Author(s): Paul Bensemann
As a young man in the mid-1970s, Paul Bensemann was told an archetypal 'lost gold' story by his neighbour, a tobacco farmer in the Motueka Valley on the edge of what is now Kahurangi National Park. The story concerned an old prospector who had found a huge exposed gold reef, shining in the sun, deep in the mountain wilderness of Northwest Nelson. Just before he died, the prospector drew a map, and to Paul's amazement his neighbour then produced the old, tatty, hand-drawn map, which had been handed down to him from his father. Since that meeting Paul has spent over 30 years trying to unravel this untold story, linking many different characters and their often obsessive and always secretive efforts to find this very New Zealand treasure. The search for the reef was originally triggered by Government geologists who reported finding a huge reef in the 1880s. It has since been pursued by many different prospectors, from bushmen on the West Coast to F.G. Gibbs, a prominent early Nelson identity. Lost Gold follows the many twists and turns of this 105-year-old story, and tries to explain why the reef has never been rediscovered. But in the end, whether or not the reef exists is only part of the story, and perhaps the bigger treasure here is the real tale of men in pursuit of their own El Dorado.
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Paul Bensemann's journalism career has taken him from his home area of Nelson to the parliamentary press gallery, and he campaigns on environmental issues as a senior staff member for the parliamentary Green Party. He has had a lifelong passion for gold mining, and holds two mining licences. Paul's articles have been published in a number of magazines in New Zealand and overseas, and he is the author of Tragedy at Aramoana.