Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: That's my piece of paradise - go softly

Now that we own the damned beach I'm examining my reasons for parting with that $50 note. Photo / Supplied
Now that we own the damned beach I'm examining my reasons for parting with that $50 note. Photo / Supplied

The fifty bucks I put towards buying Awaroa Beach wouldn't buy me much of a stake in the sand.

I probably don't own enough to stretch my towel out on.

It doesn't matter.

I still feel like I have a stake in the place.

Now that we own the damned beach I'm examining my reasons for parting with that $50 note.

I suspect we all told ourselves we were handing over our hard-earned cash to ensure continued access to a beautiful part of the world.

The current owners might've been relaxed about letting strangers in bikinis and speedos lie starfished qlall over their sand, but who's to say the next owners would be as generous?

But if you bother to go back to the original givealittle page you'll see the real reason we all chipped in.

The clue is in two capitalised words halfway down the page: INTERNATIONAL INTEREST.
Most of us had never heard of Awaroa Beach but, still, we sure as heck didn't want foreigners to buy it.

So we've drawn a giant line in the sand and this Government might want to stop, take a moment, and put it right at the top of its list of what not to do.

When 40,000 Kiwis around the country dip into their own bank accounts to stop a previously unknown beach possibly selling to a foreign bogeyman, you know an exclamation point has just been put on the end of a public statement.

The next sale of a significant, strategic or beautiful part of this country to foreign owners will be swiftly followed with a bruising slap down.

It's probably fair to say the Government has got the message by now anyway.

It blocked the sale of Lochinvar Station five months ago even though bureaucrats said that selling the land would be a good idea.

If this Government had been smart - instead of throwing a few hundred thousand dollars towards the sale - it could've forked out the full $2 million-plus.

It's chump change when you look at our GDP. No one would've missed it from the budget.
But the Government didn't and now it's going to live with the consequences.

The consequences are that 40,000-odd Kiwis - including me - feel like we own the place.

Not just own it like we own the green belt around Wellington City or the DoC tracks we tramp in our holidays, but own it like we own our houses.

So, memo to Maggie Barry: we're watching how you manage our beach and, just quietly, you might want to pull back on the profit-making plans.

We were still wearing the hangover of a few glasses of bubbles to celebrate the newest addition to our collective property portfolios when the Conservation Minister started telling us she had plans to make some dough off this new beach we bought her.
She wants to start charging the businesses using the beach.

These businesses are the water taxis and guided kayakers we'll need to get us there.
Some of these businesses reckon they're already paying around $95,000 a year to ferry people to DoC land.

Some of the people involved in these businesses put their own money into buying the beach.

And be sure, if the Government makes it more expensive for them to take us there, they'll pass the cost on to us.

So to the Government, as a part-owner of this beach: I'm not keen on you making money out of this beach you relied on us to save from possible foreign buyers. And, about that land we bought you to put into the DoC estate? You're welcome.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something trying very hard to avoid growing up. So far it’s working, except for the husband, the mortgage and the proper job. She lives between Auckland and Wellington. When she’s not writing for the Herald on Sunday, she co-hosts TV3’s 7pm current affairs programme Story.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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