A decision over an application to put the Zion Wildlife Park into liquidation to pay for lost wages has been reserved.
Associate High Court Judge Jeremy Doogue reserved his decision into the application made by Tauranga business consultant Sam Bailey to liquidate Earth Crest Ltd (trading as Kingdom of Zion Ltd).
Sam, who represented himself in court, was employed by the owner and sole director of the park’s operating company - Suzanne Eisenhut - after Lion Man Craig Busch’s return to the park in February 2012.
He was employed as a business consultant to offer advice on decisions involved in getting the park back on its financial feet.
Sam filed high court proceedings against the operating company Earth Quest saying he is owed nearly $9000 in lost wages.
Under instruction, counsel for the defendant Nick Elsmore argued the action was filed outside the 30 day window.
The liquidation application was permitted to continue when it was found it was filed with a day to spare.
At the disputed facts hearing the defence argued against the application saying Sam was also trading under a company name.
The defendants also argued against the High Court application to liquidate Earth Crest Ltd, saying the case is more suited to the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Court or District Court.
There was another technical argument over the address for service, and whether it should have been in Tauranga or Kamo, Whangarei. The application to liquidate has to be served at the company’s registered head office, which Nick says was filed after the company had moved head office to Kamo.
Sam rebutted the arguments.
The defendants also argued Sam owed them $10,000 for damage to a serval cage he allegedly caused doing work that wasn’t authorised by the owner, so they owe him nothing.
The defendant’s lawyer also queried the amount saying it is damages. Sam denied this claim.
Zion Wildlife Park gained international reputation after Lion Man Craig Busch starred in a television series about his wildlife park in Whangarei.
Troubles at the park began when Craig Busch was locked out of the park by his mother Patricia Busch in 2008. She managed it because, as a director, she was able to approve an application by Glen Holland to apply for the crucial operator licence in October 2008.
Craig was forced out of the park for three years, only returning after new owners, Tracey McVerry and Tauranga accountant Ian Stevenson, took charge and re-named it Zion Wildlife Kingdom in February 2012.
On 5 April, 2012 the facility was reopened as Kingdom of Zion. Day to day management of the facility is through Earth Crest Limited.
A wildlife park such as Zion requires two licences. The containment facility licence applies to the standard of safety concerning the animals’ containment, and their welfare. The second licence is the operator licence issued to a person or a company. It’s for overall management and control of the containment facility for the cats.