Old Miners Right

Does anyone have an information on the old miners right that was available in years gone by? I’m particularly interested in the wording of the legislation.

Any links to the official wording anywhere?

This is mine or my Dads from when I was a little fella


Cheers @Lammerlaw, you wouldn’t have any of the legal blurb that goes with it would you?

Like this?

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There is nothing written on the back of them but Dad had all the mining legislation as he used to do claim work for our claims and also others and I have all the regulations here - that is the good news - the other good news is that I saw them within the last twelve months - the bad news is that I have no idea which of dozens of boxes it is all in!

How ever whether that covered the Miners Rights and the rules that pertained to them I do not know.

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Maybe, that’s a lot of wording to read through! :stuck_out_tongue: Thanks for that. Just trying to find out what the old miners right was legally that you could purchase from the post office back in the day.

Basically it allowed you to pan gold on State owned land, along river banks and so on. There were no designated fossicking areas and you could fossick where ever you wanted on the river banks and streams.

As for the fine print like undermining banks and so on I have no idea.

If, however a miners right system was set up today and reinstated after enough public pressure then the rules could easily be instituted on the basis of common sense and with respect for the environment.

That’d be nice: to see it returned to the old days where you could go just about anywhere.

What are the regulations like in Oz?

Pretty easy and cheap to obtain, e.g. for WA - Metal Detecting Permit and Miners Rights WA

It would be nice to get something similar introduced in NZ. I’m doing a bit of research and hoping I can get some sort of ball rolling on this.


Let me know if there’s anything a visiting/maybe immigrating yank can help with. I can’t vote, so the politicians aren’t likely to lend an ear, but I can say that gold fossicking is one of the reasons my wife and I are here and spending our tourist dollars. I think that it could be developed into a niche tourist draw if a more areas were opened up and publicized.

I also have a decent hold on how things work for prospectors stateside if you need any input in that regard.

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Would love an overview of how it all works over your end, cheers! And I think the tourist angle is definitely a good one to include. Thanks for the input.

They vary by state. But from memory, not allowed to dig on National Reserves/Conservation land, not allowed to dig deeper than 40cm? And if you take home more that a certain amount of gold you’ll need to declare it (so they can get a bit of tax).

If you wish to consider attempting to reintroduce the ‘Miners Right’ then you have to do it in a politically correct manner.

Step one might be to introduce the concept to the public via the media BEFORE making official approaches or at the same time.
The reason is to present an article telling of New Zealand’s gold mining history and subtlety relate how rights have been eroded to the situation we have today…designated fossicking spots
You MUST cover all potential matters that might be controversial such as inane excuses that to reintroduce the Miners Right would allow wholesale pillaging of the countryside. To do this it needs merely be pointed out that in the 70s and 80s with the introduction of gold suction dredging followed by escalating gold prices there was hardly a ripple on the water despite the factfactand that anyone could purchase a MIners Right and there would not be a ripple or gold rush with its reintroduction.

The new Miners Right would allow individuals and families to pan any where they desired within the bounds of State owned land but following the rules and regulations.

The rules and regulations would be simple, concise and easily understood.

The rules and regulations would also cover every perceived objection that might make it hard to have the Miners Right instituted…rule number ten below being one of them

Rules might include;

  1. Fossicking is permitted in those streams and rivers which are State owned
  2. Fossicking us not permitted on privately owned or leased property
  3. Fossicking is restricted to the gravels and beds of established streams and natural waterways only
  4. The Miners Right does not give permission to enter or access through private property
  5. The river banks must not be undermined, interfered with not modified in any way
  6. Fossicking will be restricted to hand tools only including pan, shovel, pick, bar, sluice box not exceeding X.x metres in length and .X metres in width, cradle, glass bottom box and snifter (yes that IS the correct name of the gold sucker)
  7. No mechanized means will be used including though not exclusive to, motorized dredged, sluices, diggers, scrapers or other forms of earth moving machinery
  8. Explosives are not permitted
  9. This Miners Right does not entitle entry onto an existing claim.
  10. all rivers and waterways are closed to fossicking between (date) and (date) due to fish
  11. This Miners Right gives no authority to make claim to any area not to give a priority to that area
  12. The stream/river bed will be left in the condition that it was in on arrival
  13. No litter, junk or refuse to be left behind
  14. This Miners Right does not confer the right to fossicking in any National Park, Reserve, Covenanted area or area under protection without a separate permit from the Department of Conservation (Such a permit to be introduced)

These are only considerations but I hope they are of some use.


Thanks @Lammerlaw, some very good points! I’m trying to find a bit of time to sit down and start putting some wording together so it’s very much appreciated.

Also figured I’d make the activity comparable to hunting and fishing as a pastime.

Get in touch with some greenies (maybe the Green Party themselves). They will be the most hostile (well, vocal adversaries). Find out how hostile they are, see if you can alleviate their concerns and get them on side.
If you could get Labour to add it as one of their policies that would be great - they want to stick anything to National. National mostly care about larger businesses, but you could try them first, and say “We’re going to take this to Labour, but we’re offering you the chance to add it as one of your policies first” - they might jump at the chance to stay in with the average new zealander - they’re much more in favour of being centrist party these days.

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@GoldPandemic cheers, some interesting tactics to think about.

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Lammerlaw’s suggested rules are pretty much how it is in the states: you can go anywhere on non-claimed public lands with non-motorized equipment. Exceptions are national parks, specially designated wilderness areas, and some areas set aside as special for other reasons (species protection, historical resources, etc.) Private properties with private minerals are always allowed to be prospected, with landowner permission, of course.

Speaking of historic areas: as a professional archaeologist, I’d toss one more rule on to Lammerlaw’s list to keep the historians and heritage folks from any potential objections. It might even get them on our side as surveys for such materials can be expensive to conduct:

  1. Heritage areas and any artifacts or cultural materials that may be of historical interest must not be disturbed. Any new discoveries of such materials must be reported to the district historian.

Currently, any historic sites are not to be dug on - historic being activity for over 100 years. This applies to Maori Pa sites etc.
It would be really good if we had a basic list - of some common places in each region, such as Auckland; Western Springs Park, Domain(also former Pa), Albert Park.

I think the tax bit is really to stop foreigners from coming in and raiding Australia’s goldfields.

I have the official C papers here, first the 1971 Mining Act

Next page

Amendments followed, of course, each one whittling down the rights of what you can do-

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Thanks for that @nzau, very much appreciated! Finally I get to read what they directly allowed.

BTW - I merged your posts in to one to make them easier to read together.