Local Maori lay claim to Abel Tasman beach

Local Maori lay claim to Abel Tasman beach

The tender has closed and fingers are crossed that the golden beach in the Abel Tasman could be back in public hands.

But could there be a last-minute snag? There's now a call for the Government to return the land to Maori.

The most talked about crowd-funding campaign to save an 800-metre stretch of beach in the Abel Tasman National Park is now complete.

But donators are not the only ones who want the beach. In the 11th hour, three Maori tribes claim the land is rightfully theirs.

"The nature of the title and how it came into being is challenging and questionable, and in fact I would suggest that the Crown acquired that land inappropriately and illegally," says Wakatu Incorporation chairman Paul Morgan. 

Nearly 40,000 have collectively pledged more than $2 million to help buy the seven-hectare piece of paradise. All are hopeful the tender will be successful.

But the Wakatu Incorporation is still awaiting a decision form the Supreme Court surrounding Maori property rights and says the local iwi in the area have been dismissed.

"It's another reminder of the hurt that was impacted on our extended families and how marginalised our families have become in this district," says Mr Morgan.

"We've been talking with the iwi all along, so we look forward to sitting down through the process and going forward," says campaign organiser Duane Major.

Tenders will be put to the owner of the beach, with organisers Mr Major and Adam Gard'ner refusing to reveal publicly how much the tender amount is.

"A world-class team has been on it, so they have taken all of the account of that," they say. "We aren't allowed to say anything at all, so you just be quiet. It's in their hands."

It could be as soon as tomorrow or next week when we will find out if the beach has been saved.

"We couldn't have done it without a great team of people who gave up their time and money to help get us over the line," says Mr Gard'ner. "That includes Jeff Harley for his legal advice, Bell Gully for being our solicitors and Chris Kennedy, CEO of Harcourts, who has been a wonderful help."

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