A short history of New Zealand's mission to buy a beach gallery video

ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Why should we buy a beach? Campaign organiser Duane Major explains.

The whirlwind campaign driven by everyday Kiwis to buy a slice of private Abel Tasman shoreline has succeeded. 

Almost 40,000 people pledged $2,278,171.09 to buy the beach in Awaroa Inlet. The bid made it over the line with help from the Government and an anonymous donor. 

Thank you, New Zealand, for your contributions towards the campaign. 

Congratulations, New Zealand: This beach is ours.
ANDRIS APSE/SUPPLIED

Congratulations, New Zealand: This beach is ours.

Here's the story behind the country's valiant effort to buy a beach.

READ MORE: 

* Abel Tasman beach offer accepted
Stuff.co.nz pledges to help buy the beach 
Beach tender 'an unprecedented and highly unusual scenario' 
Time running out on Abel Tasman beach campaign 
Beach donor worried after hold on pledge funds expires 
Tenders to buy Awaroa Inlet beach close 

CHAPTER ONE: CHRISTMAS DAY DARE
It's Christmas Day 2015 and brothers-in-law Duane Major and Adam Gard'ner are chatting about all issues, great and small, facing our proud nation when the topic of one now-famous beach comes up.

The Cantabrians agree the stretch of beach in Abel Tasman's Awaroa Inlet shouldn't be on the private property market, let alone the elite property market.

The idea of raising enough money to buy the beach then gifting it to New Zealand for everyone to enjoy is floated and one dares the other to walk-the-walk, so to speak.

It includes 800m of pristine shoreline.
SUPPLIED

It includes 800m of pristine shoreline.

It's this "I will if you will" conversation that sparks a whirlwind country-wide campaign that's captured the hearts of a nation.

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The current owner paid $1.92m for the beach in 2008 and has told his real estate agent to encourage offers from $2m. 

CHAPTER TWO: THE FATEFUL FACEBOOK POST
A couple of weeks have passed and the beach is still playing on the minds of these patriotic, beach-loving Kiwis but neither man has taken the leap to setting up the crowdfunding campaign they discussed.

Wakatū Incorporation chairman Paul Morgan says the land includes Maori burial grounds.
Paul Kennedy/photonewzealand

Wakatū Incorporation chairman Paul Morgan says the land includes Maori burial grounds.

Then Major spots a Facebook post from a friend, featuring a beach – the beach, in fact.

This is the motivation needed and on January 22, Major launches the Givealittle page with the goal of reaching $2m by Monday, February 15.

The first few days are slow-going. Major and Gardner make their pledges on the Friday, then wait.

The photos will be a way to remember their involvement in the historic campaign.
JOHN DOOGAN/PHOTONEWZEALAND

The photos will be a way to remember their involvement in the historic campaign.

The following week New Zealand media pick up the story and donations start to climb.

CHAPTER THREE: CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN GAINS MOMENTUM
Money starts pouring in from everyday New Zealanders and corporate sponsors. Media outlets from around the country keep a close watch on the numbers and BBC helps spread the word across the globe.

Things are looking good as the Givealittle page crosses the $1m threshold and continues to climb. But campaigners are aware there's stiff competition from those looking to buy the private beach for themselves.

supplied supplied supplied supplied supplied supplied supplied

The next step is for the Department of Conservation to decide how this beach fits into its national park management plan.

The beach is on the Awaroa Inlet in Abel Tasman.

There are a number of properties located along the beach.

There are a number of properties located along the beach.

A bach is one of the three basic structures along with the Awaroa Inlet in the Abel Tasman.

There are a number of properties located along the beach.

There are a number of properties located along the beach.

There are a number of properties located along the beach.

A Christchurch man started the crowd-funding campaign to buy the private beach and gift it to New Zealand.

Stuff contributed $20,000 to the campaign.

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Bayleys real estate agent Glenn Dick says he's had genuine expressions of interest from about 100 potential buyers - some of them live in New Zealand and some are foreigners.

CHAPTER FOUR: GARETH MORGAN'S INDECENT PROPOSAL
It's Tuesday, February 9, and philanthropist Gareth Morgan throws an interesting curve ball into the mix. Morgan's been watching the campaign with interest.

Like Major and Gard'ner, he believes the beach should be available for everyone to enjoy but doesn't think that dream should come at the taxpayers' expense.

DAVID WALKER/Stuff.co.nz

Even though the "Our News!" team seem to be lighthearted about their presentations, they are very serious about what #buythisbeach represents for all Kiwis.

During the course of the campaign Government players have hinted at whether taxpayer dollars could help get the campaign over the line - Maggie Barry, Nick Smith, Paula Bennett and John Key all added their 2 cents. All we know for sure is the beach is too rich for DOC's taste.

However, DOC would take over the management and maintenance of the property, with the land added into the Abel Tasman National Park, if successful.

Anyway, Morgan offers to top up the crowdfunding dollars to what's needed to secure the property – he thinks it'll be closer to $3m. But there are conditions - his family will own the beach and have the right to use the dwellings on the property, while anyone else can enjoy the rest of the property (including the beach) at their leisure.

Campaigners Duane Major and Adam Gard'ner.
FACEBOOK/GIFT ABEL TASMAN BEACH

Campaigners Duane Major and Adam Gard'ner.

The campaigners (and quite a few Kiwis) aren't a fan of this plan and they say "thanks but no thanks" to Morgan.

CHAPTER FIVE: OWNER'S FINANCES UNDER SPOTLIGHT
A couple of days have passed since Morgan stirred things up when a new piece of controversy comes to light.

A report by Stuff.co.nz reveals the beach's current owner, Wellington businessman Michael Spackman, is tied up in a multi-million dollar claim by Bank of New Zealand, which is seeking a mortgagee sale of one of his homes.

The beach for sale in Awaroa Inlet is surrounded by Abel Tasman National Park.
ALDEN WILLIAMS / FAIRFAX NZ

The beach for sale in Awaroa Inlet is surrounded by Abel Tasman National Park.

Spackman purchased the seven hectare property with 800m of private shoreline in 2008 for $1.92m.

Meanwhile, Spackman, an associate, and a number of companies the pair jointly own are being pursued for millions of dollars over alleged unpaid debts. The IRD has also applied to liquidate another company the pair jointly own.

CHAPTER SIX: CAMPAIGN HITS $2M GOAL
Despite a couple of speed bumps Kiwis continue to get behind the campaign and on Friday, February 12, the Givealittle page ticks over the $2m mark.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff.co.nz

Kevin and Heather Brown relax on a beach in Awaroa Inlet.

From here on in, the campaigners decide to hide the amount pledged by donors to give themselves the best shot at winning the tender without driving the price up further.

At this stage, more than 33,500 have pledged to give money towards buying the beach and pledges keep on rolling in.

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE FINAL STRETCH
It's Monday, February 15, and time is running out.

This is another one of the five photos donors will receive following the campaign - win or lose.
ANDRIS APSE

This is another one of the five photos donors will receive following the campaign - win or lose.

Donations are still climbing (though we don't know exactly how much has been pledged) and the campaigners set a final goal to make it to 40,000 pledges by the 3pm deadline.

The final number of donors comes in at 39,249. Major labels the final number as an "awesome score".

"We just want to communicate our sincere gratitude... Now we know we're not alone in the Kiwi spirit of get up and go."

The beach belongs to the public of NZ.
FACEBOOK/GIFT ABEL TASMAN BEACH

The beach belongs to the public of NZ.

It's Major's birthday and he's in the mood for a celebration (with some lamb shanks and ice cream), whether they end up winning the tender or not.

Tenders close at 4pm on Tuesday and the technical side of the sale is in good hands with Wellington lawyer Geoff Harley and Harcourts chief executive Chris Kennedy.

There's still no guarantee the campaign will be successful. Campaigners don't know who's put in an offer and for how much.

Major says he hopes no-one else will bid after seeing how much New Zealanders want this but he will have to wait and see.

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE FINAL TENDER
Harley and Kennedy submit the final tender on behalf of the campaign on Tuesday, February 16. The final amount raised will not be known until after the tender process to buy the beach closes.

But the public's bid is not the only one being considered. 

Almost a week later, the campaign calls for any last-minute donors. Now is the time for anyone willing to make a "significant no-strings attached" contribution to step froward, Major says.

"Not what we hoped for, but probably what many expected, as it is after all a real estate sale. This obviously means the strength of our bid is paramount."

CHAPTER NINE: WE BOUGHT A BEACH
Major announces the good news on Wednesday, February 24: The deal was confirmed at 10.58pm the previous evening.

Its revealed Kiwis pledged $2,278,171.09. The Government also stepped in with an 11th hour offer of $350,000, and an anonymous donor helped get the bid over the line. 

Now the offer has been accepted, money will be drawn from the bank accounts of every individual and company who pledged, once Givealittle is satisfied with the paperwork. The campaigners remind pledgers to make sure they have enough money in their account to honour their donation. 

Major and Gard'ner are spending the day celebrating with their families and already dreaming up plans for a special gifting ceremony at the beach.

An agreement will be drawn up with DOC, or potentially another land trust, who will become the guardian of the property.

The story continues. 

 - Stuff

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