Barry Soper: Taxpayers the losers from beach buy

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Rather than giving a little for the beach few Kiwis had ever heard of a couple of months back, the taxpayer gave a lot.

The near forty thousand who stumped up to buy beach at Awaroa Inlet were buying back land that was acquired by the Crown a year after the Treaty was signed, which was eventually flogged off to private owners.

Now it's going back into the Crown estate with a "modest" contribution from the public purse of $350,000 - pulled out at the last minute to get the bid across the line. In fact the contribution was a fairly significant part of the final settlement price.

So in reality the taxpayers have been the losers - in terms of coughing up the cash for a sand spit that belonged to them for a century or more - but the winners in that its back in their backyard. And that's where it is, in the backyard - a beach that few Kiwis visit but at least they're now safe in the knowledge that they and their descendants can visit it forever. That is, unless the Crown has another change of heart further down the track.

The fact is that there's been nothing to stop them from visiting the beach before as the current, absentee owner was relaxed about tourists kicking the sand as a reward for hiking there or taking a trip by aqua taxi. The understandable fear though was another buyer may not have been so generous, and that's where you have to take your hat off to those who organised the campaign to buy it.

The pledges to the campaign will now be called in with many of those excited by the outcome of the tender, declaring on social media they were now part owners of a little bit of Awaroa, which for most won't be much more than a cup of sand on a beach they've more than likely never been to.

And of course their "ownership" will be short lived as the beach will now be gazetted as part of the Abel Tasman National Park and end up from whence it came, back in Crown ownership.

Listen: Gareth Morgan speaks to Newstalk ZB's Larry Williams about Awaroa

But the campaign was of course more than just about buying a beach. It was more about saying to private, fat cat potential owners "Hands off". If you had any doubt about that, think of the hostile reception Gareth Morgan got when he offered to stump up some cash with a condition that part of the beach would be preserved for the use of his family.

So the message is, parts of our country are sacrosanct, although it's hard to imagine a similar sandswell the next time a privately owned beach comes up for sale!


READ MORE:
Barry Soper: Forgiveness needed for Clean Slate review
Barry Soper: Gerry Brownlee didn't deserve to have muck thrown at him
Barry Soper: Quake shows how vulnerable we all are

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