Legal scrap over iconic Arcadia Station

A world-renowned farm near Glenorchy has finally changed hands almost four years after it sold — however, a legal scrap over $4.5 million in penalty interest is still going to court.

In March, 2020, farmer Jim Veint sold stunningly-scenic Arcadia Station, at Paradise — which has featured in about 20 movies, including The Lord of the Rings, and countless TV ads — for $14m to Auckland developer Tim Edney’s The Station at Waitiri Ltd.

Till last month, however, Veint had still only been paid a $1,325,485 deposit, and $737,000 for stock, plant and machinery, which he held in his lawyer’s trust account.

Edney’s company claimed it couldn’t pay the balance for the 257-hectare sheep and beef farm — which Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen calls his favourite place on earth — as there was a caveat on the titles.

It alleged Veint was required under the sales and purchase agreement to remove the caveat — placed by Kiwi expat Dr David Teece over about half the farm when he bought another block off Veint in 1997.

‘‘The caveat was all-pervasive over all the titles,’’ Edney says.

Initially, his company deferred settlement to allow Veint to remove the caveat.

‘Four years is a long time in limbo’

When he didn’t, it lodged a statement of claim in the High Court at Invercargill, ordering him to pay deferred interest of $1,570,470.84, accumulated over 11 months, and default interest at a rate of $4592.02 a day from November 9, 2021, ‘‘until settlement’’.

Paid out but not in full: Now former Arcadia Station owner Jim Veint

Edney says Veint, who’s now 86, finally cleared the caveat off the titles just before Christmas, ‘‘and we settled within a week’’.

He says he paid the balance of the $14m but held back about $4.5m in default interest, ‘‘and that’s now sitting in our solicitor’s trust account’’.

In April, the Invercargill High Court will decide whether Edney’s company keeps that $4.5m or it goes to Veint.

Veint argues Edney already knew about the the caveat when he signed up for Arcadia.

In 2021, Veint — who’d farmed Arcadia since 1960, after his parents had bought it nine years earlier — told Mountain Scene he was unconcerned despite facing a very sizeable default interest claim.

‘‘At this stage, all the facts are on my side, really, I think, so I’m relaxed and comfortable.

‘‘I don’t lose any sleep over it.’’

Speaking to Scene this week, Edney says buying Arcadia has been ‘‘a long journey’’.

‘‘Four years is a long time to sit in limbo land, looking at Jim telling people he was OK and he was sleeping well and all those sort of things when you knew the facts were different.’’

Edney says now Arcadia’s in his company’s control, ‘‘the film people are back with a vengeance’’.

‘‘We’re often getting two to three [approaches] a week, we’re putting no obstacles in their way.

“It’s fired our aspirations to help the film industry more.’’

He says Arcadia’s popularity for film shoots was ‘‘certainly one part’’ of why he bought it, but he already owned other high country stations — ‘‘it just seems another good, logical one to get’’.

He calls it ‘‘an excellent farm — the grass grows well, it’s a great place’’.

Veint says he made good money from film and TV shoots.

‘‘The big crews that came in, they would stay for three months and I would charge a base fee and then a day’s filming fee.’’

Farming, however, was still a bigger earner.

Concerning the sale, he says he sold just as Covid struck, ‘‘when the outlook was really grim’’.

‘‘We could have sold it for more had we got it back again.’’

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