails between staff have a "nudge nudge, wink wink" tone, and refer to council staff as "snake oil" salesmen.

The former Officer's Mess at Shelly Bay, Miramar, at the site of the proposed development. Photo / File
The former Officer's Mess at Shelly Bay, Miramar, at the site of the proposed development. Photo / File

At one point, he (quite imaginatively) suggested the council invent a new species of giant penguin named Councilphala bullshitis and say it decided to nest under the road, as an excuse for widening the carriageway.

Lester said Jackson was entitled to his views, but he did not share them.

"All Wellingtonians recognise there is a housing crisis within our country and our city. We will do everything within our power to increase all forms of housing supply," he said.

"It's difficult to try to build more houses when somebody is always willing to oppose but that situation is not sustainable for the country."

Wellington mayor Justin Lester says he doesn't agree with Sir Peter, but he's entitled to his views. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Wellington mayor Justin Lester says he doesn't agree with Sir Peter, but he's entitled to his views. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Project director Earl Hope-Pearson said late last night that Jackson's letter was "dangerously" factually incorrect and highly defamatory.

Previous claims of council bias towards The Wellington Company were already ruled out in the Court of Appeal, he said.

"Regarding the comments about the 'soviet' style development…it seems Jackson was referring to previously-published fabricated images designed by Miramar BID that are false."


Jackson's latest letter comes as it was revealed the group that launched two legal challenges over the $500 million development at Shelly Bay received $250,000 in donations.

Enterprise Miramar did not disclose where the money came from, but the windfall represents a significant increase to its usual annual income of $80,000.

A touch of the dramatic: Peter Jackson's best and most bizarre lines over Shelly Bay

• It has been alleged the conduct of some WCC officers might be reminiscent of the unsavoury political practices normally found in countries like Albania (and that's with apologies to Albania).

• [They are] determined to turn Shelly Bay into something that has been described as 'Sausalito' - but which, in reality, will invoke blocks of Soviet-era apartments.

• [responding to a line in an email] Wow ... that sounds like a line from The Sopranos.

• Talk about smoke and mirrors.

• The 'nudge nudge wink wink' tone of these remarks suggests there is an agenda to dump the undisclosed, astronomical cost of widening Shelly Bay Rd on to Wellington ratepayers.

• The Wellington ratepayers are currently drinking the 'ratepayer-funded infrastructure capped at 10m' Kool-Aid.

• I believe 'softened his views' is another Sopranos line ... or maybe I saw it in The Guidelines for Albanian Local Government.