Home' Greymouth Star : December 30th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Tuesday, December 30, 2014
of the Otago Daily Times
Who is granny? A mystery letter,
containing a Christmas card and
photos, addressed only to “granny”,
has perplexed the coastal village of
Karitane since it arrived at the local
store just before Christmas.
Store owner-operator Sue O’Neill
is keen to get to the bottom of the
mystery and so has put the contents
of the letter up next to the counter
of the shop, which is also the
village’s post office.
So far no one has recognised the
card and photos of the “Mundy”
family, so granny’s identity remains
Ms O’Neill said she displayed the
contents of the letter because it did
not have a return address, meaning
it would be lost forever if it was sent
back to New Zealand Post.
“O bviously, (the Mundys) have
gone to a lot of trouble to get some
nice photos for granny and we want
her (to get them).
“ We would love to find granny if
we can,” she said.
The store had held mystery mail
before, but it was unusual for it to
go unclaimed for so long.
The store was one of only a few
left to have “counter-delivered”
mail, which meant locals came to
the store to pick up their mail and
check if any had been delivered.
Anyone who knows the identity
of the Mundys can contact the
store on 03 465 7331.
A person of interest has been
named by police investigating
the murder of a man found lying
unconscious on a Wellington street.
Bruce Coker, 49, died last Tuesday
after suffering a fatal head injury.
He was discovered
unconscious in Rossiter St, Linden,
Tawa, on the previous Saturday
Police officers investigating his
death — under Operation Leo —
have named Chance Slade Rameka,
21, as a person of interest in the
warrants to his name issued by
the Gisborne District Court and
the Porirua District Court, police
said. The warrants relate to charges
of breaching bail and breaching
Both Gisborne and Porirua
are regions Rameka is known to
frequent and reside, police said.
“Operation L eo detectives want
to speak to Chance Rameka as it
is believed he was in the Rossiter
Street area last Saturday night and
therefore may hold information
of value to the inquiry,” Detective
Senior Sergeant John van den
Recent attempts to locate him
had failed and it was apparent he
was actively avoiding police, Mr
van den Heuval said. “ We know
he was in Cannons Creek on
Christmas Eve, we know he’s aware
he’s wanted, but he’s choosing to
evade us for the time being. I urge
anyone who knows his whereabouts
to contact police immediately. Any
information received can be treated
Anyone with information is asked
to contact the Operation Leo team
on 04 979 5267, or anonymously
through Crimestoppers on
0800 555 111. — NZME
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Karitane Store owner-operator Sue O’Neill wants to find the owner
of this mail.
Man sought over mystery death
A 19-year-old south Dunedin
man accused of assaulting two police
officers will spend New Year’s Eve
The man allegedly assaulted two
police officers and a bar manager in
the Octagon on Sunday morning.
He was remanded in custody
following a brief appearance in
front of justice of the peace Russell
Atkinson in the D unedin District
The man was granted interim
name suppression until January
6, when he will appear in front
of a judge. The man is accused of
assaulting three people, including a
female constable, and resisting arrest
after an altercation in the Octagon
just after midnight.
Police had been called to the
Octagon to arrest a 19-year-old for
a home detention breach, when he
“played up” for the arresting officers,
senior sergeant Dave Scott said.
One officer was pushed and
punched in the head while another
was thrown to the ground in the
fracas, he said.
The incident was the second time
in recent weeks police have been
attacked in the city. A 22-year-old
man was charged with assaulting
a male and a female officer in the
Octagon earlier this month. That
attack happened at 4am on Sunday,
December 7, after police were called
to a fight. — Otago Daily Times
Police officers assaulted at Octagon
The New Zealand Press Council has
not upheld a complaint from Blaketown
resident Christine Banks against the
Greymouth Star for its refusal to publish
her letters to the editor.
Christine Banks’s complaint arose
from a series of letters published by the
Greymouth Star in October 2014.
She does not complain specifically of a
breach of one or more of the Press Council
principles but says that the Greymouth
Star should not have published letters
that opened her to “unfair, unbalanced,
inaccurate and malicious personal attack”
that she could not defend.
She also complains about closure of the
correspondence and about abridgement
of a letter.
The Press Council does not uphold the
There has been long-running and
costly litigation between Mr and Mrs
Banks and the Grey District Council
over matters to do with leasehold land at
From time to time, the Greymouth
Star has reported on the dispute and it
has also published letters to the editor on
the subject. Mrs Banks’ complaint relates
to a series of four letters criticising the
Grey District Council and published
by the Greymouth Star, beginning with
one dated October 1, 2014 from a Peter
Balloch. The other three letters were
written by Mrs Banks.
The Greymouth Star has a practice of
referring letters of this kind to the Grey
District Council for comment. Alongside
the letter from Mr Balloch and two
of Mrs Banks’ letters the Greymouth
Star published some lengthy comment,
in one case from the mayor and in two
from the chief executive of the council.
The complaint is largely directed at this
After Mrs Banks’ letter of October 10,
the editor declared the correspondence
closed. He did, however, on October
11, publish a correction to an incorrect
statement made by the mayor in his
response to one of Mrs Banks’ letters
Also on October 10 the Greymouth Star
published a letter from a Neil Messenger.
This letter criticises Mrs Banks,
and despite having earlier declared
the correspondence closed the editor
published her response on October 17.
Two paragraphs were deleted from this
letter before publication.
Mrs Banks complains in general that
she has been subjected to personal attacks
and has not been allowed to defend
herself. She remarks on a potential
conflict of interest as the Mayor of
Greymouth has a financial interest in the
Greymouth Star and on the nature of the
public interest in the subject matter of
Specifically she says: A letter she
received from the council after closure
of the correspondence confirms that a
statement made by the chief executive is
“dishonest and misleading”.
Closure of the correspondence means
that she is unable to respond, and the
Greymouth Star has not published a
She had inadequate opportunity to
respond to inaccurate comment made by
the mayor on her letter of October 8 and
the Greymouth Star has only published
a correction to one of his statements.
By closing the correspondence, the
Greymouth Star protected the mayor and
council from public scrutiny.
Neil Messenger’s letter was factually
incorrect and harmful. It should not have
been published without seeking a full and
The editor deleted “creditable, factual
and public” information from Mrs Banks’
response before publication and did not
acknowledge that the letter had been
In general, it is unfair to close off
correspondence on a long-running issue
of substantial public interest involving
a large amount of ratepayers’ money.
The Greymouth Star has allowed
similar issues to run for many years. In
connection with her complaint, Mrs
Banks mentions an article published by
the Greymouth Star on October 9, 2014,
but does not specifically complain about
its contents. It has been considered in the
context of her general complaint.
The Greymouth Star response
The editor of the Greymouth Star, Paul
Madgwick, makes it plain in his response
that he has lost patience with the long-
running dispute, describing the October
exchange of letters as “letter ping-pong
between Mrs Banks and the council”.
He says that over the past 10 years
“every letter generates another volley,
every council action is met with counter
action, on and on and on ... Slowly but
steadily it wears everyone down to the
point where they have neither the time
nor the inclination to engage in a never-
ending war of words.”
He closed the correspondence because
it had become tedious and had run its
In fairness, he allowed her to respond to
the letter from Mr Messenger, which was
published the day the correspondence
was closed. Mr Madgwick strongly
denies any suggestion that he has allowed
his editorial judgment to be influenced
by the mayor. In relation to the complaint
of abridgement, Mr Madgwick says that
letters to the editor are always subject to
abridgement, though this is usually very
Over the years, Mrs Banks has enjoyed
substantial leeway in terms of length and
lack of abridgement. However, “I draw
the line when a letter outrightly accuses
the mayor and/or council chief executive
of lying, and questions the judiciary”.
Discussion and decision
This complaint falls to be considered
mainly under principles 5 and 12 of the
Press Council principles. The relevant
part of principle 5 states that: Letters
for publication are the prerogative of
editors who are to be guided by fairness,
balance and public interest. Abridgement
is acceptable but should not distort
Principle 12 states: A publication’s
willingness to correct errors enhances its
credibility and, often, defuses complaint.
Significant errors should be promptly
corrected with fair prominence. In some
circumstances it will be appropriate to
offer an apology and a right of reply to an
affected person or persons. The principles
relating to fairness and balance are also
relevant to some extent.
In this case, the editor of the Greymouth
Star has been entirely fair and balanced in
referring correspondence for comment.
The Grey District Council was invited
to comment on Mr Balloch’s and Mrs
Banks’ criticisms, and Mrs Banks was
invited to respond to Mr Messenger, even
though the correspondence had been
declared closed. There is no evidence of
bias towards the mayor or council and Mr
Madgwick has given an assurance that in
view of the mayor’s shareholding in the
Greymouth Star, the relationship with
him is “at more than arm’s length”. In
addition, Mrs Banks’ letters responding
to the council’s comment were published
The only real questions for consideration
relate to the closure of the correspondence
(including the refusal to publish a further
correction) and the abridgement of Mrs
Banks’ letter of October 17.
An editor has considerable discretion
over letters submitted for publication,
especially when deciding whether to
publish a letter, publish an abbreviated
version or to decline publication.
The same applies to a decision to
declare correspondence closed. In
general, an editor is free to decide when
correspondence has run its course, unless
it is manifestly unfair to close it. It is
noted that the correspondence was closed
after the publication of Mrs Banks’ letter
of October 10, without any response
from the council to that letter.
If there is any unfairness here, it is
unfairness to the council, not Mrs Banks
who had opportunities to respond to all
An editor is not responsible for
inaccurate statements in letters unless
she or he should have known about the
inaccuracy. However, the inaccurate
statement that Mr and Mrs Banks had
ceased to pay rent was repeated in the
October 9 article, and for that reason it
was appropriate to publish a correction
once the facts had been established.
The other inaccuracies mentioned by
Mrs Banks occur only in the comment
on her letters, to which she had an
adequate opportunity to respond. It is
normal practice for some letters to the
editor to appear in abridged form. While
the information that the Greymouth
Star provides about letters to the editor
does not use the word “abridgement ”, it
makes it clear that letters may be edited
at the editor’s discretion because of their
content or length.
The material edited out of Mrs Banks’
letter consists of examples that illustrate
points she is making and is not essential
to the argument she puts forward or the
general meaning of the letter.
The complaint is not upheld.
This newspaper is subject to the New
Zealand Press Council. Complaints must
first be directed in writing to editor@
greystar.co.nz . If not satisfied with the
response, the complaint may be referred
to the Press Council, PO Box 10-879,
The Terrace, Wellington 6143, or by
e-mail to email@example.com .
An on-line form is available at www.
Press Council dismisses
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