Where in the world is Ken Ross? The organiser of the Wings and Wheels over Waikato air show was nowhere to be found again yesterday as a Waikato Times investigation uncovered more evidence suggesting the multi-million-dollar event is in danger of not going ahead.
The Times visited a number of addresses in Hamilton and Auckland linked to Mr Ross, but found nothing but a fruit shop, a room full of post boxes and a woman who had never heard of him. However, late this morning a letter from Mr Ross was hand delivered to the paper. In it he questioned why the paper was out to "completely destroy" his event. But Mr Ross has failed to answer phone calls to respond to the latest problems to dog the March 7-9 event.
New revelations include:
- The US Jet Aerobatic Team – advertised as one of the event’s biggest drawcards – has never heard of Mr Ross or his air show. Speaking from Nevillewood, Pennsylvania, team spokesman Scott Lesh said there was only one other civilian jet show team in the US and he knew it wasn’t coming to New Zealand either.
- Police were today to chair a meeting of key affected parties at the Waipa District Council offices, allowing them to voice their concerns about the event.
- Wings and Wheels over Waikato has not yet been granted resource consent.
When Mr Ross again did not return phone messages, the Waikato Times went looking for him yesterday.
The newspaper visited a London St, Hamilton, office building that is listed as the registered address of airshow.co.nz Ltd, of which Mr Ross is sole director and shareholder.
A receptionist at the offices said Mr Ross did not have a physical address in the building. There was a room full of post boxes on the ground floor, but none belonged to Mr Ross or the air show company. The Times then visited the Remuera, Auckland, address where Mr Ross said he lived when airshow.co.nz was registered with the Companies Office in May last year, but he was not there either. A woman at the house said she had moved in about two weeks ago and did not know the previous tenant.
A fruit and vegetable shop on the same road is registered as the last notified address of Ski Overseas (NZ) Ltd, which was struck off more than 10 years ago and has Kenneth James Ross listed as one of its directors.
The Times has also learned that as recently as a year ago Mr Ross was planning to hold the Wings and Wheels event at Whenuapai airbase in West Auckland. He gave a presentation to the Rodney District Council on February 22 last year, during a closed part of the full council meeting. Former Rodney district councillor Thomas Grace said the council was not opposed to the plan but never heard from Mr Ross again after the meeting.
Meanwhile, Mr Ross’ resource consent application to the Waipa District Council still cannot be processed because not all the parties affected by the air show have given their approval. As time runs out for the resource consent to be processed, ticket holders and sponsors are becoming increasingly concerned the show won’t happen and that they will be left out of pocket. At least $1.15 million worth of tickets have been sold, Mr Ross earlier claimed.
Mystery Creek Wines sales and marketing manager Ray Webber yesterday said the company had paid Mr Ross $25,000 for pouring rights at the air show. Mr Webber said Mystery Creek and other suppliers he had spoken to were worried. "No one’s feeling confident at all to be brutally honest," he said.
Mr Webber last had contact with Mr Ross on Tuesday last week, when a meeting was arranged for the following day. But Mr Ross called back and postponed the meeting, citing "pressing issues" relating to resource consent.
Mr Webber said Mr Ross had "fronted up" in the past when issues needed addressing and Mystery Creek was making plans as if the show would happen. "I genuinely feel concerned for the people who’ve bought tickets. The communication hasn’t been as we would have expected it for an event this size."
In the letter from Mr Ross, which arrived right on press start time, he said he had tried to appraise the newspaper of the air show details last year but was ignored. He said the paper only appeared to want to run negative stories. "You can be assured that other event promoters outside of Hamilton will be looking at the highly negative treatment that your newspaper has meted out to our company ... the loss to Hamilton residents could be $5 billion.
DO YOU KNOW KEN ROSS?
The organiser of the Wings and Wheels Over Waikato Air Show, Ken Ross, has failed to make himself available to answer key questions on the event’s viability.
Do you know where he is or how we can contact him? Call Michael Cummings on 07 849 9662 or email email@example.com
- Waikato Times