Former NBC host Matt Lauer is in a dispute with New Zealand residents who claim he is blocking their ability hike into a beautiful lakeside park unless they pay up, according to multiple media reports.
Lauer purchased the lease to the $9 million Hunter Valley station ranch in southern New Zealand last year; it provides the only public access to Hawea Conservation Park.
Lauer was fired from his 20-plus year run on the "Today" show in November 2017 after allegations of sexual misconduct.
Lauer is a Hartsdale native who also lived in North Salem. After transferring from Woodlands High School in Westchester, Lauer graduated from Greenwich High School in Fairfield County and Ohio University.
The ex-NBC host was nearly stripped of the property this under a “good character” clause after he was accused of sexual harassment of TV co-workers. New Zealand authorities allowed him to keep it since he has not been charged with a crime.
Now, the wealthy "Today" show personality, who also owns property in the Hamptons, seeks an undisclosed amount of money from New Zealand government officials so Kiwis can walk to the park through his plot.
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation and its Walking Access Commission are advocating for more access to pass through the land. Lauer’s lawyer, Graeme Todd, told Stuff.co.nz that the compensation is likely to be considerable – most likely running into, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Additional overseas coverage of the controversy can be found by clicking here:
“In effect, he's holding the country to ransom over this issue,” public access advocate Bruce Mason told Radio New Zealand.
Mason said that negotiations have gone poorly and is urging the New Zealand government to take over the land just around the road and make it public.
A government property official told Stuff that his office is seeking advice about the financial impact to Lauer.
In April, Daily Voice reported that the disgraced "Today" show host was selling his Upper East Side co-op for $7.35 million. That story can be found by clicking here.
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