Participants still required for re-enactment of gold discovery

The countdown is on for one of the highlights of the Arrowtown 150 celebrations - the re-enactment of the discovery of gold.

However, participants are still being sought for the event, which will take place next Saturday - particularly those of Chinese descent, who are needed for the Chinese Village Theatre.

Re-enactment director Victoria Keating said at least four Chinese actors were required to play the parts of some of the Chinese miners, reading from a script and telling the story of people who lived in the huts along the banks of the Arrow River.

The theatre was just one aspect of the re-enactment, which would involve at least 120 members of the Arrowtown community, although Ms Keating was keen to hear from others who wanted to be involved.

Participants had been given clear outlines of costume requirements and - even though those involved were not required to speak - guidelines on appropriate "curse words".

Men's clothing could comprise checked shirts, vests or waistcoats, braces to hold trousers up, old full-brim hats and "some variety of work boots", while women were advised to dress in long skirts, high-necked, long-sleeved blouses, boots, aprons or pinafores and possibly blazers and hats.

Banned from the clothing list are modern or patterned jeans, running shoes, caps, beanies, gumboots, watches and sun glasses, although prescription glasses were allowed.

Ms Keating said throughout the re-enactment there would be "the odd bit of fighting ... over claims, gold, camping spots, beer and women".

The list of curse words commonly used in the 1800s included "bull", "blame", "blast", "dickens", "redneck", "strumpet", "boot-licker", "nancy boy", "scallywag" and "cherry - a vulgar term for a young woman".

Up to 8000 people would line the banks of the Arrow River to watch those involved retell the history of the settlement of Arrowtown in less than an hour.

The roles included staking claims in the river, panning for gold, striking it rich, losing all their gold and heading to the tavern for a beer.

Anyone interested in taking part was welcome, with costumes available for those who needed them, Ms Keating said.

"You turn up on the day and there will be people there to organise you into groups.

"You go with your group and when you're called on, you get to the stage [the river bank] and you're snoozing, or gold panning or having a drink.

"We want it to look authentic ... but we are aware 200 people, including horses, is a huge amount to co-ordinate.

"We just want people to use their initiative and make sure they're doing whatever they can to look the part."

Arrowtown 150 co-ordinator Julie Hughes said the re-enactment would be a "unique experience".

"It's something that will be a huge amount of fun for participants and for members of the public watching.

"The idea is that it just fosters community involvement and gets everybody to celebrate."

Anyone interested in being involved in the re-enactment, or playing a part of a Chinese miner, is asked to email victoria.keating@worldtravellers.co.nz or julie@arrowevents.co.nz