Prominent Auckland benefactor and former knight James Hay Wallace, notorious for his crimes, has left lasting scars on one of his victims, writer Dom Shaheen, whose harrowing story has been captured in the last episode of the Herald’s special podcast series, “A Moment In Crime – The Patron.”

For many in New Zealand, Wallace, 85, was hailed as a colossal supporter of local art and film. As journalist Anna Leask narrates in her three-part series, the philanthropist’s affluent world hid a dark secret. While he openly supported aspiring New Zealand artists, musicians, and writers behind closed doors, he was a repeated sexual offender.

Wallace’s estimated $170 million fortune supported many in the artistic community. His vast art collection found homes in places like the Supreme Court and Pah Homestead. His life was a contrast filled with opulence and public respect while hiding predatory tendencies.


In a conversation with Anna Leask, Dom Shaheen retraced the moments from the night he was victimised to his decision to approach the police and the subsequent court proceedings. Every news piece on Wallace, especially those discussing his parole, transports Shaheen back to the fateful night at Wallace’s Epsom mansion, Rannoch, in the early 2000s.

While some suggest forgiveness as a path to healing, Shaheen believes that true closure can only come when Wallace acknowledges and atones for his wrongdoings. His relationship with Wallace began through the latter’s philanthropic endeavours within the arts sector.

The podcast also addresses the profound effect of Wallace’s crimes on the arts community. Arts commentator Sam Ackerton sheds light on Wallace’s clout, how he exploited funding shortages, and the broader implications of his actions.

The comprehensive three-part podcast, “A Moment In Crime – The Patron,” delves deep into Wallace’s life, criminal activities, the subsequent trial, and its overarching impact on his victims and the community. The series provides a thorough insight, from the case’s breaking point to its climactic revelation of Wallace’s identity.


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