Nelson Discussion Group


The talk discusses the geology and the interesting history of the Golden Blocks
(Aorangi) Mine, the principal mine in the West Wanganui Goldfield of North-West
Nelson. During its relatively short life (1899 to 1914) it produced 26,596 oz of gold
from 23,693 tons of ore from quartz shoots hosted within a narrow graphitic black
shale unit, which runs in north-south belt over approximately 15 kms.

The mineralized belt containing a number of small gold mines, of which Golden
Blocks was the largest, lies in an 88,000 acre former Maori Reserve and is often
referred to as “The Forgotten Goldfield”. This reserve, which was called Taitapu,
was sold in 1895, together with the underlying mineral (gold and coal) and timber
rights, to an English company, The Taitapu Gold Estates Ltd, which was based in
London. This land remained in private ownership through until 1987 when it was
purchased by the Nelson Conservancy for $650,000. Because the land and its
underlying mineral rights were held under private ownership for almost 90 years
successive NZ Governments were unable to issue any exploration or mining claims,
licences or permits within the area and so it remains largely under-explored.
Although the area was mined for coal and gold and was heavily logged, all these
activities were undertaken under by companies with leases obtained from the land
owners and not from government agencies.

About our speaker:
John Taylor is a Cornish–born mining engineer who graduated from the Royal
School of Mines, London many years ago. Since then he has worked for both
mining companies and mineral industry consultancies in New Zealand and
internationally. After nearly 30 years working in places such as Cyprus, Iran, Spain
and Australia he came to New Zealand in 1993 to work as project engineer on the
Globe-Progress Mine for Macraes Mining. In 2003 he joined Solid Energy and
where he eventually became Underground and Subsurface Investigations Manager
on the Millerton Project at Stockton.

He currently works as a Reefton-based consultant engaged in subsurface
investigation and mining heritage projects, as well as other mineral industry
ventures. He is also a member of the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board
where he is able to contribute his knowledge on mining best practice and mining
heritage advocacy.

His Cornish background probably explains his lifetime enthusiasm for mining history
and mining heritage projects. This interest has led to his current project work for
New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals and WorkSafe New Zealand on the National
Mine Plan Project. This project has led to a number of newspaper articles and radio
programmes, where he has been nicknamed “The Map Man”.


Date: Friday 10th August 2018
Time: 5:00pm
Venue: Nick Smith’s Community Room
544 Waimea Road
Cost: Free for all to attend. Includes drinks and finger food.
Registrations: Please RSVP your interest to attend to Carol Foote by emailing

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