How things change.
Back in 2004 an uncritical media were trumpeting Dave Henderson's purchase of the former Inland Revenue offices in Cashel Street Christchurch - and his decision to rename the seven storey building 'Henderson House'.
This is how the New Zealand Herald reported it:
You know the story about the razor. The guy liked it so much, he bought the company. Dave 'Hendo' Henderson has a twist on that. He hated the company - in this case the Inland Revenue Department - so much, he bought its building. Driven to bankruptcy by the tax department, Henderson survived to become its landlord, evictor and nemesis.
He ended a five-year fight with the taxman as a millionaire, not only able to prove the bill for a phantom $1 million tax debt was wrong, but also that it owed him $65,000.
It's a classic David and Goliath tale which has already become a best-selling book and now Kiwi film producer John Barnett is poised to make a movie out of it.
Ordinarily, that would be enough delicious revenge for one man. But for Henderson, the sweetest victory came in the form of the seven floors of steel and prefabricated concrete at 165 Cashel St in Christchurch.
"Henderson House," the property magnate exclaims and the tall silver lettering on the building twinkles back over the road at him.
Hendo's 'fight' with the taxman saw the Minister of Local Government Rodney 'Holiday' Hide coming out in support of our libertarian hero.Indeed Hide wrote the introduction to Hendo's book on his 'battle' with the IRD. We're Here to Help was, of course, eventually made into a mediocre movie by South Pacific Pictures.
This is what Hide wrote in the introduction:
'You should read this book. You could be the next. Our Inland Revenue Department is out of control. No one in authority cares or wants to do anything about it. Their only concern is that the money keeps rolling in and that the stories stay out of the papers.
Our politicians and bureaucrats now view businessmen as villains, crooks as victims, and lazy losers as heroes. Our government's values are anti-capitalist and anti-enterprise. The values of our politicians and our civil service must be changed radically if New Zealand is to succeed as a productive and free nation.
We need more people standing up and telling our politicians and bureaucrats that they have had enough.'
Well, Rodney is right. People 'have had enough'. They've had enough of so called 'entrepreneurs' like Henderson. Hide's hero has lost tens of millions of dollars of other people's money and caused a whole load of distress for people who have had dealings with him. All the while Hendo has continued to insist that none of it is his fault.
And now the Inland Revenue is back on Hendo's case.
The IRD is seeking to liquidate more of Hendo's troubled companies. The IRD, fed up with his uncooperative behaviour, told the High Court a week or so ago that he had has simply ignored court schedules and failed to file required documents with the court.
The IRD commented in the High Court that proceedings had been disrupted by 'serial delays and prevarications'.
Keren Clark QC told the court that Henderson's companies' tax liabilities continued to grow, and the sooner an independent inquiry was under way the better.
She said the defendants' breaches of their obligations to pay tax and to adhere to the court timetable were flagrant, serious and an abuse of process.
Do you think that Rodney Hide will come to Hendo's aid this time round? I somehow doubt it.