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New Zealand Crowdfunds $1.7 Million To Buy A Private Beach And Give It To The Public

Beautiful things happen when people come together to protect local lands.

New Zealand Crowdfunds $1.7 Million To Buy A Private Beach And Give It To The Public

[Photo: Sarah Bürvenich via Unsplash]

When debt-troubled businessman Michael Spackman put his private New Zealand beach on sale, Kiwis started a crowdfunding campaign to buy it back for the public. Spackman purchased Awaroa beach in 2008, for $1.4 million, and left it open to the public. When he put it on sale earlier this year, New Zealanders worried that whoever bought it might close off access.

The crowdfunding campaign raised $1.7 million in donations from around 40,000 people. Even the New Zealand government contributed $254,000. The beach will remain public and will be run by the Abel Tasman National Park, of which it is now part.

Awaroa beach is on the north coast of New Zealand’s South Island, covers over 17 acres, and has a half-mile of beach.

During the campaign, another businessman, Gareth Morgan, tried to donate a chunk of cash in return for private use of the beach for him and his family. "I expect something in return—I want to use the property for my own private benefit meanwhile, just as the current owner does," reports Stuff. The campaign refused his offer.

Also interested in the beach are New Zealand’s indigenous Maoris who, after all, owned everything before the colonists arrived and took over the place. Some locals demanded that the beach, which contains burial grounds, be returned to the Maoris, but in the end a compromise was reached, with access for everyone and "ways to involve local Maori youth in the management of the land."

When we see crowdfunding, it’s usually cash being sought to bankroll some new gadget, but as we see here, crowdfunding works even better when it is directed to a more philanthropic goal. All kinds of local schemes could be funded this way, with the supporters not only giving their ultimate vote in the form of money, but also remaining a part of the result.

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