Photo from Chow Group website
The name of a former Wellington mayor was used as a character reference during this week’s headlined hearings into liquor licence applications by Wellington’s Chow brothers for two brothels and strip bars in Central Auckland.
The applications were opposed by their Calendar Girls competitor, who called six witnesses to describe their experience of working for the Chows. The NZ Herald reported they said the Chows’ Wellington premises were awash with alcohol. The women alleged that excessive intoxication of patrons was encouraged, clients were intentionally overcharged and sexual assaults against staff went unreported.
In his defence, reported the Herald, John Chow said both he and his brother took active roles in their local communities.
“The ex-mayor of Wellington Kerry Prendergast has also confirmed her support for both Michael and myself, calling us ‘great Wellingtonians’,” he said.
“…We have operated under adult-entertainment on-licences for our Wellington premises for over 12 years now and, with only one exception, this has been without incident.” The incident occurred in 2012 when a man fell into a drain and died after attending Mermaids and Splash Club, he said. It was a wake-up call and the duty manager working that night was no longer employed by them.
Kerry Prendergast’s name was also linked to the Chow brothers at the end of 2010, when the DomPost reported they were among 400 invited guests at a gourmet dinner in honour of the defeated mayor. The dinner was held in the St James Theatre, next door to the Chows’ Splash Club which was then offering girls for $175 (cash) for 30 minutes.
If an unknowing citizen wondered why the owners of a brothel would be invited to a dinner honouring the former mayor (where the Prime Minister was also a guest), the answer seemed to be that Michael and John Chow are not only prominent in the sex industry. They have also become successful as property developers. The Sunday Star Times reported in 2010 that their six commercial Wellington buildings and their adult-entertainment venues had a market value of close to $100million.
The Sunday Star Times described how the Wellington City Council tried to stop them opening a brothel in Courtenay Place. But the Chows resisted, successfully. The newspaper said they would have benefited handsomely when the council introduced planning changes to prevent anyone else opening similar types of operations in the area. But it’s evident that these planning changes were not successful in stopping similar businesses from moving into the area.