A legal highs baron whose synthetic cannabis product was blamed for causing severe health effects and psychotic episodes is building a luxury waterfront home on Auckland's North Shore with the proceeds of his recreational drug empire.
Matthew Wielenga made a fortune selling the psychoactive substance Kronic to recreational users, many of whom wound up in hospitals and drug rehab centres.
He now plans to tear down a 1950s modernist home on Hauraki's blue chip Clifton Rd to make way for a multimillion-dollar palatial retreat.
The 1391sq m beachfront property that overlooks Takapuna Beach has a CV of nearly $6 million, but he paid $4.6m for the three-bedroom, two bathroom home in September 2012, the Herald can reveal.
It was last month sitting empty with wild overgrown lawns and graffitied with the message "Laststand".
Property records list its owner as Hei Matau Trustee Ltd. The trust's director is Kenneth James Paterson, a partner for law firm Simpson Western, who is also the listed director of Zen Trustee Ltd, which owns several other Auckland properties linked to the legal highs baron.
Despite the Clifton Rd property being considered for heritage protection, Auckland Council granted resource consent to demolish it in November 2012.
A second resource consent to build a new dwelling was granted in January 2015 and a third to build a canopy was signed off earlier this year.
Architectural concept designs for the proposed house obtained by the Herald show a futuristic multi-level building designed by Bossley Architects towering over the site.
But nothing has been built and the seaside property is sitting derelict and badly run-down.
Known as "Mr Kronic" and "the Kronic King", Wielenga's Auckland-based company Lightyears Ahead was reportedly turning over $700,000 a month selling the controversial product.
The decision to sell pre-rolled Kronic joints is blamed by some as leading to a regulatory clampdown and eventual ban following the huge rise in Kronic's popularity and associated health problems.
Wielenga was charged in Australia with trafficking synthetic cannabis in 2013 and had $4.7m in Queensland property frozen under proceeds of crime laws, according to Australian media.
The charges were later dropped when prosecutors were unable to prove his products had the same pharmacological effects as cannabis but he was under investigation last year in connection with a new line of e-cigarettes called Kronic Juice.
The house Wielenga plans to tear down was considered for protection on Auckland Council's heritage schedule.
Known as Blair House, the property was built for Mervyn and Jean Blair in the mid 1950s by prominent architect Alan Rigby.
The split-level brick, plasterboard and timber panelling house features large picture windows and a pitched gable roof.
It is considered architecturally significant as an authentic example of a mid-20th century modernist home.
The sent questions to Wielenga through a lawyer but did not receive a response.
Mr Kronic's Mansion
• Legal highs baron Matthew Wielenga purchased a cliff-top waterfront property at Hauraki in September 2012 for $4.6m under a trust.
• He plans to demolish the home, which was once considered for heritage protection, and build a futuristic multimillion-dollar mansion in its place.
• Wielenga, in his 30s, made a fortune selling the synthetic cannabis product Kronic before the government banned psychoactive substances in 2013.
• The product was blamed for putting people in hospital and causing psychotic episodes in some users.