After falling in love with New Zealand nearly two decades ago, Hollywood movie mogul James Cameron vowed to make the country his home.
Cameron paid $20 million for more than 1000 hectares of farmland in South Wairarapa after twice visiting the two properties on the western shores of Lake Onoke last year.
In a statement issued today through his Hollywood lawyer, Cameron said it was love at first sight.
"I fell in love with New Zealand on a visit in 1994, and vowed to live here someday.
"Now that dream is becoming a reality."
His family particularly enjoyed "the rugged landscape and the spirit of the people", and were looking forward to becoming resident on their new farm.
''I grew up working on my grandfather's farm in Canada and my wife Suzy's family own a farm in Oklahoma.
''We want to raise our kids with the values we had when we were growing up, close to the land and with a strong work ethic.
''We hope we will be accepted as good neighbours and good members of the community in South Wairarapa.''
FISH AND CHIPS SEAL DEAL
It is believed a trip around the lake to the Lake Ferry Hotel sealed the deal for Cameron, as he and his advisers enjoyed a lunch of fish and chips.
Hotel owner Maurice Tipoki said he did not remember serving the Avatar and Titanic director but wasn't surprised by the news.
''We've got a very good reputation for our fish and chips.''
South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples described the arrival as a coup for the district.
''I'm pleased when anyone from outside the district moves to South Wairarapa, whether they're from overseas or from here, but the fact we have such a high-profile person really lifts the morale of everyone in the district.''
Cameron has three children with wife Suzy Amis: 10-year-old twins Claire and Quinn, and Elizabeth Rose, 5.
He has another daughter, Josephine, 18, with ex-wife Linda Hamilton, who starred in Cameron's Terminator movies.
Kahutara Primary School principal Clare Crawford said her 85-pupil school would be the ''obvious choice'' for the three youngest children.
''They will be in our catchment area and it is on our bus route,'' she said.
''It would be wonderful if they came here, we would welcome them with open arms... but we haven't heard anything yet.''
While the reception has been largely positive, neighbour and real estate agent Dougal MacKenzie said he hoped public access to Lake Pounui, now owned by Cameron, would remain.
''The question is, are the New Zealand public going to be able to have continued access?''
A Conservation Department spokesman said the lake was completely surrounded by private land and was highly unlikely to have a public-access clause.
Although he said it was possible a QEII covenant could include such a clause.
But MacKenzie said schools and community groups had visited the lake for years and it would be a shame for that to end.
''It's a neighbourly thing, isn't it? I wouldn't want to upset that with the new owner so we'll have to wait and see.''
While an established family home is on Cameron's hillside property, it is understood he will build an eco-home on another site.
However, a South Wairarapa District Council officer said no resource-consent applications ''in any way, shape or form'' had yet been lodged.
- The Dominion Post
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