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           Home >  Culture  > Wizard  :

Part The Third - The Stolen
Image, The Mt. Cook Group
And Air New Zealand

- The Wizard Of New Zealand - 22/5/97

“The ongoing adventure of a lone cybernetic wizard versus the Mount Cook Group, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, in this narrative, an evil multinational corporation. The Wizard of New Zealand tells the story himself. If you have not already—first read Part The First

A Slap in the Face from Miserly, Ungrateful, Mt Cook Suits
Thrilled with my success I rang the Mt Cook offices to speak to Mr Tynan. He was rather short with me and showed little interest in my brilliant contribution to their campaign in Sydney and it had not cost them a penny.

He repeated the allegation that I had been informed of the promotion, had agreed to the use of my reputation and image and that was the end of the matter.

I made it quite clear that I was prepared to overlook their rudeness and unprofessional behaviour if they would recompense me by arranging at least one return airfare to Europe or North America for Alice and myself. I would be able to put New Zealand on the map for tourists in a way that the hundreds of paid consultants at present travelling round the world with free air travel could not possibly hope to equal.

Unmoved, Mr Tynan informed me that Mt Cook had already sent me a cheque for $200 NZ (about $120 US) and that this was my fee! I was dumbfounded by their parsimonious cheek. When I recovered the use of my tongue I pointed out that this cheque was for personal out-of-pocket expenses incurred in organising fireworks for my spectacular rocket-propelled skis at the Winter Festival in Queenstown. (Receipts available). This was done at my own initiative and at my own personal risk and produced excellent publicity images on TV and in several newspapers, including a front page colour picture in The Southland Times.

I was now hopping mad. After allowing myself a few weeks to calm down I approached Geoff Saunders, Alice's solicitor. He is a decent chap and a first rate golfer and has been very patient and helpful to me over the years mostly without charge, even though I am not really a "legal person".

I Can't Get No Satisfaction
At the end of the year Geoff Saunders rang Mr Tynan to try and sort the matter out amicably. Mr Tynan agreed that some sort of deal involving airfares to Europe could be arranged.

As nothing more was heard, on February 27th Saunders and Co. wrote a letter to Peter Clark, the Manager of the Mt Cook Group Ltd., pointing out that the promised airfares had not been forthcoming and that I was getting impatient.

Then on March 14th, Meares Williams, Mt Cook's solicitors, replied denying that Mr Tynan had made any offer of airfares to Geoff Saunders. They stated bluntly that the $200 cheque I had received was proof of my agreement being the fee for the whole promotion. There would be no other recompense.

Solicitors Locked in Combat
Since no reply was received, Saunders and Co wrote again on March 25th asking for a answer in seven days. Meares Williams finally replied on March 30th implying that Geoff Saunders had been unfair in allowing Tania Heyward to listen in to his conversation with Mr Tynan, and repeating the denial that he had made any undertaking whatsoever.

Meanwhile financial magic had been going on the Mt Cook organisation. They discovered suddenly that the $200 had been for fireworks after all. Instead of apologising for their faulty accounting they now found that I had been sent a cheque for $50, which I had assumed was for extra expenses.

Freelance entertainers are always incurring minor expenses which are settled later, and fifty dollars is such a tiny amount (about $30 US) that I had forgotten it. I think it was probably because the fireworks had cost a little more than $200.

Meares Williams stated that this $50 was my fee for the Australian campaign and proof that I had known about it and agreed to it!

It boggles the mind that a large commercial organisation, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand which is one of the biggest companies in New Zealand, could assert that fifty dollars was a fair fee for the use of my name and image to promote New Zealand in Australia. This applies whether or not I had agreed to it. Only a mental defective would agree to such a fee.

The acrimonious legal correspondence went on until September 4th, when I instructed Saunders and Co that I would consider my account with Mt Cook settled if they would arrange with their parent company for Alice and I to travel free to Europe or North America once or twice a year for the next few years.

Mr Saunders pointed out that, after 21 years, I was cutting back my daily free performances in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, to the summer months. I was planning to travel extensively during the rest of the year, using my not inconsiderable skills in drawing attention to myself to draw attention to New Zealand as well.

We received no reply.

No Agreement in Writing
The astonishing thing about the whole affair is that a large business organisation, a subsidiary of one of the largest companies in NZ, Air New Zealand, undertook a major advertising campaign without securing the written consent of the individual on whose reputation and image the whole promotion depended. The unprofessional nature of this procedure is truly amazing.

Even more surprising is that having realised this and being offered the chance of an amicable post hoc settlement for an airfare or two (which would cost them nothing and would bring them even more good publicity) the manager of Mt Cook, chose to rudely reject my request and instead chose to imply that (a) I was lying and (b) that $50 was a satisfactory fee. He had previously insisted just as dogmatically that the $200 fireworks cheque was my fee.

Why didn't Mr Clark meet me personally to sort the matter out when he realised there was no written agreement? Why didn't he accept my request for the very cheap recompense of a couple of airfares? Why on earth did he instruct his lawyers to adopt bullying tactics when he was skating on such thin ice? Who in the world would belief him when he said that $50 was a satisfactory fee for such a major exploitation of well known intellectual property built up over 25 years?

My years as an academic with a degree in psychological theory, led me recognise in Mr Clark a serious case of hysteria. See "The Culture of Narcissism" by Christopher Lasch in my Book list.

Incontrovertible Logic
The Logic of the situation is inescapable. If I am valuable enough to use, then I must be valuable enough to pay.

I could see no point in going to court with a wealthy organisation who could easily drag things out until I could no longer afford to go on.

It was time for direct action. Fun Revolutionary style. See The Fun Revolution" article on this web-site

Wizard's Twenty First
September 1995 was the twenty-first anniversary of my controversial arrival in Christchurch. An exciting "impact" story about this is in preparation for this site).

Some months earlier the Mayor and I had agreed it would a wonderful chance for a "Wizard's Week" of celebration. Part of these celebrations was to be an exhibition of The Living Work of Art at the city gallery.

All other avenues had been tried without success. With the eyes of the media on my activities, this would be an excellent time to publicise my dispute with Mt Cook. Some fun-revolutionary direct action would surely melt their cold hearts, loosen their tight purse-strings and provide therapeutic relief for Peter Clark.

First of all I informed the newspapers, radio stations and television of the treatment I and my lawyers had received.

Mr Clark's reply was to offer me, through my lawyers, a single return airfare to Australia (commercial value about $550 NZ) and, when I refused it, he accused me of being greedy! He once again implied that I was lying when I said I was not even informed, let alone consulted and paid a fee for the promotion.

He stated this with the full majesty of his exalted position assuming that, if it were a choice between believing him or believing me, the press and other media would believe him. This what happened.

No journalist chose to ask him why there was no agreement in writing or why he had rejected my earlier offers of a cheap settlement, they did not even question the ridiculous fee being offered. I was surprised at their timidity.

To add fuel to the flames, in the same month The Dominion newspaper in Wellington announced that Air New Zealand had made a profit so huge ($260 million) that the whole country was talking about it.

Continue on to Part The Fourth...

Other examples of post-modern wizardry can be found on the Wizard's Home Page.

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