Home' Greymouth Star : January 19th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, January 19, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1649 - Trial of England’s King Charles I
1790 - Second Fleet sails from England with
1006 convicts aboard for new settlement at
1900 - Bubonic plague spreads from Adelaide
to Sydney (103 were to die).
1915 - First casualties to result from an air
raid over Britain occur when a Zeppelin drops
six bombs on Great Yarmouth; two people die
and three are injured.
1938 - General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist
air force bombs Spanish cities of Barcelona and
Valencia, killing 700 people.
1945 - Soviet troops take Krakow,
Poland, in World War Two.
1966 - Indira Gandhi is elected
India’s prime minister; pledges to
follow path of non-alignment in
world affairs. Gandhi succeeded Lal
Shastri who died on January 11,
Shastri succeeded Gandhi’s father
1981 - US and Iran sign agreement leading to
release of 52 Americans held hostage for more
than 14 months.
1983 - Klaus Barbie, SS chief of Lyon in
Nazi-occupied France, is arrested in Bolivia.
1983 - South Africa resumes direct rule of
Namibia after five years of semi-autonomy.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
James Watt, Scottish engineer-inventor
(1736-1819); Auguste Conte, French
philosopher (1798-1857); Robert E Lee,
US confederate general (1807-1870); Edgar
Allen Poe, US writer (1809-1849); Paul
Cezanne, French artist (1839-1906); James
Joyce, Irish author (1882-1941); John Raitt,
US actor-singer (1917-2005); Richard Lester,
British film director (1932-); Johnny
O’Keefe, Australian rock singer
(1935-1978); Erich Segal, author,
(1938-2010); Phil Everly, US singer
(1939-2014); Michael Crawford, UK
actor-singer (1942-); Janis Joplin, US
singer (1943-1970); Shelley Fabares,
US actress (1944-); Dolly Parton, US
singer-actress (1946-); Stefan Edberg,
Swedish tennis player (1966-).
“ To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear
life are already three parts dead. ” — Bertrand
Russell, British philosopher.
“ He leads the humble in what is right, and
teaches the humble His way.” — Psalm 25:9
“I’ll never go on
one again,” said an
girl, Carol Russell,
this afternoon as she relived the frightening
experience she had when suspended upside
down on a giant ferris wheel at the Hokitika
Centennial carnival on Saturday afternoon.
“Only the bar saved me and I didn’t actually
fall right out till the bucket reached the boards
at the bottom,” she said.
The accident was attributed to bolts coming
out of an axle on which the bucket swings.
This caused the bucket when it reached the
top to invert itself, almost toppling its three
passengers about 50 feet to the ground.
Miss Russell said the man in the seat beside
her grabbed her. After that, she does not
remember much. Apart from shock she was
Hokitika’s Centennial procession and
carnival on Cass Square on Saturday proved
a resounding success, with high standared
entertainment for a whole host of local people
and visitors from many parts of the country.
Hokitika’s “golden past ” was vividly depicted
in the costuming and transport of participants
in the celebrations.
Beaches and swimming baths were crammed,
tar melted on the roads and cricketers trudged
wearily around the field. “ The heat ’s killing
me,” was voiced time and again, and little
wonder, for it was Greymouth’s hottest day for
over 10 years. Yesterday ’s maximum reading
was 83.9 degrees Fahrenheit (29degC). It is
over 10 years since temperatures were over 80
Reefton was the hottest West Coast centre
here yesterday with a maximum temperature of
uFood for thought
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Can the Discovery Channel recover from a series of fearmongering shows?
s a boy, Jonathan Davis
always looked for ward
to Shark Week on
Discovery Channel. So
when, as a shark biologist
at the University of New
Orleans, he was approached in 2013 to
take part in a Shark Week documentary,
he naturally accepted.
The film-makers said they wanted to
discuss his research into bull sharks in
Louisiana. But as his inter view came to a
close, “the guy nonchalantly asked whether
I’d ever heard of something called the
‘voodoo shark’ in southern Louisiana. I
said I’d never heard of it, and that it was a
myth probably created by fishermen. ”
The subsequent documentary, Voodoo
Sharks, turned out to be about a mythical
shark known as “the Rookin”. An excerpt
from Mr Davis’s on-camera inter view was
used to suggest he believed the voodoo
shark could be real.
“As akid,itwasmydream tobe
on Shark Week,” Mr Davis told The
“The dream came true; it just didn’t
exactly turn out like I thought it would.”
Mr Davis’s experience with Discovery is
symptomatic of the qualitative decline of
the channel, founded in 1985 as a platform
for popular scientific and educational
programming, which over the past decade
has strayed from serious documentaries
towards reality tv and bizarre wildlife-
Last week the channel’s new president,
Rich Ross, hinted that the leopard
may yet change its spots, telling a press
conference in California that the network’s
controversial strand of faux-documentaries
had “run its course”.
Perhaps the most notorious of all
Discovery Channel’s broadcasts was the
two-hour curtain-raiser to Shark Week
2013. Megalodon: The Monster Shark
Lives was about a real, but extinct, 18m
predator which the film suggested might
still be alive.
Though prefaced by a blink-and-you
will-miss-it disclaimer explaining that
it was largely fiction, The Monster
Shark Lives apparently convinced
more than 70% of its viewers that the
Megalodon was not extinct, according
to an unscientific web poll conducted by
Discovery immediately after broadcast.
The ratings were so strong that the beast
returned for Shark Week 2014 in another
film, Megalodon: The New Evidence.
In 2012, Discovery’s sister channel
Animal Planet aired a fake documentary
about mermaids, which prompted so many
inquiries to the United States National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
that the agency felt obliged to release a
statement explaining that “no evidence of
aquatic humanoids has ever been found”.
More recently, Discovery broadcast the
much-hyped Eaten Alive, in which a
snake researcher tried to persuade a giant
anaconda to swallow him on camera, only
to call off the stunt at the last moment.
The programme prompted complaints
both for failing to deliver the spectacle
promised in its title, and for animal
Speaking to reporters at last week’s
event in Pasadena, Mr Ross suggested
Discovery’s mission statement needed
to be modified. “ If there was one word,
it would be ‘authentic,’” which, he said,
ought to apply to “everything we have
on the air. ” Noting that he had lured the
Emmy award-winning producer John
Hoffman from HBO to take charge of
documentaries at Discovery, Mr Ross said
of shows like Megaladon: “I don’t think it ’s
actually right for Discovery Channel, and
it’s something that I think has, in some
ways, run its course.”
David Shiffman, a shark expert at
the University of Miami and a leading
social media critic of Discovery’s
sensationalist programming, says he is
“c autiously optimistic” about Mr Ross’s
plans. “ Discovery’s reputation used to be
wonderful, and I think it can be again,” he
Dr Christie Wilcox, a Hawaii-based
marine biologist, who blogs for Discover
magazine (unrelated to Discovery), said
the broadcaster has a lot of bridges to
repair. “Last year, they made a Shark Week
special about sharks on Hawaii,” she said.
“ But they didn’t have a single scientist who
studies sharks in Hawaii... because the
shark labs out here refused to work with
Among the more prominent critics of
the Megalodon films was Wil Wheaton,
who starred in Star Trek: the Next
Generation. “ Discovery Channel betrayed
its audience,” Mr Wheaton wrote on
his blog, after Megalodon: The Monster
Shark Lives was first broadcast. “ Discovery
Channel is more than just disposable
entertainment on cable television.
Discovery Channel inspired an entire
generation to ‘explore your world’, and it is
trusted to be truthful.”
Mr Davis is concerned by the impact of
such anti-factual films on children. He
said that when he speaks to young people
“(most) of their questions are related to
Megaladon, to shark attacks that never
happened, to scientists that aren’t real
scientists, or they’re ‘have you ever been
bitten by a shark?’ — because those are the
only shows that they broadcast on Shark
United States educational television
in general is in a worrying decline, Mr
Shiffman said. “ It’s not just Discovery. If
you turn on the History Channel, there’s
a good chance it ’ll be a show about aliens
helping Hitler. The Learning Channel
shows Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It
suggests there’s nothing real that people
care about enough to watch, and that ’s just
“ Look at the success of Blue Planet and
Planet Earth; they ’re some of the most
highly viewed nature documentaries in
history and there’s no people in them, just
amazing animals doing cool things. It’s
not hard to get it right and also make it
entertaining — the BBC does it all the
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives was about a real, but extinct, 18m predator.
Oil price drop slow to flow on
Gooey, stinky and finite it is the juice
our society runs on, the lubricant of our
economy. So when the price of oil falls,
you would be forgiven for thinking the
price of everything derived from oil should
Motorists are already enjoying savings
at petrol pumps — diesel is 23% cheaper
than it was two months ago while 91
octane is down 17%.
The dramatic price drop has reportedly
resulted in Kea Petroleum shutting
down production at its Puka Field site in
But it could take months for falling fuel
prices to benefit other consumers.
Virtually everything not made from
metal, rocks, plants, or animals is derived
from oil. You have almost definitely sat,
slept, or leaned on one of these products
Some petrochemical products are
the end result of a long refining and
manufacturing process. Combine that with
New Zealand’s isolation and the fact some
companies ordered their petrochemical-
derived goods at a fixed price months ago,
and savings could take a while to reach our
Tarpaulins and trampolines (PVC and
polythene — the most used plastic)
PVC and polythene are important
in many industries, including farming
and construction. Andrew MacGregor,
company manager at Polythene and PVC
Products in Gore, was confident prices
would fall later this year.
The company imports and manufactures
products including tarpaulins,
trampolines, signs, insulation products,
farm supplies, and weatherproof stock
Mr MacGregor said the company
ordered its products in advance, so it took
time for crude price savings to make their
way down the supply chain.
“In September or October this year I’m
hoping there should be quite a significant
change in product prices,” he said.
A strong dollar would reinforce savings.
“ We import everything. We import
probably 25 containers a year.”
Consumers could be forgiven for
wondering when the price of sending
parcels will drop. Fuel, after all, is a
significant cost for courier vans.
New Zealand Post, owner of Courier
Post, has good news for big business, not
such great news for Joe Public.
“The drop in fuel prices will not
immediately impact the cost of sending
an item with Courier Post for customers
who purchase ser vices over the counter,” a
The company said it reviewed retail
prices only once a year.
But it was a different story for business
customers, where Courier Post had a
“ variable pricing index” for fuel, changing
as rapidly as the fuel price did.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue
Chetwin said goods and ser vices heavily
dependent on fuel and petrochemicals
should in theory be getting cheaper,
including supermarket products that
landed on shelves courtesy of diesel-
Supermarket giants Foodstuffs and
Progressive Enterprises said fuel played
only a small role in the price customers
paid for groceries.
Both companies pledged to pass savings
on to customers if possible.
“ Fuel prices have only just dropped, as
such the price we pay to our suppliers
has not yet been impacted. If the
wholesale price to us is reduced we will
of course pass this on to our customers,” a
Foodstuffs spokeswoman said.
“Generally suppliers include their freight
costs as part of what they charge us and
would hopefully pass on any fuel savings,”
a Countdown spokeswoman said.
Countdown said for every $100 a
customer spent in its stores, only 18c was
related to fuel.
Prices in rural areas
In many rural areas, diesel generators
are the sole electricity source. On Stewart
Island, households, boats and industries
rely on diesel.
Households get their power from five
diesel generators, which Southland
District Council’s said operated as a
Southland District Council councillor
Bruce Ford predicted prices would drop
for the island.
“ We have bought up to $500,000 worth
a year, so that will reduce by whatever
percentage it’s come down — so that ’s
quite a lot. ”
Farmers were also expecting to reap the
benefits of lower fuel prices.
Federated Farmers transport spokesman
Ian Mackenzie said it should be especially
noticeable in the costs for transporting
stock and equipment.
Farm costs generally should be expected
to fall, he said.
“ For farmers this means costs in their
downstream processing should reduce,
and so should the prices we pay for
physical inputs, such as fertilisers, but also
for agriculture chemicals, transport and
John Fryer, who founded House of
Knives in 1987, was aghast at surcharges
he was still paying for air freight.
Mr Fryer’s company imported knives
and cooking equipment for Europe
and believed many fellow retailers and
importers were fed up with high freight
On a 245kg shipment from Europe
on Thai Airways last month, Hellmann
Logistics invoiced Mr Fryer’s company
$9375 for freight and $511 for an airline
Mr Fryer said he recently discussed the
issue with a logistics professional. On
asking why freight surcharges weren’t
falling in line with the crude oil drop,
he was told airlines were dragging their
“ I thought: What the hell’s going on?”
Retail New Zealand spokesman Greg
Hartford said retailers could expect to
see a small drop in freight fuel surcharge
prices, but freight costs themselves were
“The bigger impact on petrol prices for
the retail sector is that the consumer is
obviously going to have more money in
the pocket and we’ ll be hoping that some
of that flows through into better retail
Ms Chetwin said other products
that could get cheaper included paint,
plumbing equipment, plastic bags, nylon
products, and rope.
She also said consumers were right to
expect some fish prices to fall, given the
pivotal role fuel played in powering boats,
and the trucks that took fish from the
coast to supermarkets.
The issue is a global one. The Guardian
newspaper suggested various goods and
ser vices would get cheaper, including
condoms, at least those made from
polyurethane. But a Durex New Zealand
customer ser vice staffer said Durex’s
products were latex-derived so the crude
oil price would not affect this.
— N Z ME-New Zealand Herald
Rocket scientists are in hot demand in
Auckland-based Rocket Lab says it has
about 35 jobs to fill and founder and chief
executive Peter Beck said it had struggled
to find staff for some time.
“This year is really hard — we’re
shooting for our first flight at the end of
the year and that is directly determined by
finding the people to execute it,” he said.
Rocket Lab is developing an 18m tall
unmanned rocket to carry satellites into
space for a fraction of the cost as those
aboard much bigger launch vehicles
It has around 30 staff in Auckland where
the rocket is being built and has just
opened an office in Los Angeles.
Beck said there was a full-time recruiter
on board and word-of-mouth referrals
were strong, but given the range of jobs
in the start-up, filling vacancies was
Rocket Lab not only needed rocket
builders but also crew to develop a launch
pad that would need to be built.
“Building a rocket is like building an
aircraft — there’s a lot of qualification
that goes into all the different parts,” he
The company had hired from around
the world and although there were no
aerospace degrees taught in this country
Kiwi engineers had proved adaptable. Beck
would not discuss pay on offer, saying only
that Rocket Lab had to pay international
rates to attract the right talent.
He said the company was close to
finalising a launch site for the Electron
rocket after appealing for communities
with suitable relatively remote sites to
come for ward.
Transporting a satellite aboard the
carbon-composite rocket would have an
estimated cost of $US5 million
($6.4 million) compared with the average
of $US133 million.
Propulsion design engineer
3D printer technician
Propulsion engineering analyst
Flight safety engineer
Avionics test engineer
Vehicle design engineer — composites
Cryogenic rocket tank and systems
— N Z ME-New Zealand Herald
Got right stuff? Rocket Lab wants you
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