Government signals help for Abel Tasman beach bid
Nelson MP Nick Smith says the Government might provide some extra incentive toward the Givealittle crowd-funding campaign to buy a private beachfront on the Abel Tasman coastline.
The Environment Minister said he would discuss the matter with Conservation Minister Maggie Barry after seeing the huge response from Kiwis, who have pledged more than $400,000 in less than a week in a bid to buy back the beach for public use.
A $20,000 donation from Spark was among the $150,000 boost in pledges on Wednesday alone.
"The Government does have a nature heritage fund from which we might be able to provide some extra incentive.
"For that special piece of beach to be added to New Zealand's smallest and busiest national park would be a real asset, and that's something I want to explore with Maggie," Smith said.
However, he said the campaigners needed to be cautious not to drive the price up with their enthusiasm "and make it simply harder for us to be able to do what makes good logical sense, and that is ultimately for that beach and spit to be incorporated as part of the national park".
Smith said he was "quite excited" by the campaign, a fascinating example of new technology being applied to a conservation cause.
Since creating the Givealittle page on Friday, Christchurch men Duane Major and Adam Gard'ner have been overwhelmed by the public response.
Major likened the campaign to the telethons he watched on television as a child.
"Just like a telethon the donations inspire others to do the same."
The beach is currently on the market with an asking price of at least $2 million and the property goes to tender on February 16.
Despite the national popularity, the Department of Conservation have indicated they will not be contributing money toward the campaign, however they would add the beach to the National Park if the purchaser gives it to them.
Department of Conservation (DOC) operations director for the northern South Island Roy Grose said the property, which has 800 metres of beach and seven hectares of kanuka scrub did not offer the ecological and biodiversity values that would justify the $2 million asking price.
"We appreciate there are people who would like to see the site become public land," he said.
"We're waiting to see the outcome of the campaign to raise funds to submit a tender for the property."
Spark managing director Simon Moutter encouraged other Kiwi businesses to get behind the campaign.
"Two million is a big ask for a small country like ours so at Spark we wanted to chip in and do our bit ... New Zealand only has a couple of weeks to secure this beautiful beach – otherwise the opportunity will be lost."
He was encouraged by New Zealanders use of technology for a good cause.
"Ten years ago, before platforms like Givealittle existed, this idea probably wouldn't have made it beyond the Christmas BBQ where Duane and Adam dreamed it up," he said.
Major and Gard'ner started the campaign after a Christmas day discussion about buying back the beach and gifting it to New Zealand for public use.
Major said Spark's donation was "timely" and could encourage other businesses to also donate.
Givealittle will only release the funds if the tender for the property is secured. If the target is not reached the page will not charge donors' credit cards.
Major said the rate at which pledges were coming in needed to be maintained if the campaign were to be successful.
"The dream is possible. If people get on there and pledge the money doesn't leave their account unless it 's successful. It's a safe bet," he said.