9 Mar 2016

Buy-a-beach campaigner confirms purchase

1:26 pm on 9 March 2016

The sale of an Awaroa beach to the public is now confirmed, with few pledges defaulting, according to the campaign's creator.

The stretch of land that the group are trying to raise funds for.

The group raised funds for this stretch of land in Abel Tasman National Park. Photo: Wilson's Abel Tasman.

Blenheim real estate agent Glenn Dick said the sale was confirmed yesterday, after an online campaign successfully secured the property through a tender process for a final price of about $2.85m.

The government gave $350,000 to top up crowd-funding pledges towards the purchase of the stretch of beach land in Abel Tasman National Park.

Duane Major, who came up with the idea, said just a few of those who pledged had failed to come through, but a contingency of underwriters was on hand if needed.

"The sale and purchase agreement's all signed up so what we're doing right now is collecting up all the money, so the real significant thing is that the Givealittle pledges came in at 99.2 percent."

The government funding would come from the Nature Heritage Fund, which enabled land to be bought for the conservation estate. Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said earlier the seven hectare property would be held in a trust until it could be gazetted as part of the national park.

A Department of Conservation spokesperson told RNZ News today that a Nature Heritage Fund tender for the purchase of the Awaroa property was made in January 2006, but it was not accepted.

She said DOC could not release the tender amount while the process for the current sale and purchase of the Awaroa property was still being completed, but confirmed that the aim of securing the land was to gazette it as part of the Abel Tasman National Park.

Mr Major said around 300 pledgers defaulted, amounting to about $15,000 but people were still offering funds.

"We had contingencies - we backed ourselves and believed in it, and we had a quiet confidence. Even after knocking on doors we were certain in those first few days we'd come in high.

"We had some anonymous underwriters to cover it, but didn't need them," Mr Major said.

The next step was the legal transfer of ownership into the interim Awaroa Beach Property Trust, which would be disbanded once the land was gazetted, Mr Major said.

The legislative process would include a consultation period including iwi, local authority, concession holders and the public.

"People will all have a say in the process of putting it into the national park."

Mr Major said Department of Conservation deputy director general Mervyn English told him it could be three months before the process was finalised.

He said a handing over ceremony was planned, and his personal hope was that it would happen on Waitangi Day next year.

"The whole idea of the country gifting land in perpetuity for future generations ... has a great sentimental and poetic value to me but we might not need to wait that long."

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