There has been a struggle in trying to serve John Banks with papers in a paternity case against him, a court been told.
Antony Shaw, 47, has asked a court to let him apply for a declaration that the wealthy former politician is his father.
But no one appeared for Mr Banks at the first hearing in the case in the High Court at Auckland today.
Mr Shaw’s lawyer, Lowndes litigation partner Jacqueline Lethbridge, said while the former mayor had been served papers in April, he had never been officially given the court date.
An affidavit given to the judge said there had been “difficulties” in trying to get the documents to Mr Banks, and Justice Timothy Brewer ordered that all future correspondence could be sent to his lawyer instead.
Justice Brewer also asked whether there was any evidence Mr Banks had resisted getting a DNA test, saying it would avoid “enormous cost ramifications” of a court case.
Ms Lethbridge said Mr Banks had not co-operated with earlier attempts to get a test.
Courts cannot compel someone to give DNA in a paternity case.
The matter will return to court again later this month.
Mr Banks, a former cabinet minister and two-term Auckland mayor, has three adopted children.
Mr Shaw resides in Japan with his wife and son and has reportedly been pursuing the paternity issue since the early 2000s.
If the case is successful, the former politician could be declared Mr Shaw’s next of kin with legal implications relating to potential claims against Mr Banks’s will.
The court action follows years of uncertainty around the identity of Mr Shaw’s real father.
Mr Shaw, an English language teacher who now lives in Japan with his wife Noriko and son Kent, says the case is not about money.
He simply wants certainty about his ancestry for him and his family.
“Mr Shaw has taken this step for no other gain than to have certainty about, and a declaration as to, paternity,” Ms Lethbridge, said.
“Mr Shaw wishes to have the details of his biological father recorded on his birth certificate which details at this stage remain blank and for his son to know who his paternal grandfather is with certainty.”
She added that taking court action against Banks had been a “harrowing and difficult experience” for her client.
“Mr Shaw feels he has been left with no option other than to pursue the matter through the courts.”
Ms Lethbridge said her client applied for a legal declaration of paternity against Mr Banks late last year.
Mr Shaw, who has lived in Japan for the last two decades, attended Mount Albert Grammar and grew up believing his mother’s Asian partner was his father.
His mother is alleged to have had a relationship with Banks in the late 1960s while working as a nurse in Hamilton.
She eventually told Mr Shaw about his parentage in 1999 and he tried to meet Mr Banks in the early 2000s during a trip home from Japan to ask the then mayor “are you my father?”, a 2001 women’s magazine article alleged.
The meeting never happened, culminating in today’s court proceedings.
University of Otago law professor Mark Henaghan said paternity cases like this were rare.
They were more usually taken by women under the Family Proceedings Act for child support purposes.
Prof Henaghan said applicants would need to produce strong circumstantial evidence to prove the two parents had been in a sexual relationship at the relevant time, often in the form of sworn affidavits and photographs.
DNA tests could conclusively eliminate someone from paternity. And although a person could not be compelled to take a DNA test, a court could draw “adverse inferences” if they refused. NZME