Home' Greymouth Star : October 10th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, October 10, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1899 - One of the United States’ leading
black inventors, I R Johnson, receives a patent
for the bicycle frame.
1973 - US Vice-President Spiro Agnew
resigns after his conviction for income tax
1975 - Actors Richard Burton
and Elizabeth Taylor marry for the
second time at a remote location in
1980 - An earthquake measuring
7.3 on the Richter scale hits Algeria,
killing 12,590 people.
1983 - Death in London of Sir Ralph
Richardson, renowned British stage actor, aged
1985 - Death of Vladivostok-born actor Yul
Brynner in New York at age 65; Death of US
actor-director Orson Welles in Los Angeles at
2004 - Superman actor Christopher Reeve,
who became a committed campaigner for
spinal cord research after being paralysed in a
riding accident in 1995, dies aged 52.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Henry Cavendish, English scientist (1731-
1810); Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer
(1813-1901); Paul Kruger, South African
statesman and soldier (1825-1904);Helen
Hayes, US actress (1900-1993);
Harold Pinter, British playwright
(1930-2008); Cyril Neville, US
singer-musician (of the Neville
Brothers) (1948-); Midge Ure,
British singer-musician (1953-);
David Lee Roth, US singer (1955-);
Tanya Tucker, US country singer
(1958-); Martin Kemp, British musician-actor
“At every single moment of one’s life one
is what one is going to be no less than what
one has been.” — Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For
flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but
My Father in Heaven.” — (Matthew 16:17).
shipshape for the start
of the biggest farming
conference ever to
be held on the West Coast. It will begin on
Monday night and will be the 26th conference
of the New Zealand Grasslands Association —
the first time it has been held on the Coast.
Chief Greymouth man connected with the
organisation is Agriculture Department officer
Mr A C Briggs, who said all plans were “falling
into shape” and he already had notification of
about 94 visitors who will begin to come into
Greymouth over the weekend.
Particular accent at this year’s conference will
be on West Coast farming and the problems
peculiar to it. Special attention will be given
to pakihi soil and protection forestry. Local
farmers who will present papers on West
Coast farming will be Mr F W Wyatt of Hari
Hari, Mr J O’Malley of Ikamatua and Mr L J
Williams of Weheka.
Following in the footsteps of Hokitika,
Greymouth enthusiasts have formed a group
to promote television here. When nearly 50
people attended a public meeting in Cobden,
the Greymouth Televiewers Investigation
Committee was formed.
The purpose of the group is to make a
“general investigation into the possibility of
television in Greymouth”. First chairman
is Mr T Brazil and the vice-chairman is
Cobden enthusiast Mr Colin Mackie. Mr D
G Heasley was elected secretary. The election
of the committee resulted: Messrs T Houston,
D Smith, H Reid, D Skelton, S Werner, E A
Warnes, L N Downes and J Dunn.
Members have been carrying out a search for
a suitable site for a translator.
uFood for thought
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03 755 8422
I was amazed recently to read in
a Greymouth Star letter that it cost
$50,000 a week to run the West Coast
Development Trust (Development
West Coast), so I asked a friend with
a computer to look up the trust ’s 2014
annual report and find the operating costs.
When she returned with the figure
$2,600,000, a bit of simple long division
confirmed that the trust does indeed
cost $50,000 a week — $2.6 million x 13
years =$33 million in total.
What have we got for that? A part share
in a farm, some self-funded breakfast
seminars and a ‘feel good’ business
awards ceremony. Let ’s either have some
development or demand that the trust
have that word removed from its name,
because it is a misnomer.
The West Coast needs jobs, not seminars.
Let ’s get developing — and I do not mean
on a swanky new building with a river
view, to make overpaid trust staff feel
B J ( Jack) Culling
We have recently returned from an
investigative trip down your way as we
are looking to move to the area. We had a
wonderful time and many thanks to all the
good people who showed us the famous
West Coast hospitality.
There was one place, though, that left a
sour taste. On Friday, September 26, we
visited the Revingtons pub, as we have
always had good times in Irish pubs all
over the country.
After we had been there a while the staff
misread our ‘excitement over moving to
the area’ as intoxication, and promptly
turfed us out. Needless to say, we were not
Is this place run by misplaced Jaffas?
(The staff were non-smiling and the
famous West Coast hospitality was sorely
lacking). I strongly recommend a course in
When we do move to the area, this
is one pub we will not be revisiting, or
recommending to anyone else. Why go to
a place like that to be disrespected when
there are plenty of very good places in the
A very big ‘thank you’ to the lovely
lawyer gentleman who tried to inter vene
on our behalf. Could he please send a copy
of his business card (or contact details)
to our e-mail address calunavulgarus@
slingshot.co.nz as we will be buying
property in the area, so will be needing
someone in his profession.
Heather and Max Pascoe
Blaketown ‘ Watergate’
Dear oh dear, Mrs Christine Banks.
Another mind boggling letter.
Having researched and read the High
Court rulings on the Blaketown leases
I can see no reason why this group of
leaseholders should not pay the council its
Conspiracy theories, forensic scientists ...
I found myself believing I was back in the
era of Watergate.
Why oh why did the leaseholders not
take advantage of the council’s somewhat
generous offer at that time with the terms
being described as “at very low prices”?
Instead, they instigated a war in which
there will be no winners.
Have these people become tunnel
visioned and unable to admit to being on
the wrong side of the fence, despite the
mountain of evidence proving other wise?
$600,000 and counting . . . .
The council’s chief executive publicly
stated (Greymouth Star, October 1): ‘Her
(Mrs Banks’) efforts to have the report
(‘Blaketown leases — a way for ward’)
released via the Ombudsman failed for
the simple reason that legal advice from
solicitor to client is privileged’.
If the chief executive was honest, and it
appears the Mayor wants us to think so,
then 1. The Ombudsman’s Office settled
this complaint and; 2. It failed because of
solicitor to client legal privilege.
If the complaint has been settled and
failed, because of solicitor to client legal
privilege, then the Ombudsman’s Office
has been extremely dishonest by stating
on the same day as the chief executive’s
public statement of October 1, 2014: ‘Dear
Mrs Banks, thank you for your e-mail.
Your complaint has been given priority
and I am hopeful that you should receive
a substantive response within the next few
With the greatest of respect, I again urge
the Mayor and councillors to check the
council’s agenda dated August 10, 2009,
pages 72-73, ‘Blaketown leases — a way
for ward’, and the reasons for excluding
the public, being 7(2)(a) and 7(2)(i),
Local Government Official Information
and Meetings Act — neither section has
anything to do with legal privilege, which
would have required reliance upon section
7(2)(g). Also please check section 48(3)(b).
The agenda and LGOIMA, in my view,
provide independent factual evidence
that the council’s chief executive was not
honest and has called into question the
honesty and integrity of the Ombudsman’s
Office as both he and the Ombudsman’s
Office cannot be correct.
It would seem there is no respect for
truth, law, or the Ombudsman’s Office;
but is the chief executive acting alone or in
union with the blessing of the Mayor and
This correspondence has become tedious
and has run its course. Correspondence
Bike accident thanks
This is an open letter to the public and
the emergency ser vices for assisting me
last Tuesday (September 30) after crashing
my pushbike at the base of the floodwall
opposite the railway station.
‘Thank you’ to the gentleman who pulled
over to call the ambulance, to the lady
whitebaiting who offered to drop my
pushbike home, to the St John paramedics
and staff at Grey Base Hospital and
Christchurch Hospital, as well as the crew
of the rescue helicopter.
My right leg was shattered in three
places from that crash, requiring a chopper
airlift to Christchurch for surgery. I cannot
fault any of these people for the level of
ser vice and professionalism displayed.
To the members of the public, a hearty
thanks for restoring some faith in
humanity. God bless you all.
There is a long-held arrogant assumption
among politicians, bureaucrats and other
highly-paid denizens of ivory towers that
merely because they say something is so,
then it must be the only possible version of
the subject under discussion.
I refer to the article ‘Hospital rebuild has
nurse fearful’ (Greymouth Star, October 4).
In it we read that a West Coast nurse has
challenged the West Coast DHB claim
that there was ‘enthusiasm’ among nurses
regarding the staffing of the new hospital.
The nurse has written of, ‘sadness, fear,
frustration and resignation’, and a ‘decrease
of bed numbers and the loss of skills and
staff ’, and that nurses’ concerns have had,
‘no assurance of being listened to’.
From my own experience, I would add
that I have received letters from West
Coast (and Otago) nurses expressing
similar concerns going back many years,
and was always asked not to divulge
the contents for fear of reprisals by
Contrast this with a West Coast DHB
manager’s response in the same article
assuring the public that everything in
the garden is rosy and that, ‘the feedback
of our staff is incredibly important to us’
(providing, of course, that the feedback
agrees with local management and dictates
from Wellington and Christchurch).
Of course they ‘consult’, but as Dr
Alistair Scott said of the so-called health
reforms of the 1990s, ‘the new consultation
— listening without hearing, talking
without understanding ’ — something
I witnessed at a succession of farcical
meetings during my direct involvement on
the West Coast and in Otago.
So, who do the public believe? Managers
whose career paths depend on going along
with whatever is pre-decided behind closed
doors — or someone at the sharp end of
the health system where the hands-on care
The answer seems painfully obvious to
me.During my West Coast involvement,
particularly beginning with the politically-
driven closure of Seaview Hospital, I
obser ved that if health system managers
want to advance their careers they must
say the ‘right’ things to the ‘right’ people
at the ‘right’ time. Question the political-
bureaucratic dictates and, regardless of
your knowledge and experience, you have
every chance of being driven out of DHB
There is one current board member who
knows this all too well.
We do not look to managers to treat
our illnesses, so why should we listen
to managers for the truth of what is
happening in the hospital wards?
Democrats for Social Credit
On behalf of the West Coast Hockey
Association tournament committee,
we would like to publicly acknowledge
the wonderful sponsorship and general
support from across the region we received
hosting the Johnson Cup secondary school
hockey tournament in Greymouth last
Fifteen teams competed in the week-
long event and the feedback from the
management was overall an outstanding
experience on and off the turf, with
accommodation providers, tourist,
recreational, food and retail providers all
providing outstanding ser vice. Special
mention must also to the Greymouth
aquatic centre staff for their exceptional
efforts meeting the needs of the teams.
Fantastic weather helped highlight our
amazing region but we would like to
recognise the community effort making it
so successful, with 42 games of top hockey
played and strong economic benefits
associated with such events.
Andrea Forrest, Belinda Lunn, Lisa
Winter, Jack O’Connor
It is interesting to see the comments
on the upcoming health and safety laws
and terms of imprisonment for breaching
the law. There may also be terms of
imprisonment for existing laws which have
already been breached. There seems to be a
lack of system to enforce the laws.
With any laws related to provision of
health care, there has to be a element
of leniency for inevitable human errors.
However, such leniency is not intended for
those deliberately misrepresenting their
expertise or disrupting existing ser vices for
In non-procedural medicine it is
difficult to define the scope of expertise
and impossible to devise a universal
training programme. Often it is up to the
individual clinician to ensure continuing
education. It is up to the DHB to provide
a suitable training environment. In a
rural setting, out of necessity, sometimes
clinical ser vices have to be provided by
those without appropriate training. When
this happens it is the responsibility of the
clinician to inform the patient.
When the DHB employs someone to
work outside their scope of training and
continuing education, it should be their
responsibility to inform the public and
provide valid reasons.
When you examine the cases where the
Health and Disability Commissioner
or the coroner had been misled or
investigation unreasonably delayed, it is
clear that there has been clear disregard
for safety. Frequently those without
relevant medical knowledge are used to
summarise cases in such investigations.
Key expert opinions are modified or
excluded from the finding. In some cases
many doctors would have completed their
specialist training without learning from
the consequences of their actions.
Old Ghost Road
Pete Lusk is entitled to voice his opinion
on the Old Ghost Road (Greymouth
Star, October 3), but I find his comments
Along with other Buller TC members
I made several trips into the Mokihinui
Forks area, including a through trip
from Lyell via the south branch of the
Mokihinui before the cycleway was begun
(it was under way on our through trip). I
found it a wonderfully remote area. It used
to take upwards of seven or eight hours to
reach the Forks Hut, and the aptly named
Suicide Slips were a barrier for many.
Losing that wilderness feeling was at first
hard to accept, but I have come to terms
with it. Although I confess to a fondness
for old huts, the upgraded
Forks Hut is certainly more comfortable
now and Ghost Lake Hut is arguably one
of the best situated huts in the backcountry.
As to certain sections of the cycleway
being dangerous, the Old Ghost Road
website states very clearly that it is a grade
4 (advanced) mountainbiking trail and
that the unformed middle section (marked
route) is for fit and experienced trampers
only. Cyclists are advised that the edge of
the trail may be exposed, with steep drop-
offs in places. The ‘trail status’ also cautions
cyclists to dismount on the large slip near
Lyell Saddle, on the 800m section shortly
before Ghost Lake on the alpine section of
the Lyell Range, and on the narrow section
around the 12km mark in the Mokihinui
Gorge. This is reinforced by warnings and
gates on the track itself.
As a tramper I have not found the 800m
below Rocky Tor particularly difficult or
dangerous (it may be for cyclists but those I
have spoken to do not appear to
have any great difficulty traversing that
On a visit to Ghost Lake in July I was
pleasantly surprised to find that the track
on that section had been flattened out and
widened, from what appears to be just foot
traffic. Little or no mud was evident, but
that might just have been our luck with the
The original Old Ghost Road brochure
did say that trampers should give way to
cyclists (contrary to the NZ Mountainbike
Code) — that has been amended and
the updated brochure requires that ‘users
respect each other and take the lead in
courtesy and giving way ’. Realistically, I
have to admit that it is easier for trampers
to step to the side.
I feel that the statement that the trail ends
are ‘frequently blocked by slips and wind-
thrown beech forest ’ is something of an
exaggeration. As on any backcountry track,
slips and wind-throws do undoubtedly
occur - last April’s storm is testament to
Interestingly enough, on a visit to Ghost
Lake in July we only had to climb over
two large trees on the track, and there did
not appear to have been a great deal of
damage from the April storm in the Lyell
catchment — the Mokihinui end did
not fare so well, but was cleared relatively
A million dollars a year in maintenance
costs? Seems unlikely - I am no expert in
that field, but I do know that the trust has
an army of volunteers to call on to help
out. A recently announced contestable
government fund of $8 million over four
years for cycle trails is available for trail
improvement etc, as well as repairs after
I have been informed that only 10km of
the cycleway remain to be completed. The
promised mid-2015 opening looks set to be
realised. I look for ward to that.
When I was a young bloke still going
to school, we were right into possum
trapping like many, young and old. There
were plenty of possums around and the
government paid a 2s 6d bounty, which
was good money then. We would skin big
ones but the skin buyers used to rip us
young buggers off.
We would drape dead possums over logs
to cool overnight only to come back to
find some had been eaten by wild cats. We
would catch some of these too. Not many
rats, mice or stoats. Maybe beech mast had
not been invented in those days.
We would be followed by hordes of
fantails and there were birds everywhere.
I think the large number of cats kept the
rats and mice under control — stoats, too.
No doubt they would get the odd bird,
too, but the pay-off in rats, mice and stoats
would be enormous as they are a natural
If a bounty was brought back in, I am
sure young blokes would do the same.
There is nothing like the New Zealand
bush for recreation, along with other
pursuits such as trout fishing, eeling, pig,
deer and goat hunting — what a paradise.
Now, you have to dodge 1080 signs and
you would not eat a possum, as we used to
do. There were even packs of wild dogs at
Wainuiomata, all possum predators. Now
they poison everything and get away with
When people’s pets start getting
poisoned in earnest, DOC and AHB will
not be at all popular — not that they ever
were. Ban 1080.
nited States President
Barack Obama is finding
himself with few friends
His former Pentagon
chief is criticising his
foreign policy. Long-time political
advisers are questioning his campaign
strategy. And Democrats locked in tough
mid-term campaigns do not want Obama
anywhere near them between now and
The disenchantment with Obama is
in part a reflection of inevitable fatigue
with a president entering his final years
But some Democrats say it is also a
consequence of the president ’s insular
approach to governing.
They argue that his preference for
relying on a small cadre of White House
advisers has left him with few loyal allies
on Capitol Hill or elsewhere.
“This president is supremely
independent,” said Paul Begala, a
Democratic strategist and long-time
adviser to President Bill Clinton.
“In many ways that is a very good thing.
He probably came to the presidency
owing less to other people than any
president in memory. The risk is that
independence can morph into isolation.”
While White House officials dispute
the notion of an isolated or weakened
president, there’s little doubt that Obama’s
standing with the American people
and his own party has fallen since his
resounding re-election in 2012.
Battered by a flurry of crises at home
and abroad, the president ’s approval rating
has hovered near record lows for much
of the year. His party is at risk of losing
the Senate in the November mid-terms
and not one Democrat locked in a close
race has chosen to make a campaign
appearance alongside the president thus
It is against that backdrop that some of
Obama’s long-time advisers have begun
levying unsparing criticism, most notably
Leon Panetta, the widely respected former
congressman who ser ved as CIA director
and defence secretary in Obama’s first
term. In a new memoir and a series of
inter view, Panetta has taken aim at both
Obama’s foreign policy decision-making
and overall leadership skills.
Panetta writes that as Pentagon chief, he
feared that Obama’s withdrawal of all US
troops from Iraq in late 2011 could put
that country at risk of becoming “a new
haven for terrorists to plot attacks against
The US is now launching airstrikes
against a militant group in Iraq, as well as
Syria, that Obama administration officials
warn could ultimately pose a threat to the
But Panetta’s most scathing critique is
reserved for Obama’s leadership style.
Writing about Obama’s inability to stop
deep budget cuts at the Pentagon, Panetta
said the episode reflected the president ’s
“most conspicuous weakness, a frustrating
reticence to engage his opponents and
rally support for his cause”.
“ Too often, in my view, the president
relies on the logic of a law professor rather
than the passion of a leader,” Panetta
Former President Jimmy Carter chimed
in with his own critique, telling a Texas
newspaper that it was hard to figure out
exactly what Obama’s policy is in the
“It changes from time to time. I noticed
that two of his secretaries of defence, after
they got out of office, were very critical of
the lack of positive action on the part of
the president,” Carter told the Fort Worth
Star-Telegram, referring to both Panetta
and Robert Gates, Obama’s first defence
secretary. Gates levied his own criticism of
the president in a book earlier this year.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s
former secretary of state and a potential
2016 presidential candidate, also spent
much of the summer promoting a book in
which she sought to distance herself from
some of the president ’s decision-making
in the Middle East.
The public critiques have also extended
to the president ’s political skills. After
Obama said last week that his economic
policies were on the ballot in November,
his long-time political adviser David
Axelrod cast that strategy as “a mistake”.
“I wouldn’t put that line there,” Axelrod
said on NBC television’s Meet the Press.
White House advisers and others close
to the president have dismissed the
flood of criticism and the distance from
Democrats as part of the natural arc of
“This is very much the product of the
six-year itch,” said Anita Dunn, Obama’s
former White House communications
“If you’re sitting in the White House,
you put your head down and you do your
job and realise that at the end of the day,
you still have two more years to do a great
But Jim Manley, a former senior adviser
to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
a Democrat, said that job may only get
harder if Democrats in Washington turn
even further away from the president as
the race to replace him gets under way.
“The fact of the matter is the president
and his team have done a pretty poor
job of trying to build of a group of loyal
Democrats,” Manley said. “ They don’t
have too deep a well to dip into anymore.”
— New Zealand Herald
Running out of friends
Insiders criticise Obama’s foreign policy and campaign strategy, while campaigning Democrats keep their distance.
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