South O’ the Highway

Matt Lauer Out $50 Million in Divorce, Now in New Zealand Land Dispute

The former 'Today Show' anchor fought a similar land rights battle locally.

As if he wasn’t having enough problems with his divorce and scuttled career, disgraced former Today Show anchor and Hamptonite Matt Lauer is clashing with neighbors in New Zealand over access rights to his land there.

According to a July 18 US Weekly report, Lauer is livid that he must give an overall $50 million divorce settlement to his wife, model Annette Roque. The settlement includes a one-time payment of $25 million, their current home and their Water Mill horse farm. No spousal support will be required, and they will split costs for their three children.

Roque filed for divorced back on January, two months after Lauer was fired from the Today Show for sexual misconduct in November. Now “Matt is furious he’s essentially handing over half of his net worth to Annette,” a source close to the former anchor told US Weekly.

But Lauer is ready to move on with his life and believes a return to television is still possible.

If only things were that easy—Lauer’s troubles in New Zealand began three days later after making his more optimistic statement. That country’s Walking Access Commission Chief Executive Eric Pyle said he received reports of people being denied access to Lauer’s land in Southern New Zealand’s Hunter Valley Station. Lauer bought the lease to the $9 million ($13 million Australian) plot last year, according to the Daily News, but it covers the only public access to Hāwea Conservation Park.

According to Radio New Zealand, Lauer was close to losing the government-owned property after his sexual harassment case, but since no charges were made, officials allowed him to keep it last month.

Now however, the former anchor is reportedly demanding money from local officials to allow New Zealand residents access to the park. But Lauer denied these reports in a July 24 phone interview with Radio New Zealand.

“I have not demanded a cent,” he said, yet when asked if he would accept compensation, as the law would allow if easement is granted, he said, “I would certainly explore that option…as I think anybody would.”

The Walking Access Commission is seeking easement on a 40-kilometer road that cuts through the property, and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation is supporting the appeal. Chief executive Pyle said the group acknowledges the land’s farming operations, and simply wants managed vehicle access, with a permit system, into the Hāwea Conservation Park.

Lauer claims groups are trying to “solve a problem that does not exist.” Later in the interview with Radio New Zealand, he accused the groups of using his recent scandal with NBC against him. He accused them of “taking advantage of some difficult times I’ve been through over the past six months and I think they see me as an easy mark,” adding, “They don’t know the circumstances of that situation.”

This is not the first time Lauer has clashed with neighbors over land rights. Locally, at his Water Mill horse farm, Bright Side Farm, he fought a battle for permission to plant trees and shrubs as a buffer between his riding trails and adjacent residential properties.

Neighbors argued the plantings, which Lauer said would protect his horses from getting spooked, would sully their view and violate an easement that coincided with Southampton Town’s purchase of development rights for the farm.

The Southampton Town Planning Board approved a slightly modified version of Lauer’s request in April 2016.

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