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Recognition sought for golden age

10 November 2008


Recognition sought for golden age

A golden period in Otago – and New Zealand’s - economic history is set for heritage recognition by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).

NZHPT is undertaking formal Registration of Gabriel's Gully, near Lawrence, in Otago. It was the site where Gabriel Read, in May 1861, discovered gold and led to the gold rushes of the early 1860s that transformed the province, making it the wealthiest in New Zealand.

NZHPT Otago/Southland Area Manager, Owen Graham said official recognition of Gabriel’s Gully by New Zealand’s leading heritage agency was warranted given the area’s national significance and economic and social impact the gold rushes had, particularly in Otago and Southland.

“Gabriel’s Gully is one of New Zealand’s most important historic places,” Mr Graham said.

“The registration proposal highlights the outstanding national significance of Gabriel’s Gully and the discovery by Gabriel Read which led thousands of people to follow the lure of gold within months of the discovery.

“Considering all Gabriel Read was equipped with was a tin dish, butcher’s knife and a spade when he discovered gold, his find – and his impact on our history – was all that more remarkable.”

At its peak Gabriel’s Gully attracted more than 10,000 miners to the region to seek their fortune. Dunedin became the largest city in New Zealand and the influx of miners pushed the South Island’s population ahead of the North.

Today, Gabriel’s Gully is managed by the Department of Conservation as an historic reserve. Mr Graham said registration would complement the site that in May 2011 will celebrate its 150th anniversary.

“This registration is an appropriate way that NZHPT can recognise Gabriel’s Gully’s outstanding archaeological, historical and technological significance to New Zealand. It transformed Dunedin and Otago to the point where much of our rich heritage that we celebrate today was due, in considerable part, to the riches that came from Gabriel’s Gully.”

A large number of archaeological features remain on site, including Pollard’s Dam, water races, powder magazines, sluicing faces, mine shafts, remains of stamper batteries and tailing races and piles.

Public notification on the proposal was initiated by NZHPT on Saturday (8 November), with submissions invited by 5 December. A Registration report is available at


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