A retired Taranaki doctor is taking on one of New Zealand's richest men because he won't cut down his trees.

John Valentine is angry because Stephen Jennings' garden is blocking his view of the sea and says the council won't step in.

He wants the trees pulled out.

"For five years I've been asking the city council to do something about it, but they're obviously not prepared to make any moves against a rich and powerful man," Dr Valentine said.


Mr Jennings has a low profile in New Zealand as he spends most of his time in Russia after moving there 20 years ago. He is the chief executive of investment firm Renaissance Group.

Dr Valentine, 86, said Mr Jennings bought a property neighbouring his beachside mansion, knocked the house down and grew a garden, which included the trees which block his view.

Mr Jennings owns the Oakura property, which is across the road from Dr Valentine's home, but does not spend much time there. The retired doctor said the trees were encroaching on council property but despite his many complaints, the New Plymouth City council had not done anything about it.

"I'm annoyed more about the council than about Jennings because he's pretty remote from the whole thing.

"But the city council should have the guts to do something."

A spokesman for the New Plymouth District Council said the council was unable to comment last night.