Claims, poachers and law

Greetings gold hounds.

Just wondered if anyone can give me or point me in the right direction of information around claim owners rights and regulations.
Specifically about finding poachers or poachers equipment on a claim?
What is the recommended procedure?
Can equipment be confiscated?
Is their reimbursement for lost income?

Is there a link where these questions are covered or could someone please recommend a lawyer or suchlike that deals in this topic?

Cheers :+1:

At the very least I’d imagine you could remove the equipment from your claim if there’s no possibility it could be getting used legitimately on a nearby claim. The poacher would then need to approach you to reclaim the equipment in which case it may be prudent to have a police officer present at the time if possible.

I’d recommend taking lots of photos documenting the equipment as you found it, to prove you haven’t caused any damage to it while transporting it. I’d also record / film any interactions with the poacher if they wish to reclaim the equipment… phone calls, person picking it up, etc. as it will be useful evidence if seeking a prosecution.

For phone calls I’d recommend saying you can’t take the call immediately once you realise it’s the poacher. Then call them back once you’re in a position to record the call via an app or if low tech approach needed video the interaction while it’s on speaker phone.

If the poacher knows they are doing an illegal activity there’s a good chance you’ll never be approached to return the equipment. Might be prudent to report the equipment removal to the police in case someone reports it as stolen, just to cover yourself.

This is by no means legal advise. I’d recommend getting advice from a lawyer and NZPAM.


Thanks Gavin, some good advice there, appreciate it👍

Just to add to that, I had some legal advice and it was very much the same. Obviously talk to the cops before doing anything. But confiscation and if they want it returned then own up and reclaim. If you’ve seen the cops first then getting charged for theft because of confiscation shouldnt be an issue. (Should the cheeky buggers try it on) :wink:

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Thats a whole nasty can o worms.

If you confiscate the equipment you CAN be charged for theft-not very likely but you could.

If you find the equipment on your claim you can legally remove it but should place an add in a local paper advising of removal and storage,and appropriate fees for such.
This establishes that you did NOT “intend to permanantly deprive” ownership of equipment,thereby satisfying the law on theft.

All your left with is “unlawful posession”.
Need to speak to a lawyer about this part.

The other problem is that claims are on rivers-surprise surprise(mostly anyway) and ANYONE is allowed access to rivers under queens chain-as long as it is accessable from public property or from the river itself.

This means that people have the LEGAL RIGHT to be on your claim,but not for the purpose of mining.
Tramping,camping,hiking ,or just general sightseeing is someathing you cannot stop.

There are a few exceptions where the claim also has access rights too.

Another approach is that the equipment is abandoned on your claim and you are entitled to posession,after a few minor hurdles(see above on establishing lack of intent)

The final way is to just DESTROY and remove the equipment without being seen-the onus of proof is on the other party and without witnesses youre in the clear.

The case in court would be something like "well mr cods wallop,you claim you had commercial gold mining equipment in operation in an area YOU had no legal right to be operating in,you left said equipment in the area unattended and upon return to the area could not locate said equipment.
You did not observe anyone with said equipment,or remove said equipment and NOBODY has admitted removing said equipment.


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It is very a grey area… you are bang on, can’t just be confiscating and taking something home, even if it’s blatantly obvious. I think that’s why a visit to the police station first is required at the very least. The rest is fairplay in my book, an ad in the paper and opportunity for said poacher to come forth and own up. Still the claim owner is in a fix through being robbed themselves, that’s a real problem. Claims are not cheap and losing ground unbeknown can be very expensive if you were to turn that ground over only to find someone had already helped themselves (not good at all).
Secondly on the destroying theory. It’s extremely common for the river to claim gold mining equipment. Happens all the time :wink::+1:


One thing to be aware of… cameras. If the equipment is valuable they may have left a trail cam. I do this with my gear when I leave it in overnight and I have a few squirrelled around checking on who’s coming and going. So be careful of the “destroying” approach.

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And having said that they will just use “covid” masks and search for the cameras.
Now they haver your gear AND your cameras.

I meet one guy with a claim around queenstown somewhere seceret? who told me trail cams were in use and had already caught a few older folks in the act.

When i joined up here i think the pics posted were the same ones he was talking about.

I caught a 20something yo on the arrow with a small sluice 6" by 2’ and he was running a pump using it like a highbanker.

I stopped and ,rather unusual for me,taljed nicely to him about it not being allowed.

He retorted "says who:

So i jumped in boots n all viting crown minerals and his girlfriend just laughed.
He packed up and took off.

Carrying the gear,including large car battery on foot.

It was only up by the fist hill on macetown track but still a long way to the carpark hehe

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