Abel Tasman's Awaroa beach: Last-minute $20 may have sealed the deal

By Jane Phare

The donation was submitted 20 minutes before Tuesday's 4pm deadline. Photo / Supplied
The donation was submitted 20 minutes before Tuesday's 4pm deadline. Photo / Supplied

A last-minute donation from Room 10 at lower North Island Pahiatua School could well have sealed the deal for crowdfunders attempting to buy a pristine beach in Abel Tasman's Awaroa Inlet.

Four minutes before the Givealittle organisers closed off donations, at 3pm on Monday, in came $20 from Room 10, the last of 39,249 pledges. Co-organiser Duane Major said that last-minute donation could have made all the difference.

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"They pledged 20 bucks and I like to think that money got us over the line. So go Room 10, Pahiatua School!"

Major would not say how much had been raised but said he was "very very pleased" with the final total.

The crowdfunders hit their $2 million target last week and immediately went into "stealth mode", freezing the total on the Givealittle site but keeping donations open. At that stage, the number of pledges stood at about 33,200. By the Monday deadline, the number of pledges had risen to 39,249.

The tender was submitted 20 minutes before Tuesday's 4pm deadline and Major said he had handed over negotiations to his "crew" - Harcourts chief executive Chris Kennedy, Wellington lawyer Geoff Harley and solicitors Bell Gully - whom he described as "flippin' legends".

Earlier this week Major wasn't sure where the 10 per cent deposit, at least $200,000, required for the tender was coming from. Money pledged by members of the public would only be removed from accounts if the crowdfunding tender was successful. But today Major said his team had dealt with the issue but wouldn't say where the money had come from.

"They've said 'keep your big mouth shut Duano."'

Room 10's teacher, Kirsten McCabe, said her composite class of 7 and 8-year-olds had been talking about the Abel Tasman beach last week. She had shown them the fundraising videos and photos of the beach.

"They were very keen to support it," she said.

Miss McCabe put in the $20 on their behalf just before the school day ended on Monday, not realising she was so close to the deadline.

"We are hoping it will make the difference."

The beach is owned by Wellington businessman Michael Spackman, who bought it for $1.92 million in 2008. The BNZ is pursuing Spackman, his son-in-law Michael Garnham and associated companies for $6.2 million in unpaid loans.

Bayleys agent Glenn Dick said the owner had five working days to consider tenders and negotiate. He would not say how many tenders had been received.

Major said the wait was like anticipating Christmas. "The anticipation is all part of it.

"I love how people are saying 'this is our beach' not just 'the beach'."

Major knows the area as well, having taken hundreds of people through the Abel Tasman track in his days as a youth worker. And no matter what the outcome of the tender, he plans to take his young family kayaking in the area in April.

"The first time we kayaked together as a family was in Awaroa Inlet."

- NZ Herald

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