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Eric Shackle Writes: Generous Kiwi Goes Motorbiking

Eric Shackle tells us of New Zealander Gareth Morgan, an investment adviser, adventurer and writer who recently gave $40 million to charity. Gareth is now riding a motorbike on a 13,903 mile tour of North America.

For lots more fascintating facts and articles visit Eric's world-famous e-book www.bdb.co.za/shackle

New Zealand investment adviser, adventurer and writer Gareth Morgan, who achieved global publicity by giving $40million to charity, has quietly set out by motorcycle on a 117-day, 13,903 mile (22,374 km.) journey through North America.

After a brief visit to the Bahamas, he planned to begin his mainland journey from historic St. Augustine, Florida, travel across Mexico, up through the Grand Canyon and Canada to the Arctic, then down via Vancouver and the US Pacific coast to Los Angeles. It will be the second part of a World By Bike odyssey that began with a Venice-to-Beijing ride last year.

His epic journey with a group of fellow adventurers was planned long before he hit the dot.com jackpot a few weeks ago. He left New Zealand on April 12, and expects to return on August 1.

We armchair travellers can follow his journey on the internet by making frequent visits to his website diary.

"Backblocks America is a road trip of discovery," says the tour website, and continues:

From the Rio Grande to the Yukon, Bimini Island to Death Valley, we're on the continent of personal liberty, rugged individualism and frontiersman courage. Legend has it these are the values that made America. In these times of George W Bush, the Religious Right and the terrorist threat - how much of it remains?

They say you can cross the North American continent on metal roads still, you might have to open a few gates but it sure beats being locked up on the Inter-State. Our route meanders along as many of the secondary roads as possible cutting a north west diagonal from the outer reaches of the Bahamas where Columbus first saw land in 1492 and where one of Chinese Admiral Zeng He's fleets arguably sailed 70 years earlier than the Europeans.

St Augustine, Florida where the first European settlement was made in 1565 by the Spanish, is our commencing point on the mainland and we wander to the Alaskan coast on the Arctic Ocean, where much earlier the Indians arrived. Along the route we’ll take in the history and music of the South, from the War of Independence, to the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, country music, rock and roll and the Blues.

Into Mexico then up the Rockies from Santa Fe to Alaska. Finally turning south we ferry through the Inner Passage to the top of Vancouver Island and begin the riding down the West Coast to journey's end at Los Angeles. A trip of some 22,000 kms promises an education.

The website discloses that Morgan, 52 (whose parents and older sister were born in Wales, but he was born in NZ), is sometimes called The Welsh Speedstar. He rides a Harley Deuce, a Yamaha WR250, and a BMW R1200GS. Here's his profile:

Probably the noisiest of the bunch – if it’s not his Harley misfiring then it will be him sounding off on some topic that only economists know everything about. Gareth... has done a number of offshore bike trips and is in a hurry to cover the world before his body says it won’t.

Wellington-based but nationally focused, Gareth’s economics consultancy and personal portfolio businesses absorb most of his time still, but that is slowly changing as these bike trips get more and more demanding. When not biking or working, Gareth can be found around the Cook Strait somewhere, desperately seeking the ultimate fishing high.

While most of the world have applauded Morgan's selfless generosity in giving away his newly acquired fortune, as a modest Down Under version of Microsoft philanthropist Bill Gates, a few grouches criticised his action.

"I've just been under fire... from the (New Zealand) Trustees Association saying they don't think we should give any of it to people outside New Zealand, because poverty apparently is relative and over there, as long as you get a meal, you're fine," he told Helen Westerman and Rebecca Urban, of The Age (Melbourne) newspaper.

He accused the association, which advises on wills, charity bequests and estates, of self-interest. "Basically, it's outside of their catchment," he said. "They rely on charitable organisations subscribing to them. Isn't it interesting what it brings out in people?"

The newspaper reported:

Gareth Morgan, father of trademe.co.uk website creator Sam Morgan, has copped some unexpected criticism and a lot of unsolicited emails. Fairfax recently bought the auction website, set up on his dad's laptop, for $625 million, handing $227 million to the young whizz kid.

Morgan Senior told New Zealand newspaper the Dominion Post this week he intended to donate the profit on his 10 per cent shareholding in trademe.co.nz to charity, saying he couldn't think of anything to do with it.

But he told us that, since the article, he had been inundated with suggestions on where he could, er, stick his money.

No wonder he left New Zealand a week later, to spend four months touring North America from Mexico to Alaska.


In 2004, Gareth Morgan made a two-week motorcycle tour of Australia. On the second day, he was disqualified from driving for two months." It isn't the best of starts, but does help to keep the focus on traffic regulations thereafter," was his rueful comment.

Reviewing that journey in a weekly newsletter to clients, he wrote:

It's a great country, we are lucky to have it so close, the similarities of the people make the prospect of economic and even political integration one that New Zealanders shouldn't find too hard to accept should that pop up at some stage. Right now we might get attractive terms given the story a couple of biking Aussies told us. They'd replaced the koala mascots on their bikes with kiwis when recently traversing Muslim countries!

You can read Gareth's account of his Australian travels by clicking on Part I http://articles.garethmorgan.com/column.php?id=957 and Part II http://articles.garethmorgan.com/column.php?id=958

Trip tales from The Silk Road http://worldbybike.com/silkriders/
Gareth Morgan's website diary http://www.worldbybike.com/northamerica/
Trade Me dad giving away $47m http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3626414a10,00.html
He thinks I'm mad icWales http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_objectid=16914413&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=he-thinks-i-am-mad--and-anyway-it-s-a-good-way-to-keep-off-the-rich-list-name_page.html#story_continue
Rich rotter Gareth Morgan http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=3&ObjectID=10374311
So, what's a lazy $40m among friends? Helen Westerman and Rebecca Urban http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/so-whats-a-lazy-40m-among-friends/2006/04/05/1143916594316.html
Does charity begin at home? http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3637236a11,00.html
The man who dies rich dies disgraced - Andrew Carnegie (1889). http://www.raisingmoremoney.com/stories/storyReader$377


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