ABOUT THE HPA -
Hauraki Prospectors Association Incorporated hold the site under a Crown Mining Licence and are the owners of all historical buildings, machinery and equipment. Goldmine Experience Limited operates independently from Hauraki Prospectors Association. Goldmine Experience operate public tours and part of the 19th century underground mine and those buildings not closed for safety and security reasons.
A BRIEF HISTORY:
The Hauraki Prospectors Association Incorporated (HPA,) was formed 30 years ago by a couple of retired gold miners. Sawyer's Stamper Battery had just closed it doors, the gold mining companies had disbanded and the town of Thames was focussed on other means of making a living. And yet, the prospectors held a firm belief that gold was still to be found. ("gold fever" was still running high). The only problem to overcome was to how to process their gold-bearing ore.
The solution; to build a Stamper Battery. A site was chosen. What better place than one of the richest hard rock gold fields in New Zealand, the site of the world famous Caledonian - Golden Crown - Manukau claim situated in Thames.
And so, the quest of the HPA began: to recover old gold mining equipment, fix it, install it, and obtain gold. When the HPA first moved into their claim, only the single-head Sawyer Battery still stood, next to a tabby cat - later to be named "Battery Cat". (Battery Cat is currently the "Resident Rodent Control Officer" for the HPA)
First things first - a "smoko-room" was erected. Stampers for the Battery were recovered from Neasville on the Hauraki Plains. Berdans, Jaw crushers and miscellaneous parts came from various other sources, such as Judds Foundry, A&G Price, Individual donations, and out of the bush. A Boiler house was built, the refurbished steam Engine and wood-fired boiler installed. A number of historic buildings were rescued from ruin, including the old morgue, and Judd Office.
To build new structures - building materials were needed. With no budget for the year - the HPA volunteered to do demolition jobs around town, Thames High School and Judds Foundry to name a few.
Old tunnels were reopened and the search for gold began. (Incidentally, there is an estimated 2 billion dollars worth of gold, unclaimed within the region today!)
Many people began to visit the HPA - curious to see what all the noise was about (literally, you'll hear what I mean if you visit Goldmine Experience). It seemed to the HPA, that a lot of people had gold fever too, and a general interest in the past. Official tours of the HPA operation began. The HPA annual budget now covered beer, tea, milk, and Battery Cat food costs.
Today the HPA are constructing a new Stamper battery that will be twice the size of the current one! This is in order to process a greater volume of gold ore. New tunnels have been reopened and gold discovered. The ore is quite rich at 1 oz/ton. Also, the HPA are digging their way down to the 100 - 200 foot below-sea level. The Golden Crown Mine Shaft is being reopened, and a head frame is being built with a grant from the Lotteries Commission Board.
There are currently about 50 members of the HPA, and a core group of about 10. The HPA volunteer group is made up of Lawyers, Engineers, Designers, Builders, Electricians, Parliamentary journalists... Working "Bs" are held at the claim, on the second Saturday of every month. Members also go on field trips to gold mining related sites, when there is the inclination.
If you would like to become a volunteer, donate funding for a project, donate gold mining related artifacts, or have helpful information please email the HPA, or send a letter to, HPA, PO Box 278, Thames 2801, New Zealand.