3 Feb 2016

Minister hints at help for Abel Tasman beach buy group

6:55 pm on 3 February 2016

The government might meet any shortfall in public pledges to buy private land in the Abel Tasman National Park, Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry says.

The 7ha of beachfront land at Awaroa Inlet is the focus of a crowd-funding campaign, started by a small Christchurch property firm, which aims to buy the land and give it back to New Zealand.

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

The stretch of land that the group are trying to raise funds for. Photo: Wilson's Abel Tasman.

Campaigner Duane Major said the Givealittle campaign aimed to raise $2 million to be in the running to tender for the property, and to date it had attracted close to $800,000 in pledges from 11,000 backers in New Zealand and throughout the world.

Ms Barry said the privately owned beach would become part of the Abel Tasman National Park if the crowd-funding campaign to buy it succeeded.

She had instructed Department of Conservation (DoC) officials to formally talk to the campaigners about the legal details of making the beach a part of the park.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Maggie Barry Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

She said it was never on the cards that the government would buy the land outright, and it was not possible to take money from conservation projects which needed it, but with public help and "incentivising", she was hopeful of a good outcome if the price was right.

"The government is looking closely at what sort of incentive funding we could provide to help match what the public are doing. That, to me, is the great thing about this project - it isn't just the Crown doing it, it's the people getting behind something and we can help support that," Ms Barry said.

She said officials were looking at what funds might be available, but she was wary of the potential for the price being driven higher by the Crown showing an interest.

Ms Barry said they were looking closely at the option of making up any shortfall. She said DoC was initially offered the land, but when it was evaluated the price was too high for what it offered in terms of biodiversity value.

If the project succeeded, free access to the land would be secured for the public in perpetuity, she said.

The campaign has a deadline of 15 February, and tenders close next week. The Givealittle project page will only pay the funds if they reach the $2 million target, and if the target is not reached, donors' credit cards will not be charged.