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The science of
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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2014
Est. 1866 Phone 769 7900
fascinators for Omoto
A severe weather warning has
been issued for the West Coast as
a series of fronts move in from the
Tasman Sea. The Metser vice says
200mm could fall about higher
parts of the Westland ranges over a
24-hour period, with 80 to 100mm
elsewhere. The heaviest falls are
likely tomorrow morning. The
general consensus from forecasters
is that it will remain wet on the
West Coast for New Year’s Eve, but
clear to a sunny first day of 2015.
Stolen car run
ends in Hokitika
Hokitika police nabbed the
occupants of a stolen car in the
town yesterday morning. Senior
constable Bruce Pearson said the
trio, from Christchurch, was arrested
late yesterday morning after police
spotted a vehicle which had been
reported stolen in Christchurch.
Charges were pending against the
alleged car thieves. The trio was
locked up in the Greymouth Police
Station cells overnight and would
remain there today while police
completed inquiries, Mr Pearson
Tyres thrown on
A rubbish fire that included
burning tyres was extinguished at
Kaiata about 9 o’clock last night
by the Greymouth Volunteer Fire
Brigade. Fire chief Lee Swinburn
said the fire was not permitted, and
although it was not contained it was
easily extinguished. Mr Swinburn
said rubbish fires were allowed
with a permit as long as they were
contained and did not contain toxic
materials such as tyres or treated
NEW YEAR’S EVE
Rain turns to showers, easing later
A British man has been left
stunned after an ambulance
arrived at his house to take his
wife to a hospital appointment
— three months after she died.
Chris Davidson, from Swindon,
Wiltshire, was preparing for the first
Christmas without his wife, Valerie,
who passed away in September,
when the ambulance turned up on
Christmas Eve. The 61-year-old
said paramedics told him they had
come to collect his wife of more
than 21 years to take her to hospital
for dialysis treatment. The widower
was forced to explain to the driver
that his beloved partner had died
months ago. — Daily Mail
Wellington-based pleasure boat the
Southern Cross was towed into the Port
of Greymouth yesterday afternoon by
local fisherman Frank Benzie in the
Seafury. The owner of the stricken vessel
would not be named but told the
Greymouth Star an alternator bracket
had failed about 50 miles south-west of
Greymouth, interrupting their fishing
trip to Milford Sound. Running repairs
were made and they were heading into
Greymouth, when the boat broke down
again about 10 miles out of port.
Forecast bad weather has now
postponed their trip and they do not
expect to make Milford until after New
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Breakdown sours New Year pleasure cruise
The Runanga Miners’ Hall Trust is in for
a $465,000 windfall of insurance money
to cover damage caused by Cyclone Ita
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn
said the Grey District Council, which still
owned the heritage-listed building, had
confirmation from the insurance company
that the claim for the hall would be paid
to nearly the full extent of the maximum
“ We thought it would be more towards
the bottom end. It is a real pleasant
surprise,” Mr Kokshoorn said.
Storm damage amounted to a badly torn
roof that allowed extensive water damage
inside the building.
The $465,000 was the final figure after
expenses, such as an excess of $25,000,
had been subtracted, and meant that work
done to repair the hall would be covered
up to that amount.
Mr Kokshoorn said it was good news for
the Miners’ Hall Trust, which had taken
on the task of repairs and restoration.
“That will go a long way towards their
He praised the trust for an excellent job
so far with the restoration.
“They have hit the ground running —
this will help them enormously.”
The money would be passed on to the
trust once ownership of the hall had been
transferred, and Mr Kokshoorn said that
process was currently under way with
Trust chairman Paul Thomas said it was
a good outcome.
“That is an enormous benefit in terms of
taking the hall for ward.”
While there was much to be done, the
insurance payout would be a “ big hand
“The insurance payout will be part of a
pool of funding that will assist us going
The trust had worked hard in a short
time to achieve each milestone.
“The team has been really diligent in
making this work and identifying what
we need to address ... insurance was one
of the critical ones,” Mr Thomas said.
So far, a new roof has been affixed and
Opus engineers have assessed the land the
building sits on.
Mr Thomas said there would be a
big push to get the engineering and
architectural plans completed during
January, in time for the close of Lotteries
funding applications in mid-February.
Shantytown has seen an increase
in tourist numbers for the first time
since 2008 — and struck gold to
The heritage park yesterday
celebrated its 20,000th goldpan for
It is the latest West Coast tourism
operator to experience a noticeable
jump in visitor numbers this year.
Marketing manager Nickelle Egan
said visitor number were 5% ahead
of last year.
“ While 5% may sound small,
Shantytown has not seen an
increase in visitation on a previous
year since 2008,” Mrs Egan said.
“Around 45% of visitors to
the heritage park purchase the
goldpanning experience, and to hit
20,000 pans is a great milestone and
boosts confidence for the seasons to
To celebrate the 20,000 mark,
gold claim manager Charlie Greer
put up a prize, which was won by
Jesse Rogers, from Morrinsville. The
toddler was with his parents on a
three-week holiday to visit family
on the West Coast and walked away
with his own goldpan full of prizes,
including a gold nugget.
Seventy-eight employees of the
West Coast District Health Board
earned more than $100,000 in the
past year, the board’s annual report
That is one fewer than a year ago.
Eight people earned over $300,000,
and 74 of the 78 top-earners were
Some staff, including chief
executive David Meates, are not
included in the Coast DHB
report as they are employed by the
Canterbury District Health Board.
It has previously been reported that
Mr Meates took home between
$560,000 and $569,999.
The executive management team
consisted of five members employed
by the West Coast board, with six
others, including the chief executive,
employed by the Canterbury board
— one more than last year.
During the past year, six employees
received termination payments
totalling $265,772, which was
well down on the 23 who shared
$422,925 a year ago.
The average age of medical staff
is 48.9 years and nurses 51 years.
Eighty-four per cent are female.
Turnover rates remain slightly
higher than national rates: the
average time spent working in West
Coast DHB services is 6.96 years,
compared to an average of 8.3 years
across all DHBs.
Ballantyne was paid $22,775 and
board members between $17,000
and $19,000 each for the financial
Altogether, the board and its
various advisory committees were
paid $228,902, as well as gross
mileage payments of $15,720.
The board reported improvements
in a number of areas. Average
waiting times for a GP visit have
dropped from 5.8 days last year to
just one day.
Admissions into aged residential
care decreased 11% from last year as
more people are remaining in their
own homes. Currently, 94% of West
Coast residents aged 65 and over
live in their own homes.
There were only four occasions
when patients waited more than 150
days for a first specialist assessment
or surgery, and a 38% increase in
the number of patients seen via
In three years the board reduced
its deficit from $9.4 million to
Coast DHB big pay packets revealed
Shantytown gold claim manager Charlie Greer, left, with the Rogers family, and marketing and events assistant Jaimee Fenemor.
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