A group that has launched several legal battles over Wellington's Shelly Bay "doesn't want to know" where $440,000 worth of donations came from to help pay for the litigation.
The plan to develop Shelly Bay and build 350 new homes has become one of the biggest controversies in Wellington.
Representatives for Enterprise Miramar have been in court again this week for a Judicial Review hearing of the current resource consent.
The group is concerned about roading and congestion issues as well as environmental effects.
Enterprise Miramar is a business improvement district group that collects a targeted rate, through the city council, to promote and develop their local business economy.
The group's usual annual income is almost entirely paid from these rates of $80,000 a year, meaning it could not afford litigation without financial help.
For the year ended June 30, 2018, it received a quarter of a million dollars in "Shelly Bay Project Donations", which was topped up by an additional $136,000 the following year.
Documents provided to the Herald show a further $54,000 landed in the group's accounts this year.
Last week, Wellington City councillors voted to sell and lease land the council owns at Shelly Bay to make way for the development.
During the meeting, Enterprise Miramar chairman Thomas Wutzler made a submission to councillors that they shouldn't go ahead with the land deal.
Afterwards, councillor Jill Day questioned Wutzler.
"As you've said to us, daylight is the best disinfectant, can you tell us who is funding, and has funded, your litigation?" she asked.
Wutzler replied: "I don't want to know.
"There have been, what I do understand, private people from throughout New Zealand.
"And it goes into a trust, which I don't see and don't want to be influenced by. Because as an expert witness, I'm not interested in, by in large, payment of things as long as their intentions are well intended."
Enterprise Miramar proactively issued a press release this week saying the group felt "exceptionally let down" by the nine councillors who voted in favour of leasing and selling the council land.
Wutzler also issued a statement regarding the donations.
He said the group obtained volunteer and financial support for taking their latest case to court through donations made to their solicitor's trust account.
"The Enterprise Miramar Board does not know who the donors are but knows they are several in number and that they all cared enough about the council's decision-making process and outcome, the peninsula and the traffic and safety issues, to support the case."
Wutzler said Enterprise Miramar has carefully managed the costs of running the case and was grateful for the significant time volunteered.
"After the council's decision last Wednesday, we know that if we were to put the hat around again, support will flow. People who care about the peninsula are sick of the traffic congestion and have called for due process, are deeply disappointed and would be prepared to support standing up for proper and lawful decision-making."
The group successfully quashed the development's previous resource consent by taking their case all the way to the Court of Appeal.
The court ruled the council had erred in its application of the law in relation to one section of special housing legislation.
The development's new resource consent, the one Enterprise Miramar is currently challenging, was granted by independent commissioners.
Separate to the court cases led by Enterprise Miramar, another group has also launched litigation over Shelly Bay.
Mau Whenua is challenging whether iwi-owned land at Shelly Bay should have been sold to developers in the first place.
It says it's a group within Taranaki Whānui representing those who voted not to sell the land, those who have reconsidered their position on the sale and no longer support it, and those who say they didn't get a chance to vote in the first place.
Mau Whenua alleges the 2017 land sale failed to get the necessary support from 75 per cent of iwi members to go ahead.
It lodged a legal claim in July 2019 against the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust and the developer, and its associated companies, relating to sale transactions at Shelly Bay.
The legal proceedings are yet to be heard, but it's understood by Wellington City Council officers the next court hearing is due in March next year.
One of Sir Peter Jackson's companies is bankrolling Mau Whenua's litigation.
Court documents have revealed WingNut Films, of which Jackson is a director, has agreed to meet certain costs over and above those met by the plaintiffs.
The famous filmmaker, who lives nearby to the development in question, is a long-standing opponent of the consented plans at Shelly Bay.
The donation agreement outlines that WingNut Films must not interfere with, meddle in, or otherwise influence the proceedings.
It also states the company has no claim over, or right to, any recovered amounts by way of damages.
Jackson also gave Andy Foster $30,000 for a campaign that would eventually win Wellington's mayoralty.
Foster has also voiced fierce opposition to development plans at Shelly Bay over the years.
Electoral returns show the money was given to Foster through Jackson's companies- Weta Digital, Park Road Post and Portsmouth Rentals.
At the time of Foster's campaign launch, Jackson said he wasn't a political person.
"I don't know whether Andy's left, right, or going around in circles. I'm just supporting him because he seems to have moral integrity."