Ratepayers face big pay-out


A newly-revealed leaky-building claim could hit Queenstown ratepayers - but not the firm which built the
allegedly defective apartments.

Mountain Scene has obtained court documents detailing a potentially large claim by 19 owners of the 11-unit 4.5 star Alta Apartments in Thompson Street above Queenstown Bay.

Statements of defence have also been filed by first defendant Queenstown Lakes District Council and third
defendant Calibre Consulting, formerly Duffill Watts & King.

But there’s been no response filed by second defendant Rilean Construction (South Island) Ltd, which built the
units in 2006-07.

As earlier reported, the Rilean entity was liquidated in March this year by directors and majority shareholders Steve McLean and Gary Dent.

At the time, McLean denied the liquidation was related to the Alta leaks claim first filed last December, saying: “The decision to liquidate the old trading company was made to complete a restructuring process, based around new shareholding, started more than five years ago.”

Alta owners are suing all three defendants for about $1.6 million to fix the leaks - and that’s just for starters (see

Trevor Laing, Dunedin liquidator of Rilean’s folded firm, told Mountain Scene in March there was little money in
the collapsed company’s kitty to defend Alta’s claim.

Laing’s interim report said the Rilean company “ceased trading approximately four years ago and has no remaining assets”.

Rilean’s McLean wouldn’t respond to suggestions that if the Alta claim succeeds, Queenstown’s council may have a bigger bill because the Rilean entity no longer exists.

“I’ve got no idea what [the council’s] defence is and how they’ll be playing it,” McLean says this week – he refused further comment.

Queenstown’s council has no remaining insurance cover for leaky-building claims and no financial provision in its long-term plan to meet any claims.

Pay-outs will come from ratepayers’ pockets - every $1m paid out would average $45 per rateable property.

Rilean is arguably Queenstown’s biggest builder - local projects of note include the Queenstown Motor Group showroom, Novotel Lakeside hotel extensions, Queenstown Airport’s departure lounge and Hilton apartments.

In late 2013, the now-defunct Rilean Construction (South Island) settled a $4.1m leaks lawsuit by owners of The
Mountaineer building in Queenstown – no details were released.