Philip Woollaston

Philip Tosswill Edmond Woollaston (born 17 August 1944) is a former New Zealand Labour Party politician. He was Member of Parliament for Nelson from 1981 to 1990 and Mayor of Nelson from 1992 to 1998.[1]

Philip Woollaston
25th Mayor of Nelson
In office
Preceded byPeter Malone
Succeeded byPaul Matheson
4th Minister of Local Government
In office
9 February 1990 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterGeoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
Preceded byMichael Bassett
Succeeded byWarren Cooper
3rd Minister of Conservation
In office
30 January 1989 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterDavid Lange
Geoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
Preceded byHelen Clark
Succeeded byDenis Marshall
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Nelson
In office
Preceded byMel Courtney
Succeeded byJohn Blincoe
Personal details
Philip Tosswill Edmond Woollaston

(1944-08-17) 17 August 1944 (age 76)
Motueka, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
RelationsToss Woollaston (father)
Anna Caselberg (sister)
John Caselberg (brother-in-law)
Alma materUniversity of Canterbury

Early life and familyEdit

Woollaston was born in Motueka to New Zealand artist Sir Mountford Tosswill Woollaston and Edith Winifred Alexander. He is married with two children.

Woollaston attended Greymouth Main Primary School and Cobden Primary School. While his parents were overseas he attended St Andrew's College in Christchurch (1958–62) as a boarder.[2]

He graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Science in physics (1971) and Christchurch Teachers' College with a Diploma in Teaching (1971).

Teaching careerEdit

Woollaston taught at Linwood High School (1972–74), lectured at the University of Canterbury (1975), and taught at both Collingwood District High School (1976–77) and Collingwood Area School (1977–80) before embarking on a political career.

In 1974, Woollaston was awarded the Rutherford Trophy for Demonstrations in Physics by the New Zealand Institute of Physics, for his demonstration of linear dynamics.[3]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1981–84 40th Nelson Labour
1984–87 41st Nelson Labour
1987–90 42nd Nelson Labour

Woollaston joined the New Zealand Labour Party in 1975. He was Secretary of the Labour Party Policy Council from 1982 to 1984.

He was a Golden Bay County Councillor and on the Nelson Regional Airport Authority from 1977 to 1980. Woollaston was also on the Nelson Bays United Council and No 11 District Roads Board from 1979 to 1980.

Woollaston stood for the Nelson electorate in 1981, defeating incumbent MP Mel Courtney. During his time in Parliament he was Associate Minister for the Environment (1987–89), Associate Minister of Justice (1987–90), Minister assisting the Deputy Prime Minister (1988–90), Minister of Conservation (1989–90), and Minister of Local Government (1990). Woollaston was a junior Minister in the controversial Fourth Labour Governments of David Lange & Geoffrey Palmer but never sought at the time (through resignation or public opposition) to distance himself from the Rogernomics policies of that era.

In 1990 Woollaston retired from Parliament and was replaced as MP for Nelson by John Blincoe. On 6 December 1990, he was granted the title "The Honourable" for life, in recognition of his services as a member of the Executive Council.[4]

In 1991 he became Policy Advisor to the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya for two years.


Following his return to New Zealand, Woollaston stood for and became Mayor of Nelson from 1992 to 1998. He was defeated by Paul Matheson in 1998.

Mahana (formerly Woollaston) Estates Winery in Receivership & Glenn SchaefferEdit

In 1993 Woollaston developed a small vineyard in the Waimea Plains near Nelson with his wife Chan. Originally intended as a retirement hobby, the winery grew into a full-time business when the Woollastons entered into a partnership with American couple, Glenn and (his former wife) Renee Schaeffer, purchasing an apple orchard at Mahana near Nelson.[5] Originally the winery was called Woollaston Estates but in 2015 it changed its name to Mahana Estates.[6]

Glenn Schaeffer made headlines in 2009 when the US company he co-founded and headed (Fontainebleau Resorts) filed for bankruptcy.[7] It had been developing the USD$2.9 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a 68-storey 3889 room hotel, condominium and casino (now The Drew Las Vegas, which remains unfinished as of 2020).[8]

Woollaston retired from his position as managing director of the winery in 2009. In July 2018, the Mahana Estates Winery was put up sale and in September it was put into receivership. In December 2018 the High Court of New Zealand found that Schaeffer had made false representations to Las Vegas investors that they were purchasing a share in the winery and vineyard when in fact he had never transferred his interest in the business to the limited partnership and had continued to deal with the assets as if they were his own. Schaeffer was ordered to repay NZ$3.3 million to the investors.[6] In June 2020, Schaeffer's appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed.[9]


  1. ^ New Zealand Who's Who 1991 and 2001
  2. ^ St Andrews College 1916-1966, History and School List
  3. ^ "Awards: The Rutherford Trophy for Demonstrations in Physics". 2001. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  4. ^ Roll of the Honourables. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Philip Woollaston – New Zealand (Woollaston Winery)". Sommelier Jobs. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Murren v Schaeffer [2018] NZHC 3176". NZ Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Fontainebleau Las Vegas Files for Bankruptcy". New York Times. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  8. ^ Segall, Eli (24 January 2020). "Drew Las Vegas developer expects to close $2B construction loan soon". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  9. ^ Gee, Samantha. "Former Kiwi vineyard owner Glenn Schaeffer loses appeal, ordered to pay Las Vegas execs $3.3m". Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Mel Courtney
Member of Parliament for Nelson
Succeeded by
John Blincoe
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Bassett
Minister of Local Government
Succeeded by
Warren Cooper
Preceded by
Peter Malone
Mayor of Nelson
Succeeded by
Paul Matheson