Gareth Morgan buying Abel Tasman beach for his 'own private benefit' and New Zealand
Philanthropist Gareth Morgan says there's "not a hope" of buying a New Zealand beach for $2 million but he'll make up the difference.
A crowdfunding campaign to buy a slice of New Zealand shoreline in the Awaroa Inlet from its private owner is nearing the $1.5 million mark but there's still a way to go to hit the $2m goal.
Morgan said he believed the beach needed to be secured for public access but this was unlikely to happen by raising $2m - he said the property was likely to go for closer to $3m, especially if the open tender process continued.
However, he offered to use his own money to make up the difference, but with strings attached: "I expect something in return – I want to use the property for my own private benefit meanwhile, just as the current owner does."
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On Tuesday, Morgan wrote a blog post saying he was opposed to the idea of taxpayer money being used to buy the beach.
In offering his own money to make up the shortfall, "I will guarantee that the public have access to the same extent that the current owner has kindly bestowed.
"But I will go further than that. I will undertake to give the property to DOC once my family has finished enjoying it."
Morgan proposed negotiating a price direct with the owner and he would make up the difference between what was raised by the campaign and the agreed price.
In exchange, he wanted use of the buildings and would allow the public to use the beach.
When his family has "finished enjoying it", Morgan would hand the land over to DOC, he said, adding that the number of years until the land was transferred would be negotiated.
"It's a complete win-win."
Morgan said he was worried the public did not understand the tender process that could see the final sale price climb well above $2m.
"And the sausage sizzle money is going nowhere."
Bayleys real estate agent Glenn Dick said "100 or so" private buyers had shown interest in purchasing the property so far.
Morgan said if his plan was carried out there was no risk of public access being denied and the beach was guaranteed to end up in public ownership.
"I can do this because it's my money. That's a big difference from politicians generously promising to spend you [sic] money on such folly.
"What do you say taxpayers – sound like a deal to save you money?"
Campaigner Duane Major said his motivation for buying the beach was to make it available for everyone to use and to leave a legacy for future generations, rather than it be owned and enjoyed privately.
If the campaign was successful and the offer for the private beach was accepted, the campaigners planned to gift the land to New Zealand for public use. The Government indicated it could use public funds to top-up the donations, if needed.
While Morgan's intentions were surely good, the offer "doesn't really gel" with the campaign, Major said.
Morgan's offer was "a distant plan C", he said.
"I don't think that's the spirit of what we're about. We've been focusing on plan A, which is the people pulling this off....
"But if the people of New Zealand voted with their feet and said we don't want it he could buy it and it's better than someone buying it and not letting people on the beach.
"But it doesn't really gel."
Major said the push to buy the beach was about everyday Kiwis showing what was important to them by getting behind the campaign.
"I'm not interested in the political aspects of this."
When people started debating the politics they lost sight of the community spirit the campaign fostered, he said.
Major said New Zealanders were well on the way to hitting the campaign target, which showed they did want the beach.
"If people were thinking of pledging, and actually having their voice heard, to keep this off the elite property market, and into the hands of everyone forever, now is the perfect time."
Labour leader Andrew Little said Morgan's offer was "generous" but missed the point of the campaign.
"It's generous, but the whole idea is that it's open to the public."
Little said the idea was for the beach to be available to the public, which was possible thanks to DOC's offer to manage the land.