Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced government funding of $1.8 million for the development of the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre.
The government is investing $1.8 million into the development of an interactive tourism experience for the proposed $20 million Waihi Gold Discovery Centre, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today.
The Waihi Gold Discovery Centre is being developed as a unique world-class, under-ground facility. It will be one of the largest tourist attractions built in New Zealand in the next decade, and it has nationwide significance.
"Waihi has a strong identity based on its rich gold mining heritage, as well as on its stunning natural features. This centre will tell the stories of the district's heritage to international and domestic visitors alike," Helen Clark said.
"The government funding comes from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's Major Regional Initiative Fund. It is backing this project to help create, build, and market the New Zealand gold mining story in an engaging and interactive way.
"The government is pleased to be associated with other public and private partners, including New Zealand Mint, Newmont Waihi Gold, the Hauraki District Council, and other community-based funding programmes.
"The Waihi Gold Discovery Centre will give visitors a sense of what it was like to work underground, including recreating the sense of descending into the Martha Mine.
"It is expected to become a significant tourism hub for the Coromandel region, attracting visitors to Waihi, and encouraging them to visit other attractions in the area. It will help to transform the region's economy and move it to a sustainable basis beyond any eventual closure of current mining operations," Helen Clark said.
"I see the centre also complementing existing attractions, such as the popular Department of Conservation heritage walkways in the historic Karangahake Gorge, which I was pleased to open last year. As well, an all-weather tourism attraction in the district helps to spread visitor numbers throughout the year and encourage longer stays.
"It is expected that other tourism facilities will be developed in the area off the back of the investment in the centre. Within five years, the centre is expected to generate 53 full-time equivalent jobs, and an extra $13.5 million income a year for the region, of which about $2.4 million is expected to come from international tourists," Helen Clark said.
The centre will be built at the top of Waihi's Seddon Street, next to the relocated historic Cornish Pumphouse and the still operating Martha Hill Gold mine pit.
Note: Background information follows
Waihi Gold Discovery Centre background information:
The proposed Waihi Gold Discovery Centre will be constructed and buried in the land, giving visitors an underground experience.
The concept includes an iconic street frontage which complements Waihi's Cornish Pumphouse and makes visitors feel like they are walking into an underground mine.
Interactive exhibitions, which include film, audio, hands on working exhibits, a live gold poor, and modelling elements will focus on the geology of the region, the discovery of gold; and the development of the gold mining industry, its current practices, and its future.
Another visitor experience will recreate the experience of descending into the Martha Mine and show the scale of the mining operation at Waihi. Visitors will also be able to buy actual Waihi Gold, believed to be a first in New Zealand.
The centre is expected to cost about $20 million in total to build. About $4 million has been budgeted to fit out the centre, including $2.75m to develop the interactive story-telling elements.
About New Zealand Trade and Enterprise:
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is the government's economic development agency. It works to stimulate economic growth by helping to boost export earnings, strengthen regional economies, and deliver economic development assistance to industries and individual businesses.
Up until 30 June 2007, NZTE ran a Regional Partnerships Programme which included funding of Major Regional Initiatives (MRIs). The Waihi Gold Discovery Centre is one of the last projects to be funded through the MRI programme.
Now, NZTE runs a Regional Strategy Fund to help regions develop and implement regional economic development strategies and the projects which flow from them. As well, regions can apply for funding for large projects through the contestable Enterprising Partnerships Fund, which is administered by the Ministry of Economic Development.
infonews.co.nz , 23 September 2007, 11:35AM
An important investment in Waihi's heritage
Helen Clark in Waihi to announce the government's support for a significant local project.
It's always a pleasure to have a reason to visit Waihi, and today is particularly special, with the exciting developments that are in the pipeline.
I was here in February to help welcome the Cornish Pumphouse to its new location in Waihi. Last year I came for the 100th anniversary of the railway reaching Waihi ; and for the opening of the Windows Walk in the vicinity of the old Karangahake gold mining operation. All those events were important heritage celebrations for the Coromandel and New Zealand.
They were also significant milestones for this district's burgeoning tourism industry, which is based on a strong mining heritage, natural features like the Karangahake Gorge, and superb beaches and bush walks.
The whole Coromandel area has long been the playground of visitors from around the North Island and is increasingly being recognised by international tourists as a gem.
The Waihi area has a rich vein of colourful and sometimes gritty history, relating to its standing as New Zealand's heart of gold.
For many years, mining in this region has been the subject of heated debates, whether it was about mining itself, prospecting or environmental impacts, or the miners' strike of 1912.
Gold was first discovered here in 1878 by a couple of prospectors who left the area shortly thereafter. The claim was taken up by William Nichol a year later, who named it after a family member called Martha.
The subsequent Martha Hill Mine, in its various guises, is probably New Zealand's best known gold mine. It has been a major source of economic activity here over many decades.
But because the mine won't last forever, the Waihi community has put a lot of thought into its economic future. Together with Newmont Waihi Gold and the Hauraki District Council, the community formed the Vision Waihi Trust. Its aim is to ensure the economic sustainability of the region through the Heart of Gold strategy.
Together, local government, business and community groups alike have been working on plans for a local economy which is not reliant on the Martha Mine, and there's been a lot of consultation around that.
A few years ago, the Waihi Community Consultative Group came up with a 'blue skies' list of options for projects in the area known as Waihi's 2020 Vision. They asked people to think about what the community could achieve if funding and other considerations were not an issue.
The result was many ideas about how to preserve the region's heritage, restore public confidence, improve the social and recreation sectors, conserve the environment, and develop tourism and education opportunities in the region.
The Vision Waihi Trust was eventually formed out of this process, to take some of the suggested projects forward. Thus we have already seen the move to preserve the Cornish Pumphouse. This work coincides with the Department of Conservation's plans and extensive work programmes in developing the Karangahake Gorge as a natural and historic heritage tourism attraction.
Taken altogether, the Cornish Pumphouse, the Goldfields railway, the beaches, and the Karangahake gorge, with its mining heritage and walks, form an authentic tourism experience on the already popular route along State Highway Two. The challenge now for Waihi is to create a tourism focal point as a catalyst for further sustainable growth in visitor numbers.
That catalyst will be the Gold Discovery Centre, to be built in Waihi under a public-private partnership. Newmont Waihi Gold and New Zealand Mint are involved with the development, as well as the Hauraki District Council and the community at large.
The Government is also supporting the project. The Department of Conservation is investigating how it will participate within the centre to ensure the story about the area's natural scenery is told in an educational and informative manner. The Historic Places Trust has a strong association with the Cornish Pumphouse, and Land Information New Zealand, a government department, is the current owner of that building.
As well I am especially pleased to announce today that the Labour-led Government, through a fund administered by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, is investing $1.8 million in the development of the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre.
This funding will be used to help develop some of the interactive story-telling elements being planned within the centre. There are some outstanding concepts being developed to give this centre an edge and ensure it stands out as truly world class.
For example, film, audio and modelling elements will focus on the geology of the region, the discovery of gold, and the development of the mining industry.
The centre will also give visitors a sense of what it was like to work underground, including by creating the sense of descending into the Martha Hill Mine. It will also show the scale of the current mining operations here. Tourists will be able to see and buy jewellery made by New Zealand Mint from authentic Waihi gold.
Some of the $1.8 million from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will also go towards measures to help future tourism attractions in the Coromandel region be developed in a similarly professional manner.
This centre can be developed as a tourism hub for the Coromandel region, attracting visitors to Waihi and acting as a gateway to other local attractions.
At around $20 million, the Gold Discovery Centre is a very substantial tourism investment. It is expected to rank alongside major attractions like Whale Watch and the Kelly Tarlton aquarium as tourism attractions. It will have positive impacts not only for the Waikato, Coromandel, and Bay of Plenty regions, but for New Zealand tourism overall.
The Waihi community and its partners have been working for three years now on this project. A year ago, New Zealand Mint became aware of the project, and, seeing its potential, enthusiastically joined the development team. Their engagement in the project brings in a strong private partner, with proven experience in both commercial development and gold and silver retailing.
All the partners Ã‚Â¯ Vision Waihi Trust, New Zealand Mint, Newmont Waihi Gold, Hauraki District Council and the community of Waihi Ã‚Â¯ are to be congratulated on their vision and their commitment to making this project become a reality.
This is a good example of partnerships formed across sectors Ã‚Â¯ public, private, and community Ã‚Â¯ with the common goal of transforming Waihi's economy and mitigating any negative economic and social effects from future winding down of mining operations.
It has been calculated that the centre could lead to an extra $13.5 million being injected into the local economy annually, of which up to $2.4 million would come from international tourists. It's also expected to generate 53 equivalent full-time jobs in the area.
Congratulations on the progress with the project. I am pleased that our government is involved. I am delighted to be here to help celebrate the partnerships, and the project and I look forward to seeing the completed centre.