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Kiwis chip in to buy beach property

Thursday 25 February 2016 | Published in Regional

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AWAROA INLET – A public campaign in New Zealand to buy a beach property in the Abel Tasman National Park has been successful.

Almost 40,000 people pledged well over NZ$2 million to help buy the private property in the park, which is on the northern tip of the South Island.

Tenders for the seven hectare Awaroa Inlet property, which includes 800 metres of pristine shoreline, closed at 4.00pm on Tuesday.

Duane Major, who organised the campaign, said it was a satisfying feeling.

“I always thought we could do it. I did not anticipate the crazy, freakish nature of this campaign,” he told New Zealand’s Paul Henry Show.

“Now there’s a deep down sense of satisfaction. We’ve done something pretty special. It’s a privilege to be part of it. My heart is beating, I’ve got goose bumps.”

The government of Prime Minister John Key topped up the public’s contribution to secure the deal.

The announcement came after four days of negotiations with low-key Wellington businessman Michael Spackman, who owned the property.

New Zealand Conservation Minister Maggie Barry told New Zealand TV the generosity of the public during the tender process was “inspirational”.

“It’s the great kiwi spirit come alive,” she said.

Barry said the government topped up its contribution last night in the final stages of the negotiations.

“That Kiwi spirit of generosity and sort of shared values coming through – I think it’s an amazing day. We as New Zealanders all need to pat ourselves on the back. We’ve done something very cool,” Major said.

The campaign began as idle banter between Major and his brother-in-law, Adam Gard’ner, when they saw the Awaroa Bay beach property for sale.

Major said donations came from big business, schools and individuals from New Zealand, Australia and beyond.

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 initially anonymous donor.

It was a donation from the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust which helped get the beach bid over the line.

The Trust, founded by the widow of Fisher & Paykel co-founder Sir Woolf Fisher, contributed $250,000 to the public purchase of the Awaroa Inlet property.

“What I have been entrusted to do is to permanently take it off the market,” Major said of his plan to make the beach property part of the national park forever.

Real estate advertisements described it as “a remarkable seven-hectare utopia”.

Locals called the property, which has no road access and 800 metres of pristine beach, “drop-dead gorgeous”.

Major, who has visited the beach many times with young people in his role as a youth worker, was worried existing access rights would allow a future owner to deny the public entry to the beach.

Now the offer has been accepted, money will be drawn from the bank accounts of every individual and company who pledged.

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