Ex-hedge fund boss’ Monet moment


Queenstown’s latest philanthropic overseas millionaire can be revealed.

A Hong Kong-based ex-hedge fund boss is setting up an artist-in-residence programme in Queenstown as a gift to the local community.

Australian-raised art lover Michael Nock intends recruiting top international and Kiwi artists to stay and produce art works at a Lower Shotover property he’s bought for the purpose.

Stunned by its mature garden, he’s named it Giverny after the magnificent garden built in France by impressionist painter Claude Monet.

Nock, 60, was equally attracted by a large toolshed which he’s converting into an artist’s studio before starting his programme in about February.

Giverny suits him as an extension of an artist-in-residence programme he started in Hong Kong two-and-a-half years ago.

Amazingly, Giverny wasn’t Nock’s first local property purchase.

After rediscovering New Zealand on a trip with one of his daughters - “I decided that with the world being the state that it’s in, NZ was actually looking pretty good” - he bought a massive, 890 square metre home overlooking Lake Hayes last year.

“I’ve lived 36 years in Hong Kong, and the idea of being able to get away from the noise and the crowds and just come down here and pick up a paint brush and start painting, appealed to me greatly.”

Despite ticking many boxes, however, it didn’t have a painting studio or a garden.

“My mandate after I bought [at Lake Hayes] was, ‘can I find a little bit of land with just a shed on it?'”

Nock says he was overawed when he saw the Lower Shotover property, overlooking the Shotover River, early this year.

“I just went, ‘this is Giverny, this is Monet’s garden in NZ, what a place to paint from’.”

Nock admits that if he’d found Giverny first, he probably wouldn’t have bought at Lake Hayes.

Nock’s covered almost every wall in his holiday home with dozens of mostly oil paintings, some up to three square metres, by renowned Australian artists like Kiwi-born Euan Macleod, Luke Sciberras, Steve Lopes and Liz Cummings, as well as his own works.

“I like living in an art gallery.”

Eight visiting artists had a look at his Lower Shotover property this Easter, shortly after settling on it.

“All of them just went, ‘oh yes, we get this’.”

Apart from converting the shed into a studio, he’s tidying up the four-bedroom home – “it’s a cosy country-type house”.

His preference is for the artists-in-residence to be painters, but he’s doing up space at the back of the house that would suit printmakers, he says.

Nock says a board of artists will choose who comes but he’s also got his own connections - he sits on the board of the distinguished California Institute of the Arts, in the US, where he gained bachelor and master of fine arts degrees.

“I’d like to create an environment where there’s some really great artists coming through and we can introduce them to some great Kiwi artists and try to raise the bar in terms of perhaps some of the art that we’re seeing down here.”

As with his Hong Kong programme, Nock says he expects visiting artists would hold a public exhibition of works they produce during their residency.