NZAA Public Archaeology Award 2015 Citation for David Wilton The Association takes great pleasure in awarding the Public Archaeology Award to David Wilton for 2015 in recognition of his long-term work in bringing the history and archaeology of the Thames Goldfields to the wider public. In spite of the fact that he lives in Auckland, where he lectures in the Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences at Massey – Albany, David has spent many years tramping the hills around Thames to record new sites and upgrade the information held in ArchSite for existing sites from the gold mining era.
Members of NZAA will be familiar with David’s regular presentations to Conference describing his treks into the hills to locate sites. He has worked locally on updating old mining site records and fixing them by GPS, and filed much enhanced reports on the sites. He has worked with Thames High School pupils on a unit involving the use of GPSs to find various sites around Thames. He is a regular contributor to Archaeology in New Zealand with papers discussing sites and heritage items in the Thames area. His updates in ArchSite are very detailed and usually include the historical research he has undertaken on the site in question.
He has volunteered his time at the Treasury (the Coromandel Heritage Trust) since it opened in Thames in 2004, writing archaeological articles for their website (e.g., on the Old Kopu Bridge, Crosbies Landing, Raileys Battery Karangahake and the Una Gold Mine). He has often given papers at NZAA and heritage conferences, and written numerous articles for magazines and the local newspapers.
In another significant project, David travelled the Thames Coromandel District Council /Hauraki District Council area working with historians, the RSA and others locating and taking photos of WW I memorials. These have been included in a long chapter he wrote giving information on these Memorials for book on WW I, published by the Coromandel Heritage Trust, From Gold Mine to Firing Line. He also applied for a WW I grant to enable The Treasury to publish this book, and to undertake various other WW I related activities. David's work and the subsequent publication of the book resulted in the RSA and school children taking an interest in WW I and doing projects on Cemetery locations, Rolls of Honour in halls and RSAs, and the individual soldiers who served.
He has given a presentation nearly every year during Heritage Week for The Treasury Talks 'The Way We Were'. They have been very well received by the community and are looked forward to each year. He has also helped find other speakers for the 4-5 talks during Heritage Week. These speakers have included DOC staff, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga staff, archaeologist Brenda Sewell, and dendrochronologist Dr Gretel Boswijk.
In addition, David is a member of the Thames Oral History Recorders, is a member of Heritage Hauraki Coromandel, volunteers his time to work with DOC historic heritage specialists, and has a book on the archaeology of the Thames area in the pipeline for next year.
NZAA is not alone in benefiting from David’s enthusiasm – others include Treasury (TCHT), Genealogy Groups, Waihi Museum, the AMHA (Australian Mining History Association) and HHC (Heritage Hauraki Coromandel Forum). The Public Archaeology award is to “recognise outstanding efforts in public archaeology”, including “the enhancement of public awareness and enjoyment of, and education about, archaeological sites or archaeology in general.” On these criteria there can be no more fitting recipient than David.