Queenstown police are investigating an incident at the Anthem vineyard estate involving bankrupt developer Dave Henderson and former All Black Grahame Thorne.

Police arrived at the Gibbston property about 9.30pm on Saturday after both men called 111 - Mr Henderson to complain about trespass and wilful damage on land he claims as his property and Mr Thorne claiming a firearm had been discharged.

Mr Henderson said he called police after a neighbour told him Mr Thorne and a friend, Richard Guthrey, had dug a trench on his property earlier that evening.

Using a digger, the pair had excavated a 60 to 70m trench, despite both being subject to trespass orders on his property.


"It's just wilful damage - it's insane,'' Mr Henderson said.

Mr Thorne and Mr Guthrey have been involved in a series of legal disputes with Mr Henderson, often revolving around water access rights.

Mr Guthrey lives in Bannockburn but runs a wine-tasting business next to the Gibbston Tavern.

In January, Mr Thorne wrote a handwritten apology to Mr Henderson to help settle a civil case taken by the latter and a friend, Ian Hyndman. The pair took the case to put a restraining order on Mr Thorne to stop him sending abusive emails.

Mr Thorne referred the ODT's inquiries to Mr Guthrey, who said he dug the trench in the capacity of a contractor for Mr Thorne.

It was within a legitimate easement Mr Thorne had for a water and power connection across the land. About an hour after completing the work about 8pm, he went to investigate car headlights and voices near the trench.

He was standing behind a tree about 20 to 30m away when he heard a "muffled shot that you would expect from a pistol with a silencer fitted''.

"It was definitely a gunshot because immediately afterwards I could smell the cordite.''

Mr Guthrey said Mr Henderson had no ownership rights in the land.

"We were doing everything legitimately, and Henderson comes ... thinking that he owns everything and that we have no rights, but we do.''

He and Mr Thorne had given statements to the police.

Mr Henderson said: "I do not have a gun, and I cannot imagine anything sillier than firing a shot - why would you do that?''

Mr Henderson disputed the claim Mr Thorne had an an easement across the land, saying:
"They're just making this up. If there was an easement, then of course we'd have no other option but to honour it.''

He intended to bill the pair for the damage.

The police Southern District Command Centre was unaware of the incident, while Queenstown police did not respond to the Otago Daily Times' request for information.