People Power Rescues Pristine Beach From The Clutches Of Capitalism

A New Zealand beach crowdfunding campaign thwarts the hopes of private businessmen by raising enough money to buy a beach.



New Zealand — In just three weeks, New Zealanders have raised the targeted NZ$2 million (US$1.33 million) in a bid to buy a private beach for sale in the Abel Tasman National Park.

The seven-hectare beach in the Awaroa Intel near Abel Tasman National Park was crowdfunded by 39,249 people through the GiveaLittle page, in an attempt to prevent it from going into the hands of corporate businessmen. The money will be used to place a tender on the beach by campaign organizers Duane Major and Adam Gard’ner. If accepted, the land will be put under the care of the Department of Conservation.

Although the campaign has been popular among Kiwis, sales agent Glenn Dick said interest from private New Zealand buyers and overseas businessmen was still coming in daily.

Just last week, businessman Gareth Morgan offered to pay any shortfall for the purchase of the beach on condition his family be allowed to use the property and was turned down.

The thwarted businessman later described the crowdfunding attempt as a "nice, innocent but naive campaign that will lose.”

Although the beach campaign successfully raised the targeted money by Friday, contributions came in until Monday. In the wake of criticism by Morgan, the organizers consulted lawyers and discovered they were able to freeze the tally at NZ $2 million and go into what they call “stealth mode" so that private bidders might not know exactly how much they were up against.



Developer Michael Spackman and his business partner Michael Garnham bought the beach in 2008 for NZ $1.92 million; the two are now engaged in a lawsuit with the Bank of New Zealand over alleged unpaid loans.

Darryl Wilson, the CEO of Wilson Abel Tasman, a tourist guide company, described the beach as a dynamic property surrounded by moving tides which change the landscape of the shore.

"Sometimes you'll have more beach than other times. But that's the beauty of the place," he said. "Now is a good time for it to be on the market."

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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