7.

I asked him how he had managed to bounce back after his experiences with the Inland Revenue Department. He said that he had been discharged from bankruptcy in 2000. A building just off Cathedral Square in Christchurch had come up for sale and he could see that it had great possibilities. But he was unable to raise any finance. A friend told him that the Southdown Freezing Workers' Pension Fund had money to invest. He flew to Auckland, addressed the Freezing Workers' AGM, told them that he was a just-discharged bankrupt, described his war with the IRD, and outlined his proposal for the Christchurch property. The freezing workers loaned him the money. A year later he had paid it back and made a profit. Now he had half-a-dozen developments in various parts of the South Island, including a suburb, called Five Mile, on the outskirts of Queenstown (designed by a U.S. architectural practice, DPZ, proponents of a town-planning philosophy known as the New Urbanism, the most famous example of which is Seaside, on the Florida coast, which was used as the main location for The Truman Show, a film written and directed by Andrew Niccol who is - the local angle again - a New Zealander).

Rodney Hide, the Member of Parliament, joined us. I had never met him, and only knew his public persona, which was slightly cartoonish. He was short and round and lively, with hair like Friar Tuck, bright eyes, prominent forehead, a large girth, and a gap between his two front teeth. He had a reputation in Parliament as a perk buster, which in New Zealand equates to being a tattle-tale or a goodie-good, and he was considered by many people - me included - to be a mouthpiece for the extreme end of market forces (a few years after this meeting, incidentally, Hide had an epiphany. He appeared as a contestant on the television programme Dancing With The Stars and was doing well until, at the climax of a testing routine, he dropped his partner on her head. She was very good about it. They were voted off the show, but Rodney kept dancing, lost weight, and started training at a gym. His political style softened. But inside he didn't change. He remains as he always has been, a hell of a good joker, and 'a friend indeed', like Hopalong Cassidy).

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