Chance to buy Far North wood

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 Road. PICTURE/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 Road. PICTURE/PETER DE GRAAF

A Far North group is hoping to piggyback on the success of a crowd-funding campaign that bought an unspoiled South Island beach to buy a block of undeveloped land next to a popular park before it becomes 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 Road.

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 earlier this year. The beach 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 used and well loved by the community," he said.

When Kerikeri man Roland Sansom died in 2001 he bequeathed a four-hectare 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 in recognition of their efforts.

Mr Sansom left the rest of his land, about 5.4 hectares, to his late sister Lavender Sansom, in the UK. That 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. Current parking was limited and on a dangerous corner.

Other possibilities included adding a pergola and children's playground, and planting the steepest part in native bush. About a third was already planted in a similar style to Roland's Wood.

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 for donations, and was also approaching the Far North District Council, wealthy Northlanders and foundations. The beauty of Givealittle was that people's donations were secure, and would be returned if the target was not reached.

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

The trust wanted to buy and retain all 5.4 hectares but would consider carving off a few sections if that made the difference between getting most of the land and missing out completely. To donate go to givealittle.co.nz and search for 'Roland's Wood.'

- Northland Age

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