New Zealand Prime Minister Sabotage of first luxury Adventure Lodge Mystery Explained
The death in circumstances of extreme adventure of undersea explorer Stockton Rush III rekindles memories of the bizarre and even sinister vendetta visited upon his father Stockton Rush Snr while the family was resident in New Zealand.
The episode was notable because the campaign was directed by New Zealand Labour prime minister Wallace Rowling whose political trademark was an apparent lack of passion about anything at all.
Stockton Rush II, the father, established Takaro Lodge near Lake Te Anau. It was the first international style tourist lodge complete with surrounding villas and its purpose was to become the base for the well-off to make adventure journeys into Fiordland.
The low slung central chateau was sympathetic to green values and today’s eco standards and the villas easily blended into the landscape.
Yet reports continued to appear in the media centred on its luxuries especially on its gold bathroom fittings.
It was this concentration on conspicuous consumption symbolised by the gold taps that seemed to drive to distraction Wallace Rowling then finance minister.
The upshot was litigation during the 1970s to and fro all the way to the Privy Council in London running up in two hemispheres tens of millions of dollars of costs in today’s money.
The stated reason for this was that Stockton Rush Snr in establishing and operating Takaro Lodge had somehow failed in terms of “duty.”
Now and following the death in a submersible of his son Stockton Rush Jnr there are some indications that the strange vendetta had little to do with the luxury lodge or indeed with New Zealand at all.
The Stockton Rush family and Wallace Rowling it is now known were all resident in Seattle (pictured when the Rowlings were there) at the same time during the mid 1950s
Central to this story is that in the mid 1950s Rowling won a Fulbright Scholarship and it was this that saw him living and teaching in Seattle, the home base of the Stockton Rush dynasty which traces its origins to the Founding Fathers.
Did Rowling have an emotionally bruising encounter, perhaps centred on schooling? Did the future high-flying New Zealand Labour Party politician believe himself to have been high-hatted, belittled by the dynastic tycoon?
Was there friction perhaps at a Seattle PTA?
Stockton Rush Snr, the father, was that rare North American sportsman in that he played and followed rugby football. This leads us to another possibility. Was there an incident in Seattle on the sideline, or even on the pitch itself?
If Rowling considered an honourable and incisive political figure seemed unlikely to hold a grudge then so did ”Tock” Rush, as Stockton Rush Snr was known.
An imposing patrician figure the oilman was pleasant to everyone he met. He tried to help out wherever he could. He was a noted philanthropist.
He was obviously embarrassed by the compounding media furore on embellishments designed for the North American lifestyle tourists symbolised by the gold taps at his Takaro Lodge .
His name badge at any Wellington official function such as the American Chamber of Commerce designated him as merely representing an outfit named “Menlo Atherton Associates.”
His Takaro Lodge generated jobs, demand for local materials, boosted the district’s tourist earnings, and promoted the region internationally as a premium lifestyle destination.
Nowadays Takaro Lodge still under foreign ownership presents a modest picture compared to say a modern iteration of this high end destination theme such as the majestic Wharekauhau Country Estate.
Coincidence among coincidences it is just down a rustic road from the wilderness getaway of James Cameron responsible for generating the contemporary fascination with Titanic.
Wallace Rowling always known as “Bill” was defined as a politician by his piping voice which became increasingly high pitched the more he became vexed and this characteristic awkwardly coincided with the advent of adversary television interviewing.
Did the suave Ivy League Tock Rush become the lightning rod for Rowling’s anger at what we would now term the elites?
In the event the government harassment was successful. Stockton Rush Snr was forced to quit Takaro Lodge after just a few years and with it his dreams of founding an environmental wilderness appreciation tourist centre.
How different things would be now if the adventurous Stockton Rush dynasty had been allowed to pursue its niche tourist destiny in New Zealand?
Instead their South Seas aspirations were deliberately and officially thwarted at every step on the familial favoured path which was the road less travelled.
The treatment handed out by the New Zealand government to the high end tourism investor Stockton “Tock” Rush 11 seems just as shocking even now as the death in pursuit of extreme tourism off the coast of Newfoundland of his aquanaut son Stockton Rush 111.