Home' Greymouth Star : September 10th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1547 - The Scots are defeated by the English
at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Edinburgh.
1846 - World’s first overstitch sewing
machine patented in the US by Elias Howe.
1939 - German army gains complete control
of western Poland.
1942 - The British air force uses 476 planes
to deliver 100,000 bombs on Duesseldorf in a
single raid during World War Two.
1945 - Vidkun Q uisling is sentenced to death
in Nor way for collaboration with Germany
during World War Two.
1948 - American-born Mildred Gillars,
accused of being Nazi wartime radio
broadcaster “Axis Sally”, is indicted in
Washington, DC, for treason.
1961 - A President Airlines aircraft flying
from Shannon Airport in Ireland to New
Zealand crashes into the River Shannon
shortly after take-off, killing all 77 passengers
and six crew.
1976 - A British Airways Trident airliner
and a Yugoslav DC-9 collide over northern
Yugoslavia, killing 176 people.
1983 - Death of John Vorster,
prime minister of South Africa
1966-78 and president from
1991 - In Moscow, Mikhail
Gorbachev convenes first human
rights conference to be held in the
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji, Indian cricket player
and maharaja of Nawanagar (1872-1933);
Franz Werfel, Austrian writer (1890-1945);
Georges Bataille, French writer (1897-1962);
Arnold Palmer, US golfer (1929-); Karl
Lagerfeld, German fashion designer (1933-
); Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican-born singer
(1945-); Judy Geeson, British-born actress
(1948-); Bill O’Reilly, American commentator
(1949-); Joe Perry, US rock
musician (Aerosmith) (1950-);
Amy Irving, US actress (1953-);
Chris Columbus, US writer-director
(1958-); Colin Firth, British actor
(1960-); Robin Goodridge, US
rock musician (Bush) (1966-); Guy
Ritchie, UK film director (1968-).
“ Life does not cease to be funny when people
die any more than it ceases to be serious when
people laugh.” — George Bernard Shaw, Irish-
born playwright (1856-1950)
The ownership of a
lower Tainui Street
garage changed hands
this week. Gibben’s
panelbeating garage now has 30-year-old
Karoro man Mr Eric Dey as its head. The
previous owner Mr Owen Gibbens, of Paroa,
has retired from the panelbeating business after
an association of 111⁄2 years with it.
Mr Dey was an employee of Greymouth
Motors where he worked for 15 years. He said
recently that he planned a “complete
re-organistion” of his new business.
“D uring last season our members made three
rescues — two of young men at Karoro and
one at Rapahoe,” Mr J W Dixon, president,
states in his annual report to be presented to
the fourth annual meeting of the Kotuku Surf
Life Saving Club tonight.
These rescues gave great satisfaction to the
club members and also proved that the time put
into training was well worthwhile. Meetings
and training sessions were well attended
throughout the season and the membership
remained the same, Mr Dixon said.
A “bit of shirt sticking out ” probably saved
the life of private coalminer Kevin Francis
Twist on Monday morning. Mr Twist and his
colleague Mr A Cowan recently took over the
Brighton Coal Company mine at Meybille
Bay on the Coast Road. They were working
together when Mr Twist moved away from the
coalface to an older part of the mine.
Mr Cowan heard the sudden sound of a
heavy fall of coal and looked round to find his
companion almost completely buried. Luckily,
the bit of shirt was sticking out from the pile
and Mr Cowan, with no help on hand, dug Mr
Twist out of the heap.
uFood for thought
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The price of milk
It is our No 1 export and the backbone of our economy. But has the dramatic growth of the dairy industry come at too
high a cost for our streams and rivers? ANDREW LAXON gets both sides of the story.
Mike Joy — Marine
ecologist, Massey University
What makes you sure dairy farming is
the prime cause of increased pollution in
our water ways?
You look at how much nutrient is in
the river. You account for some of it from
pipe-consented areas, you have an estimate
of what ’s coming out naturally, so you
know the rest of it is from dairy farming.
The other thing is a model called O verseer.
You know what ’s going on the farm, what ’s
coming out in the milk and what ’s not
accounted for must be leaching into the
groundwater or rivers. At both ends the
sums come out the same, so we know we’re
Why is dairy such a big contributor?
They use a huge amount of nutrient. If
you go back 30 years, cow numbers were
less than half per hectare on average what
they are now because we bring in a whole
lot of feed. We’re the biggest importer of
palm kernel. We’ve had an 800% increase
in the past 20 years in nitrogen use. The
cows make milk out of that but that extra
number of cows pee out a huge amount of
nitrogen. Because they pee in such a small
area and in such a large volume, only 20%
of it is taken up by the grass; the rest of it
goes down into groundwater or streams.
The nutrients themselves are not toxic until
they get to high levels, but at low levels
they grow heaps of algae (which) takes
oxygen out of the water.
How polluted are our lakes and rivers?
Forty-four per cent of our lakes are
eutrophic or worse. They ’ve flipped from
their natural state, because they can’t
handle the amount of nutrient coming
in. Eighty-four per cent of those lakes are
in lowland pastoral catchment and most
of the nutrients coming out of lowland
pastoral areas are from dairy. Most of our
lowland rivers are still below the Yangtze
river in China and the Mississippi in the
US, famous for its nutrient pollution.
We’re about a third of those on average but
creeping up all the time. And there’s a lag
time. Movement in the nitrogen through
the soils can take between a year or 100
years, so a lot of what we’re seeing is only
the front end of what we’ve been doing.
You have been critical of how we
measure this water pollution. Why?
The Macroinvertebrate Community
Index (MCI) is not there. That ’s the
measure of the health of the invertebrate
insect communities. If you take a snapshot
of our water quality, in the middle of the
day it will be fine even in an incredibly
degraded system because of the daily
fluctuation as the plants respire and
photosynthesise. The animals have to be in
there their whole lives, so they ’re a much
better indicator of the health of a river than
a snapshot sample. With nitrate, 6.9mg/
litre will kill 20% of the life in the stream
and the powers that be have decided
this is the limit. But the absolutely gross
flaw is that is it doesn’t happen like that.
The temperature increases, oxygen levels
fluctuate, all these things happen at much
lower levels than the toxic level. So all the
fish and invertebrates are dead long before
it becomes toxic. You can see why they
wanted to do that because when you look
at the level of nitrates in our rivers already
and at the dairy herds around the country,
they ’re all exceeding 0.8mg, the safe level.
Other wise you’d have to do what I’m
saying we should be doing — stop dairy
expansion right now because we’ve already
breached the limits.
Dairy farmers say they have been
working ver y hard to clean up their act.
Have they done enough?
Many have but there’s a limit to what
they can do with the pressures they ’re
under. And if you have expansion, as in
Waikato and Canterbury — 25,000-30,000
extra hectares of dairy coming on — all
the money they have spent will be totally
wasted because it will be swamped by the
new farming. Planting the river (banks) up
does have advantages in not letting faeces
get into the stream. To a certain extent it
stops the phosphate. But you don’t in any
way address that nitrogen issue.
What do farmers need to do?
We have to move away from this model
where we just maximise production. Even
if you forget the environment impacts,
it’s a big cost to the farmer to bring in all
these nutrients and have them disappear
down the stream. The goal should be
maximising kilograms of milk per unit of
nitrogen lost out of the system. Then you
change the whole model and it’s actually
more profitable for farmers to have fewer
cows, buy in less food, produce more from
the fewer cows they have and make more
money that way.
Why would farmers increase production
if it was not profitable?
The more milk you can produce off a
farm per hectare, the more valuable that
farm is. So bizarrely, people don’t look at
profits, they look at production. It’s been
the situation for years in New Zealand.
The money ’s not made year to year - the
money ’s made when you walk away from
the farm. I’m not an economist but it would
seem to me you’ve got to do something
about that. If the biggest profit of farming
is selling the land and you’re not paying tax
on that, that ’s a huge loophole, surely.
Are you saying we may have to accept
a lower standard of living to solve this
No I think that is a false economy. If
you think of the environment like a credit
card, the farmers are paying the country’s
bills with the credit card and everyone’s
turning a blind eye. Because we’re going to
have to pay. You can see the huge sums of
money that are going out — $300 million
on the Rotorua lakes, which won’t even
begin to fix the problem there. If you start
multiplying out into the future what it’s
going to cost us to clean up the mess, then
the emperor’s got no clothes on. That ’s the
problem I have with people saying that the
dairy industry’s worth so many millions of
dollars a year, without taking the costs off.
Any business would look great if you did
not look at the other side of the ledger.
Tim Mackle — Chief
executive, Dairy NZ
Do you agree dairy farming is damaging
water quality in New Zealand?
We understand that we have got a
footprint to manage at national level.
That said, you really need to look at this
catchment by catchment. There’ ll be some
no-go areas, some go-slow areas and in
other areas, there is a lot of headroom left.
How do you respond to the
Parliamentary Commissioner for the
Environment, Jan Wright, who called this
“a classic economy versus environment
dilemma” and warned the conversion of
farmland to dairy has to stop if we are to
stop the pollution of our rivers?
We are not denying conversion in some
areas needs better control. We’re in the
middle of this land and water planning
process (with regional councils) and I think
in her report she completely overlooked
the work going on. I don’t think it’s just
environment versus economics, quite the
contrary. Our philosophy is we must have
our cake and eat it. Being competitive helps
us farm in a sustainable way because we can
invest in ways to farm better. From 1990
to 2011 there has been a 7% increase in
total nitrogen loads from all farm animals.
We believe dairy is less than half the total
nitrogen load to land from animals right
Your critics say recent moves to keep
cattle out of waterways won’t stop the
nitrogen problem. What else will you do?
I think Mike Joy and other science people
are grossly underestimating the effect of
keeping cattle out of waterways. Algae
requires nitrate, phosphorus and sunlight
to grow. If you can control phosphate, you
will control water clarity. We’ve fenced 95%
of Fonterra’s farms, 22,000km, and we’re
looking for all stock to be excluded at some
point. There’s significant potential through
farm management — timing of fertiliser
application and standing animals off
(the grass) at the right time — to reduce
What is your view on regional councils
imposing nitrogen limits?
It is inevitable, that is the process we are
working through with the national policy
statement on fresh water. We endorse
the community based approach where
communities work out what they want to
Will dairy farmers ever have to keep
their cows inside over winter to solve the
There is a range of options — from a
stand-off pad to a covered stand-off pad to
a herd home to a fully enclosed barn — all
with different issues and different costs. The
biggest downside is cost. Some of them
can be up to $2500 a cow to put in. We’ve
contracted an ex-MAF guy who found
in the short term farmers saw a reduction
in (nutrient loss) but to pay for the thing
they had to put more cows on and put
more feed into it. I think we’ve got to ask
the question of what does NZ Inc want
to be known for in the long term. Do we
want our dairy products to be known for
free-range, pasture-grazing cows out in the
sunshine or is that not important? Once
you’re locked into capital intensive projects
it makes it more difficult to breathe in
and breathe out with the volatility in milk
prices. Traditionally our pasture-based
system allows us to do this.
Is there too much emphasis on
increasing production instead of profit?
Farmers have got more efficient but
maybe not to the level we would like.
If every farmer could increase pasture
utilisation, we could easily get $100kg of
milk solids per hectare for no extra cost,
just from cows grazing more of what ’s been
grown. Multiply that out, you are looking
at a 10% increase in output. We have
improved our impact per waste produced,
which we measure with an index called
Product from Productivity. In the past 10
years we ha ve got about $50 a hectare gain
on average. By 2020 we want to achieve
$65 a hectare per year.
Should dairy farmers be paying for their
contribution to water pollution, as Mike
I do not really see what that would solve.
We hear about dairy all the time from him
but what we don’t hear is that there’s a lot
of other contributors as well. We’re already
as an industry investing a lot of money —
$100m to $200m doing the fencing, for
effluent systems we are talking in the tens
of millions of dollars. I think that is what
we should be focused on, not on some kind
of tax. It is quite annoying when you hear
Mike Joy level at the dairy farmers, as if
he’s got a mortgage on this stuff. Dairy
farmers inherently feel quite passionate
about the environment. They love animals,
other wise they wouldn’t be working with
them. And they do care about the land; the
majority want to leave the properties they
own and the water ways in a better state
than when they started.
How can you double exports by 2025
(a goal set by the Government) without
causing more water pollution?
It is not all about volume. Admittedly we
have benefited a great deal in the last few
years from increases in output but we’ve got
to switch very firmly towards the value-
driven game. The fall in dairy prices this
year and the (Fonterra botulism scare) last
year highlight New Zealand has a lot at
stake in dairy. It’s good to have the debate
but we’ve got to be very careful about how
we go for ward, so we can fix issues but at
the same time maintain competitiveness in
our industry and have a long-term future.
Transcripts edited from phone
interviews. — New Zealand Herald
There has been quite a lot of discussion
in your paper recently on the future of the
West Coast. Rather than thinking that
duplicating the roads into our area will
increase the number of visitors I would
like to propose an idea that came to me
while walking in the hills behind Hokitika
recently. This proposal will cost very little
but will be sure to increase the number of
visitors to the West Coast and especially
the central West Coast around Hokitika.
Why not change the designation of the
stewardship land in the Hokitika River
catchment to a higher status? Hokitika
could become the tramping-trekking hub
of the South Island or even New Zealand
with a little imagination and effort on
the part of the local bodies, government
departments — principally DOC —
and the locals. In the backcountry around
Hokitika, where a fantastic system of huts,
tracks and trails already exists, there is a
great opportunity to promote this area for
walkers and hunters.
The public land involved between the
farmland and the mountaintops is already
under the care of the Department of
Conser vation so why not change its present
designation to that of a national park? The
‘Hokitika National Park’.
Hokitika is perfectly sited as the hub for
trekkers and hunters entering or leaving
the Hokitika River catchment that includes
the Styx, Kokatahi, Toaroha, Hokitika and
Whitcombe river valleys, plus the Kaniere
and Doctors Creek valleys. Already existing
scenic reserves like those based around the
Hokitika Gorge, Lake Kaniere and Lake
Mahinapua could be incorporated into the
park and would be the icing on the cake
as you approach the mountains and the
Hokitika National Park.
National parks are well known drawcards
to visitors, so with a small change to land
designation for land that undoubtedly
deser ves national park status the Hokitika
area and the West Coast would have an
ongoing and very sustainable resource for
present and future generations. A change
to national park status should also increase
pest control in this area, thus helping to
control serious ongoing erosion in the
backcountry which, if left untreated, will
sooner rather than later cause serious
problems downstream for Hokitika and the
farmland in the Hokitika Valley.
The most recent article on 1080 poison
was in our local giveaway newspaper and
given by Jan Wright, the Parliamentary
Commissioner for the Environment. One
can fool some of the people some of the
time but not all of the people, surely?
She states: “I am an independent officer
in Parliament and not aligned to any
government or political party.” However,
she omits to say from whence her salary
comes. I wonder why? She further states: “I
had no particular knowledge of 1080 in the
beginning, at all.” Apparently, she talked to
lots of people and asked lots of questions.
Is this lady for real? Does she have any
qualifications at all?
She also goes on to state that 1080 breaks
down in water very rapidly. That is strange,
for the manufacturer states that it should
not be allowed anywhere close to running
water. Perhaps Jan Wright read about it
from a comic strip from DOC?
She further states that DOC picks up all
carcases after a 1080 drop. Can you picture
DOC staff struggling up inaccessable
mountain peaks for dead animals? Yeah,
right! Most civilised countries have totally
banned this monstrosity of a poison and
its terrible and most prolonged and painful
death. One wonders why various New
Zealand governments have ensured that the
SPCA are prevented from charging them
with cruelty to wild animals?
Trust politicians and DOC? You must be
DHB ‘jigger y-poker y’
The reported comments about a new
DHB “electronic incident management
system” (Greymouth Star, September 4)
sound impressive — as does so much spin
from the ivory tower brigade. We are told
that it, “will make it easy for staff to report
and enter information about patient safety
and risk ... to continuously improve the
care that is provided ... to help the boards
create a ‘ just ’ culture”. Who could argue
with that? Well, for starters, the people
known to me who have suffered major
adverse events at Greymouth Hospital
and elsewhere but who have not only
had incompetent treatment and totally
inadequate follow-up but who, when they
and-or family members sought answers
were fobbed off, intimidated, and on some
occasions confronted by the stalling tactics
of Canterbury DHB corporate solicitors
seeking to sweep serious issues under the
In other words, one can have all the
wondrous-sounding systems in the world
but when there exists a culture of cover-up
not follow-up it amounts to nothing but
more bureaucratic verbiage.
Of course, a lot of good work is done at
Greymouth Hospital, as in other public
hospitals, but the true test of a health
system is what happens when things do
go wrong, and the tragic truth is that our
public health system too often puts image
and spin ahead of reality.
The claim that this new electronic system
is, “to help the boards create a ‘ just ’ culture”,
inadvertently pinpoints the problem
because surely a just culture is something
that should always have been in place
within DHBs and not something which
they are now planning to “create”.
It does not take a whizz-bang electronic
system to provide a just system — that is
far better achieved by health professionals
having the freedom to fully report matters
which have gone wrong without fear
of retribution by way of threats to their
careers. Tragically, that is not the case and
no amount of electronic jiggery-pokery
is going to change anything until simple
basic ethical behaviour in the management
of public hospitals becomes the norm and
not something we are told is going to be
“created” through an electronic system
somewhere in the future.
Anyone suggesting this simply does
not understand the very nature of what a
culture is. But then, deep thought was never
a strong feature of the bureaucratic process.
Democrats for Social Credit
In Greymouth Star on September 4
there was an article about a new electronic
incident management system. The
effectiveness of such a system depends on
the quality of information entered into the
system and the background knowledge of
those accessing the information.
In many incidents, issues related to
diagnostic and treatment delays contribute
to harm or suboptimal outcome. Often,
errors happen because of inadequacies in
knowledge and skill mix of the on site team
providing care. Usually, if the team lacks
the relevant knowledge to provide adequate
clinical care, the chances are, they may lack
the knowledge to identify matters relevant
to quality and safety.
In many reports that I have had the
opportunity to review, key relevant
information or expert opinions are
omitted from the final analysis. These
include reports from the Health and
Disability Commissioner, ACC and what
is called ‘root cause analysis’. It is not
possible to know whether information is
missed deliberately or the process lacks
In an era of high degree of specialisation
in health care it is difficult for a patient
to know who may have the knowledge
relevant to the issue. Specialist experts are
often expected to provide expert opinions
on errors happening in wards. However,
in many large hospital specialists spend
very little time in hospital wards. In a team
setting many specialists have done training
in and have continuing medical education
programs in narrow areas of medicine.
Without ensuring the competence and
the integrity of the quality assurance
process, improving access to information
has the potential to disseminate poor
Hollyford road to
With both West Coast Green Party
and Labour incumbents non-supportive
of D urham Havill’s Cascade-Hollyford
road extension, I note that he is exhorting
Coasters to therefore vote for the pro-road
National Party candidate.
In the event that this person was actually
elected into Parliament, I feel that Mr
Havill will be sadly disappointed if he
thinks that a first term, backbencher from
an almost universally poorly-treated,
numerically minor electorate will have any
say whatsoever in the ‘big house’.
To the best of my knowledge, with past
disillusioned parliamentary hopefuls, full
of energy and enthusiasms only wanting to
do what is right for the electorate and the
people who voted for them, the reality is
they are told to keep their mouths closed,
only speak when asked to do so, and to put
their hands up when prodded by the whips.
They have no influence whatsoever, except
to vote yea or nay when necessary.
Vote for the Coast
Everyone I have talked to has been
concerned about the same things for this
election — the economy and keeping jobs
on the Coast. I know many people might
think voting Labour would help, but with
Labour polling so low they will have to go
into coalition with the Greens, and that
would destroy the Coast.
The Greens have said publicly that they
will be demanding senior positions, like
minister of finance and even co-deputy
prime minister roles. So that Labour
government would have to give in to Green
demands — such as not allowing any new
mining at all, carbon taxes, fuel taxes, water
taxes, a 40% income tax, and a minimum
wage so high it would cost about 24,000
people a job and the government $454
million. A government with the Greens in
it would be anti-growth, anti-mining, and
anti-dairying — in short, against anything
that could help the Coast prosper.
Contrast that with a National-led
government that has backed our primary
industries, sensibly took advantage of the
wind-blown timber, and is making sure
our exporters can get fair access to overseas
The $200 million for rural broadband and
cellphone coverage, and a new Taramakau
Bridge are just more examples of how
National will invest where it counts to help
With a choice that clear there is no need
to wait for September 20 — early voting
is now open, and everyone who cares about
keeping jobs on the Coast can party vote
“ You Philippians indeed know that in
the early days of the gospel, when I left
Macedonia, no church shared with me in the
matter of giving and receiving, except you
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