Group seeks $600k to expand park

By Peter de Graaf

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Simon Upperton (left), Robyn Terlesk (with chocolate lab Ruger) and John Horrell are part of a group hoping to buy a block of undeveloped land on Kerikeri's Inlet Rd, allowing the expansion of a popular dog-friendly park called Roland's Wood. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Simon Upperton (left), Robyn Terlesk (with chocolate lab Ruger) and John Horrell are part of a group hoping to buy a block of undeveloped land on Kerikeri's Inlet Rd, allowing the expansion of a popular dog-friendly park called Roland's Wood. Photo / Peter de Graaf

A Northland group is hoping to copy the success of a crowdfunding campaign which bought an unspoiled South Island beach by buying a block of undeveloped land next to a popular park before it is turned into a subdivision.

If the group manages to raise $600,000 they will be able to more than double the size of Roland's Wood, a dog-friendly woodland on Kerikeri's Inlet Rd.

Simon Upperton, chairman of the Friends of Roland's Wood Charitable Trust, said the group had launched a Givealittle campaign similar to that which secured a privately-owned beach that will be added to Abel Tasman National Park.

"We're trying to create a 10ha park for Kerikeri. We're not buying a beach, but it's one-sixth the price and you get more land. This land is heavily utilised and well loved by the community," he said.

When Kerikeri man Roland Sansom died in 2001 he bequeathed a 4ha park to the Far North District Council for the people and dogs of Kerikeri.

It was adopted by Rotary and a band of volunteers, who continued Mr Sansom's work of transforming it into English-style woodland. Two of its key volunteers, John Horrell and John Graham, were named New Zealand's Gardeners of the Year in 2013 for their efforts.

Mr Sansom left the rest of his land, about 5.4ha, to his late sister Lavender Sansom in the UK. Her land, with a resource consent allowing it to be broken up into 14 sections, is now about to go on the market.

Mr Upperton said the group's aim was to secure "Lavender's land" for future generations. If successful Roland's Wood would more than double in size and parking could be greatly improved.

Other possibilities for Lavender's land included adding a pergola and children's playground, and planting the steepest part in dog-free native bush.

Mrs Sansom's land had been left to her sons overseas.

"They obviously want a fair price, but they like the idea of adding to Roland's Wood and leaving a bit of a legacy," Mr Upperton said.

While the vendors had yet to set an exact price, the trust was aiming to raise $600,000 - enough to buy the land, continue planting and develop better access and parking.

The trust had set up a Givealittle account and was also approaching the Far North District Council, wealthy Northlanders and foundations. The beauty of Givealittle is that people's donations are secure and would be returned if the target is not reached.

"We have a window of only a few months so it's time critical," Mr Upperton said.

Go to https://givealittle.co.nz/org/friendsofrolandswood to donate.

- Northern Advocate

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