A "victory for positive people power," it was the successful outcome of a fundraising campaign kicked off by a couple of Christchurch dreamers. Indeed, the "Save our beach" crowdfunding campaign captured people's imagination and won over the government who also, controversially, chipped in $350,000.
To put things in perspective, what do we actually have here? At 225.3km2, Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest in the country, so a few more hectares couldn't hurt. Well, this block takes us to around 225.4km2, or a 0.03% increase. That's right: it's a tiny finger of land within a pocket-size park.
And it might not even be ours for long. Already there are concerns that the "land" (if you can bestow such a monicker of permanence on a sandspit) may be eroded away by rising ocean levels. Or possibly handed back to local iwi as part of Treaty settlements. If that does happen, commercial concession fees might head elsewhere. Governance might be more complicated. But it's not really likely public access would be denied. Anyway, caveat emptor: the case has been with the Supreme Court since October 2015.
The 1970s saw tree sit-ins at conservationists fought to protest the spectacular old-growth forests. Visit Pureora now, and you can see the battle lines. The shocking devastation of clearfelling butts up against the rich glory of the the original forests at a line where the chainsaws were turned back. The 1970s also saw a fight to save Lake Manapouri from a hydropower scheme that would flood land all the way through to Lake Te Anau. The 1980s saw Whanganui and Paparoa National Parks. The 1990s and 2000s saw the Native Forest Accord, Kahurangi and Rakiura National Parks.
Now we celebrate 8 hectares....not much perhaps. On the other hand, this purchase reflects people coming together, saying "this is what we value." Is this how we fight today — with a credit card and an online form? Maybe. Maybe not.
Awaroa Beach lies in the heart of the park. Kayak up the coast past Tonga Island, around Awaroa Head, and this long golden beach is your idyllic reward, before paddling up the inlet to the busy campsite. On foot at low tide, walk the estuary sand to the beach as a beautiful diversion along the Abel Tasman Coast Track. This gesture, this small victory, this beach, this land, it's not nothing.
- Pristine beach in the heart of the Abel Tasman, Givealittle campaign page
- Awaroa Beach officially becomes part of Abel Tasman National Park, Stuff, 10 July 2016
- A new view of Awaroa, DOC Blog, 11 July 2016
- Iwi push claim to Awaroa Beach, NZ Herald, 10 July 2016