Nov 17, 2014 People
New Zealand’s most notorious farmer, Ewen Macdonald, died last week in a halfway house in Mt Eden. He was 94.
Macdonald led an unremarkable life in Feilding until the unexplained murder of his brother-in-law on the family farm early one morning in 2010, for which he was ultimately tried and acquitted.
The verdict displeased many, and when evidence withheld from the jury revealed he had slaughtered 19 calves with a hammer, vandalised buildings and emptied a vat of 16,000 litres of milk, his infamy was sealed.
Released from custody just 10 days after being sentenced for the crimes of destruction, Macdonald’s problem became manifest: he was a free man, but welcome nowhere.
For a time he kept a low profile in his parents’ home. He tried working in the family sports shop in Palmerston North, but this proved untenable as pranksters kept visiting the store asking to see the dive boots.
He left the Manawatu and sought farm work without success before meeting Craig Busch, who had enjoyed fame and notoriety with his Lion Man TV series and wildlife park.
They revived the flagging park’s fortunes, rebranding it as “The Ultimate Westie Fun Park” with drag racing, air-guitar contests, a 24-hour bar and the notorious “Lion Enclosure Mission”, which saw three fatalities and 73 limb amputations in its three short and violent months.
An endless scandal, the park flourished for a decade and a half, until a falling-out between the partners over a woman saw it torn apart by litigation and altercations.
Macdonald’s bad-boy allure had found him a succession of nubile companions and inevitably a sex tape emerged. It contained one scene that was to set him up for his long career as an advertising anti-hero. The scene — an energetic act of congress — sees his excited partner urging him to choke her. Macdonald turns to the camera and declares: “I’m not that blimmin’ psycho.”
Ad agencies fell upon the line, and Macdonald would appear in more than 40 ad campaigns over 20 years using the line, most famously in the Tui commercial that sees him offered an Australian beer. The passion with which he delivers the line “I’m not that blimmin’ psycho” perhaps spoke of his deep bitterness at being refused entry to that country when he had hoped to make a new, anonymous start.
His deepest regret, however, was revealed in a recent newspaper interview. He wished, he told the paper, that just once, he could have found someone to go hunting with him.