Central News – 21 April 2022

If you want to learn how to pan for gold, there are probably no better teachers than a family which has three generations of New Zealand champions and a former world champion.

The Ide family of Frankton and Bannockburn were helping out at the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust (OGHT) Family Fun Day on Sunday, teaching other families how to pan for gold.

Stu Ide (72) said he had been gold panning all his life, ‘‘since I was a wee boy’’.

‘‘My parents would bring us here for holidays and we’d camp in the caravan and I’d either be fishing or kayaking or gold panning.’’

Stu Ide passed on those skills to his children, Mike and Meghan Ide, and Mike’s daughters Phoebe (15) and Esther (13) also enjoy hunting for gold.

Meghan’s daughter, Hana› Kahurangi Ide›Neill is barely 2›years›old but has already tried panning, her mother said.

Stu moved to Frankton in about 2001, and started entering competitions soon after, winning gold in the team event at the World Championships in Scotland in 2017.

Stu, Mike, Meghan and Phoebe all competed at the New Zealand Gold Panning Championships in Arrowtown last year.

Phoebe won the U16 competition, Meghan won bronze in the open and Mike beat his father to take the men’s title.

The Family Fun Day also marked the 131st anniversary of the building in which the trust has its office, which was formerly the Cromwell Methodist Church.

OGHT treasurer Odette Hopgood›Bride said the building, which now contained offices, a meeting room and a cinema, was built by two stonemasons from Scotland, Leslie Arthur and William Gair.

Mr Arthur’s great› granddaughter, then›prime minister Helen Clark, officially opened the OGHT office in 2006.

One of Mr Gair’s descendants, the late George Gair, also went into politics and served as deputy leader of the National Party.

The trust has many more such stories in its collection but the event was about fun for young and old, and Mike Ide said the family had always enjoyed gold panning together. ‘‘At the end of the day, it’s not about the gold, it’s about doing things with the family and having a good time,’’ he said.