Home' Greymouth Star : September 24th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, September 24, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1568 - Spanish capture English ships and
booty at San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1852 - French inventor Henri Giffard makes
the first flight in a powered airship, cruising
with steam power over Paris.
1943 - Soviet army crosses Dnieper River
north of Kiev as Germans retreat in World
1971 - Britain expels 90 Soviets for espionage
1973 - Sydney Opera House Official
Opening Citizens’ Committee receives 4000
applications for free tickets for the official
opening of the House by the Q ueen on
1975 - Britons Dougal Haston
and Doug Scott become the first to
climb Mount Everest by the south-
1976 - American newspaper
heiress Patricia Hearst is sentenced
to seven years in prison for her part
in a 1974 bank robbery.
1980 - A simmering border war
between Iran and Iraq flares into full-scale
hostilities when Iraqi troops cross the border
and encircle Abadan, setting fire to the world’s
biggest oil refinery.
1984 - Secret Australian Government papers
on the Petrov affair are released publicly for
1990 - East Germany formally withdraws
from Warsaw Pact.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Albrecht von Wallenstein, Bohemian soldier
(1583-1634); Horace Walpole, British writer
(1717-1797); William Lisle Bowles, English
poet (1762-1850); F Scott Fitzgerald, US
writer (1896-1940); Lord (Howard Walter)
Florey, Australian scientist (1898-1968); Sir
William Dobell, Australian artist (1899-1970);
Konstantin Chernenko, Soviet politician
(1911-1985); Anthony Newley, English
actor-singer (1931-1999); Linda McCartney,
US-born wife of Beatle Sir Paul
(1941-1998); Gerry Marsden, British
singer (1942-); Phil Hartman, US
actor (1948-1998); Kevin Sorbo, US
actor (1958-); Collette Dinnigan,
Australian fashion designer (1965-);
Liam Finn, New Zealand musician
and songwriter (1983-) .
“ Fear cannot be without hope nor hope
without fear.” — Baruch Spinoza, D utch
“ But You have upheld me because of my
integrity, and set me in Your presence forever.”
— Psalm 41:12
The people of
Blackball now have
the full meaning
of the term “Black
Friday”. On Friday, April 7, 1961, the Minister
of Mines Mr Shand said that production at
Blackball State coalmine must be tapered off
as quickly as possible and the colliery might
On Friday, September 25, 1964, that threat
becomes positive fact — then the last coal will
be hewed from the Blackball workings and the
mine will close for good.
The first Blackball mine leases were held
by the Blackball Coal Company in 1886.
Production as a private mine began in 1893.
But trouble kept cropping up. Spontaneous
combustion was a continual cause of expense
and anxiety and in 1900 fire in one section cost
the life of a man and required the flooding of
Its production ended in 1939, but before that
the company commenced a pair of new drives
from the south bank of Ford Creek, reaching
new seams later that year. The government,
however, stepped in and took over in July,1940.
If present plans go right, for a week in 1967
Greymouth will be the best fire-protected
area in the country. The Greymouth Fire
Brigade will issue an invitation to the United
Fire Brigades’ Association to hold the New
Zealand conference and championships
here in conjunction with its own centennial
In 1967 the local brigade will be 100 years
old. If its invitation to the UFBA is successful,
Greymouth will play host to more than 800
firemen and their wives from all parts of New
uFood for thought
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aze eastward from the
shores of huge Lake
Nicaragua, and they seem
almost like a mirage: Twin
volcanoes thrusting out of
the water, one of them a
towering cone of cinder and ash, the other
jacketed in verdant jungle.
Perhaps it was the clouds that shrouded
the twin peaks. Or the majestic sunset
behind our ferryboat. Whatever, as we
approached on a late afternoon the setting
seemed primordial, a place of mystery and
beauty with a dash of menace.
In fact, land girdles both volcanoes,
terrestrial tutus on a pair of giant dancers.
A small isthmus connects the skirts, uniting
the giant peaks to form Ometepe Island,
one of the Western Hemisphere’s least
recognised adventure destinations.
The island is just becoming known
to travellers for its hidden petroglyphs,
deserted beaches and eco lodges, where one
can kayak and cycle, all in the shadow of
the two looming volcanoes.
Surrounding the island is one of
Latin America’s larger inland seas. Lake
Nicaragua is comparable in size to South
America’s Lake Titicaca. Even from atop
one of Ometepe’s volcanoes, it is hard to see
land across the expanse of the lake.
Explorers have marvelled at Ometepe’s
beauty for centuries, including Mark
Twain, who wrote in 1867 of the “two
magnificent pyramids, clad in the softest
and richest green, all flecked with shadow
About the same time, German geologist
Karl von Seebach was nearly speechless
upon beholding the volcanoes: “No words,
nor drawings, can ever describe this
marvellous spectacle of nature.”
The island gets its name from the
indigenous Nahuatl language, and means
the place of two mountains, referring to
the Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes.
Concepcion, the larger of the two, is still
active. Its cone towers 1609m, and wispy
white gases from its vents curl above its
After several days on the island, four of
us decided to test our mettle and climb
the smaller of the two volcanoes, Maderas,
It was just 20 minutes or so into the hike,
after we’d entered primary forest, when the
bellow reached us from a distant ridge. It
sounded deep and scary.
Not to worry, our guide said, chuckling
a bit. It was just some howler monkeys.
We would later see several of the monkeys
resting on high branches.
After hours of rigorous hiking, much
of it over fallen tree trunks, and up the
increasingly steep rock-strewn trail, we
reached a clearing: the halfway point.
The wind kicked up whitecaps in the
lake water lashing the isthmus at Playa
Santo Domingo far below. By this point,
my weary daughter was delighted to turn
around. We said our goodbyes, and watched
our friends head up the trail, led by the
After nine hours, our friends still
had not returned to Finca Magdalena,
and we began to worry. An hour later,
they sauntered down the trail, wet and
bedraggled. They had climbed to the crater
rim with the guide, and attempted to
descend to a lake in the crater, but cloud
and mist shrouded everything. An avid
jogger, our friend said the climb was harder
than a half marathon she’d run months
It was time to explore other parts of the
island. There was much to do. One can
ride along the beach on horses for about
$US6 ($7.39) an hour. We chose to visit an
aquatic playground, called el Ojo del Agua,
or the Water’s Eye. Along the isthmus
between the volcanoes, the site collects
clear water from springs into a crystalline
swimming hole, popular with travellers.
One can arc into the water on a rope
swing, or sunbathe and sip coconut milk.
The pre-Columbian past of Ometepe
is rich. Stone statues, urns and ceramic
vessels have been found all over the island,
remnants of cultures dating to 1000 B.C.
On another day, we visited El Ceibo
Museum near the town of Moyogalpa, a
repository of some 1200 archaeological
pieces, including big funerary vessels.
There was plenty of time to laze at our
beachside hotel. One day, I chatted with
one of the owners, Ramon Castillo Monge,
a biologist and Ometepe native.
“ Tourism really started about 20 years
ago,” he said, adding that 60 or 70 small
hotels, restaurants and other facilities cater
to tourists these days.
Castillo recited from a mental list all the
things to do on Ometepe: “ The island has
white sand beaches, black sand beaches,
water that is both serene and rough, where
you can practise kite surfing. You can climb
volcanoes, and explore farms. You can see
petroglyphs, and look at migratory birds.”
Seeking to promote tourism on Ometepe
Island, which was declared a biosphere
reserve by a United Nations body in 2010,
the Nicaraguan government inaugurated a
$US12 million airport last May.
“It is a new destination for people
coming from outside the Central America
region,” said Javier Chamorro, the head of
ProNicaragua, an export and investment
promotion agency in the capital. “It is the
only island in fresh water that you’ ll find
with two volcanoes.” — MCT
I was gobsmacked to read L ee Scanlon’s
interview of Damien O’Connor
(Greymouth Star, September 24).
To fi re a shot at National regarding
job losses showed that the old Labour
arrogance is still there. Damien should stick
to the fact that Labour got it wrong.
The undeniable truth is, that it was the
actions of the Helen Clark government
in legislating the West Coast Accord out
of existence, before there was sufficient
radiata on stream, that saw the demise
of an industry operating from Waiho to
I can name 17 sawmills that have closed
as a direct result of that government action.
Not only a loss of loggers and sawmillers
and processors, but also the drop in
disposable income, school teaching staff,
retail decline, and empty houses as families
moved out of the areas.
I did not hear John Key say ‘We won, you
lost — eat that ’.
Job losses Labour’s
Mrs Fletcher in her denigrating slam at
former Westland district mayor Mrs Pugh
(Greymouth Star, September 19) mentions
that the new mayor and council will have
to clean up the mess. Not once does she
mention that Mrs Pugh had a team of
councillors, CEO and financial advisers to
support her. She has nobly taken the rap
on all their behalf. I have not heard her
pointing the blame elsewhere.
No, I do not hold a party ticket, but
probably have closer links to the ‘true
Labour’ movement than most Labour ticket
holders. Labour has enjoyed more than a
fair share of my votes over the years.
However, it lost mine with Rogernomics
and when Helen Clark (to get the Green
vote) closed the timber mills and put
hundreds of Coasters and my mates out
of work. I do have a reply to Helen Clark’s
un-recanted statement in referring to
all Coasters as ‘feral inbreds’ but will not
stoop as low. With regards to scraping the
bottom of the barrel — I have noted the
best sherry and port come from the bottom
of the barrel. In the brewing process, I
have noted that the yeast on the bottom
of the barrel has to be top quality, works
continuously, grows in stature and is used
time and again. In concluding, I note that
on the top of the forming beer is a useless
scum that burbles away and is discarded.
West Coasters rejoice. Maureen Pugh
has made it into Parliament and will soon
turn this region into one of health and
I see in her first post-election inter view
(Greymouth Star, September 22) that Mrs
Pugh was defiant, aggressive, evasive and
unapologetic. Just what John Key needs —
another Judith Collins.
Anyway, soon there will be a new
hospital sited, not at Greymouth but at
Otira to shorten the time of transfers to
Christchurch. Then, Mrs Pugh will build
us a new Taramakau Bridge and a Haast-
Hollyford highway. In three years’ time Mrs
Pugh will have tax cuts delivered personally
to every West Coaster by the flying pigs
involved in the construction work on the
new bridge and highway.
Who knows, maybe in this new utopia,
Development West Coast — after 14
years of trying — will finally create one
sustainable job outside its own offices
which, by the way, cost $50,000 a week to
run — or about $30 million in the 14-year
life of the organisation. Maybe DWC could
farm cranberries to feed Mrs Pugh’s flying
pigs. Oops, forgot — they have already
tried that, haven’t they?
Firstly, I would like to congratulate
Damien O’Connor for winning the West
Coast-Tasman seat last weekend. I am sure
that this reflects his history with the Coast
and the effort he has put in for the area
over many years.
Secondly, I would to congratulate
someone else. Someone who came from
relative obscurity, at least to voters north of
Someone who must have travelled
tirelessly to visit individuals, groups and
businesses across this vast region, to listen
and learn more about what drives the
people and industry within it. Someone
held in barely concealed disdain by the
main newspaper and relentlessly attacked
through high-emotion headlines and
For a newcomer to get such a high level of
support against a longstanding incumbent
is no mean feat.
If she continues to work that hard for
West Coast-Tasman from Parliament,
then she will have well and truly earned
her place there. Congratulations Maureen
Having just found a copy of your paper’s
coverage of the election results on the
Coast, a small thought occurs to me — we
actually have another MP representing us
in Rino Tirikatene of the Maori seat of Te
Tai Tonga, which he holds for Labour and
who came here campaigning with Damien
Please note an error in your front page
article of September 22. Should Mrs Pugh
come in on the National Party list, that
gives the West Coast-Tasman electorate
four Members of Parliament — Damien
O’Connor (Labour elected), Rino
Tirikatene (Te Tai Tonga, Labour elected),
Kevin Hague (Green list) and Maureen
Pugh (National list).
The plans for the new health centre in the
recent article sound promising (Greymouth
Star, September 20). The question is
whether the intention is ser ve the West
Coast needs, or facilitate transfer of health
If properly staffed, such a facility could be
used to fill a gap in ser vice. There is a need
for better service for patients with urgent
medical needs that is beyond the scope of
expertise of a GP but can be managed in
the community with use of community
nurses if necessary. To develop appropriate
expertise locally there needs to be a
competent teaching environment within
the hospital system, as well as a trustworthy
quality assurance system.
It was good to see the recent article
in the Greymouth Star about the new
open system to share health safety data. I
would like to openly share another story
identifying significant safety issues.
In 2010, I admitted a patient with
diabetes with high sugar requiring insulin.
After an initial improvement there was an
unexplained dangerous rise in blood glucose
which the resident doctors had managed
by increasing the insulin dose beyond the
I discovered the rise was due to the
patient being given orange juice purchased
from the cafeteria, based on telephone
advice. Orange juice contains sugar and
sugar ingestion increases the blood sugar.
While the patient was not harmed, it
identified problems with junior doctors and
nurses following telephone advice without
an understanding of the level of knowledge
of the adviser.
Such matters are important in
telemedicine services like paediatrics. It
would be sad if such cases are ignored and
leads to an increase in paediatric deaths or
transfers due to severity of illness.
Abusing Work and
It is rather sad to walk past Work and
Income and see the security guards in place.
That is a sad sign of the times we live in.
Clients need to realise that threatening
and abusing their staff, or anyone for that
matter, generally does not end well for the
client. If they have to resort to that, then I
do not see how this helps their situation.
As a result of the few, everyone suffers. I do
not agree with abuse, threats etc towards
A lot of the frustration that people face
are not of Work and Income’s making
in regards to policies, laws (ministerial
directions) they must follow, and budget
restraints. Those issues rest with the
Government, not that I am implying they
should be subject to the aforementioned
kind of treatment either.
Please, could people refrain from this kind
of behaviour, not only for their own good
but everyone else’s as it does not work and
no one ‘winz’. Treat others how you would
want to be treated, is my motto, even if they
do not do the same.
Family tree research
While everyone is abuzz with our
elections, I am taking a slightly different
road and looking at the silent partners-
spouses. They can be just as interesting.
Over the past few days I have been
researching my New Zealand grandma’s
‘L ovejoy tree’. I discovered one of my sixth
great-granddads was Stephen Thatcher
(1718), Hurley, Berkshire, England.
I decided to look up Margaret Thatcher’s
husband. To my surprise, his father was
born in Whanganui. His father Thomas
was born in England and settled in
Whanganui in 1878. He partly owned
a brewery and owned a farm. With a
chemist, William Thomas Owen, they
developed a weedkiller. Thomas was in
local politics and joined several clubs
and organisations. Back in England he
started the Atlas Preservative Company, at
Deptford, Kent. They manufactured wood
chemical preservatives and a weedkiller.
His son Thomas Herbert Thatcher (born
in Whanganui) became managing director.
Sir Denis Thatcher (Margaret ’s husband)
became chairman of the Atlas Preservative
Company, among other careers.
The article on Eleanor Catton was
interesting as I am a distant cousin of
Thomas Edison, too. We share the Baldwin
tree, along with the actors. Maybe I will
get a ‘ lightbulb’ moment and start writing
stories or invent something!
Downton Abbey, the British period
drama that has attracted a cult following
worldwide, is back this week, with
8.4 million Britons watching the first
episode of the new series.
The show, which follows the lives of an
aristocratic family and their ser vants a
century ago, returned to ITV television on
The fifth series begins in 1924, with the
Labour Party governing Britain for the
“The world is really a different place,”
creator and scriptwriter Julian Fellowes
“All of our characters have to make
adjustments” in a world where women
“didn’t want to just go back to cooking
The new series will conclude around
Christmas with a special episode featuring
a brief cameo by the Hollywood actor
A critical and commercial success —
and a cult hit in the United States — the
programme has been broadcast in more
than 100 countries, including New
Zealand, Russia, and, since April 2013,
“It ’s hard to analyse why the Chinese
get involved in the British class system
but we’re happy that they do,” actor Jim
Carter, who plays the stiff butler Charles
In France, the show pulls in more than
750,000 viewers on average.
Robert James-Collier, who plays
underbutler Thomas Barrow, said the
interest was comparable to that triggered
by the marriage of Prince William, the
second in line to the throne, in 2011.
“England, as a country, has such an old
history, and from the colonial days we
have been involved in a lot of countries
rightly or wrongly, so I think there is a
fascination,” he said.
Alongside other series such as crime
dramas Broadchurch and Sherlock,
Downton Abbey is part of a wave of
British television productions proving a
smash hit abroad.
“I think British dramas right now are
produced really, really high end, high
quality pieces of work,” Allen Leech,
who plays Irish chauffeur Tom Branson,
The show ’s popularity has also allowed
actors to make a name for themselves
Hugh Bonneville, who plays the
stately home’s patriarch Robert Crawley,
recently appeared in The Monuments
Men directed by Clooney, while Michelle
Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, Crawley ’s
eldest daughter, has been working on a
US film in t-shirt and jeans — after five
seasons in dresses and corsets.
Series five was heralded by a photo of
cast members in period costume — with a
plastic bottle of water on the mantlepiece
in the background, which caused a social
The show reacted quickly, putting out
another picture of the actors in their
everyday clothes all holding plastic
bottles in support of a water charity.
Downton Abbey back with new series
The cast of Downton Abbey.
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