Home' Greymouth Star : January 20th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1265 - England’s Parliament meets for first
1320 - Wladislaw I, also known as Wladislaw
the Short, is crowned king of Poland.
1327 - King Edward II of England is forced
to abdicate by powerful barons in favour of his
son Edward III.
1887 - New Zealand annexes Kermadec
Islands in Pacific. US Senate approves leasing
Pearl Harbour in Hawaii as a naval base.
1892 - First official game of basketball is
played in the United States.
1936 - Death of King George V of England
who is succeeded by Edward VIII.
1944 - British Royal Air Force drops some
2300 tonnes of bombs during an air raid on
1945 - US President Franklin D Roosevelt is
sworn into office for a fourth term.
1958 - The Commonwealth Trans-
Antarctic expedition led by Dr
Vivian Fuchs arrives at the South
Pole, the halfway point of their
1961 - John F Kennedy is
inaugurated as the 35th, and
youngest, president of the United
1981 - Ronald Reagan becomes president
of the United States at the age of 69 and 349
days, the oldest president to take office.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Wolfe Tone, Irish nationalist (1763-1798);
Paul Cambon, French statesman (1834-1924);
George Burns, US comedian (1896-1996);
Federico Fellini, Italian film director (1920-
1993); Patricia Neal, US actress
(1926-2010); Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin,
former US astronaut (1930-);
Dorothy Provine, US actress
(1937-2010); David Lynch, US film
director (1946-); Lorenzo Lamas,
US actor (1958-); Sophie, Countess
of Wessex, the wife of Prince
Edward, Earl of Wessex (1965-);
Stacey Dash, US actress (1967-); Skeet Ulrich,
US actor (1969-); Brendan Fevola, AFL player
(1981-); Joey Badass, American rapper (1995-) .
“America is a land of wonders, in which
everything is in constant motion and every
change seems an improvement. — Alexis de
Tocqueville, French author (1805-1859).
“ We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is
never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect
man, able to keep his whole body in check.”
— James 3:2
Should the threat
of Kapuni natural gas
become reality and
Greymouth lose the
major portion of its coal trade, it could also lose
its port. Should such a position eventuate —
and it easily could — then obviously the future
lifespan of the port would depend largely on
West Coast timber firms consigning their
products by sea.
Hokitika and many other smaller New
Zealand ports have become redundant because
of lack of products to export. Greymouth could
face the same threat.
The question arises where will the timber
go? Will it be freighted by rail to South
Island centres or will a sufficient proportion
be shipped to the North Island to warrant
continuation of the port? Current chairman
of the Greymouth Harbour Board, Mr CE
Heaphy has confirmed that the ultimate plan
of the board was to extend the wharf along the
Erua Moana Lagoon to improve facilities for
For two men who met in Greymouth today
the old adage “it’s a small world” certainly
rings true. Their last meeting was in a Pakistan
village named Sukkur in the Sind district. It
was not pre-arranged. In fact, neither of the
two men knew the other was in Pakistan.
Today, one of the men, Mr Scott Jones works
as a Greymouth Evening Star reporter, the
other, Mr John Greenslade was paying a quick
visit to his home town which he left six years
ago prior to being sent to a mission station in
West Pakistan. In 1963 they were momentarily
stunned when they walked into each other in a
crowded, dust-laden street in Pakistan.
uFood for thought
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Help for lake
Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) is a special lake in need of some intensive care. Together,
scientists, iwi, locals and environmentalists are pooling their knowledge and resources
to make it better. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa)
few drops of clove oil
in a bucket full of eels
is all it takes to stop
them wriggling long
enough to do their bit
It is a natural
anaesthetic and today Niwa scientist Phil
Jellyman is doing the honours. He and
colleague Shannan Crow have hauled in
four nets from the shallows of Te Waihora,
an hour out of Christchurch, and spend
the next hour counting and sorting their
catch. They throw back the smelt and the
bullies, then measure the eels and flounder
while Birmingham University student
Lani Dines records the details. And, just
as the effect of the clove oil wears off, they
release the fish back into the lake again.
The sun makes the water dance in the
early morning. It is sparklingly still,
something Crow and Jellyman insist
almost never happens. Working conditions
here, they say, are generally cold, rainy and
the lake choppy and inhospitable.
It may look idyllic, but all is not well at
Te Waihora. The lake is a milky glacial
green — less than a metre offshore the
bottom is invisible.
This place is a taonga for Ngai
Tahu, originally named Te Kete Ika
o Rakaihautu, the Fish Basket of
Rakaihautu. Fish have been extensively
traded since before European settlement
and today, in addition to customary fishing
there are three main commercial fisheries
for eels, flounder and yellow-eyed mullet.
But Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, New
Zealand’s fifth largest lake, is also one of
its most polluted. It started noticeably
deteriorating in the 1960s when massive
beds of plants growing in the lake, known
as macrophytes, began to decline and then
disappeared. That decline was exacerbated
by the Wahine storm of 1968 that literally
tore them out of the lake.
Macrophytes are multi-taskers. They
buffer waves, improve water quality and
provide diverse habitats for fish. Without
them, there is more sediment erosion,
turbidity and changes to the distribution
of fish. Now work is under way to
re-establish them and to regenerate
the lake. In 2011 Ngai Tahu signed an
agreement with Environment Canterbury
called Whakaora Te Waihora, to turn the
tide. Together they share a commitment to
restoring the lake’s health and Niwa is at
the forefront of making it happen.
The eel project is one small part of the
restoration. O ver time they will be caught
and re-caught and their measurements
documented and compared as one
indicator of how the lake is faring.
This month a 100m-long wave barrier is
being installed on the south eastern side
of Timber Yard Point. The barrier uses
59 New Zealand oregon logs, each 10m
long. They will be arranged three deep
side-by-side, with the remainder placed
in a triangular pattern to brace the barrier
which will then be anchored to the lake
bed in several places. A cable will run the
length of the barrier to hold it together.
The purpose of the barrier is to enable
the young transplanted macrophytes
to become established so that they can
do their bit to help prevent erosion and
improve water quality.
It is the first time a barrier like this
has been installed in New Zealand and
has been purpose-built by Niwa staff.
Warren Thompson has been overseeing its
construction and will be lakeside when the
complicated process of transporting and
installing it takes place.
“ We need to get the logs in without
damaging the shoreline. Once that ’s done
we’ ll tow them into position and hook
them up to the anchors. What we really
need is for the weather to be perfect. ”
Then Niwa freshwater ecologist Mary de
Winton can get to work.
She is leading the macrophyte
restoration project, thought to be the only
one of its type in the world.
“ It ’s a leap of faith. There are no examples
for us to follow and no guarantees either.
We’re tapping into local knowledge and
we’re taking it one step at a time. ”
A macrophyte culture nursery has been
established at nearby Taumutu on land
leased from the owner, who also looks
after the facility. Whanau from Taumutu
Marae have offered extensive local
knowledge on the lake and its history
and shown researchers the best places
to look to source seeds and plants and
the Halswell River system neighbouring
the lake has provided a good supply of
macrophyte species. They will be replanted
in Te Waihora over the next two years.
“ We’ve chosen the sites we think will
give them the best chance of sur vival. If
we can get them to re-establish long term,
we are confident they will have significant
benefits for the future of the lake,” Ms de
“ Even if the beds fail to re-establish long
term, we hope we may better understand
why they never recovered naturally and
why they struggle to sur vive in current
It is a daunting project and one everyone
involved in knows will take considerable
time, effort and resources to achieve. But
at the heart of the work lies optimism for
Te Waihora has been described as an
understated beauty, teeming with life — a
wilderness at the edge of a city and “an
incredibly valuable resource that really
needs looking after”. With the collective
knowledge of all those involved it now has
the very best chance of recovery.
Longfin eel (tuna) being measured at Te Waihora.
Dr Phil Jellyman, left, and Dr Shannan Crow collecting catches of longfin and shortfin eels in Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).
Tens of millions of junk e-mail every hour
It is being described as a war, an arms
race, an unseen struggle where the stakes
are being raised and the weapons redefined
In New Zealand, the ramparts are
constantly being tested by attacks
numbering in the tens of millions each
The odds are becoming increasingly
stacked against people like Peter Merrigan,
but major battles are still being won.
Mr Merrigan is a senior investigator at
what might be called the A-Team of the
spam war: the Department of Internal
Affairs’ electronic messaging compliance
The enemy they and other agencies fight
is often a faceless cyber-criminal, sitting in
a faraway country, hidden behind layers of
When their spam does make it through
e-mail filters, they can hold victims to
ransom for tens of thousands of dollars, or
turn their computer against others.
But most of the victories of Mr
Merrigan’s team so far have been against
New Zealand-linked companies that have
spammed people in their own country.
The unit consists of just four
investigators in a Wellington office, tasked
with responding to between 800 and 900
spamming complaints from the public
In each case, the investigators must
establish if a piece of spam has breached
the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act
In some instances, the follow-up may
only involve contacting the unwelcome
Last year, the unit gave formal warnings
to spammers as innocuous as dental
clinics, shoe shops and tailors; also on
the list were high-profile companies
such as Whitcoulls, Les Mills and Cash
But beyond these “quick kills”, as Mr
Merrigan called straightfor ward cases,
were investigations that could last weeks,
or even years.
Such a case came to a close in the
Manukau District Court last week, in
what was the first defended anti-spam
case in New Zealand, and the first civil
pecuniary penalty application to be heard
through to completion.
It began back in July 2012, when
Auckland man Zeljko Aksentijevic sent
2230 commercial electronic messages that
included links to his free Android app
Crazy Tilt Arcade Challenge, largely to
members of an internet gaming forum,
following an on-line argument.
The e-mails were mainly abusive in
nature but also contained links to a
webpage promoting the app.
Aksentijevic had also sent the e-mails
from a number of different e-mail
addresses in an attempt to keep his
identity anonymous. Even after being put
on notice by the Department of Internal
Affairs, he continued to send e-mails.
In ordering him to pay $12,000 last
week, Judge Charles Blackie singled
out the hostile nature of his e-mails as
an aggravating factor, remarking that
breaching the act was one thing but
“adding a veneer of abuse” was another.
Other major prosecutions brought by the
unit have led to much harsher penalties.
Auckland firm Image Marketing
Group was last year fined $120,000 in
a case involving 45,000 text messages
and 519,545 e-mails in 2009, while in
2013, a Perth-based businessman was
last year ordered to pay $95,000 after 53
complaints about spam e-mails promoting
In the first case under the act, brothers
Shane and Lance Atkinson were each
fined $100,000, and business partner
Roland Smits was made to pay $50,000,
for sending more than two million
unsolicited e-mails to New Zealand
addresses marketing pills.
Mr Merrigan admitted the unit’s
resources were limited, and it was up to
each investigator, who was always dealing
with several inquiries at any time, to
choose what to follow up.
The job required not just a good
knowledge of the law but the technical
nous to reach through the electronic
barriers that spammers often hid
Spam messages could range from
annoying promotions sent by companies
without the consent of recipients, through
to the nefarious extremes of sophisticated
ransomware hidden in e-mail attachments.
The unit drew on the latest innovations
to meet emerging threats, such as GSMA
spam reporting ser vice from messaging
security software provider Cloudmark,
which allowed the team to work more
closely with New Zealand mobile
operators analysing SMS text spam.
But the investigators hit hurdles with
spam from abroad. The volume flowing in
from overseas each day could be likened to
an electronic tsunami.
Among its 150,000 New Zealand
business users, e-mail security company
SMX logs between 10 million and 20
million messages a day — nearly 90% of
“If you aggregated that across an hourly
period, some hours would see three or
four million spam e-mails,” the company ’s
chief technology officer, Thom Hooker,
Up to half originated in the United
States and the number was even obser ved
to drop off on American holidays.
“ It ’s just a constant war between the
spam writers and the anti-spam engines.”
There was the constant risk that spam
which made it past filters could lock
down an entire computer network with
ransomware, or use a bot to hijack a
machine and send spam, steal the user’s
identity, or host a phishing site to scam
Mr Hooker blamed the e-mail protocol,
which was written back in the late 1970s
and early 1980s.
“The protocol hasn’t really changed at all:
it’s still a very open and friendly protocol.
It ’s pretty much the most dangerous
protocol out there as far as access to your
network,” he said.
If SMX and companies like it are a
safety barrier, Netsafe is the ambulance at
the bottom of the cliff.
In hopeless cases, the internet watchdog
has been able only to help desperate
victims pay ransoms to spammers
who had encrypted every file on their
“ I think it’s a plague, to be honest,”
Netsafe digital project manager Chris
Hails said. “ I’ve been on-line for 20 years,
and it’s always been with us. It’s endemic.”
— N Z ME-New Zealand Herald
War on spam
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