Duration: 25 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Director: Alistair Barry
In 1986 gold mining companies were keen to begin prospect drilling in some of the most beautiful parts of the Coromandel. Locals began organising to stop them. Eventually protesters occupied drilling sites making it impossible for the prospecting to continue despite the intervention of the police.
The media attention given to the protest campaign soon led the then Labour government to ban mining on the Coromandel and to the creation of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act which extended the same protection to other iconic parts of New Zealand.
It lasted two decades before a National government led by John Key in 2010, wanted to let the miners back in.
The film looks at the effects of the Waihi gold mine on the environment and Waihi township. It shows the effects of mining in the 19th Century including the poisoning of streams with heavy metal leachates exuding from the mines. This leachate continues to flow into coastal waters contributing to abnormally high levels of mercury in Hauraki Gulf snapper. The mining companies took their gold and left but a toxic legacy remains for generations to come.
Prospects was screened on TVNZ as off-peak viewing but still resulted in an expensive legal battle with the gold miners who claimed they had been misrepresented, a warning perhaps to others who think they can take on the might of transnational corporations.