Wellington Scoop

The ex-mayor, the brothel owners, and the Prime Minister

Rosemary McLeod warns this morning that a brothel could soon be opened in Lambton Quay. In her DomPost column she notes that the Chow brothers, owners of the only brothel in Courtenay Place, are signing up to buy a bank building on the Golden Mile. Premium shopping, premium whores, same diff, she suggests.

On another page of the same issue, the DomPost reports that the two brothel-owning brothers were among 400 invited guests at this week’s gourmet dinner in honour of Kerry Prendergast. It was held in the St James Theatre, next door to the Chow’s Splash Club which offers girls for $175 (cash) for 30 minutes.

If an unknowing citizen wonders why the owners of a brothel would be invited to a dinner honouring a former Wellington mayor (where the Prime Minister was also a guest), the answer may 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 last month that their six commercial Wellington buildings and their adult-entertainment venues (they also own a strip club and a gymnasium) are valued at $50million.

Their Splash Club venture is controversial because (unlike their other brothel which is in Vivian Street) its Courtenay Place location puts it in the centre of the city’s mainstream nightlife. The Sunday Star Times describes how the Wellington City Council tried to stop them opening a brothel in this position. But the Chows resisted, successfully. And the newspaper says they would have benefited handsomely when the council introduced planning changes to prevent anyone else opening similar types of operations in the area.

Wellington blogger Maximus is an observer who is critical of the Chows. He recalls that they are the duo who chopped down a listed heritage tree in Tory Street and argued their way out of a $200,000 potential fine and 3 months jail, instead receiving a slap on the wrist – a $2000 fine – for destroying one of Wellington’s most beautiful trees.

Maximus also comments on the collapse and subsequent demolition of a 134-year-old Auckland hotel building which the Chows had bought for $3.3million to be a brothel across the road from Sky City. “Let’s hope the Auckland Council don’t have the wool pulled over their eyes by this duo,” writes Maximus, suspiciously.

Rosemary McLeod is more concerned about the visibility of brothels and strip clubs in the main streets of her city. “This is Wellington, not Bangkok,” she writes. She fears the Chows may decide to “tuck in another brothel” when they become owners of the Westpac Bank building on Lambton Quay.

The organisers of the Kerry Prendergast dinner can’t have been worrying about such issues when they decided to include the Chows on their invitation list of prominent citizens. The DomPost says that as well as the brothel-owners, the Prime Minister and his chief of staff attended, as did Theresa Gattung, Mai Chen, Sir Richard Taylor, the police commissioner and the rugby union chief executive. But there’s no mention of another of the city’s property developers who has also embarrassed the council. Perhaps Terry Serepisos replied too late – there were more than 100 people on the waiting list for the manuka-smoked salmon, Pukekohe chicken in a lobster bisque reduction, and slow-cooked shoulder of lamb.

Read more
Brothers building up their “sex empire”


  1. Eye of the Fish (Pingback), 10. December 2010, 0:31

    […] Oh no, such dodgyness does exist here after all. As Scoop reports, a special thank you party was given for out-going Mayor Kerry Prendergast, featuring […]

  2. Tired of Mis-information, 10. December 2010, 11:19

    Rosemary McLeod must have been having a slow news day when she wrote this. Like a number of other so-called journalists these days, she didn’t bother to try and let the facts stand in the way of a headline.
    The Wellington City Council District Plan clearly states that brothels can not be operated outside of a certain area in Wellington City, so she got her knickers in a knot for nothing.
    The Golden Mile is safe from this sort of business.

  3. Foggy, 10. December 2010, 16:22

    Sincere congratulations on a superb Wellington Scoop article on the party for ex-mayor Prendergast, and thank you for reminding us about Maximus. He writes great articles.
    On the basis of “judge me by my friends”, I consider it very ill-advised for the Prime Minister, the Commissioner of Police, and the other prominent Wellingtonians who attended. The image of all those attendees who should have checked the guest list first, will be permanently tarnished. It will cost the National Party many votes, and Winston Peters will be the main beneficiary.