Morgan makes offer for Abel Tasman beach

Awaroa Inlet
Awaroa Inlet

Gareth Morgan has come to the party for the little slice of paradise up for sale in the Abel Tasman National Park, but those behind the crowdfunding effort to buy it aren't keen on his offer.

A Givealittle page has been set up for Kiwis to raise the $2 million needed to buy Awaroa Inlet in the National Park and gift it to the Department of Conservation (DOC) to oversee.

Pledges for the private seven-hectare, 800m beachfront property currently sit at just over $1.4 million from more than 22,000 donors.

Now businessman Gareth Morgan says he'll top up the rest needed but only if he gets something in return.

On his blog, Dr Morgan talks about Labour leader Andrew Little's call for the Government to stump up with the cash as a waste of taxpayer money.

"To let politicians to just spray taxpayers' property around like confetti is a recipe for disaster," he said.

Mr Little said it's a significant public campaign being well supported.

"It is well over the half way mark, with a lot of New Zealanders getting behind it," he said.

"It would have been a great gesture for the Government to say 'yip, we understand that, this is the weekend where we think about who we are and what defines us and we will get in behind this campaign'."

Dr Morgan said he would guarantee the same public use of the beach as the current owner offers.

However, he said he will go one step further and give the property to DOC, but only once his family had finished enjoying it -- so after around 10 to 15 years.

"That way we don't have politicians irresponsibly spending taxpayer funds, there is no risk of public access to this threatened sandspit being denied, and the beach is guaranteed to end up in public ownership," he said.

The Taxpayers' Union is says they are delighted by Dr Morgan's offer.

"In the last few days politicians have been trying to use taxpayers' money to barge into this wonderful community initiative," Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams said.

"There is a big difference between voluntarily supporting a cause, and pledging other people's money taken in taxes. Being prudent with taxpayers money means not saying yes to every good cause that comes along," he said.

But Dr Morgan's offer doesn't sit well with the men behind the Givealittle campaign -- their plan was to make it available for all New Zealanders.

In a Facebook post, the pair said while Dr Morgan may have the best intentions, his desire to have exclusive access to part of the property contradicts the foundation of the campaign.

They believe it should be everyone's to enjoy, forever.

The beach will be sold through a tender process and DOC has already said they won't buy it as the cost is out of their price range.

Commenters on Dr Morgan's blog post have not warmed to his idea with one saying: "I have donated to this campaign and never intended for my donation to subsidise a millionaire's private purchase. Sorry Gareth, but your offer stinks."

There's only five more days to reach the target for the Givealittle campaign.