Meet the men who want to save an Abel Tasman beach

DEAN KOZANIC/STUFF

"I'm certainly no angel." Who were the people behind the campaign to buy the beach?

Community spirit beams from Duane Major's face as he describes reading through the 8500 pledges on his and Adam Gard'ner's givealittle page, aiming to save a "pristine beach in the heart of Abel Tasman" from private ownership.

"I just couldn't stop, I was up until 1am or 2am reading them all," Major said.

"I definitely feel like part of the New Zealand community right now."

Duane Major is one of the men behind crowd funding effort to buy a NZ beach in the Abel Tasman National Park.
DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX NZ

Duane Major is one of the men behind crowd funding effort to buy a NZ beach in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Their givealittle fund currently sits at $559k.

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Speaking to Duane, it quickly became clear this was not his first community initiative.

When he joined the West Spreydon school board nine years ago, Major picked up on chatter — the school pool needed restoring. Major pouncing on a chance to "get stuck in and just do it".

"We celebrated the reopening on February 17, just five days before the quakes."

Despite the set-back, Major and his team raised a further $550k, with further funding coming from various sources, with a plan to reopen again once they have made it past the "significant" amount of red tape surrounding public pools.

The picture taken around the Awaroa Inlet that sparked Duane Major to start a campaign to buy back a private beach there ...
supplied

The picture taken around the Awaroa Inlet that sparked Duane Major to start a campaign to buy back a private beach there for public use.

In another social effort, Major coordinated the purchase of two houses in the Spreydon area, one of which was done up and sold for cost back to a West Spreydon school teacher, who would have otherwise had to leave the country due to high rental costs.

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"I don't want people thinking I'm some property guy, buying up houses, this was just a bunch of neighbours chipping in to help."

Major said his work as a youth worker with Spreydon Youth Community had instilled in him a passion for nurturing values in young people, and creating "thriving communities", ensuring a future he was happy for his four kids to grow up into.

Duane Major, at home in Spreydon, Christchurch, was inspired to buy the beach for all of New Zealand, to create a ...
DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX NZ

Duane Major, at home in Spreydon, Christchurch, was inspired to buy the beach for all of New Zealand, to create a "win-win" outcome for all.

"[The givealittle page] is just in keeping with how I roll, and how I want to raise my kids, and the environment I want my kids to be in."

"I just couldn't live with myself if I didn't give this a go — we consider Abel Tasman our bach, and we don't mind sharing it with everyone."

It's no surprise Major's favourite movie is The Castle, with Major admitting he has been pinching himself a lot recently, with his own story emulating the classic underdog tale.

"I've been having a great time," he said, his phone ringing constantly, fielding media requests from as far afield as Melbourne.

"I've had a lot of conversations with a lot of great people."

Both Major and his fundraising partner Gard'ner are adamant the focus needed to remain on "inspiring Kiwis to action", hoping they can defy the crowdfunding experts and get through the lull often seen in efforts like theirs.

"I like to think about the three P's," Gard'ner said.

"Positive people power - and I think this is a good example of that."

Having just returned from 12 years in Shanghai, Gard'ner said the community spirit shown by thousands of Kiwis was heartwarming.

"It's the first time my kids have lived in New Zealand, their home, so to have something like this to share with them is really great.

"I hope we can just keep this thing going and get it over the line."

Pledges to the fund can be made here, and with tender closing on February 16, both Major and Gard'ner said the opportunity to save this pristine piece of our country was now.

"We can do something special here."

 - Stuff

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