Luggate park closer
Proposed recreation area gets a boost
A trust set up by well-know New Zealand businessman and philanthropist Gareth Morgan has pledged $30,000 towards the Luggate Bridge river park.
Wanaka river conservationist Lewis Verduyn-Cassels said he sent a plea for support to the New Zealand Rivers Trust, part of of the Morgan Foundation, for support.
Last week he received conformation from the trust that it would pledge $30,000 to the Red Bridge River Park Charitable Trust.
The red bridge trust hoped to buy riverside land along the Clutha River, for sale by Contact Energy, to build a river conservation park.
Foundation researcher Geoff Simmons said Verduyn-Cassels’ ‘‘bizarre and unique’’ story caught the attention of the trust.
‘‘It’s a fascinating story in terms of the history of that area,’’ Simmons said. Verduyn- Cassels has lived at a cottage on the property for 22 years and in that time his landlords, first Works Property Trust and then Contact Energy, have been absentee.
Verduyn-Cassels believed his investment in the property, which included clearing invasive plants and renovating the cottage, would amount to more than $100,000 over two decades.
The bridge trust was hoping to fundraise $230,000, to put an offer on the land, before a deadline of October 21. So far $177,500 has been pledged to the cause.
Contact is asking $300,000 for the property.
‘‘We are quite keen to put a bit of public pressure on Contact to drop the price, Simmons said. ‘‘It is a good cause.’’ He said it was hoped the pledge would help Contact to acknowledge the public interest in the project.
Following the pledge, Contact extended the fundraising deadline from August 25 to October.
Morgan, who set up the Rivers Trust with former business partner Andrew Gawith, is a keen environmentalist and supports initiatives to clean up New Zealand rivers.
The Morgan Foundation sponsored the New Zealand River Awards in November.
Luggate interest: New Zealand businessman and philanthropist Gareth Morgan.