Mining for historic maps

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The hunt is on for historic maps of mines from across Central Otago.

Historian John Taylor, of Reefton, has spent four years collecting mine maps for a new national database.

However, there were significant gaps in Central Otago, and Mr Taylor hoped to encourage museums, historic groups and individual owners to help him uncover missing maps in the region.

“When it comes to Central Otago, I am extremely disappointed with what I’ve found.”

There were many plans for mines, including gold mines, that Mr Taylor had not been able to find so far, he said.

“There has to be a lot more plans somewhere.”

The project was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and WorkSafe New Zealand.

Nobody would lose ownership of maps – instead, a high resolution scan would be created, then the original map would be returned, Mr Taylor said.

As an added benefit, the group or individual would receive a copy of the high-resolution scan.

An example of one of the mining maps in the Government’s new online database shows Cornish Point in Cromwell. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

When he first started the project, many museums would not allow their maps to be removed, but since then, he has been able to gain their trust, providing them with a valuable resource in return.

“Four years later, every single organisation I have dealt with has allowed me to get the plans out and get them scanned.”

The plans were looked after during transport, including proper crating and insurance during transfer to the scanner, he said.

“In Wellington there is a very large scanner that is non-invasive.

“It doesn’t touch the plan at all, other than to suck it down and hold it on a vacuum bed surface.

“The big camera that scans the plan is high up above the plan; it physically doesn’t touch the plan at all.”

As well as showing all active mines, the database showed historic mines from across the country.

This had benefits in many ways, including helping identify underground workings prior to new construction, helping identify hazards, and also providing a fascinating insight into the mining history of the region, Mr Taylor said.

The public can view the database at: mineplans.nzpam.govt.nz