Waihi’s Gold Discovery Centre has new owners, but its core purpose remains the same.
Formerly owned by Vision Waihi Trust (VWT), the Centre has recently been sold to local business people Bill Young and Eddie Morrow. VWT is a not-for-profit community organisation tasked with making plans for Waihi to continue to thrive economically once mining ceases.
Hauraki District Council Chief Executive Langley Cavers says the Council still strongly supports the Centre and is pleased to see it will continue to be locally owned and operated.
“The Centre was developed with the idea of transforming Waihi into a significant tourist destination and this is still a really important goal for us,” he said. “We wish its new owners every success in their new venture.”
Over the years, the Council has invested around $550,000 in the Gold Discovery Centre and fit-out of the attached i-Site. Most of this has been in the form of grants to help get the project off the ground, as it was agreed the Centre would bring significant economic benefits to the community. There was never any expectation this investment would be paid back, but the Council has been reimbursed in full for a separate interest bearing loan of $100,000 extended to the Centre in 2016.
“All debt to the Council has been cleared with this sale,” says Cavers, “however we will continue with our agreement to contribute $135,000 annually to the operating cost of the i-Site until August 2019.”
Historically, the Council had a service agreement to contribute $85,000 per year to the running of the i-Site. This was increased to $135,000 for an agreed period of three years in 2016.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who built the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre?
The Waihi Gold Discovery Centre (WGDC) and i-Site was a combined Council, Newmont Waihi Gold (NWG), and community project led by Vision Waihi Trust (VWT).
VWT is a community group that was established in 2006 to help make plans for when mining ceases to operate in the area.
VWT formed a company, Waihi Gold Discovery Centre Ltd, to run the WGDC and the i-Site. Shares in this company were held by the VWT trustees on behalf of VWT.
How was the project funded?
The Government contributed $1.8million. Other funding partners included Hauraki District Council and Newmont Waihi Gold.
Overall, the Council has contributed an estimated $550,000 of capital funding to the project, as well as an annual grant of $85,000 per year towards the operating cost of the i-Site. In 2016, this was increased to $135,000 for an agreed period of three years. The Council also extended an interest bearing loan of $100,000 to WGDC in 2016.
Who has bought the WGDC?
Local business people Eddie Morrow and Bill Young.
Is Vision Waihi Trust still involved in the Centre?
Will the Council get back the money it invested?
Most of Council’s contribution to the project was in the form of a grant to help get the project started. There was no expectation this would be paid back as it was considered that the Centre would bring economic benefit to the Waihi community.
The company has now paid back all debt to the Council.
Has the i-Site also been sold?
Yes, the i-Site is part of WGDC although it is kept separate for financial purposes.
Will the Council still contribute towards the operating costs of i-Site?
Historically, the Council had a service agreement to contribute $85,000 per year to the running of the i-Site. This was increased to $135,000 for an agreed period of three years in 2016. Council will continue to contribute to the i-Site operating costs, as per this agreement, until August 2019.