A Waihi couple who should be enjoying their retirement are instead feeling vulnerable as their neighbourhood reels from the effects of ground movement.
Roger and Val Wainhouse's home sits just outside a newly identified zone of subsidence in Gladstone Rd.
And while Newmont Gold has offered to buy the five damaged properties and assist with relocation expenses, the Wainhouses are left to ponder their fate - particularly since the mining company has applied to mine directly under their home.
"I do feel vulnerable, we all do. This mine is virtually ruining our lives," Mr Wainhouse said.
In an unhappy coincidence for the company, the announcement that ground was settling under the Gladstone Rd houses followed a hearing earlier this month in which Newmont applied to mine under the same houses. The main workings of the planned Correnso mine were 350 metres below the Wainhouses' home and other Gladstone Rd houses.
Newmont Waihi Gold general manager Glen Grindlay said that although the cause of the ground movement was still unknown, there was no reason to believe the houses were at risk from the sort of collapse that occurred in nearby Barry Rd in 2001 when old mine workings caused the ground to slump under a house.
"Our main concern at the present time is the welfare of residents during the festive season ... we will assist by looking after residents whose homes are showing signs of significant damage."
Hauraki District Council engineer Ken Thompson said there was no risk of a sinkhole because there were no records of mining under the affected area. This was confirmed by a borehole.
He said the severity and unevenness of the ground movement indicated it was restricted to a small localised area. He urged nearby residents to watch for fresh cracks in concrete, signs of movement in walls, and doors and windows that suddenly won't open or close easily.
An investigation has started to try to find the cause of the movement. Mr Thompson said it as possible that the ground settlement was linked to the movement of water in the underlying soil and rock.
Mr Wainhouse, who is the secretary of the Waihi East Ratepayers' Group, suspects that the water movement was caused by the "dewatering" in the Martha Mine coinciding with dry weather. Mrs and Mrs Wainhouse moved to Waihi from Auckland 10 years ago and bought in a street which they thought would be a safe distance from mining.
He said properties above the Correnso Mine would be devalued because of the tag on their titles that mining took place underneath. "It is unbelievable that this should be allowed on residential sites. They don't need to mine under houses.
"It is a sad thing. At our stage of life, your home is your life ... the mining company is controlling us and we don't want to be controlled."
He said the mine had divided the town between those whose homes were threatened by mining, people who were not affected and thought the ratepayers' group were troublemakers, and those who depended on gold mining for the livelihoods.
His neighbour, Harold Nash, said he could feel the shaking at night from blasting in the Trio Mine about 1km away. "What will it be like when it is under my house." He said his bathroom door has lately started closing under its own momentum.
Mr Thompson said ground movement was first noticed about six weeks ago. A drilling rig would be set up behind the affected properties to investigate the ground settlement.
Several residents in the subsidence zone declined to be interviewed by the Bay of Plenty Times.