Home' Greymouth Star : November 18th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, November 18, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1477 - William Caxton produces the first
printed book in the English language.
1852 - State funeral of the Duke of
Wellington, statesman, diplomat and
commander-in-chief of the British Army, is
held in London.
1910 - The Mexican Revolution
1916 - In World War I, General
Douglas Haig calls off the first
Battle of the Somme after five
months of futile battle.
1928 - Walt Disney ’s Mickey
Mouse makes his debut at the Colony Theatre
in New York in a film called Steamboat Willie.
1978 - US pastor Jim Jones leads 914 of his
followers to their deaths at Jonestown, Guyana.
1987 - Some 31 people die at Kings Cross
station on the London Underground in a fire
which starts on a wooden escalator.
1993 - Black and white leaders in South
Africa approve a new democratic constitution
which gives blacks the vote and ends white
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
William Hogarth, English artist (1697-
1764); Sir W S Gilbert, English playwright
(1836-1911); Alan Shepard, US astronaut
(1923-1998); Rodney Hall,
Australian author, (1935-); Brenda
Vaccaro, US actress (1939-); Linda
Evans, US actress (1942-); Susan
Sullivan, US actress (1942-); Peter
Beattie, former Queensland premier
(1952-); Elizabeth Perkins, US
actress (1960-); Kim Wilde, British
singer (1960-); Kirk Hammett, US
guitarist of Metallica fame (1962-); Owen
Wilson, US actor (1968-); Chloe Sevigny, US
actress (1974-) .
“ It can’t happen here’ is number one on the
list of famous last words” — David Crosby,
“As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive
in Christ.” — (1 Corinthians 15:22).
The three major
to provide a modern
face on the roading
layout, south, north and through Greymouth
are all making progress under the programme
of the Ministry of Works. Concrete evidence
that this is being achieved comes from the
southern front where the main section of the
widened outlet has taken its coat of permanent
seal. Similar work is expected to be carried
out in the near future on the Smith Street
deviation the through-way which will divert
traffic flow from the often congested main
business area of the town.
Work on the southern section from the
borough’s end to the overhead bridge at South
Beach will be completed as soon as possible,
but the MOW does not intend to work on it
over the holiday period when the tourist traffic
flow will be at a peak.
Departmental forces will concentrate on
Smith Street in an effort to have this finished.
Resident engineer in Greymouth Mr H A
Grigg said there would be no inconvenience in
working on this when there was a big volume
of traffic on the local roads because motorists
could still go through Greymouth as they do
The Hokitika Fire Brigade was called to
extinguish a burning coat hanging on the
outside of a rear wall at Mr A Howat ’s
butchery on Saturday morning. How the coat
came to be on fire has baffled the chief fire
officer Mr M Davidson.
A hose suspended on the wall was melted by
the flames and water dripped from the hose to
act as a sprinkler. Some of the paintwork on
the wall was damaged.
uFood for thought
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t is pitch black and Kina Scollay
is in a cage at the bottom of the
ocean as huge shapes emerge
from the darkness.
The world’s apex predator, the
great white shark, is here in
numbers. And it is hungry.
This is not off the coast of South Africa
or Australia but in the waters around
New Zealand’s South Island. But Scollay
and his documentary team are not here
for large numbers of sharks. They are here
for one mega-shark.
Local fishermen have been telling tales
of a shark larger than a boat, some say up
to 9.4m, just off Stewart Island.
Scollay, a Picton-based shark researcher
and cameraman, teamed up with a
documentary crew from the Discovery
Channel to uncover the truth in the
The crew, led by famed American shark
expert Jeff Kurr, scoured the region’s
known shark spots.
It quickly became apparent that they
were most active at night so Scollay and
cinematographer Andy Casagrande took
up the daunting challenge of cage diving
in the dark.
“ You’re in a cage at the bottom of the
ocean a fair way down in the middle
of the night,” he says. “It’s black —
completely black — except for our
own lights and you’ve got a bunch of
extremely aggressive sharks.”
“These things are just coming out of the
darkness and they ’re super-big ... there
were quite a number of sharks there
and they were all go.” The sharks, some
more than 5.5m long, repeatedly rammed
the cage, moving it across the sea
“It’s one of the most full-on shark-
filming dives I’ve ever had, hands down,”
“ You’ve got these massive creatures
rushing at you and from the time they ’re
visible to the time they ’re on top of you
is a fraction of a second. You’re talking
about a very large predator that eats
things for a living.”
Kurr, who has been part of the
Discovery Channel’s immensely popular
Shark Week series since 1991, believes
New Zealand’s little-known great white
shark population includes some of the
biggest in the world.
“I spoke with a lot of fishermen and
locals about what sharks are up to in the
area,” he says. “ Many of them were telling
me about a huge shark they would see on
occasion. One man even stated he felt it
was well over 30 feet long (9.4m).
“ We wanted to come out and see what
was going on in these waters and whether
it was true or just a legend. The best way
to do that is to go down in our cages and
Despite weighing up to 2.5 tonnes,
great white sharks can reach speeds of
56kph. They have rows of razor-sharp
teeth behind the main ones, ready to
replace any that break off. Females grow
larger than the males, reaching lengths of
about 7m total to the males’ 5.5m.
There have been reports of sharks of
a whopping 11m but none have been
formally documented. However, experts
are quick to point out our fascination
owes more to Jaws movies than to any
real threat. The death of Adam Strange
in a great white attack at Muriwai in
February last year was the first in New
Zealand waters since 1976.
The sharks are classified as a vulnerable
species and have been protected in New
Zealand waters since 2007.
The documentary team’s hunt — Lair of
the Mega Shark — starts Shark Week at
8.30pm on December 1 on the Discovery
Kurr says they found a population of
very large, sexually mature male sharks
around Foveaux Strait.
“It was quite spectacular. I think the
sharks we saw in New Zealand were
probably the largest sharks I’ve ever seen
in 25 years of Shark Week,” he says.
“It just intrigued me that here’s an area
on the southern tip of New Zealand
that is fairly remote and not a tonne of
research has been done there.”
One of the sharks they came across
was between 6 and 7m. “It was a big, big
animal. And just a beautiful, majestic
animal, a shark that you think might be
50 or 60 years old.
“It was a one-of-a -kind creature.”
Kurr says during his time in New
Zealand, his team was able to use
cutting-edge technology, including a
‘fin-cam’— a camera clipped to a shark’s
dorsal fin, providing insights into its
It revealed great whites are more social
than previously thought, not the solitary
killers they are sometimes portrayed as,
“ We saw the shark interacting with
other sharks. He would use body
language to communicate with them.”
Although they did not find a shark as
large as the legend, Kurr says he would
not be surprised if one is out there and
says sharks they saw came close.
Scollay says although the great white
research project has made huge gains
in the past seven or eight years in
understanding great whites, there is still
much more to learn.
He has been working with sharks for
years and says he discovers more on every
dive. “ We still have a lot to learn about
the distribution of great whites around
“In New Zealand if you want to see
a great white you go to Stewart Island
because we know there is an aggregation
of great whites there from around
autumn into winter.
“The Chatham Islands is another place
where there are aggregations of sharks
but that ’s not to say that ’s where all the
great whites go in New Zealand at that
time of year.” — New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
Jeff Kurr, Andy Casagrande and Kina Scollay feature in Lair of the Mega Shark.
Hunt for mega-shark
Tales of a monster shark off Stewart Island prompted a hair-raising documentary.
old your hand up
in front of your
Fold down all the
fingers except the
Now imagine that finger is a baby’s
That is how big Honour
Thompson’s lower limbs were when
she was born almost four months
early, weighing just 620g.
That ’s about one-fifth the size of
an average 3.5kg New Zealand baby.
Her mother, Maia Smith, of
Dunedin, had a week’s warning of
the likely premature arrival and
thought she would be ready.
But nothing could prepare her for
the shock of a daughter born at 24
weeks, right on the cusp of what is
“I thought I would have been
prepared because my oldest boy
was born at 29 weeks and was in an
“But there’s a big difference
between 29 weeks and 24 weeks and
I wasn’t prepared at all to see her so,
so, so tiny that she could fit snug in
A baby this small has to be
whisked straight into an intensive
Instead of cuddles there are IV
lines, electrical monitor cables,
needles and machines.
“There are all these cords and
all the machines beeping. And it
was the middle of the night and
everything’s a whole lot scarier in
the middle of the night,’’ Maia said.
For the new parents this is only
the beginning of day after day of
“ unbelievable’’ stress.
NICUs are getting much better
at keeping extremely premature
babies alive but the babies’ immune
systems are very poorly developed so
infections are common.
Every hour is like walking a
tightrope where the slightest
setback can tip the infant into a
“Honour’s had quite a few
infections. It makes you think:
`Have I done something wrong?
Have I not washed my hands
enough? Is it me doing something
to her?’,’’ Maia said.
‘’Watching her be resuscitated
you’re just so helpless. You can’t walk
out the room and leave them.
“And all you’re doing is just
standing there staring and watching.
Your heart stops too just watching
the doctors and nurses work.’’
She describes an experience
common to NICU parents of their
focus narrowing to the point where
the outside world melts away.
“ You’re in here and you’re in the
NICU bubble and then you walk
outside and you’re like: ‘ Why hasn’t
the world stopped?’.’’
All going well, Honour, who now
weighs 2.5kg, is through the worst
of it and will be going home next
week, 16 weeks after she was born.
She has “a wee bit of trouble with
her eyes’’ but is being weaned off
Most important of all, she is out of
the incubator and Maia can pick her
up and hold her.
“Hopefully when she comes home
on the oxygen it won’t stay for too
long. We’ ll just be so happy to have
Terrifying and wondrous
Imagine this: you are sitting in
Hammersmith Hospital in London,
and you have just been told your
child only has a 31% chance of
That was my parents.
I was born at 24 weeks, and that
has followed me around all my life.
I have lots of small scars on my
hands from the needles, reminders
of the three months in hospital, and
I have scar tissue on my arm from
when a needle slipped out of a vein
and into my muscle.
I’m 14 now and weigh 44kg and
play football and do jiujitsu.
Premature babies aren’t supposed
to be good at maths but I find
When I was born I weighed 696g.
That sounds like a rather
meaningless number until you
realise that it ’s about equal to 1
blocks of butter.
My head was supposedly the
size of a lemon, which I was
happy telling everyone in a proud
way, thinking it was a massive
achievement, until I was 6 and I
held a lemon in my hand.
My dad kept a diary of while I was
in hospital and I have only started
reading it recently.
There are so many wondrous, yet
terrifying things in there.
Like reading that I pulled out the
tube that helped me breathe and
how I dropped down to 580g on my
It was amazing in D unedin
From my parents’ descriptions of
Hammersmith, I had expected wall
to wall cots with hardly any privacy.
That ’s what Dunedin Hospital
used to be like.
Now, there are little partitions and
each cot has a small area around it
with a chair and enough wall space
for the mother to make it like home.
There is also a lot of privacy.
It’s set up with the babies needing
the most intense care down one
end, and then the varying degrees
moving along until you get to the
babies just about ready to go home.
Another big thing was the nurses.
Mum and Dad had always told
me how brilliant the nurses at
Hammersmith were, and the nurses
at Dunedin were just as lovely.
I was taken on a tour by the Head
Nurse, Jan Seuseu, and I was taken
aback by how friendly everyone was.
At one moment two nurses were
taking care of an obviously very sick
baby in the intensive unit, but both
took a moment to smile at me and
I would like to someday work
with premature babies, to try to
grasp a slight understanding of
what my Mum and Dad went
But then I think of how tiny
those babies were and how
brave those nurses must be and
how the parents must feel like
time has stopped outside of
where their child is, and
I might leave that to the
Rosa Flaherty is the
daughter of Otago Daily Times
Head of News Sean Flaherty.
Wila’s stor y
Willa Stuart arrived in a big
hurry at 34 weeks when her
mum’s waters broke with no
“I got a wee cuddle and
then she got whipped away
into an incubator,’’ Veronique
remembers. Born weighing
2.1kg, Willa needed some help
breathing at first but is now
breathing on her own and will
go home once she is feeding.
“The staff have been amazing
encouraging us to get our hands
in there and touch her and get
her out when we can.”
— New Zealand Herald-Otago
Tiny survivors defy the odds
Ahead of World Prematurity Day, SEAN FLAHERTY visits Dunedin Hospital’s neonatal
intensive care unit where the region’s smallest and most vulnerable babies are cared for.
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Maia Smith’s daughter Honour Thompson is now 2.5kg and close to going home, but weighed just 620g when she was born.
Willa Stuart, pictured with mum Veronique Shields, left, and
aunty Tralee Shields arrived in a big hurry at 34 weeks when her
mum’s waters broke with no warning.
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