Herald on Sunday
Ex-PM’s old Parnell pad sitting empty and ‘neglected’
A glamorous Auckland home once owned by Sir John Key appears to be sitting neglected and uninhabited and neighbours worry it is bringing down the “feel” of one of the city’s poshest streets.
The former Prime Minister and wife Bronagh Key sold the Parnell mansion for $23.5 million in 2017 to a buyer reportedly out of China.
But neighbours said they were yet to see anyone move in and now grime has built up on the home’s once immaculately kept walls, the garden is unkempt and leaves are piled against the gates.
Neighbours questioned why a buyer would pay a fortune for one of New Zealand’s most famous homes only to apparently never visit and fail to maintain the place.
One resident said she felt like sending her son to trim the verge and tidy the fence line. Another was concerned at the house’s state.
“We don’t want the best house in the street going backwards, it is a bad example for everyone,” the man said. “He doesn’t even cut the front little lawn.”
The mega-mansion became one of New Zealand’s most recognisable homes during Key’s stint as prime minister.
It not only served as a setting for political get-togethers, but also became a backdrop on social media. The sparkling pool, in particular, became instantly recognisable in son Max’s many video blogs, music videos and photos of his famous dad.
After stepping down as Prime Minister, Key said he would sell the five-bedroom home. Although the 763sq m house and its 1752sq m of land sold in 2017, the deal wasn’t settled until 2019.
Just months later, New Zealand went into lockdown and closed its borders to all but Kiwi citizens and residents as the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world.
None of the neighbours spoken to by the Herald on Sunday had seen the buyer since the purchase.
“I walk past that gate at least three times a week with my dog,” one said. “And I’m always having a look because I used to see John in there quite often and say ‘G’day’.”
He said the mega sale had caught the attention of residents up and down the street.
“I’ve always been interested in it, everybody has when they heard the price.”
He said he’d heard a number of homes in the area were owned by offshore buyers.
“There are some very rich people that come here for two or three weeks of the year and think ‘that is marvellous’ and go back again.”
Another neighbour, who works as a gardener, called the condition of the grounds “sheer neglect” and said she almost sent her son across to do a tidy up.
“And presumably if no one is tending the inside of the house, then it is similarly neglected.”
The Herald on Sunday was unable to reach the new buyer for comment after numerous visits went unanswered.