Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Abel Tasman beach campaign: Offers closed

The deadline has now passed for offers to buy a pristine beach in the Abel Tasman national Park area.

A Givealittle campaign to buy the Awaroa Inlet beach by tender saw more than 39,000 people pledge more than $2 million.

The closing date for offers for the seven hectare property was 4pm.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars was needed today for a 10 per cent deposit to go with offers to buy the property - most likely in the form of a bank cheque.

But money pledged by members of the public has not yet been removed from accounts - and would not be made available to the campaign's organisers until the tender was accepted by the vendor - if it was accepted.

The block of land has a capital value of $1,580,000 but more than $2 million had been pledged - meaning a deposit of possibly more than $200,000 was required by 4pm today, depending on the amount offered in the tender.

Yesterday, Givealittle campaign organiser Duane Major told the Herald he was not sure where that money would come from.

"There's a lot of paperwork still being pulled together... I'm assuming there's gonna be some conversations between all the lawyers to handle that."

Auckland property lawyer Joanna Pidgeon said a 10 per cent deposit was a standard part of the tender process, and would usually be presented in the form of a bank cheque.

If the tender was not accepted, the deposit would be refunded, she said.

However, with the money pledged through Givealittle not yet being available, another party could stake the deposit - by mortgaging their home, for example.

Ms Pidgeon said the acceptance of tenders was at the vendor's discretion, and an offer would not necessarily be declined if it was not accompanied by a deposit.

Factors including the amount offered, conditions of sale and the financial viability of the buyer would also be considered by the vendor, and the highest bidder would not necessarily win.

Bayley's Marlborough estate agents selling the property, Glenn Dick and Jan Long, did not respond to calls from the Herald today or yesterday.

Today, a company spokesman said Mr Dick was working through the tender process "with a commitment to the vendor" and was focussed on following due process rather than taking media queries.

It is unknown how many offers have been submitted to buy the land.

A spokesman for Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said the Government had not ruled out making a "a modest contribution to the appeal should the need arise," but said at this stage, no commitment had been made.

Earlier this month Ms Barry confirmed the beach would become part of the Abel Tasman National Park if the crowdfunded bid to buy the land was successful.

Gareth Morgan: All part of my cunning plan

Gareth Morgan claims it was his cunning scheme that helped push up donations for the Abel Tasman beach campaign.
Gareth Morgan claims it was his cunning scheme that helped push up donations for the Abel Tasman beach campaign.

Earlier, Gareth Morgan claimed it was his cunning scheme that helped push up donations for the Abel Tasman beach campaign.

Pledgers threatened to withdraw their money if the self-made millionaire philanthropist topped up the funds, and his offer was rejected.

He said he attached conditions to his offer to help buy the beach - exclusive rights for his family - to fire up the public and keep the donations coming.

In a blog post, Morgan wrote: "If I'd just said there and then that I'd make up the difference, the crowd would have stopped donating immediately.

"I needed a mechanism whereby the crowd would keep donating - perhaps at an even faster rate, since donations were starting to flag. Hence I came up with the idea that I'd demand in return for my help, access to the sheds on the properties.

"Now remember these sheds will be demolished as soon as the crowd donates the property to DOC - so in effect the crowd would actually lose nothing by giving me the exclusive access to them - it would still have access to the beach and virtually all of the rest of the property.

"My faith in the animal spirits of crowds told me however that this would make them hopping mad and they'd keep donating to spite me."

Hundreds of thousands of dollars will still be needed to offer to buy the pristine South Island beach, for which more than $2 million has been raised through crowdfunding.

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The website stopped accepting pledges of money to buy the piece of land, which has a capital valuation of $1,580,000, at 3pm yesterday.

By then, 39,249 had pledged more than $2 million.

If the tender is accepted, the beach will be gifted to the Department of Conservation, or a suitable trust.

Last week organisers stopped the public from being able to see the amount of money raised beyond the published total of $2 million after Morgan described the campaign as "naive", as it allowed opposing bidders to see exactly how much had been raised.

"The glaring weakness of the crowd's strategy was that it was telling the world how much it was going to bid," Mr Morgan wrote in a blog post yesterday.

- NZ Herald

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