Abel Tasman beach: Campaigners’ bid to buy Awaroa Inlet for nation successful


The campaign to buy a pristine Abel Tasman beach for the nation has been successful.

The Givealittle campaign to buy the Awaroa Inlet beach by tender was supported by more than 39,000 people who pledged more than $2 million.

Campaign organiser Duane Major said this morning: “We have pulled it off, we have pulled it off.

“At 10.57 last night we delivered a pristine piece of beach and bush into the hands of all New Zealanders to look after and cherish and treasure forever.

“My heart is beating and I’ve got goosebumps and I’m just so thankful for all those people.

What a crazy journey.”

Mr Major revealed that the final amount raised by the public was $2,278,171.09. The Government supported the bid with a “modest” contribution.

Mr Major said he always thought the bid would be successful.

“I always thought we could do it. You think about the heartbeat of New Zealanders and you think about the numbers. I did not anticipate the crazy, freakish nature of this campaign but boy is this rewarding. It’s satisfying to actually pull it off and to take those ideas and hunches and feelings and to put it into practice.”

He said it had left them with a deep down sense of satisfaction. “We’ve done something very special I believe.”

However, at the weekend, Mr Major said the campaign was preparing for disappointment.

Mr Major said he had been keeping those who pledged money to buy the beach, which would be gifted to the Crown if negotiations are successful, updated via Facebook, writing that the scenario was “unprecedented and highly unusual”.

“Obviously, one scenario ahead is that we simply may not have enough money.

“We have become hugely [in]vested in this, like many of you all. We would be gutted to miss out, but we would like to think we could grieve well, learn, celebrate and become better for it.”

Denim Mchardy, who donated to the cause, said: “I live in Bali but the chance to contribute to such an awesome cause was something I couldn’t miss out on.

“So we gathered a few of the Kiwi boys in Bali and we all put some money in. Great cause keep NZ owned by NZ.”

The bid to buy the southern beach was launched in late January with crowdfunding site Givealittle.

A $2m target was set to raise a credible bid to buy the beach back from its private owners and gift to the Department of Conservation to return it to public ownership.

Philanthropist Gareth Morgan stepped in midway through the campaign to say he would make up the difference to cover any shortfall between what was pledged and the $2million target.

But the controversial offer had strings attached including private use of a section of the beachfront property for an unspecified length of time and was rejected by the campaign organisers. Soon after public donations skyrocketed and with pledges from more than 39,000 individuals and organisations the target was met three days ahead of the February 16 tender deadline.

The tender process itself took more than a week to negotiate with the Government adding funds to land the deal.


Abel Tasman campaign: Timeline

January 22, 2016 – The “Pristine beach in the heart of the Abel Tasman” project is launched on crowd-fundraising website Givealittle, asking for $2 million to buy the seven-hectare private beach in Abel Tasman National Park’s Awaroa Inlet.

January 26 – The page has seven pledges worth $6300.

January 27 – Spark pledges $20,000 to the Givealittle campaign, which is now at $250,000 with close to 4500 people donating.

January 31 – More than $600,000 has been pledged by 9273 people.

February 3 – Conservation Minister Maggie Barry confirms that the beach will be added to the Abel Tasman National Park if the online campaign succeeds. More than 11,000 have so far raised $750,000.

February 7 – The Givealittle campaign breaks $1 million, with more than 15,000 pledges. Labour leader Andrew Little says the Government should make it a Waitangi weekend to remember by agreeing to meet the remaining cost of buying the beach.

February 9 – More than $1.3 million has been pledged by over 20,000 donors. Millionaire Gareth Morgan offers to front the remaining money, but his offer comes with conditions. He writes on his blog that he will cover the difference needed, but he wants the section of beach that is currently private to remain that way – for his family.

February 10 – A total of $1,520,982.30 has been pledged by more than 24,000 people and businesses. Gareth Morgan’s offer is met with outrage, with some people saying they will retract their pledges. The men behind the Givealittle campaign, Adam Gardner and Duane Major, assure pledgers they do not want Morgan’s money.

February 12 – The campaign reaches its $2 million target, with more than 33,200 people and businesses donating.

February 15 – Campaign closes, generating more than $2 million. There are donations from 39,249 people and businesses. The final tally is kept secret. Gareth Morgan claims it was his cunning scheme that helped push up donations.

February 16 – The deadline closes for offers to buy the beach. A spokesman for Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the Government has not ruled out making “a modest contribution to the appeal should the need arise,” but says at this stage, no commitment has been made.

February 24 – Campaign is successful. Organiser Duane Major announces that the public fundraising effort was enough to secure the beach, with a total of $2,278,171.09 donated. The Government also supports the bid with a “modest” contribution. Mr Major says the piece of beach and bush was delivered into the hands of all New Zealanders at 10.57pm the night before.

Story by NZ Herald.