Abel Tasman beach offer accepted: Government steps in video

Stuff.co.nz / Paul Henry

The Abel Tasman beach is now officially in the Crown's name.

The Government stepped in with an 11th hour offer of $350,000 to help get the Abel Tasman beach bid over the line.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry confirmed the contribution after it was announced a public campaign to buy Awaroa beach had been successful.

Barry confirmed the Government contribution was what helped the appeal "get over the line and buy the property for New Zealand".

#Watch: Awaroa Beach campaigner Duane Major thanks supporters for helping to #buythisbeachnz

Posted by Stuff.co.nz on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It is understood the Government's donation was needed to secure the sale as a portion of Givealittle donors are expected to renege on on their pledges.


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 
A short history of New Zealand's mission to buy a beach 
Beach campaigners remain positive as negotiations continue

Givealittle said it was unknown how many pledges would not be honoured but 10 per cent not following through was the "worst-case scenario".

A separate last-minute anonymous donor was also a "critical component" in the success of the campaign to buy the Abel Tasman beach, organisers say.

The Government's contribution, and that of the anonymous donor, were in addition to the $2,278,171.09 pledged by Kiwis through the crowdfunding campaign.

Campaigner Duane Major said he wanted to thank everyone who got behind the campaign and made sure the beach became available for everyone to enjoy.

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Speaking of the last-minute "major donor", Major said: "It was a critical component. We wouldn't be here without them."

The philanthropist approached the campaign last week with a "no strings attached" offer, but asked to remain anonymous. 

The beach belongs to the public of NZ.

The beach belongs to the public of NZ.

Major announced the good news on Wednesday morning after the deal was confirmed at 10.58pm on Tuesday.

Campaigners Major and his brother-in-law Adam Gard'ner were spending the day celebrating with their families and were already dreaming up plans for a special gifting ceremony at the beach.

"It's been amazing and an incredible feeling of interest and goodwill and warm fuzzies," Major said.


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

"There's no heroes here, we've done something together," he said. "It's been a privilege to be part of it." 

Tenders for the Awaroa beach closed more than a week ago, following a crowdfunding campaign where almost 40,000 donors pledged more than $2 million towards the cause through a Givealittle crowdfunding campaign.

After more than four days of negotiations the current owner – Wellington businessman Michael Spackman – has made a decision on who will take over the seven-hectare property with 800 metres of pristine coastline.

Congratulations, New Zealand: This beach is ours.

Congratulations, New Zealand: This beach is ours.


said the campaign had not been without its challenges.

"The big challenge is to ensure that people honour their pledges."


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

Using credit cards was a good way to get donations, but she said about 10 per cent of pledges usually fell through.

"There is apparently always an amount of people who renege, either because their credit cards are maxed-out or cancelled for some reason, or they think 'Oh yeah the job's done I don't really need to pay up'. That's not the case."

Givealittle spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton said the crowdfunding site would be emailing everyone who pledged money on Wednesday and would be drawing down the money from their credit cards in the next 12 hours.

This slice of paradise now belongs to the New Zealand public.

This slice of paradise now belongs to the New Zealand public.

It was important for everyone to check they had money in their account so they could "be a part of history", Fullarton said.

If there was not enough money in someone's account, Givealittle would continue to email them and try to draw down the money for the next seven days.

Barry said she was was entirely comfortable with the use of taxpayer money on the beach - it's a first campaign of its kind to her knowledge.


Stuff.co.nz is getting behind the bid to buy back Awaroa Inlet in Abel Tasman National Park.

"It is the first time New Zealanders have spoken with such a force," she said.

And she hoped this did set a precedent for future projects that Kiwis could get behind.

The deal needs to go unconditional, then the land would be gazetted and put into the national park.

Campaigners Duane Major and Adam Gard'ner.

Campaigners Duane Major and Adam Gard'ner.

Leader of the opposition Andrew Little said the campaign shows Kiwis want the country to remain in their hands. 

Selling off land to overseas speculators "hurts" and was "not the Kiwi way", he said.

"Overseas investment in our land is important when it creates jobs and grows our economy but too often New Zealanders just lose out to big money offshore. 

"Awaroa has been saved and we should all celebrate in that victory." 

The Government would make an announcement in a couple of weeks about the size of the park, as other bits of land have also been purchased by the Crown for it.

Environment Minister Nick Smith added: "The real credit for securing this beach for the Abel Tasman National Park remains with Duane and Givealittle contributors. 

"The key part now is that those people that have contributed follow through with that because it would leave Duane in a very difficult position."

The aim of the campaign was to crowdfund enough money to buy the beach, then gift the property to the public for everyone to enjoy, with the Department of Conservation to take over management of the land.

Stuff.co.nz was among those who helped buy the beach contributing $20,000 and getting firmly behind the project.

"I also want to thank Stuff in particular because it was so magnanimous, you led the way, in that 'hey, we don't want exclusive rights here, we're just going to put $20,000 on, try get our readers to do something special, and go tell everyone. It's not about us, it's about getting that beach'. That really led the way in a culture I look forward to in the future," Major said on Wednesday morning.

Major and Adam Gard'ner - the Christchurch men behind the campaign - enlisted the help of Wellington lawyer Geoff Harley, Bell Gully law firm and Harcourts chief executive Chris Kennedy when it came time to submit a tender.

The 'tender team', as Major calls them, led negotiations over the property and worked hard to get the public bid across the line.

On Monday, Major confirmed they were not the only ones in the running for the beach.

This was not what the campaigners had hoped, and they made a last-minute appeal to anyone who wanted to make a "significant, no strings attached" contribution to help get the bid across the line.

The campaign has not been a smooth ride, with local iwi laying claim to the land, a divisive offer from philanthropist Gareth Morgan and political debate about whether taxpayer money should be thrown in the mix.

Following the announcement the beach offer had been accepted, Morgan, who was criticised for offering to donate to the campaign - on condition his family had exclusive rights to a portion of the beach - posted a cryptic tweet following the news that the crowdfunded campaign was successful.

In a reply to political commentator Tracey Barnett wish "to buy a mountain next, then a small planet", Morgan tweeted: "Couldn't have put it better myself, well said."

Local Ngati Tama iwi congratulated campaign organisers on their successful bid on Wednesday.

"The iwi elected not to financially back the campaign although it is relieved that the land ownership remains in Aotearoa and doesn't slip into foreign hands," Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust chairwoman Leanne Manson said.

Throughout the process, the campaigners have said the most important thing was to stay true to the vision of the campaign, which was about preserving a slice of New Zealand for future generations to enjoy.

Major also said he had been inspired by the sense of community the new-age telethon-style campaign had created.

The campaigners have remained confident they could win the beach for New Zealand from the get-go.

Major said he was grateful to everyone who shared in the spirit of the campaign.

 - Stuff


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