Media baron and former All Blacks captain David Kirk has paid for a full-page advertisement in one of his own newspapers backing high-profile critics of a big Central Otago wind farm.
The advertisement in the Escape section of yesterday’s Sunday Star-Times headlined “100% Vandalism,” features a defaced version of a landscape painting by artist and wind farm critic Grahame Sydney.
Mr Kirk, who heads Fairfax Australia, which owns a stable of papers in New Zealand including The Southland Times, told the Star-Times he was happy to be publicly associated with the campaign against state-owned Meridian Energy’s $1.5 billion wind farm proposal.
“I personally paid for the ad. It’s a personal contribution,” he said.
“Just like lots of people have charitable causes they support, it’s my personal decision to support this one.” Mr Kirk said it was “disgraceful” to put massive wind towers in “this part of Central Otago” and represented poor energy planning.
He became aware of the campaign through his friendship with Grahame Sydney and had done his own research into the wind farm proposal and the wider energy issues in New Zealand.
“I’ve got a lot of association with Central Otago. I grew up in Palmerston North but we used to drive down to Queenstown right through Central Otago.
“So I’m very familiar with the area and certainly have a real fondness for the landscape.” His family still travelled to the area at least once a year, although he did not own property in the region.
Mr Kirk said this was his personal stance and had no bearing on the editorial stance of Fairfax publications.
“This is a personal act, paid for exactly as any other private citizen would pay for it; and Fairfax media as an organisation has no view on the matter; the matter will be covered in the usual balanced and comprehensive way as our editors and writers choose to do so.” Sydney said Save Central was delighted to have Mr Kirk’s support. “He’s certainly someone we all admire and whose judgment we respect.
“I also hope it might assist in helping people understand we are not a loony fringe group but that we are serious and considered.” Sydney said renewable energy should not be used at the expense of “non-renewable” landscapes.
He said Mr Kirk did not own any of his art.
“He’s made it plain it is a private and personal position and nothing to do with Fairfax Media.” Sydney said the government should consider a mix of energy options including nuclear power.
“The fact it’s not being considered is an indicator of how terribly blinkered the government’s view of the energy strategy is.
“Wind farms will affect our tourism because New Zealand will disappear through a cobweb of wind turbines. The landscape is our national treasure,” he said.
The Environment Court is considering appeals against Project Hayes.
* Yesterday, The Southland Times editor Fred Tulett reiterated the advertisement would have no impact on how the newspaper covered the issue.
2 June 2008