The street is Mason Rise.

With its benchmark-finish roading, footpaths lined with flowering native shrubs, a panorama of Pacific Ocean islands and Coromandel peaks, it brings its namesake pride.
But developer Sky Mason is also crestfallen.

Notice was given on November 8 that his companies Sky Mason Developments Limited and Tairua Mason Trustee 2013 Limited have gone into liquidation.

His upmarket eco-subdivision of 28 lots on 9.98ha of the farm he explored as a child is no longer in his control.

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Eight sections cannot yet be built upon until additional stormwater work is completed, and Sky claims Thames-Coromandel District Council has forced his hand.

"I left two sections in there to make sure people will be paid, so I won't owe anybody money.

"It's for the council to be accountable and someone to be managing this process because I tried my damned hardest. I've got no control or say at all now.

"I'm majorly disappointed."

Sky moved to Tairua at the age of 5 and his parents worked the farm that he developed into his subdivision, Azimuth Estate.

With numerous lots sold to a mix of locals and overseas-based owners, he had planned a second stage of another 24 lots and a third stage with a boutique hotel in the hills at the rear of Tairua Country Club.

"I was trying to establish something in my hometown. If I wanted to make huge profits I would've done it in a different town or piece of land that was flatter," he said.
"I don't know if I'm going to carry on with Stage 2 or 3 because the contingencies can't be calculated.

"Changing the goalposts is the biggest one. I was getting triple-peer reviewed by three engineers that never came to a decision."

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Mason said the council had demanded a "massively over-engineered" development and held onto bonds worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, with no answers on what he needed to do to get the money released.

"It has received sign-off but the council wanted a bond in place for remedial works they wanted me to do, so they wouldn't sign it off unless I agreed to these works.

"Originally they were priced at $300,000, now through all the arguing with all the engineers we're looking at close to $1 million.

"Everyone has bought into the place knowing the geological risks — it's all part of retaining as they build. For some reason the council wants me to take on this endeavour and fortify the whole mountain."

Azimuth Estate in Tairua.
Azimuth Estate in Tairua.

He said the decision to bring in liquidators meant that an outside company would force resolution, and progress was positive.

"It got to the point with council where I can't talk with them directly, it has to be lawyer to lawyer. I can't get replies from them.

"I just couldn't get it over the line, over a year this process has cost $200,000 just in legal fees.

"What was meant to be a simple process has turned into something so traumatic, because I don't think the council has ever come across this sort of development and we've been used as a guinea pig in the process.

"The lack of communication with council is probably the biggest thing. Asking them how do we do this? They don't know, that's the problem.

"At one point I was left not even knowing how to engage a contractor to price these works because council wouldn't give me clarity on how to release bonds to do the work. It's almost like they've created this scenario over the whole year."

Council response

A subdivision completion 224 certificate was issued for the development in August 2018.
TCDC Operations Group Manager Bruce Hinson said from the time that the 224 was issued, the council facilitated regular meetings and communications either face to face, by phone or by email with the developer and his various agents to work through the bonded works.

"The last face-to-face meeting, scheduled in July 2019, didn't occur as it was communicated to the council that the developer would not be attending (due to prior commitments), and that his solicitor was not instructed to attend.

"Council is not aware of any direct communications from the developer to council, which have not been responded to. Council staff have also had various communications with the developer's lawyer since issue of the 224 certificate, but in more recent months communications have been direct between TCDC lawyers and the developer's lawyers, due to legal complexities of the matter and commercial sensitivities.

"Council has not withheld release of the landscaping bond provided for the development. There is a current landscaping maintenance bond which had a term of five years and is therefore not yet due for release.

"The developer has been fully aware from the start that conditions of consent required the provision of a Geotechnical Completion Report (GCR), as the developer had to endorse those conditions.

"This report included various recommendations and restrictions in relation to lot development, including matters specifically applied for by the developer as part of a variation to the subdivision consent.

"The GCR report was submitted by the developer's engineers as part of the 224 process to comply with the conditions of consent," said Mr Hinson.

Mr Mason said the five-year landscaping plan was broken into two parts.

"If we weren't performing council could force us to do the work. Not only did they take the $680,000 for the remediation works bond which we couldn't reach a resolution for, but the landscaping bond of $150,000 we've complied with fully all along.

"What really threw us was that half the landscaping bond was supposed to be released, and the remainder released over the next four years for spot planting and maintenance. It's to ensure what we established grows for the next four years. I have no idea why they thought they could refuse to release that money."

He said now the council has taken over the subdivision it was starting to get overgrown: "No one has mown the lawn for ages."

He is now trying to win the contract to undertake landscaping maintenance.

"I want to make it beautiful and take care of it — it's the whole reason we did the subdivision and the whole project is my baby and Nathaniel's baby. There's heaps of pride in the job."

Sky Mason at the upmarket eco-subdivision of 28 lots on 9.98ha of the farm he explored as a child. The subdivision is no longer in his control because two companies of his are in liquidation.


Sky Mason and Nathaniel Blomfield showing just some of the landscape planting completed on the Tairua subdivision.