Home' Greymouth Star : November 19th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, November 19, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1863 - US President Abraham Lincoln
delivers the Gettysburg Address, calling for
“government of the people, by the people and
for the people”.
1941 - HMAS Sydney engages
the German raider Kormoran in a
fierce battle in the Indian Ocean
off. Th e Sydney sails off and is never
seen again, with 645 presumed dead.
1949 - Prince Rainier is sworn in
as 30th ruling Prince of Monaco.
1969 - First reports emerge that
US troops shot Vietnamese civilians in My Lai
village in March.
1977 - Egypt ’s President Anwar Sadat arrives
in Israel on his first peace mission.
1988 - Christina Onassis, daughter of Greek
tycoon Aristotle Onassis, dies aged 37.
2005 - Prince Albert of Monaco is enthroned,
succeeding his father Prince Rainier.
2010 - Twenty nine miners trapped
underground at the Pike Rive coalmine in New
Zealand’s following an explosion.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex (1566-
1601); Charles I of Britain (1600-1649);
Ferdinand de Lesseps, French builder of Suez
Canal (1805-1894); James Garfield, 20th
US president (1831-1881); Indira
Gandhi, Indian prime minister
(1917-1984); Margaret Whitlam,
wife of former Australian prime
minister (1919-2012); Larry King,
US tv talk-show host (1933-); Ted
Turner, US media mogul (1938-);
Calvin Klein, US clothing designer
(1942-); Meg Ryan, US actress (1961-); Jodie
Foster, US actress (1962-).
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and
burdened, and I will give you rest.”
— (Matthew 11:28).
“It is always brave to say what everyone
thinks.” — George D uhamel, French author
last Saturday married
army corporal Dennis Stephen, and her
husband are spending part of their honeymoon
on the West Coast. She and her husband were
here last night and today after visiting Nelson
and Westport in their car.
Mrs Stephen came third in the women’s
800m event at the recent Tokyo Olympic
Games. Marriage has not been allowed to
interfere with her track training, and she had
runs at Westport and Greymouth.
Her husband should have fond memories of
Greymouth — he scored a near-record brace of
tries (five) for Canterbury against West Coast
at Rugby Park last year.
The Inangahua County Council meeting
yesterday was introduced to “elephant jokes”
by way of a letter from Mrs Emily Cosgrove,
Blackwater. In doing so, Mrs Cosgrove politely
complained about the state of a road.
Her letter read: “Once again I complain. The
Blackwater road is atrocious. The potholes are
more numerous, bigger, brighter than ever.
Have you heard the one about the elephant
and the pothole? PS. They haven’t found the
Said chairman Cr G J Williams: The engineer
has the matter in hand. He has ordered the
The bulk of the estate of the late Mrs Florrie
Howard, of Byron Street, Greymouth, was left
to the Intellectually Handicapped Children’s
Though the estate has not been finally wound
up and the final amount by which the society
will benefit is not known, it likely to be a
uFood for thought
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party — just a gathering of a
few friends of flatmates at the
old Collingwood Street villa to
welcome a new flatmate.
At 9pm on Friday night there
were only a handful of people listening to
rap and heavy metal music, drinking beer
An invite had been sent out via
Facebook to selected friends of the
flatmates and by all accounts everyone was
having a good time.
It was to be one of the last parties
17-year-old Connor Swetman was going
to attend at his friend Jake Hayes’ flat
before flying out to stay with his best
friend and his family on the Gold Coast
on November 29, in the hope of getting
Jake, 19, had been in the flat for a
month, according to Kahlee Coker who
had been unable to get a ride to the party.
She said his mates had helped her fun-
loving and caring friend set up on Friday.
As the drinks kept flowing and party-
goers flowed through the house — about
30 attending in total — there were reports
of people getting more intoxicated. Shots
were being knocked back, one party-goer
He had arrived about 2am and within
30 minutes of being there the mood had
changed from happy to aggressive and
people were fighting on the street, the
The fight had been described by party-
goer Liam Johnson, 18, as a silly drunken
one between two mates which had started
over someone drinking one of Jake’s beers.
But it rapidly escalated and suddenly
there were six people punching and
swinging at each other. Bystanders then
swooped in and pulled the fighters apart,
After that the atmosphere went flat with
people heading home — leaving about
eight people in the flat to contemplate the
night ’s events.
Jake headed upstairs with four mates,
including Connor Swetman and Bayley
Reid who crashed the night in his room,
while three other guys stayed downstairs.
Liam left with another friend about
4.30am. Bayley remembered 25-year-old
Toni Maree Johnston, who worked at
Annah Stretton’s retail shop in Hamilton,
arriving home from a night in town
shortly after. Jake’s friends had not seen
her at the party.
Not long after the lights went out in the
house, a fire took hold and 17-year-old
Bayley was woken by loud screams. He
looked out the window and saw flames
engulfing the house.
Bayley was the last to make it out,
despite having woken his friends and
thinking they were following right
behind. When he arrived, three others —
Joseph Soutar, Michael Heyes and Rayne
Tawara — had battled the flames and
were standing on the footpath.
The Fire Service arrived within minutes
of receiving the first call just after 5am.
Forty-five firefighters and 13 appliances
worked to get the blaze under control.
By morning Connor, Jake and Toni
Maree were still unaccounted for.
Speculation about the cause of the fire
was rife, but nothing had been confirmed.
Three bodies were recovered on
Sunday afternoon, but await the formal
identification process, which includes
dental and jewellery checks, and then they
can be returned to their families.
Connor’s aunt Leanne Otto remembered
her nephew Connie as a cheeky boy who
loved his family and was idolised by his
little brother Morgan who had only last
week got the same haircut as him.
She said news that he was believed
to have died in the fire had rocked the
family, particularly his mum Sharon Otto,
who had lost her Peanut and had not
returned to the house she shared with
him and Morgan since hearing the news.
Mourners had left flowers and gifts on the
After hearing the news of the fire, his
aunt had spent several hours calling
Connor’s mobile phone from midday
Saturday hoping he would pick up. She
said the phone eventually stopped ringing
and went to voicemail. She was now
wondering if it was removed before the
fire, as she doubted it would have sur vived
Meanwhile, friends had been donating
mobile phones, furniture and clothes to
help the three surviving flatmates. Tony
Soutar said his son Joseph, who had been
living there for more than a year, was last
night picking up some of the donated
gear after an ex-flatmate put out a call on
Facebook for people to drop things off at
Emergency services spent yesterday
reinforcing the remainder of the house,
owned by an Auckland property investor,
to make it safe for police and fire
investigators to re-enter and carry out a
scene examination, which was expected to
take a week.
Waikato police detective inspector Karl
Thornton said the focus of the inquiry
would be on what started the fire, which
was still being treated as suspicious.
with police and
them with plans
for the large
which had once
been a commercial
How it happened, based on witness
A small number of people are drinking
beer and bourbon at the Collingwood St
house. Party swells, with about 30 people
2am: People are drinking shots and
2.30am: A fight breaks out on the street.
3am: The party disperses, leaving about
eight people in the villa.
4.30am: Toni Maree arrives home.
5am: Flatmates are woken by the fire
and the Fire Service arrives minutes later.
— New Zealand Herald
How tragedy unfolded
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
Kahlee Coker and friends of the fire victims comfort each other. Below, items left by well-wishers.
Save us from
I would like to thank the Greymouth
Star for producing such interesting
reading in Thursday, November 13 issue.
While reading the paper I was constantly
reminded of how our modern day society
is rapidly going down the toilet.
In the Whatever column, a woman in the
United Kingdom was given an abatement
notice for erecting a swing in her back
garden; because it was attached to the
ground it was deemed a development.
On the same page the so-called experts
from Solid Energy dreamed up over 100
scenarios why trained men could not go
into the Pike River Mine.
Then Chris Trotter’s article capped it off
with those same so-called experts releasing
Phillip Smith, murderer and child
molester, from prison.
New Zealand was founded by people
who believed anything was possible — the
Maori who set sail from Hawaiiki into the
unknown, the early European settlers who
came into this country on the other side
of the world to mould a nation, our fathers
and grandfathers who went off to war to
fight what seemed an insurmountable
enemy. These were all people who said ‘we
can do it’.
Now, we have become a society full of
people telling us we can’t do it.
We are told we should be worried about
IS, a bunch of thugs driving around in
pick-up trucks with machine-guns, on
the other side of the world, when all the
time we allow a new form of extremism to
develop here in New Zealand. They are the
so-called experts, scientists, bureaucratic
bullies and do-gooders who are now
constantly telling us we can’t do it.
People in New Zealand need to start
standing up to this before we are pacified
into a nation of wimps.
New hall site
Who was the ‘genius’ on the Grey
District Council who found a new site
next to the slipway to build the band hall?
All this area is hard-fill on swamp. Piles
will need to be about 10m long, and as the
site is on the wrong side of the floodwall
an extra 4m will be required to get above
the flood level in this area.
The Blaketown Hall was built long
before the church and bowling club and
I suggest would have a continuing use, so
there should be no problem rebuilding on
the present site.
Pregnant smokers paid to quit is
innovative and cost-effective (Greymouth
Star, November November 13). Katherine
Rich could be paid to resign from the
HPA. She does more harm promoting
alcohol, tobacco and sugar than promoting
The clearance of native vegetation in
Westland has hit today ’s national news.
The answer has always been quite simple
to me. If the freehold land is so valuable to
biodiversity, and if it needs to be added to
the already existing 87% of land managed
by DOC in Westland, then the land can
be bought by the Crown. The template
exists with high country farm purchases.
Landowners have an expectation that
they can create a living from their own
land, but if it has higher national and
conser vation values the farmer should not
be expected to fund it.
A cafe patron is trying to woo Amu —
she of the long hair and lovely green eyes
— but the beauty disdainfully turns away.
And then she flicks her fluffy tail. Amu
is a long-haired calico — one of 51 felines
who staff the Calico Cat Cafe, one of
Japan’s numerous cat cafes — and she has
a reputation for being somewhat aloof.
But most of the resident felines are
curious about the cafe customers and eager
to toss a few toy mice around with them.
Patrons, who pay 1000 yen ($10) for an
hour of cat play, can also get a cup of tea
or a bite to eat. For another 300 yen, they
can make a cat’s day and buy a fortunate
feline a small chicken snack.
The cat cafe did not originate in Japan,
but in the past decade it has really taken
hold in a country where space is at a
premium and many apartments and
houses are too small to keep a pet.
The concept spread from Japan
to Europe, where cafes such as the
Katzencafe in Berlin and La Gatoteca in
Madrid have opened. Now it has leapt to
the United States, with the grand opening
of the Cat Town Cafe in California in
October. Australia’s first cat cafe opened in
Melbourne last June.
The Japanese fixation on cats goes back
to a time when the cats that gobbled up
rats and silkworms were considered the
lucky charms of the silk industry.
Now Japanese affection for the feline is
evident in cartoon characters like Krocchi,
a swashbuckling stray cat, the catlike girl
character Hello Kitty, and the ubiquitous
Maneki-neko, the beckoning cat figurine
whose raised paw is thought to bring good
luck and good fortune.
There is even a cat shrine on Tashirojima
Island, where the cats greet the returning
fishing boats. During the 2011 earthquake
and tsunami, it is said that the cats who
wander the island evacuated to the area
around the Neko-jinja, or cat shrine, and
sur vived. Another island, Aoshima, where
the cats outnumber the people, also has
become something of a tourist attraction
for cat lovers.
Takafumi Fukui, owner of the Calico
in Toyko’s Shinjuku neighbourhood and
another cafe in Kichijoji, said the cat cafe
was born in Taiwan, but was far different
from what it has become in Japan. There,
he said, the cats wandered in and out from
the street, mingling with patrons as they
At the Calico, an elevator whooshes
patrons up to the sixth-floor reception
area where they are expected to park their
shoes and don slippers, put jackets, purses
or luggage into a locker, and scrub their
hands and apply a hand sanitiser before
heading in to see the cats.
The reception area smells vaguely of eau
de cat litter, but the floor below where
the main cat room and the cafe are is
odourless. The litter boxes are set up in an
area under the stairs. “It’s a lot of work; we
clean them frequently,” Fukui said.
The Calico Cafe — the largest cat
cafe in Tokyo — is a cat paradise, with
scratching posts, kitty tree houses, perches,
cardboard boxes and baskets to hide in,
sunny window sills to lounge on,
and feathery toys and cloth mice to
Kurumi Bonkohara, a first-time
visitor, swished some feathers at one
of the cats and tried a pair of velvet
bat wings on another. “ I’ve been to
cat cafes all over Japan, but this one
is by far the biggest one I’ve visited
and the cats are really friendly here,”
An album at the cafe includes
each cat ’s breed, birthdate and
personality traits. It says Amu is
“arrogant in the store but timid
The cats are allowed to wander
freely between the fifth and sixth
floors, but there are rules for
the people. Only beverages are
permitted on the cat-play floor;
more substantial food can be bought
in a separate glass-enclosed room
where cats are not allowed. About
half the patrons supplement their
cat fix with food.
Flash photography is prohibited,
and most importantly, there is this
rule: “Please do not wake up the
sleeping cats, surprise them or annoy the
About 40 cats work the floor at the same
time. Cats who do not get along work
different shifts, and each cat has its own
cage in a private room. They spend the
night in their cages and are fed in them to
ensure that each cat gets the correct diet.
“ When we opened our first cafe about
eight years ago, the concept of the cat
cafe wasn’t really established, so we had to
explain it,” Fukui said. “Now the business
is doing well, and we are starting to get a
lot more foreigners.”
Fukui said his family kept five to 10 cats
when he was a child. “ My first reason for
wanting to open a cat cafe was so I would
be able to keep a lot of cats,” he said.
Now he has 20 varieties — Persians,
ruddy Ocicats, Nor wegians, Siamese,
Ragamuffins, Abyssinians, Scottish
Folds, a short-legged Munchkin born on
Christmas Day named Santa, American
Shorthairs and more. The biggest is Taiga,
a Maine Coon cat.
“In Tokyo it ’s hard to keep pets because
the apartments are so small, and I thought
many people might feel the same way I
did,” he said. New arrivals to the city who
used to keep cats, and now can not, also
find their way to the cafe for cat therapy.
Cat cafes take hold in Japan
A typical cat cafe in Japan.
A drunken fight marred the night that ended in flames and three deaths in Hamilton. The NEW ZEALAND HERALD reports.
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