Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford announced their engagement in 2019. Photo / Doug Sherring
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s wedding plans have gone awry in part because of wild venison and freshly caught seafood, says the owner of the abandoned venue.
Robin Pierson, whose Bushmere Arms in Gisborne has been abandoned, said celebrity chef Peter Gordon wanted local produce and a âhunt and gatherâ dining experience for the 150 guests.
This included wild venison and crayfish.
But Pierson says he rejected the plans for fear they would violate strict permits and food hygiene rules. He thinks that’s, in part at least, the reason the couple chose to seek another venue – and let Pierson claim he owed him a $ 5,000 cancellation fee.
The Herald on Sunday saw a series of email exchanges between Pierson, Gayford and Ardern’s Election Secretary Barbara Ward, which reveal how negotiations have unfolded over the past few months.
In one, Pierson writes: “Clarke’s intentions to provide wild venison for the menu – I understand this violates all food hygiene regulations.”
Pierson was convicted in 2008 after serving contaminated turkey to Christmas diners.
He was also concerned about falling foul of the Fishery Officers over the seafood menu and brought this up with Ward in another email – “but they didn’t come back with a permit, we’ve never been too away, “he told the Herald on Sunday.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister declined to comment on the menu.
“We have provided answers to the relevant questions. Otherwise, the details of the couple’s marriage are a private matter and we ask that this be respected.”
Pierson continues to demand $ 5,000, saying his venue on the outskirts of Gisborne was booked two years ago and the couple owe a cancellation fee. He admits that his “feathers were ruffled” by Gordon doing the restoration.
The emails also reveal an apparent frustration on the other side about Gordon’s stoush.
In one, Ward says that Ardern and Gayford were clear from the start that they wanted Gordon as their leader.
âThe details of how this might work needed to be worked out. There have been some relentless attempts on our side to try to find a way forward,â Ward wrote.
“It became evident that the possibility of Peter and his immediate team being the leaders on the day was too far a bridge for you and this was most clearly reflected in the cost proposal you sent after our visit and after the menu proposed by Peter has been sent to you.
“This cost proposal excluding the food and the chef was so over the top and frankly shocked us all. You were very dismissive of Peter’s menu and it was clear having Peter in the mix was impractical for you.”
Ward worked on the wedding plans at his own pace and did not use taxpayer money, the prime minister said.
In another email, Ward disputes Pierson’s claim that there was a mutual agreement on the reservation.
“Your stated assumption that we had a mutual commitment to arrange the wedding at Bushmere Arms is incorrect. Everything has always been subject to the couple’s approval and it is clear that while the issues were still ongoing, a final decision was not made. hadn’t been taken, âWard wrote.
Ward regretted how things got “pear shaped” and asked Pierson to submit another menu without Gordon’s participation. The quote was more expensive than the original and was ultimately turned down by the couple on August 31.
âThe costs of the wedding pack that you originally sent the couple, and budgeted on, are vastly different and considerably higher. The end result is that the couple felt that it was just not wanted and unwelcome at Bushmere Arms, “Ward wrote. .
The Herald on Sunday understands that the couple are now looking for another location in the same area.
Pierson says he still wants his cancellation fee, which he says reflects the time and money he spent preparing for the event and the loss of income for blocking two days for the wedding .
âThese are uncharted waters. We have had a few cancellations due to Covid and I fully accept that not everyone is in control. But they are not. They have decided they cannot get what they wanted so they go to another place. “
In a final email to Ward, Pierson wrote: “I am no longer interested in responding to your continued false allegations and claims. Your offer of $ 1250 is not acceptable and I have attached a copy of my original invoice. . Please pay as soon as possible to avoid this situation from becoming even more pear-shaped. “