Home' Greymouth Star : October 3rd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, October 3, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1904 - Signing of Franco-Spanish Treaty for
preser ving independence of Morocco.
1906 - SOS is established as an international
distress signal at the Berlin Radio Conference;
in effect from July 1908, it replaces CQD (“all
stations - urgent ”).
1918 - German-Austrian note is
sent to United States via Switzerland
for World War One armistice.
1929 - Name of Serbo-Croat-
Slovene Kingdom is changed to
1932 - Iraq joins League of Nations
as British mandate ends.
1935 - Italian forces invade Ethiopia; Perth
chef Bert Sachse creates the first pavlova.
1941 - Germany ’s Adolf Hitler announces
that the Soviet Union has been defeated in
World War Two and will never rise again; the
aerosol can is patented in the United States by
L D Goodhue and W N Sullivan.
1952 - First British atomic bomb is
detonated on the Monte Bello Islands off
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
“The mar vellous thing about a joke with a
double meaning is that it can only mean one
thing.” — British comedian Ronnie Barker,
the big half of thefamous TV duo The Two
“ My soul yearns for You in the night; in the
morning my spirit longs for You. When Your
judgments come upon the earth, the people of
the world learn righteousness.” — Isaiah 26:9
It is unknown how
many murders the
Kelly gang committed
in New Zealand, but
98 years ago today, three of the gang’s members
were hanged for their crimes in Nelson. The
fourth, Joseph Thomas Sullivan, saved his neck
by giving evidence against the gang which led
to the hanging.
He was nearly killed by an angry Nelson
mob when he arrived there to give evidence
about the murder of George Dobson on the
Arnold track on May 28,1866. Dobson had
been mistaken for a goldbuyer, Edward Burton
Fox, and was strangled and buried in a shallow
grave in the bush. It was never fully uncovered
whether it was Sullivan, Richard Burgess,
William (Phil) Levy or Thomas Noon (alias
Kelly) who committed this murder.
Sullivan, Burgess and Noon were three
transported convicts who found their way from
Australia to the West Coast in 1865. Levy
had crossed from Australia to D unedin and
eventually joined the gang on the West Coast.
The death has occurred at Westport of
Mother M Magdalen, a former superior of
O’Conor Home, Westport. Mother Magdalen,
formerly Miss Alice Canty, who came from
Maitland, New South Wales, entered the
convent at Reefton in 1894 and has spent the
past 70 years in Reefton and Westport. She
came to New Zealand with a group of young
Australian sisters who established the convents
at Reefton and Westport.
Mother Magdalen taught school at Reefton
and Westport for 40 years of that time and had
spent the last 30 years at the O’Conor Home,
20 years as Mother Superior.
uFood for thought
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Charles Camille St Saens, French composer
(1835-1921); Eleonora D use, Italian
actress (1859-1924); Pierre Bonnard,
French painter (1867-1947); Sir
Michael Hordern, British actor
(1911-1995); James Herriot, British
Gore Vidal, US writer (1925-2012);
Neale Fraser, Australian tennis player
(1933-); Noeline Brown, Australian
actress-tv personality (1938-); Chubby
Checker, US rock star (1941-); Al Sharpton,
American Baptist minister (1954-); Tommy
Lee, US drummer (Motley Crue) (1962-).
is a bold
can deny that. Nobody can
deny that it traverses an
amazing wilderness. And yes,
the views are stunning. But
when its backers say it is one
of the 10 top mountainbike
trails in the world, I take a big
The fact is, the OGR is only
two-thirds finished. You can
only bike the ends, and these
ends are frequently blocked by
slips and wind-throw beech
forest. The 20km-long section
in the middle is still at the
stage of a rough tramping
track, where contradictory
markers can easily lead you
astray. On top of that, saplings
have been sliced with a
machete, so if you happened
to slip and spike your chest on
one, you would be dead before
you could say ‘Steve Irwin’.
There is another very difficult
section of cycleway that has
beaten the track builders. It
is a steep sidle of the Lyell
Range. The trust that is building the OGR
claimed early on that it would only be
a matter of ‘widening a couple of goat
tracks’. But a million dollars and one
tonne of gelignite later, it remains in an
unfinished state. Not only is this 800m
long section unfinished, but it is incredibly
dangerous, being muddy and, in places,
steep. The run-off is shocking — it is a
‘one slip and you’re dead’ spot.
Two other places on the cycleway are
just as dangerous and even more difficult
to fix. Shards of rock continually fall from
fault zones where the trail crosses a cliff
face in the Lyell Valley and another in the
Yet the trust ’s brochure for the cycleway
mentions none of these problems. On the
contrary, it presents the cycleway as if it
is already complete, where the only real
hazard is the weather. The brochure also
states that no one user group has exclusive
rights. But when you start the trail, a trust
noticeboard informs you that trampers
must give way to cyclists. And you had
better believe it, because mountainbikers
can be oblivious to trampers as they come
roaring around corners.
Another claim on the brochure is that
the OGR is a ‘grassroot effort by locals’.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A quick glance at the brochure shows
the main backers are a mining-friendly
Government, coalminer Solid Energy
and Gough Group, who supply nearby
Stockton Mine with Caterpillar bulldozers
and giant diggers. The trust is chaired by
Stockton Mine environmental manager
Phil Rossiter, backed by another former
Stockton manager Ian Har vey. Why this
heavy mining input? The Government and
the mining industry are keen to push this
narrow-gauge road through the Mokihinui
Forks ecological area and ecological areas
are not supposed to have roads. So the
OGR is part of a strategy by the mining
industry to break into our most precious
conser vation areas.
I have tramped the route of the OGR
three times now, and am amazed at
the gall of the trust in making claims
for which there is no substance. This
subterfuge is best summed up by a Buller
Gorge local with the expression: ‘You can’t
build a cycleway by spin alone’.
As far as money is concerned, the
trust will not reveal how much they
have spent so far. But adding up the
contributions from such sources as DOC,
Lotteries Commission, Solid Energy and
Development West Coast, I reckon they
have already spent $6 million and will
need at least $2 million more. Then there
is the maintenance costs that go with the
wild terrain and even wilder weather. This
could easily amount to $1 million a year.
Getting back to the trust ’s brochure, I
could not help notice their appeal to the
mountainbiking public to ‘be part of the
unfolding legend’. Time will tell if they
manage to complete this much touted
cycleway or create just another overgrown
West Coast road hidden away in the
Westport conservationist PETER LUSK is impressed with the scenery of the Lyell-Mokihinui trail, but unimpressed
with the intrusion of the Old Ghost Road mountainbike trail, as he wrote recently in the Wilderness Magazine.
The view of the Old Ghost Road from the Glasgow Range, and right, blasting debris adjacent to the track on the Lyell Range.
Good and bad of
the Old Ghost Road
Like Cave Creek, like Pike River, it
appears DOC are setting in place another
bigger disaster, the poisoning of our land.
About 1939-40, Jack Jackson and John
Fisher laid traps in the hills behind
Cobden. Eventually, this trap line went
from the hill behind the Cobden quarry
to Rapahoe. My brother George and I
worked this line for them. We shifted
the traps after a trap remained empty for
so many days. We trapped this area out.
Jack Jackson senior of 3 Thompson Street,
Greymouth, skinned these possums.
Since that time I have trapped —
sometimes to sur vive — in many areas,
eventually as far south as Dochertys Creek
at Franz Josef. We have used poison in
most of the areas we trapped. We found
the possum became poison-shy and we
had to change the lure mixed with the
hand-laid bait. However, this at times
failed to tempt the possum. Wherever
we used poison it only worked for a short
period, then we would shift to traps.
Although poison had the greater number
of kills for probably three nights, the total
kill with it was always lower than the
trap take, also the traps we set would last
a week or so. In some areas we went to
that had been poisoned several times the
possum would not look at the poison baits.
We would use traps on these areas.
About 1962-63, I was trapping the area
out, in behind Lake Ianthe for the forestry.
I had 60 traps out. Some forestry idiot
followed my trap line, placing poison on
and around my traps, this being the new
idea to poison the possum. I went over my
line and killed what possums that were
not already dead and noticed some of the
dead ones had a foot in the traps. I never
lifted one trap or possum, and went to the
forestry office in Hari Hari and told them
to lift their own traps.
Possums are not idiots. They do not
live in probably 50% of the forest DOC
saturate with 1080. Much of the land
is too wet and swampy for them. I do
not believe they have started wearing
gumboots. Can you imagine this 1080
dumped on these areas, diluting and
sinking into the dampness, then again next
year another dump, this for 50 years? Just
another time bomb.
This beech seeding thing is just another
thing to use 1080 to make a fortune for
some and to boost the egos of some who
are consumed by their own importance.
Where else in the world does it take 50-60
years to prove it does not work?
Our herds should be Tb Free. The
possum etc should be controlled. Place a
decent bounty on the hides of possum and
give jobs to those who want them.
During the 2008 campaign, I attended
an event organised by the Presbyterian
Church participated in by David Cunliffe.
Before going I was advised that Mr
Cunliffe’s tactics for the evening would be
to have partisans planted in the audience
to do his dirty work. I had no opinion of
whether this was true or not.
In the event, Mr Cunliffe’s entire speech
was about how wonderful the Presbyterian
Church was and how he was convinced
that all his colleagues on the podium
would, like him, refrain from gutter
politics. There was not a shred of policy
mentioned. I thought it was a pretty good
tactic to defuse any criticism of Labour
by making anyone talking negatively look
bad. It was a pretty well executed suck-up
to the audience as well.
What then occurred was that whenever
a non-left person rose to speak they
were heckled and ridiculed by a man and
woman sitting together in the crowd.
These people were clearly unknown to
anyone else around them and bore all
the hallmarks of the partisans I had been
warned about. In the end, these two were
shouted down by the audience of mostly
Christians assembled for the event,
because they just got sick of them.
Mr Cunliffe describes himself as a
statesman and obviously wants to be
seen that way, but he does seem to be
surrounded by people who are willing to
deal the dirt while he rises above it. This is
probably just a coincidence.
When surger y goes
The recent article portraying the dismal
treatment of Jo Partridge following a
surgical complications is a concerning
trend as she is not alone (Greymouth Star,
In a bygone era, serious incidents were
investigated immediately and appropriate
personnel verbally informed within days.
Someone with relevant medical knowledge
can usually identify significant issues
within days. There is no honest reason
for delaying answers for 21⁄2 years. To me,
such delays show the level of disregard
for safety and education and limited of
understanding of people and capabilities.
A competent investigation would have
identified process issues contributing
to the injury but also the reasons for
the five-day delay in recognition of the
severity of the burns. The circumstances of
burns would have dictated the transfer of
primary care to a general surgeon, reading
the burns guidelines, providing first aid,
involving the resident doctor as well as
requesting advice from the regional burns
unit in Christchurch. All these could have
been completed within an hour. If there
was a supportive clinical team with a safety
culture any omissions by one would have
been corrected by another the same day.
Timely investigation of such cases is not
only an important part of duty of care to
the patient but also a critical component in
education of students, recently graduated
clinicians, trainees in specialties and
ongoing professional development of
senior doctors. Lengthy investigations
mean staff changes, and this compromises
the evidence provided to the judiciary
processes and can lead to erroneous
The article also questions whether the
supposedly democratic governance process
is actually ser ving its purpose.
$600,000 spent on
The Grey District Council chief
executive’s reply to Peter Balloch
(Greymouth Star, October 1) states we
can ‘rest assured’ publicly excluded agenda
items ‘strictly comply’ with the Local
Government Official Information and
Meetings Act and ‘transparency provisions
in the Local Government Act ’, including
‘ legal advice’ that remains confidential —
but is this correct?
For over one year we have sought release,
through the Ombudsman’s office, of an
internal report within council’s agenda
dated August 10, 2009, withheld under
sections 7(2)(a) & 7(2)(i), which is not
legally privileged (‘legal advice’), yet the
council claims legal privilege.
This report has not been and may never
be before any court so claiming court
proceedings would protect this report that
was never protected by legal privilege, is
in my view, mischievous and dishonest;
certainly it would take a huge step of faith
to describe the council’s behaviour as the
council’s ‘commitment to prudence and
Obviously, the council prefers to add
to the $600,000 already said to have
been spent on the Blaketown leases issue
rather than being transparent and in
strict compliance with the enactments, or
to settle this matter swiftly and without
unnecessary costs to ratepayers. Sadly, the
council seems to think ratepayers’ money
is there to use as they please, without
If any councillor or the Mayor believe
they have been misinformed about the
Blaketown leases issue and thus the waste
of $600,000 to date, then they must surely
take decisive action as the governing
body of the council. To simply raise an
odd concern while continually rubber-
stamping questionable advice given by any
non-elected council employee, is not just,
as Mr Balloch stated, ‘non-effective’ but is
being of one mind and fully complicit in
that questionable behaviour and spending.
What will the Mayor and councillors
do? I suspect we will see the $600,000
continue to grow without restraint.
Grey District Council chief executive
Paul Pretorius responds: “The case Mrs
Banks refers to is currently before the Court
of Appeal and it is irresponsible to refer to
aspects of it. On that basis, I will stick to the
The council dealt with a confidential report
which incorporated advice f rom its solicitors
in relation to the legal action against the
Banks and Mrs Banks in the in-committee
section of the agenda. Mrs Banks sought a
copy of it. We declined in terms of the relevant
provisions of the Local Government Official
Information and Meetings Act on grounds
that it forms part of a legal dispute before the
Her efforts to have the report released via
the Ombudsman failed for the simple reason
that legal advice f rom solicitor to client is
privileged. Her suggestion in this letter that
such refusal is the basis for the ongoing legal
action (and the growing legal costs) with her
and her husband is not based on fact.
We are in court because Mr and Mrs Banks
refused to pay their rent in terms of a lease
agreement that they had signed up to and had
an opportunity to determine the rent payable,
which they chose not to do.
The High Court found the lease to be valid
and advised the Banks to pay the rent. It also
made a reasonably substantial cost award
in favour of the council. Mr and Mrs Banks
appealed both the substantive decision as well
as the cost award against them.
The Court of Appeal is yet to determine the
matter. It has, in the meantime, determined
a series of procedural and other matters put to
the court by Mr and Mrs Banks, all in favour
of the council.
Mr and Mrs Banks unsuccessfully appealed
a procedural decision made by the Court of
Appeal to the Supreme Court and reverted
back to the Court of Appeal, where it was
The council did not instigate these or
any other actions, and I strongly reject her
suggestion that we are responsible for the legal
costs bill increasing. The council is actively
seeking that the Court of Appeal determines
the matter as soon as possible.
The council at no stage ‘trumpeted ’ the fact
that Mr and Mrs Banks had lost the High
Court case and had costs awarded against
them, nor that their procedural actions since
have failed, the latest with the likelihood of
another cost award against them.
I am forced to refer to this now to show who
is, in fact responsible for the burgeoning legal
In spite of the fact that the council ’s
position in this is strong and that we have
had the applications brought by Mrs Banks
determined in our favour, we have little to
celebrate as the cost of the process remains an
absurdity that no judgment in our favour can
As stated, the matter is before the court
and that process should be allowed to take its
course.” — Editor
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