The donor who stumped up $240,000 to build a foreshore
pathway past holidaymakers' homes has been accused of putting
up the money to help preserve his own patch of paradise.
Matt Purvis and his wife, Heather, gave the money to Taupo to
extend a 10km foot-and-cycleway another 1.7km along Five Mile
The gift ruffled feathers as concrete began to be laid, with
those owning holiday homes objecting so strongly over the
type of path that they convinced Taupo District Council to
build a special 80m section of plastic and grass matting.
Among those frustrated over a lack of consultation and
subsequent concreting of a grassy reserve were Tourism
Industry Association boss Martin Snedden and Wellington
cardiologist Malcolm Abernethy.
The row followed local tensions over access by cars to the
reserve - which have emerged again amid the spat over the
path. Council consultation saw a large number of people back
continued car access, frustrating some of those living on the
"It is a great offer but a loaded offer," said Dr Abernethy
of the donation. "[Mr Purvis] wanted vehicles off the access
to his part of the reserve."
He said Mr Purvis had followed the building of the cycle path
by placing rocks to block cars from a section of reserve near
The meeting at which the gift was accepted by the Taupo
District Council is on YouTube - along with the assurance no
bollards would be put in place at the reserve.
But Mr Purvis said the rocks - about 25m from his home - were
needed to protect the path. He said cars had been driven
along the reserve and over the new pathway in the lead-up to
"Council had done nothing to protect the path." He had
prompted the council for a solution - without success.
The former transport company owner decided to fix the problem
himself. He arranged a truckload of rocks from a local
quarry, got a couple of bobcat diggers and created a
protective barrier which allowed cars partial access to the
reserve but not across the path. "The only reason the rocks
are there is to protect the concrete walkway and to protect
the people using the walkway."
Mayor David Trewavas said the council would examine the
issues - including the special matting - in February.
Council officer John Ridd said Mr Purvis "had our blessing"
in placing the rocks. "There was a problem with vehicle
access across the path."
He said he wanted to find a solution which suited all. "Matt
[Purvis] is a lovely fellow and it was a decent donation.
Martin is a great guy and does a lot for this town."
- David Fisher of the New Zealand Herald