Water warriors let rip

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Rugby great Thorne and developer Henderson fall out over H2O.

A high-profile ex-All Black is accused of stealing water by his former mate – financially-troubled developer Dave Henderson.

Late last year, rugby great Grahame Thorne rented the Stone House in Gibbston off the receiver of failed Henderson company Anthem Holdings.

Under the tenancy, it was left to Thorne to arrange his water supply with a surviving Henderson com­­­pany, Gibbston Water Services.

Henderson wanted $1000 a week from Thorne, partly as a fee to draw water from the existing system and partly as a contribution towards its upgrade.

“We are quite prepared to pay for water,” Thorne says, but $1000 a week when he’s only renting is “exorbitant”.
Henderson explains that his water scheme has massive costs and Thorne had the option of establishing his own supply.

The Christchurch-based de­­­veloper responds tersely to Thorne taking water for free: “In most jurisdictions that’s called theft.”

Thorne: “We knew that we were taking a chance but we thought we were friends.”

Their relationship has turned septic.

Thorne: “[Henderson] called me a socialist and my wife a [former Prime Minister] Helen Clark clone.”

The ex-All Black acknowledges Henderson’s been very good to him since Thorne worked for Henderson’s failed Radio Liberty in the mid-1990s.

Thorne has stayed at the Stone House twice before for free, including a stint two years ago to help Thorne’s son David rehabilitate from a horrific rugby injury.

“It’s tragic you can actually be mates on the 24th of December and absolutely sworn enemies [days later].

“[Henderson’s] a sworn enemy to me, it seems, yet I’ve got no grouch with him.

“I don’t like losing friends, a guy we’ve had so many good times with – I feel sick in the stomach,” says Thorne.

Henderson says of Thorne: “I’ve known him for a while and I’ve extended a lot of goodwill to him and his family in recent times.”

But Thorne is “doing what Grahame does best – garner sympathy”.

“He has now gone to the media to put pressure on me to give him water.”

Henderson is surprised joint receiver Paul Sargison let Thorne rent the home when it didn’t have a paid-up water connection.

On November 12, Sargison told Henderson by email that if water couldn’t be supplied, “I can’t rent it to [the Thornes]”.

Henderson’s also surprised Thorne is only paying $300 a week for a modern luxury three-bedroom home which he used to let out in peak season at $600-$700 a night.

But Thorne claims the receiver rang around and found it wasn’t easy to let properties in Gibbston as “it’s miles away from anywhere” – and Thorne is also “looking after the place”.

Compounding Thorne’s prob­lems, he says the receiver’s given him notice to quit the Stone House by March 31.
The house is one of six former Anthem properties up for mortgagee sale.

Another Henderson company in receivership is behind the stalled $2 billion Five Mile township by Queenstown Airport.