Home' Greymouth Star : November 21st 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, November 21, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1907 - Cunard liner Mauritania sets a new
speed record for steamship travel, 624 nautical
miles in a one day run.
1911 - Suffragettes storm Parliament in
London. All are arrested and all choose prison
1917 - German ace Rudolf von Eschwege
is killed over Macedonia when he
attacks a booby-trapped obser vation
balloon packed with explosives.
1918 - The last German troops
leave Alsace-Lorraine, France.
1934 - A New York court rules
Gloria Vanderbilt unfit for custody
of her daughter.
1934 Cole Porter’s musical Anything Goes
premieres at New York’s Alvin Theatre.
1949 - The United Nations grants Libya its
independence by 1952.
1967 - President Lyndon B Johnson signs the
air quality act, allotting $428 million for the
fight against pollution.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
1694 - Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet),
French philosopher, historian, poet, dramatist
1898 = Rene Magritte, surrealist painter
1904 - Coleman Hawkins, jazz
1908 - Elizabeth G Speare, writer
of historical novels for children.
1920 - Stan The Man Musial, Hall
of Fame baseball player for the St
1929 - Marilyn French, novelist and critic
(The Women’s Room).
1936 - Victor Chang, Chinese Australian
cardiac surgeon who pioneered the
development of an artificial heart valve.
“ In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and
behind it our scientific accomplishments fade
to trivia. ” — Charles Lindbergh
“ Pride goes before destruction, a haughty
spirit before a fall. ” — Proverbs 16:18
The face of the Franz
Josef Glacier is still
fading. But while the
world-famous ice flow
is still retracting its terminal face up its South
Westland alpine valley home, a much brighter
future is being predicted for the glacier. If
expectations and estimates prove correct, it
could start its downward advance in the near
Greymouth geologist Mr Bill Sara recently
carried out a sur vey on the Franz Josef Glacier
to reveal that the glacier has dropped 400ft
from its face over the past 18 months. He said
today that while there is no doubt the Franz is
retreating and 400ft could be regarded as big, a
change could come in the near future.
He pointed out that people in the Franz
area who are authorities on its movement, are
Wellington has been devastated. A mass
evacuation to the South Island has been
ordered. This was one of the hypothetical
situations that faced Greymouth Mayor Mr
F W Baillie this week. Mr Baillie, with Cr H
Hutchinson and Mr T L Doole, was attending
the 1964 Controllers’ Conference of the Civil
The terrific problems which occur after a
major devastation by fire, flood, nuclear blast or
earthquake had been forcibly brought home to
him by the lectures he had heard over the past
three days, Mr Baillie said.
“ In the interests of the people of Greymouth
we must have an organisation to deal with the
problems which could occur in case of a major
catastrophe,” said the mayor.
He emphasised it was very necessary that all
local bodies should implement the scheme.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
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3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
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03 755 8422
hen former Orion power
head Roger Sutton’s
appointment to head the
Recovery Authority was
announced last year anyone would have
thought that he was some sort of white
knight, riding in (on his bicycle) to save
Somebody wrote to the Press: “I could
have cried tears of joy.” He was described
as a beam of light. What would it be like
inter viewing a beam of light? I wondered.
“ You’ ll like him,” said his media manager.
The other thing that is almost always said
about him is that he is quirky.
I have no idea what this is supposed to
mean. Does he? “I didn’t write it.” But
what does he think it means? He thinks it
means that he not always wears a suit and
often rides a bicycle.
So it was like going to inter view a god,
if a god sometimes wore a very smart pin-
striped Working Style suit (and did not
appreciate being asked where he got his
suit), and had shaggy, longish-for-a -god-
turned- bureaucrat bike helmet hair, and
said f.... rather a lot.
On the way to the Cera offices, I asked
the taxi driver: “Is everyone still head-
over-heels in love with him?” He said:
“No.” That was a relief. It is an odd sort of
relief to him too, and inevitable. He is an
engineer and knows that things that go up
inevitably come down — in this case he is
“If you’re very popular, by definition, you
can only ever go down from very popular.”
(I asked another taxi driver on the way
back to the airport and he said: “He seems
a reasonable egg.”) Still, it must have been
very strange. “It’s very humbling and you
knew it would be downhill from there and
I accept that. I’m relaxed about that.” Still,
it might have been tempting, and possibly
only human, to go around thinking: “ Wow.
I’m a big beam of light?”
“No! I would have much preferred that
it hadn’t been nearly as hyper as it was but
there’s nothing I could do about it and I’m
very proud to have got this job. I feel very
privileged. I really do. ”
I told him about the taxi driver, and a
comment from the Cera website which
said that he is now “wheeled out like some
sort of old aunty at a wedding” , before
vanishing again. You could get less hypey
than that, so that might have cheered
him up. He does not seem to mind being
compared to an old aunty at a wedding; he
was a bit miffed at the accusation that he’s
not as visible as he ought to be.
Being visible, and straight-talking
and available is the reason he was such
a popular choice. He is supposed to be
the great communicator, I said, later,
wonderingly. I was really talking to myself.
He said: “ You’re telling the story, honey.”
He phoned me the next night because
he felt he had not answered some question
I had asked about leadership. He had not
because I phrased it in a way which made
him sigh. Most things I asked made him
sigh, or swear, or say “God”, and “this is so
personal”. Anyway he wanted to say that
leadership was about giving other people
confidence. Well, good.
Glad we cleared that up. I asked him
during that phone call how long it took
him to bike to work and he said 20
minutes, so I asked where he lived in
Christchurch, and he told me but then
asked that I not say where he lived because
people would ring him at home, because
phone book people can already ring him
He said, well, there were a number of
Suttons in the phone book and I said,
well, if anyone really wanted to ring him
at home they would just ring all of the
Suttons until they got the right one. He
gave another of his enormous Eeyorish
sighs and said: “I’d forgotten what you
I am unlikely to ever forget what he is
like because he nearly drove me mad. He
did drive me to say that he is the most
annoying person I have ever inter viewed.
He said, incredulously: “I’m the most
annoying person you’ve ever met?” No,
inter viewed, not met, which is another
Our ridiculous inter view was not
altogether his fault. He is, as we all know, a
very busy man and he has a city to rebuild.
He said: “ What ’s the topic today?” He was.
“Oh God.” Then he started his sighing.
He had been left a list of “talking points”,
which I had a look at and then tossed on
the floor (he is supposed to be quirky, so
I thought I would test the limits of his
And if I had wanted to inter view
the Cera website, I would have stayed
home and done so.) None of the talking
points were about him. He said, apropos
of nothing that I can recollect: “ You’re
trying to goad me into saying something
inappropriate.” Was I poking him with a
big stick? He suddenly leapt up and said:
“ I’ve got a hooligan bar over here.” He
produced a great heavy metal thing used
for getting into buildings, and offered it to
me, but I felt he would rather liked to have
used it on me.
He said: “You’ve got these awful
questions.” How would he know? His idea
of being inter viewed (or putting off being
inter viewed) was to ask questions: Where
did I live, and where would I like to live,
and who was the last person I inter viewed
and who was the person before that (he
wrote this down on a piece of paper.) And
did I ever go skiing? No.
“Never?” No! “I’ll take that as a maybe.”
Yes, very funny. My “no” answers, in an
attempt to get things moving, were a
mistake. He decided this was a very clever
way to answer questions, which might
have been funny, had he not been the one
who was supposed to be being inter viewed.
When he ran out of “no” answers, he
began putting my questions about him
to the photographer. That was when he
was not trying to go off the record, which
is a real politician’s trick and a waste of
everyone’s time. He is married to the
former journalist Jo Malcolm and he says
she sometimes makes obser vations, one
being: “ That I talk too much.” And does
he? Absolute silence. Yes, very funny.
I had asked him about money — he
famously took a $200,000 pay cut, from
$700,000, when he took the Cera job —
he got really twitchy and sighed some
more, and said: “I’m very well paid.” He
would not tell me what he spends money
on (suits, obviously.) Was he funny about
money? “No.” I said: “Okay. Funny with
money”, which was to pay him back for
the skiing jibe. I do think he is a little
thin-skinned about earning so much
He is the son of an Anglican minister
and is a Christian and believes in duty and
being a good person, none of which means
that a person might not aspire to, and
enjoy, making a lot of money, but it might
just niggle, a bit, with him. Or perhaps he
just felt goaded into telling me that he had
offered to take the Cera job for half of his
I belatedly realised that he is a politician.
How good a politician is he? He said, “I’m
okay at it.” Here is an example of how
good he is. Does he get on with Gerry
Brownlee. “ Yes.” Does he like him? “Yes.”
I thought he was a Lefty. “No.” Is he a
Greenie (like his sister-in-law, Robyn
Malcolm)? “I’ve got some Green values.”
So, he is Right-wing? “I’m not going
to be put in a box. I’ve got a mixture
of friends from all different sorts of
backgrounds.” Is Brownlee a friend? “I
mean, we get on well. I don’t think you
call your employer a friend.” You might
become friends along the way. “ We can be
very straight and honest with each other.”
Does he think the minister is funny? “I
enjoy his company and occasionally he
tells me off for clowning around.” Do they
clown around together? “Off the record ...”
No. Does he clown around more than the
He is used to being the big boss. He
now heads a government department, if
a very unusual one. I wondered if he had
had to change his style, a fairly easy sort of
question, I would have thought. But no, he
moaned about that one too. “ I should have
had someone to help me with this ...” he
said, plaintively, looking about the room
as though somebody might miraculously
materialise to help.
He dredged up an answer which is that,
in a Cabinet committee room, he has, “had
to learn to that I am, you know, a minor
player in the room.” He is usually the
boss. “One is the boss, or you’re absolutely
amongst peers.” And how does his ego
cope? “My ego copes just fine.” I said I was
glad to hear it and he snorted and said:
“ I’m sure you weren’t.”
Cera turned a year old last Thursday and
there was cake and wine. He had a glass
of orange juice because he had to get on
his bike and go and do more work things.
His idea of a relaxing weekend was the
one he had last weekend which involved
“ hardcore” tramping with his mum, and
family. He does sometimes have a glass
of wine but, “I’m not going to talk about
whether I’ve ever been drunk or not
drunk.” Sigh. That ’s a personal question.
He rides his bike everywhere and is
rumoured to turn up at formal occasions in
his bike gear. And he takes a fresh shirt so
that he is “hygienic”. Well, thank goodness.
His media manager had threatened to
make me go on a bike ride with him (no
thanks) and I feared he would be in lycra
and the prospect of inter viewing a man
in lycra is even more horrifying than the
prospect of inter viewing a god.
He was in his good suit, so he had made
an effort, to a point. He had his jacket off
(he put it on for the pictures) and his shirt,
hygienic though it undoubtedly was, didn’t
look as though it had seen an iron that
morning. He kept coming untucked at the
back. He is a busy man and he looks like
a busy man who tears around the place,
coming untucked, from time to time. I just
wish he had come a little more untucked
Never mind. Even tucked in, he is not
boring. “ I enjoyed meeting you,” he said, at
the end of that phone call, sounding like
a man who had just had all of his teeth
removed with a hooligan bar. He was so
annoying I certainly was not going to tell
him that I did, actually, enjoy meeting him.
And, oh all right, he is funny, but nobody
MICHELE HEWITSON of the New Zealand Herald interviewed Roger Sutton in
April 2012. We are republishing her feature in light of Mr Sutton’s resignation on Monday
as chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.
‘ You’re telling the story, honey’
Cleaning up Beijing’s smoky stink
Your clothes and hair will smell
like they have been in a bushfire.
Your lungs will feel weighed
down by lead.
No matter how many times
you brush your teeth, the taste of
sulphur will linger.
It is 8am in Beijing and already
the air quality index is topping
215, twice what authorities
regard as unsafe. Some estimates
say breathing in that air for a
day would be the equivalent to
smoking between one and 1.5
packs of cigarettes.
An anaemic sun struggles to
pierce the heavy smog.
Going outdoors means sporting
a face mask.
The more fashion conscious are
inclined to go “smog couture”,
with an offering from Chanel.
Twelve hours later, the US
Embassy ’s air pollution monitor
doubles to more than 400 —
regarded as a hazardous reading.
And at that level recently,
thousands of runners competed
in the Beijing marathon, some
wearing gas masks.
In the Middle Kingdom capital,
life goes on.
Coal has powered China’s
economic boom and gangbuster
growth levels for decades but the
status-quo is not sustainable.
The Chinese government knows
its people won’t be prepared to
endure choking air pollution
In the past, people worried
about survival, now they worry
about their health. Medical risks
include allergies, asthma, heart
and circulation problems, blood
pressure and cancer.
In a city with more than 7.5
million vehicles, the roads are
restricted to those with an even
number plate number one day, and
an odd number the following day.
have to enter a lottery because
only 15,000 are allowed to be sold
The country is also bracing for
the effects of climate change
including threats to water and
food security and more natural
While Australia dilly-dallies on
carbon emissions trading, China
is charging ahead with a national
scheme scheduled to roll out in
2016 and fully functional by 2020.
Already it has seven pilots,
including one in Beijing.
China Beijing Environment
Exchange vice-president Zhou
Cheng says the carbon price is at
50 yuan ($NZ10).
About 400 companies, whose
emissions are more than 10,000
tonnes annually, are covered by the
The companies have access to
free permits based on historic
emissions from 2009-12 but must
cut pollution by 2% a year or be
slapped with fines.
Since the scheme began, there
has been a four per cent drop in
Unlike Australia, Chinese
businesses publicly support
emissions trading, while holding
behind-the-scenes talks with
The biggest polluter in Beijing is
one of five coal-fired power plants
which emits three million tonnes
of carbon dioxide a year.
Zhou said the city was looking
to shut all its coal plants in two
years and would buy power from
plants in other provinces, and
embark on a transition to natural
Despite this move, Beijing’s
reliance on coal-fired power is
still expected to increase from its
Renewable energy makes up
10% of Beijing’s power and
electricity companies see it as
another investment opportunity
rather than a threat.
China has vowed to reduce its
emissions intensity — the ratio
of greenhouse gas emissions
produced to gross domestic
product — by 40-45% by 2020,
based on 2005 levels.
But so far there’s no overall goal
on emissions reduction.
There is whispers the world’s
biggest carbon emitter will unveil
plans for an emissions cap in
coming months. — AAP
Every culture has its fair share of
myths and superstitions involving
animals. Despite the ridiculous
nature of some, many are still
alive and well.
Whereas crossing the road
to avoid a black cat is of little
consequence, those involving the
‘magical’ powers of body parts of
various endangered animals are a
real cause for concern.
After investigating those myths
that have made it into the 21st
century, these are my top picks:
Porcupines can shoot their
quills at an attacker
Some species of this prickly
rodent have quills up to 30cm
A would be predator can come
away with quills sticking out of its
skin after an encounter with one
of these spiky creatures which is
probably what started this myth.
Although quills detach easily,
porcupines are not capable of
‘shooting ’ them at anything. This
is about as likely as a person being
able to shoot their fingernails.
Bear bile is an essential
For centuries the bile of the
Asiatic black bear and some
other species has been used in
traditional Chinese medicine
to treat ailments such as gall
stones, liver problems and heart
disease. The bile extracted from
these endangered bears does
in fact contain high levels of
ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA)
which can be an effective
treatment. Synthetic versions
are now available which are just
as effective, cheaper and do not
involve the mass torture of bears.
Other more reliable treatments
are also readily available.
Bats are blind
Bats are not blind at all, but as
many species are active at night,
this does present some logistical
issues. No animal can see in
Bats, and their fellow mammals,
dolphins, use a technique called
echolocation. Sounds emitted by
the animal ‘bounce’ off nearby
objects, indicating its relative
Shark fins increase sexual
potency and increase vitality
The only scientific evidence I
could find around this subject was
that shark fin has been proved
ineffective in cancer treatment
and due to mercury levels can
actually cause sterility in men.
Other wise there is no evidence
supporting the supposed positive
benefits. The demand for shark
fin brings species sustainability
concerns as well as welfare
implications with the cruel
practice of definning live sharks
and leaving them to die.
Elephants never forget
This certainly sounds outrageous
but appears to be true. An article
in Scientific American magazine
cites several well supported
examples showing that elephants
do indeed have incredible
This centres on the longevity of
these animals which allows them
to remember and repeat successful
responses to severe climatic events
as well as being able to keep track
of large family groups.
Rhino horn is a ‘cure-all’
All rhino species are highly
endangered due to the demand
for their horns.
Many Asian cultures believe
that rhino horn when ground
and dissolved is capable of
curing anything from fever and
hallucinations through to typhoid,
food poisoning and even snake
bites. Rhino horn is composed
largely of keratin, which is what
our hair and fingernails are made
of. Raj Amin, an ecologist from
the Zoological Society of London
says that you would benefit just
as much from chewing your own
Rats are filthy animals
The spectacular shudders
and shrieks from some people
when presented with a perfectly
clean and clever little pet
rat seem somewhat at odds
with the reality of these cute
creatures. Admittedly they are
not everyone’s favourite, though
the reasons for this seem a little
Rats are in fact fastidiously
clean animals with a real
commitment to grooming. They
are actually less likely to transmit
diseases than cats or dogs and
even that is not down to any lack
of personal hygiene.
While some animal myths are
truly laughable, others have a
much more sinister element and
impact directly on the welfare
and conser vation status of our
precious wildlife — definitely not
something to put your head in the
— New Zealand Herald
Some myths and superstitions
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