Digging Into The Gold Discovery Centre and Waihi Recreation Community Centre

Posted by Gold FM on 11/05/2012

The revised Waihi Gold Discovery Centre on Seddon Street and a sports complex on Morgan Park had their official unveiling for the public in Waihi last night. 70 to 80 interested locals turned up at the Salvation Army Hall in Seddon Street to see and hear the presentation organised by Waihi Community Vision.

Chairperson Kevin Corney welcomed everyone and gave an overview of the WCV, which began as a result of a Council resolution back in 2002.

Newmont Waihi Gold was requested to establish a community consultation group without delay to examine any issues, plans, proposals for the Golden Legacy & to make recommendations to Council & Newmont, & to make information available to the public. At that stage it was called the Waihi Community Consultation Committee.

Then at a public meeting on 19 May 2003 it was resolved that the purpose of the WCCC was to:

“Liaise with and to make recommendations to the mining company and the District and Regional Councils on historic and current issues and future planning to ensure:

  • A healthy future for Waihi;
  • The gaining and maintaining of positive relationships community wide;
  • The environmental, cultural, economic and social viability and stability of the area; and
  • The preservation and enhancement of the heritage of Waihi”.

A 'bubble chart' highlighting community aspirations was developed through the WCCV process and the Gold Discovery Centre and the Morgan Park Sports Complex are projects that are being progressed to the next stage.

Born and bred local, with strong historical roots in Waihi, Mark Samson is spearheading the sports complex, now called the Waihi Recreation and Community Centre.  He showed a 'sports hub building' in Hawera which he said was a model for the Waihi complex, except that the Waihi version would be scaled down. The idea is to redevelop Morgan Park in 3 phases. The redevelopment will include a hub building/recreation centre with a cluster of 16 or so different Waihi sports groups from croquet and netball, to rugby, tennis, squash, rugby league and more. It's hoped that all of Waihi's sporting codes will embrace the idea and utilise the area as a centre for sporting and recreation activities, including dance classes, zumba etc. An underpass, or overpass, is an option to make access to the complex and local walkways safe and easy from the main Whangamata Road.

For more details about the Waihi Recreation And Community Recreation Centre see  http://sportnactionwaihi.webs.com/

Eddie Morrow is in charge of the Gold Discovery Centre and he arranged for a number of the consultants and partners of the project to provide information.

Craig Jones from Visitor Solutions said he is assisting to optimise Waihi's strategic location, and through market research and focus groups it's envisaged that the centre will be a hub, or as he also described it, a compass with the Gold Discovery Centre in the middle.

Paul Somerford from Brown Day Group Architects said the design for the GDC is influenced by buildings from Waihi's past. It has been kept simple to keep the cost down, and simple buildings and materials are included in the design.

Chris Hay from LOCALES walked the assembled people through the building explaining the 'pay to enter visitor experience', saying it is a hub and spokes model, designed to get people to come, stay longer, and spend money. He said there's something for everyone in the visitor experience and all ages will find something of interest. From the moment visitors walk through the door there will be lots to see in the i -site, with bright colours and maps showing surrounding locations, giving visitors an overview of what the Waihi area has to offer, from the Karangahake Gorge to the beach. A retail shop and cafe can be accessed from the foyer for no charge and the cafe will include outdoor seating. Then it's through reception to the pay to enter visitor experience negotiating walkways with 'interesting bits' along the way.

A 2 tonne rock close to the entrance will pose the question 'how much gold do you think is in this rock?', and later as you walk through the centre the same rock will be displayed in see-through form showing the actual amount of gold it would contain.There will be highly detailed miniature displays, a hand held drilling experience, a huge Lego model of a working mine, a diorama of the Martha open pit mine and an interactive component that allows the visitor to become a character from the historic Waihi strike.

A theatrette will mimic a miner's cottage of old, and without giving too much, away, it will have ghostly characters that tell a personal and emotional story. From there it's a walk through a tunnel to emerge at the mine lookout.

Car parking will be located behind the building and will be accessed through a drive-way on Haszard Street.

Mark Bramly from MPM Projects was next up saying the project is coming to the end of it's design and resource consent process and the aim is to begin construction this July with the project being completed in June 2013. Mr Bramley said they will be advertising for contractors to submit expressions of interest to construct the centre and there will be a main contractor. Local contractors can register their interest to be part of the project with the main contractor. He said the cost was estimated to be $7.7 million.

Eddie Morrow then outlined how the GDC is to be funded. The partners in the project will be Newmont Waihi Gold, the Hauraki District Council, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and DoC and Eddie Morrow will be charged with raising the balance and securing the $3.9 million bank loan needed to complete the centre.

Eddie is the CEO of the Vision Waihi Trust and they will become the owner, controlling and managing the Gold Discovery Centre.

Hauraki District Council Mayor John Tregidga acted as a facilitator for questions from the floor and assured everybody that there was no risk to rate payers from the project because it will run as a commercial enterprise with the pay to enter visitor experience, a retail centre and cafe run by the trust.

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A local contractor said he was getting together with a group of other businesses to tender to become the main contractor for the project.

Gold FM had a lady ring us yesterday to ask if we would be attending and if so could we find out if Waihi people would be given the opportunity to tender to have a retail store or run the cafe in the GDC. This question has come up a number of times, and from last night's meeting it looks as if the Vision Waihi Trust will have control of the process and management of the centre.

All in all if the Gold Discovery Centre in Seddon Street and the Waihi Community and Recreation Centre sports complex go ahead, the potential to enhance the town centre and offer opportunities for employment, with spin offs for other businesses, will be great for the local economy.