Mataura, a small working class town just north of Invercargill, is being held to ransom by an American investor, Dr Jack Phillips, who owns the majority of commercial property in the town. He brought them for a song after the closure of the Paper Mill - the town's major employer.
He is charging excessive rents for the use of his buildings despite the fact that he has let them fall into disrepair and many of them are simply a hazard.
He has a vision for Mataura that is to involve restoring the buildings and turning the town into a boutique town with art galleries and antique stores. It is some eight years since he purchased the buildings, and he has, to all intents and purposes, done nothing.
Local entrepreneurs are unable to start businesses in Mataura because the rents are prohibitive.
Dr Phillips has not consulted the town regarding his vision and feels no compunction to do so. He is not involved in any of the community initiatives that have started to revitalise the local economy and shows no willingness to assist the community in their efforts.