Now it’s trouble at The Rees


Unpaid bills in dispute at $100 million development.

Contractors are pawing the ground over disputed unpaid bills at a major Queenstown development site.

Mountain Scene has been told up to $1.4 million is allegedly owed and overdue on The Rees, a recently completed 89-unit Frankton Road apartment hotel – which Prime Minister John Key will open in a fortnight.

“We’re among 10 or more com­­panies that have got to the end of the project and we’re all owed money,” Queens­town Roofing manager Bill Giller says – he’s whistling for $38,000.

“Of seven or eight [firms] I’ve spoken to directly, there’s a good million bucks in that – but there’s probably [another] half a million of debt out there to [other] companies.”

Rees project manager Vaughan Wharton denies $1.4m is outstanding but agrees half of that is possibly tied up in workmanship and charging disputes.

“It’s not until you actually get to the end of a job that you can actually quantify things accurately.”

At least one creditor claimed to be owed hundreds of thousands in fact owes Rees development company SMG a six-figure refund for over-charging, Wharton alleges.

He maintains payments suffered a setback when then-project manager Anton Woitasek and director Brett Singleton were killed in a jetboating accident five months ago.

Bill Walker, owner of steelwork supplier J K Stevenson – understood to be owed about $500,000 – says it’s
easy for a developer to claim “a cock-up” so as not to pay.

But he believes “you can’t say that about 10 people and have credibility”.

Steve Savery of roofing contractor Mulford Holdings – allegedly owed $65,000 – says they fixed two small leaks but still haven’t been paid.

Southland Glass boss Phil Williams – owed $50,000 – says SMG has been “trying to do some reconciliations” but he believes it’s “creative accounting”.

“At the start of the job, we gave them a quote and we fulfilled our side.”

Williams says Rees payments were pretty much up to date till last December.

Local Allied Workforce boss Ray Maats confirms he’s owed “a sizeable amount”.

“I’m not aware of any SMG claims against us. It’s a shocker because they’re building these projects on
other people’s money.”

Rees co-developer Lindsay Singleton of SMG says: “There are a number of disputes as there always are on a
major project of this size.

“We’re working through those with a lot of people with whom there’s ongoing contact.”

He denies money problems: “There’s no lack of funding, no lack of cashflow.”

Project manager Wharton says he’s worked his way “through the big-ticket items of the contractors that I knew had issues with their accounts” and wants about another month to reconcile smaller contractor accounts “to check there hasn’t been gouging or over-charging”.

This is the second time local firms have had money problems with a Lindsay Singleton business – he was co-director of a firm that went belly-up after organising Winter Festival 10 years ago.


D-Day stalls at Kawarau Falls

Receivers of Queenstown’s $1 billion Kawarau Falls Station development haven’t met their two-week deadline over the fate of stage one – 500 staff remain in limbo.

KordaMentha announced this week construction would continue “as usual” while the “evaluation process” continued but couldn’t say when their assessment would finish.

Bank of Scotland International called in receivers on May 26 – stage one is 70 per cent complete.