Mataura property magnate dies

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
A United States man, who once defended the look of Mataura and became something of a property baron in Eastern Southland, has died.

Dr Jack Phillips was 87.

The former dentist and developer, and his wife Carmen, had a strong association with Eastern Southland that began in the mid 1990s.

The couple arrived in New Zealand from California during that time.

They owned property in the South — in Queenstown, Mataura and had a home of their own in Gore, which they used when in the area.

His property holdings got so big in Eastern Southland that he set up a business, Southern Estate Properties, in Mataura to look after them all.

Dr Phillips envisioned the revitalisation of Mataura’s central business district.

He owned several properties in Bridge St and renovated many others in the town.

He and his wife also spent a lot of time in Russell in the Bay of Islands but would travel to Eastern Southland at least twice a year.

In 2008 Dr Phillips was featured on TV3’s Campbell Live as part of a segment that investigated the reasons why so many commercial buildings in Mataura were empty at the time, and the role he had in the town’s development.

Some businesses in Mataura objected to the segment, saying it painted the town in a negative light.

He also owned property in Gore.

The council bought 3.6ha of his land in March 2017 which became the land used for the Matai Ridge subdivision.

Shari Kay-Smith, of Alexandra, was a colleague of his for more than 20 years.

She remembered Dr Phillips as a man with a "good heart".

She last spoke to him on May 3.

"He sounded in good spirits but tired.

"He passed a month later."

He was a very private but smart man, she said.

"He did it all himself.

"No-one helped him to get to where he was."

She commented how he enjoyed good living outside his real estate work.

"He loved his wine."