14th April 2016Alistair Lomax
People Power – My Kingdom for a Beach
The day started at the FINZ Conference (Fundraising Institute of New Zealand) with a blast of energy as Duane Major and Adam Gard’ner, a youth worker and tennis coach, told the story of how they raised $2.5m to buy a beach that will now be gifted to Her Majesty the Queen.
They had just three weeks to save the beach and no experience of fundraising. It was to be sold by the government by tender. They did have many things on their side: two likeable Kiwi blokes on an adventure; the sense of outrage that was ignited in the New Zealand public; the ease of launching something quickly using Facebook and crowd funding.
40,000 people made gifts of between $20 (the average) and $250,000. The campaign touched a deep nerve for Kiwis. Anyone here is allowed to buy and own land. The beach was being sold and it looked as if it might fall into private hands. Many beauty spots have been bought up by wealthy individuals. Whereas many are shared with the public, some are closed. The risk that there would be ‘keep out’ signs erected on the mouth-wateringly beautiful Abel Tsaman Beach struck home with Kiwis everywhere.
The theme of the campaign wasn’t about saving the beach; instead it stayed positive and talked about making a gift of the beach. The final part of the story will be when the people of New Zealand give the beach to the person they see as the rightful owner. Just as we consider which way to go with Europe, people here see themselves very much as part of the Commonwealth. The gift will be made to Her Majesty the Queen; to help restore the Queen’s chain allowing public access to the beach in perpetuity.
I can see the film credits now: ‘based on a true story’ with Duane and Adam played by Russell Crowe and Leonardo di-Caprio’. It’ll be a feel good story.
I wonder whether the Queen will play herself at the gifting ceremony next year.
Or will she send an understudy?
Alistair Lomax is in New Zealand as a Keynote speaker at the annual conference of FINZ, Fundraising Institute of New Zealand.