Home' Greymouth Star : January 10th 2015 Contents www.greystar.co.nz
Kumara Races pictorial 1959
WEST COAST FEATURE
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SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2015
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The New Zealand Transport
Agency is reviewing the placement
of lane arrows on State highway
73 between the West Coast and
Canterbury to remind overseas
tourists what side of the road to drive
on. Regional performance manager
Pete Connors said the arrows were
being reviewed between Springfield
and Kumara. Mr Connors said
it would be a general review of
this section of highway. However,
NZTA had no immediate plans to
put additional lane arrows on other
West Coast highways. “ The transport
agency reviews road markings on
an annual basis, as well as part
of any maintenance and safety
improvement works and when new
potential risk areas are identified.”
Lane arrows were generally put on
the highway where motorists exit
rest areas, especially in areas where
traffic volumes are low, he said. Grey
District Council assets manager Mel
Sutherland said they had put arrows
on some arterial road in the past, but
had not made any recent additions.
“It is common practice just as a
reminder to motorists to drive on the
right side of New Zealand roads.”
The Grey District Council says it
will raise up a manhole in Milton
Road, Greymouth, which has
dropped below the level of the road.
“ When (contractors) reshaped the
road they lifted the level of the
road, so they will lift the manhole
to match,” assets manager Mel
Sutherland said. Contractors would
be back into work next week, with
Shakespeare Street as the next
Police officers in Manila are going
back to basics (and we mean right
back to basics) after it was revealed
they will be wearing nappies during
the Pope’s forthcoming visit. Traffic
officials have been issued 2000
nappies so they can remain at their
posts for hours a a time during the
Pope Francis visit to the Philippines.
Huge numbers of people are
expected to flock to the country’s
capital to catch a glimpse of the
pontiff, forcing traffic officers to
work overtime to control the crowds.
The Philippine Air Force along
with sniper squadrons will also be
mobilised to protect the Pope during
his visit. President Benigno Aquino’s
own security unit will ser ve as the
Pope’s personal bodyguards during
his visit, however presumably they
will not be wearing nappies for fear
of offending the pontiff ’s nostrils.
Rain spreading north
Reefton residents say they are well
prepared for the closure of the town’s
biggest employer later this year, and
hope Oceana Gold will return one day
when gold prices recover.
At its peak the Globe Progress Mine
employed about 240 but it has already
started winding down numbers, with
the first redundancies last year.
The mine’s short life was clearly
signalled from the start, and it has
already lasted longer than expected.
Oceana Gold has consent for a new
$97 million underground mine beneath
the ghost town of Waiuta, but analysts
say it is unlikely to start there until the
gold price rises significantly.
Reefton businessman Paul Thomas
has taken tourists on tours of the Globe
Progress Mine for the past eight years.
“ We are just on the threshold of
finishing them,” Mr Thomas said.
“ When the mine started in 2006, it
was always going until 2013. We had
2014 and we will get most of 2015 —
two extra years.”
Mr Thomas said they had hope with
the Waiuta mine on the horizon,
although the price of gold would
ultimately determine whether it went
“ It would need a more elevated price
for them to push ahead, but it’s on the
Reefton was strong before the mine
came along, and other dimensions were
making the town work, an upbeat Mr
The wider district had timber and
tourism, among other industries.
Former coalminer Bert Waghorn
said that when the mine started it was
initially going to last for six years, and it
had gone well beyond that.
“It’s only going into care and
maintenance — when the price of
gold goes back, it will go again. There’s
plenty of gold there,” Mr Waghorn said.
“But the price of extraction has
increased, and the price (of gold) has
come down, it’s just a business decision.”
It was unfortunate that coal prices
were in the doldrums at the same time,
More of the workers at Globe Progress
commuted from Greymouth, where
their wives could also have a job, than
were employed locally, Mr Waghorn
Reefton real estate agent Linda Jones,
of Property Brokers, said everyone
knew the mine was going to close.
“There are not too many people
panicking. A lot of the people (workers)
don’t actually live in the town, they ’re
from all over,” Ms Jones said.
For now, the local property market
was “pottering along” and there had
been a few “little sales”.
She also welcomed the prospect of
the Waiuta mine some day : “Anything
that ’s good for the town. Everyone will
be hoping that does happen.”
Buller Mayor Garry Howard said
there was a hope the Waiuta project
would start sooner rather than later.
“It’s very much in the hands of Oceana
Gold, and the international gold price,”
Mr Howard said.
He was expecting some retrenchment
in employment opportunities but said
they would have to wait and see “to
Speaking about the Buller district in
general, he said: “ We are looking at a
year that ’s going to have its challenges”.
Ten days after a car carrying two
Korean tourists fatally plunged off
the single lane Wanganui River
bridge at Hari Hari, the New
Zealand Transport Agency says
it will continue retrofitting metal
guardrails on wooden bridges on
the West Coast highways.
Their rental car hit the kerb on
the bridge, smashed through the
wooden barrier and landed in the
West Coast Shuttle owner Cedric
Trounson, who travels between
Greymouth and Christchurch
every day, has called for more
bridges to be retroffited with
stronger metal rails.
“People don’t deser ve the death
penalty for that (driving) error,” Mr
NZTA acting highway manager
Colin Mackay said they had a
continuous safety programme to
improve the network, including
installing metal guardrails where
safety concerns were identified and
agency has already
retrofitted a number of bridges on
the West Coast in the past 10 years
and will continue with this work,”
Mr Mackay said.
Between 2004 and 2013, there
have been 40 crashes on one-lane
bridges on the West Coast, 31 of
them on State highways.
Mr Trounson noted that the West
Coast had the highest number of
single lane bridges in New Zealand.
“The current bridges seem to
meet only the requirements for the
Building Code for buildings and
are really quite unsuitable for what
is expected of them.
“They shouldn’t have to meet
the death quota before things get
PICTURE: Cedric Trounson
This bridge near Bealey has been retrofitted with
Calls for more metal guardrails on bridges
Dairy veteran moves on
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Karoro School Store owner Gerald Glen prepares to say ‘goodbye’ to the place he has worked for more than 20 years. On Tuesday, Mr Glen will
call an end to the job he started on Anzac Day 1994. “ W hen you see children and then you see them with their children you realise it has gone pretty
quickly,” he said. He enjoyed his time behind the counter but was ready to move on from the seven-day-a-week job. He said he would look to fill his
retirement by volunteering. “ You can’t sit at home and watch television.”
Two Greymouth backpacker
hostels closed their doors last year,
but the three remaining operators
report brisk business.
Neptunes Backpackers, in the
former Gilmer Hotel in Gresson
Street, closed in September, and the
owner advised in November that it
would be closed until further notice.
Across town, the YHA in the
former Marist Brothers house in
Alexander Street, closed the doors in
March, after 50 years of operating in
At the time, YHA chief executive
Mark Wells said guest numbers
had been affected by shifting visitor
flows and the loss of some scheduled
backpacker bus ser vices.
Hostel operations manager Simon
Cartwright said the Greymouth site
had operated as a stopover for people
getting off the Tranz Alpine train,
but more backpackers were now
heading directly to the glaciers.
Mr Cartwright said freedom
camping may also have contributed
to the drop-off.
Noah’s Ark Backpackers owner
Matt Bridge said the Chapel Street
business, in the former Catholic
presbytery, was busier than last
year, although not yet back to pre-
“Generally, we are busy at the
moment, we have been busy since
Christmas ... but it ’s not like we are
turning people away every night,”
Mr Bridge said.
He believed the closure of two
hostels had helped condense tourists
at the remaining options.
“ With three hostels in town instead
of five we have been a bit busier, not
because there has been an upswing in
Global Village Backpackers
Greymouth owner Russell McRae
said the Cowper Street business
was currently busy, “ but you kind of
expect it to be busy at this time of
Mr McRae said there was still a
market for backpackers, despite the
prevalence of freedom camping.
“ People don’t want to be by
themselves in a hotel room at night
... they want to sit in a comfortable
lounge with other people and swap
Even those who travelled in
camper vans would occasionally stop
off for the cheap accommodation.
“At some point they have to come
ashore to sleep in a nice bed or use
Greymouth backpacker market shrinks
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