Home' Greymouth Star : November 12th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Wednesday, November 12, 2014
John Lewis and Rebecca Fox
of the Otago Daily Times
A huge macrocarpa tree
exploded, sending pieces 70m
into the air, after it was struck
by lightning yesterday.
Portobello Deli owner Alan
Cameron said he was in the
storeroom sorting out stock
when the tree, in nearby
Hatchery Road, exploded about
“Then there was this huge
flash and an almighty boom.
It was like someone set off an
artillery round right next to me.
I jumped — I never expected it.
I got a hell of a fright.”
Mr Cameron said he ran
outside to see smoke and steam
coming off the tree.
“ Bits of splintered tree were
still floating down out of the
sky. The tree had exploded.
It’s quite spectacular. I’m
glad I wasn’t under it when it
He believed the lightning
had boiled all the moisture in
the tree instantly, causing it to
explode, and pieces of the tree
were found up to 70m away.
Senior constable Lox Kellas,
of Portobello police,
said he heard reports
of a woman walking
two dogs near the tree
when the lightning
woman in a state of
shock knocked on
the door of a nearby
house, Mr Kellas
Over a calming cup
of tea, the woman
recounted how she
was by the tree when
the lightning bolt hit,
He warned people
not to go near the
The lightning strike
had made the tree
very unstable, and
what remained of it
could easily fall over
in a strong gust of
An arborist would stabilise
the tree this morning, he said.
Metser vice meteorologist Rob
Kerr said thunder and lightning
moved across coastal Otago
in waves yesterday, and 10 to
20 strikes were recorded over
Dunedin between 4pm and
Because the storms were
isolated and short, they were
not showing up as significant
rainfall on the region’s rain
The St Clair Hot Salt Water
Pool closed for 30 minutes
yesterday afternoon as a safety
precaution, when lightning
came close to the pool.
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
A Fulton Hogan workman sets up warning signs around an unstable
macrocarpa tree near Portobello.
Lightning explodes macrocarpa
Prime Minister John Key was the
lunch companion of Chinese President
Xi Jinping yesterday and the dinner
companion of US President Barack
Obama for two hours the previous night,
Mr Key said after the Apec summit in
Beijing last night.
He talked to Mr Obama about the IS
threat in the Middle East.
He said Mr Obama had clearly been
briefed about his major national security
speech last week in which Mr Key said
New Zealand was scoping out a training
role in Iraq but no combat role.
Mr Obama had agreed that diplomacy
was the ultimate answer.
“I talked him through (the options) —
ultimately if we were engaged in training
whether he thought that would be
beneficial in the context that Americans
had trained people for a long period of
“He is very much in agreement with me
that ultimately the real issue here is one
He said Mr Obama was quite confident
about the capacity of new Iraqi Prime
Minister Haider al-Abadi to reach out to
Sunnis and be much more inclusive.
“I think him and I are very much on the
same page — that you need some military
capability and clearly need to try and
control and rein in IS but on the other
side of the coin if you are really looking
for a long term solution, it has got to
come from people feeling as though they
are part of the long-term solution to Iraq.”
Mr Key said he had spoken at the Apec
leaders retreat a couple of times.
He talked about the threat of IS in the
Middle East not just to innocent people
but to economic stablilty.
He also talked about how he believed
the TPP 12-country trade talk was not
in competition with the broader concept
of the Apec-wide Free Trade Area of the
Asia Pacific (FTAAP).
It is an old concept that has been revived
by China and the Apec leaders have
decided to start looking at it over the next
two years, without actually launching it.
Mr Key also talked to Mr Obama about
visiting New Zealand and reckoned there
would be “a better than reasonable chance”
he would visit before his presidency ends
in just over two years.
Mr Key did not have a formal bilateral
meeting with either Mr Obama or Mr Xi.
Mr Xi is visiting New Zealand next
week after the G20 summit in Brisbane.
Mr Key and his wife, Bronagh, are today
headed for Chengdu in Sichuan province,
where he is due to open a new consular
office for New Zealand and she is due to
visit a panda breeding centre. After that
he will fly to Myanmar for the East Asia
Summit. — NZ ME
of the Bay of Plenty Times
A Tauranga man who
went missing for a week
has been found safe
and well after living off
the land and foraging
for food in the Kaimai
James Vachre, 22,
was last seen at his
Devonport Road flat
on the afternoon of
On Monday, Tauranga
search and rescue
members found Mr
Vachre in a hut in the
ranges safe and well.
Mother Jude Vachre
said she and her husband
David were “absolutely
exhausted” but elated
yesterday after having
been reunited with their
“ You are just living off
adrenaline then suddenly
your body realises that
it’s all its been living off,
but that ’s okay. For us, no
one, none of us gave up. ”
The Vachres launched
a public appeal to help
track down James and
set up a Facebook page
“ Bring James Vachre
In less than 48 hours
the page had 9000
followers and 900 likes.
“ We were quite blown
away by the instant hits
we had,” Mrs Vachre said.
“ We linked all the links
on James we had, the
police and news posts.
What happened was one
of the guys, who had
gone in to the bush to
hunt (last weekend), he
was going through his
Facebook at smoko time
the next day at work
when he saw the link to
our Facebook page. He
saw that and thought
‘Oh my God, I spent the
night with this guy at the
hut ’,” Mrs Vachre said.
“So he left a message
on our page and he
then made contact with
Tauranga police and then
I made personal contact
with him. We confirmed
that James was one and
the same as the man he
found at the hut. Then
the police said they were
going to be deploying a
search and rescue team
so we were hopeful James
was in fact still going to
be in the area where he
“Thankfully, he was still
James was found well
enough to walk out
with search and rescue
members but was “a bit
lighter”, Mrs Vachre said,
who also spoke on behalf
of her son.
“ He’s thanked his dad
and television shows
like ‘how to sur vive in
the bush’ ... he was able
to identify things that
he could feed off in the
bush and how to set up
a little camp. He’s said
his sur vival skills kicked
in and he learned what it
was like to spend nights
in the bush when the
weather changes. ”
It remained unclear
how James ended up in
the bush but the delivery
driver usually went for
regular walks around
Tauranga’s estuaries and
had favourite spots at
McLaren’s Falls, Poripori
River and Yatton Park.
When he went missing,
he left his cellphone and
scooter behind at his
flat and failed to show
for dinner at his parents’
home that evening.
“ He just said that he
didn’t really think about
.. . where he would be
going, but that ’s where he
ended up,” Mrs Vachre
said. “ He didn’t have a
Mrs Vachre said the
family were grateful
for the over whelming
support they received
“The power of people
talking, it just gets right
out there,” she said.
A frantic last-minute surge of social media
posts may have got Dunedin over the line in
the latest stage of the Gigatown competition.
Dunedin’s Gigatown office was packed
with tweeting and social media-posting
volunteers as the social media stage ended at
noon yesterday, with figures showing the city
came agonisingly close, but fell just short, of
The figures from competition organiser
Chorus showed Dunedin 0.3% behind, but
volunteer Heidi McQuillan said Facebook
postings took time to count, and an “amazing
surge’’ at the last minute may have done the
The competition was launched on October
2013 with 50 cities and towns across New
Zealand competing to become the country’s
That would mean access to much faster
internet speeds — one gigabit per second
internet connection — at the price normally
paid for entry level broadband.
Dunedin City Council chief executive Sue
Bidrose has said of the competition: “I can’t
think of another single thing that would
make as big a difference to the Dunedin
economy as winning this.’’
Just five centres remain in the competition:
Dunedin, Wanaka, Timaru, Nelson and
The social media component of the
competition, including quiz and supporter
sign-ups, ended at noon yesterday.
Gisborne was ahead earlier in the day with
30% social media share, followed by Dunedin
(29.8%) and Wanaka (16%).
The Gigatown, Dunedin, office in George
Street, set up with Dunedin City Council
funding, was full of people frantically using
social media just before noon, as phase four
of the five-phase competition closed.
Ms McQuillan said Dunedin’s bid had
142,292 comments posted on the city’s
competition Facebook page between
10.20am and noon, bringing the total for the
day to 211,639.
Each comment adds to the city’s points tally.
The previous record for Facebook comments
in one day was 23,000.
All towns and cities would find their
score drop once postings were checked for
eligibility and spamming, she said.
“By the way the scoreboard was moving in
the last half hour of the competition, I would
say that there is still a very good chance that
Dunedin could win the social media share
section of the Gigatown competition.’’
When the town hall clock struck noon,
Gigatown Dunedin promoter Josh Jenkins
said the “huge army ’’ of supporters had done
a good job.
Mr Jenkins said even if the city did come
second in the social media phase, the second
place-getter got 24 million points, compared
with 30 million points for first.
He said voting on the final stage — in
which Dunedin puts together a “plan for
success’’ for if it wins the event — begins on
Voting for that stage ends on November 24,
with the winner announced two days later.
of the Bay of Plenty Times
The devastated family of a Bay of Plenty
man killed in a freak ride-on mower
accident say he was a devoted family man
who was extremely safety-conscious.
Michael Donald Fox, 58, known as
“Foxy”, came from a close-knit, large
family and “family meant everything ” to
him, his widow Glenys Fox said. Mr Fox
was working at one of the couple’s two
family trust orchards in Maungarangi
Road when he was killed on Monday.
Mrs Fox said she had expected her
husband home for dinner about 6pm and
when he did not arrive she went looking
for him and found all the orchard sheds
wide open. She phoned neighbours for
help and a search party formed. They
eventually found Mr Fox about 9.40pm,
pinned under the mower after it had
rolled about 2.5m down a bank.
Mrs Fox said it was hard to accept her
husband of 20 years, father of 31-year-old
Natasha, and grandfather of six-year-old
Azalea, was gone. “I just can’t believe it,
as Mike was such a safety-conscious sort
of person,” she said.
November 4 was Mr Fox’s 58th birthday
and this weekend a party gathering had
been planned at the aquatic centre in
Rotorua for the couple’s grand-daughter
Azalea who turns seven on Friday,
with about 30 children in attendance,
including family members.
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Anton Hovius, front, and Nina Harrap
chip in to boost Dunedin’s social media
count in the Gigatown competition.
Gigatown surge falls short in Dunedin
‘Safety-conscious’ man’s fatal accident baffles
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