Home' Greymouth Star : January 28th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1547 - Death of England’s King Henry VIII,
who is succeeded by his nine-year-old son,
1596 - Death of British navigator Sir Francis
Drake off the coast of Panama.
1689 - Britain’s parliament declares
that James II has abdicated.
1788 - French ships Astrolabe and
Boussole, under Jean-Francois de La
Perouse, enter Botany Bay, Australia.
1878 - The first commercial
telephone switchboard goes
into operation in New Haven,
1939 - Death of William Butler Yeats, Irish
poet, dramatist and Nobel Literature prize
1986 - Space shuttle Challenger explodes
moments after liftoff from Cape Canaveral,
Florida, killing all seven crew members.
1988 - Soviet spy Klaus Fuchs dies.
1997 - At South Africa’s Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, police confess to
the 1977 murder of Steve Biko.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Barclay, Scottish satirist (1582-1621);
Sir Henry Morton Stanley, British explorer
(1841-1904); Jose Marti, Cuban revolutionary
(1853-1895); Jackson Pollack, US
artist (1912-1956); Acker Bilk,
Alan Alda, US actor (1936-);
Nicolas Sarkozy, former French
President (1955-); Sarah McLachlan,
Canadian singer-composer (1968-);
Rakim, US rapper (1968-); Nick
Carter, US singer of Backstreet Boys fame
(1980-); Elijah Wood, US actor (1981-).
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell
where his influence stops.” — Henry Brooks
Adams, American historian and author
“ Whoever welcomes one such child in My
name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes
Me welcomes not Me but the One who sent
Me.” — (Mark 9:37).
their annual picnic
holiday. But, in this
sense, the word picnic could be misleading,
for the traditional major outing appears to be
a thing of the past, with no gathering being
The reason for the decline in the popularity
of these events appears to stem from the fact
that so many people nowadays have their own
vehicles, and a day out in the form of a picnic
is no longer the novelty it used to be. Areas like
Lake Mahinapua and Rapahoe Beach used to
be magnets for picnic organisers, but now these
places are so frequently visited by people with
their own transport that the incentive to attend
organsied picnics has waned considerably. In
consequence, the cost of running them has
slowly become prohibitive.
A large gathering of friends held a
farewell evening for prominent Greymouth
businessman Mr Roy Henry and his wife at
the Marist Rugby League pavilion last night.
Mr Henry who has conducted a beauty salon
in Greymouth for a number of years will
leave soon to live in Blenheim, where he will
continue in business.
While on the West Coast, Mr Henry was a
member of various organisations, including the
Greymouth Jockey Club, Greymouth Trotting
Club, Greymouth Amateur Boxing Association
and Savage Club.
Items were provided by Miss Doreen
McNabb, Bill Boucher, Mrs L Abbie and
Bob Newcombe, while Mr Henry himself
entertained by playing his trumpet.
A presentation was made to Mr Henry by
Jack Beban, who acted as compere, on behalf of
uFood for thought
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om Uren’s politics of
peaceful revolution were
moulded by trauma — the
Depression and years as a
Japanese prisoner of war.
During his 31 years as a
federal Australian Labor MP of the left,
ministries in the Whitlam and Hawke
governments and deputy leadership of
the party, Uren never abandoned his
commitment to socialism and peace.
Though increasingly isolated as Labor
became market oriented in the 1980s, he
left important legacies — strengthened
local government, regional centres and new
agencies to protect the environment.
Though physically intimidating, the
former professional boxer became
increasingly gentle and interested in the
To some he was the conscience of the
party, to others a self-indulgent political
His guiding principle was to fight, but
not to hate.
Thomas Uren, who died early on
Australia Day aged 93, was born on May
28, 1921 in working class Balmain. The
family later moved to Manly.
His father was often unemployed in the
Depression. His mother pawned household
goods to pay the rent and went before a
“committee of nice people” which decided
if the family deser ved welfare.
Uren left school at 13 to get what work
A fine sportsman, he played Presidents
Cup rugby league, was Freshwater Surf
Club’s junior champion and fought for the
Australian heavyweight championship.
He joined up when war broke out and
spent his 21st birthday on West Timor
with the 2/40 Infantry Battalion.
He was taken prisoner after a bloody
battle against over whelming Japanese
forces near Koepang. His next three
birthdays were as a POW.
During his 18 months on the Burma-
Thailand railway Uren suffered and saw
dreadful brutality and debilitating, often
He stood up to the rifle butts of the
guards. Another Australian later said Uren
saved his life by confronting a guard who
was about to throw him into the river.
Uren learned a lesson for life.
He was in the Hintok camp under the
command of Melbourne surgeon Edward
(Weary) Dunlop. Dunlop took the
miserable allowance paid to his officers
so he could buy food and medicine which
were allocated according to need.
English POWs died more quickly
because, hidebound by class division, their
officers did not share.
Uren later said: “Only a creek separated
our two camps, but on one side the law of
the jungle prevailed and on the other the
principles of socialism.”
Eventually, Uren was shipped to Japan
and put to work in a factory at Omuta.
When he arrived he would have
“exterminated every Japanese person on the
face of the earth”.
But at the factory he worked with
Japanese and found them considerate and
comradely. He shared the only Red Cross
parcel he ever received there with his
Omuta is about 80km from Nagasaki
where, on August 9 1945, the Americans
dropped an atomic bomb.
“The sky was crimson,” Uren wrote. “ We
didn’t see the mushroom cloud, but we saw
the complete discolouration of the sky.”
With the war over, Uren was one of
the prisoners selected to administer
Omuta. He tried to democratise the place
overnight by decreeing that women no
longer had to bow to soldiers.
Uren finally came home and in 1947
married Patricia Palmer. They had two
He tried to revive his boxing career after
working his way to London as a stoker, but
the years of privation and disease had taken
an irreparable toll.
“The other fighters never beat me;
malaria beat me,” he said.
Back again in Australia, he became a
Woolworths storeman, after missing a
trainee manager’s position because of his
lack of education. Within 21 months he
was managing the Lithgow store.
He joined the Labor Party after
attending Ben Chifley ’s funeral in nearby
Bathurst in 1951.
In 1958 he entered federal parliament
after winning a tough pre-selection battle
for the safe western Sydney seat of Reid.
As a member of the left, he became very
close to the Melbourne idealist Jim Cairns,
one of the few men he loved. Though he
felt Cairns later made terrible mistakes,
they remained lifelong mates.
In those days, with the DLP powerful
and fear of communism rampant, Uren’s
outspokenness on issues like the United
States North West Cape communications
base attracted hostile attention.
He said he was non-communist, but not
anti-communist. He had card-carrying
Uren won an epic defamation case
against Frank Packer’s Consolidated
Press for articles accusing him of asking
parliamentary questions supplied by Soviet
diplomat Ivan Skripov, who was later
expelled for spying. He also won an action
With the money he built ‘Fairfax Retreat ’
and ‘Packer Lodge’.
Uren was an early and uncompromising
opponent of the Vietnam war.
In 1970 he privately prosecuted a
constable he said constantly pushed him
during an anti-war rally in Sydney.
After losing the case and being ordered
to pay $80 costs, he opted for 40 days hard
He ended up doing only two days before
someone, to Uren’s disgust, paid the money.
He saw the inside of police cells again
when arrested for demonstrating in
Brisbane against Queensland Premier Joh
Bjelke-Petersen’s ban on street marches.
After the 1969 election, in which Gough
Whitlam took Labor close to government,
Uren became urban and regional affairs
He kept the portfolio after Whitlam
came to power in 1972 and made his new
department a powerhouse of ideas. Uren
proved an able administrator as well as a
driving force for change.
Although some of his proposed regional
growth centres were stillborn, a few — like
Albury-Wodonga — took off.
Sewerage was brought to many parts of
outer Sydney and Melbourne and historic
inner city precincts were saved from ugly
Uren thought his greatest achievement
was the creation of the Australian Heritage
Commission; his greatest disappointment
failing to stop the flooding of Lake Pedder
Two relationships deeply troubled Uren
during this period.
In 1974, Patricia left him.
“She was very hurt and felt I didn’t really
need her any more,” he later wrote. “It was
a tremendously sad period of my life and I
should have fought harder to hold her.”
When Patricia developed breast cancer,
she returned. They were together the night
before she died in 1981.
The other was Cairns’ relationship with
Uren knew she would be trouble and
tried to talk his friend out of hiring her.
But the new treasurer was intensely in
love and pleaded that unless he put Morosi
on staff he would never have the time to
Uren, putting his heart before his head,
finally gave her appointment his qualified
blessing and made his Canberra flat
available to the pair.
After the dismissal and Malcolm Fraser’s
landslide victory, Uren was elected deputy
leader — winning the final ballot against
Paul Keating by 33 votes to 30.
It was a difficult time. Whitlam had lost
his spark, but not his habit of
acting without consultation. Uren felt
After the 1977 election, when Bill
Hayden took over from Whitlam, Uren
lost his position as deputy to Lionel
Uren was ambivalent about Hayden and
the pair fell out over uranium exports.
Although Hayden made big inroads into
Malcolm Fraser’s majority in 1980, Uren
came to believe Bob Hawke was the better
Uren overreached himself in 1982 when
he tried unsuccessfully to swing the left
behind Hawke’s first challenge. But eight
months later the left shifted and Hawke
took over in time to lead Labor back to
Hawke, to Uren’s disappointment, made
him territories and local government
minister. He had a furious row with the
new PM and when Hawke ended the
meeting with an offer to shake hands, he
was told to “shove it up your arse”.
Yet Uren threw himself into local
government for the two terms he held the
portfolio, fighting for more money for the
third tier of government.
He was particularly proud of a 1986
financial assistance act that gave local
government more equitable and predictable
funding and special programmes to
improve recreational and social facilities.
An alternative view came from acerbic
Finance Minister Peter Walsh: “Uren
diligently set about using his minor
portfolios to rebuild his old urban and
regional development empire, in which
many of the Whitlam government ’s most
financially disastrous monument-building
experiments in social engineering had been
Uren became distressed by the
government ’s faith in the market. The
period was “bloody awful, lacking real
He did not stand for the ministry after
the 1987 election and had a final term on
the backbench before retiring in 1990.
But he never went away.
He continued to criticise the Labor
government and, when it fell, the coalition.
He fought for a better deal for old POWs.
With former Australian Democrats
leader, the late Janine Haines, he went to
Baghdad to help free 29 Australians being
held hostage in the lead-up to the first
In 1991 he married Christine Logan, an
Australian Opera singer, gaining a little
daughter in the process.
He mellowed towards Whitlam, though
less so with Hawke.
He found new joys, particularly in art.
Lloyd Rees was another he loved.
He talked a lot about love. A guiding
star was the Brazilian socialist philosopher
Paolo Freire, who wrote: “No matter where
the oppressed are found, the act of love is
commitment to their cause.”
What killed the
For DOC to blame the demise of the
rock wrens at Kahurangi (Greymouth Star,
January 19) on the weather is pretty much
the same as blaming the fairies.
There is always another excuse for
blaming bird deaths on everything else
except the main culprit — 1080 poison.
We have always maintained the 1080
dust generated at aerial operations is
underestimated — completely deadly and
capable of killing all species of birdlife,
especially tiny birds like rock wren,
silvereyes, robins and riflemen.
If DOC thinks it is possible to find
dead birds in the bush, dream on, it is like
looking for a needle in a haystack.
The constant undermining of bird
populations is caused by the repeated use
of 1080. It is, after all, a broad spectrum
All 1080 is a killer
I am hoping that Nicky Calcott ’s
comments re having to compromise with
1080 are misquoted (Greymouth Star,
January 24), thinking that hand-laying is
preferable to aerial.
It is essential that everyone clearly
understands that the method of delivery
of the eco-toxic 1080 poison makes no
difference to the cruel deaths of any
oxygen-breathing organism or animal that
eats a lethal dose.
Hand-laying in the past has consisted
of large quantities thrown randomly or
dumped adjacent to roads etc, and at rates
far in excess of current aerial applications.
It should also be noted that hand-
laying of 1080 pellets and paste will be
much closer to townships, campgrounds,
roadways and generally far closer to
human habitation than aerial generally is.
Insufficient data is available regarding
non-lethal doses but 1080 is known to be
a men’s health issue and a teratogen, i.e .
harms embryo, harms foetus.
The West Coast needs some ‘time out ’,
not compromise on the methods of 1080
deliveries. O ur air and our water ways and
our land are subject to near continuous
high levels of this poison. Elevated levels
of e.coli may occur in 1080 usage areas.
Exports and tourism must surely be
affected by the long-term use of the
repetitive use of 1080 poison, use of much
more effective easier to monitor traps
and other methods are preferable, and
more effective where an issue is clearly
Tb control or eradication should be
focused on modern testing to ensure
farmers can safely move stock as the
current test developed in the 1890s does
not give any security of legal movements.
Tb is contained within herds and not
identified by the current tests.
1080 use makes some feel better but it
does not alter the Tb status of any herds,
Care around cyclists
With the Around Brunner cycle event
approaching, here is a timely reminder to
Please be aware of the rider’s
vulnerability — your average car can
weigh around 1000 to 1500kgs (larger
vehicles, a lot more) so it has the potential
to cause massive trauma to cyclists.
People are coming from all around the
country to take part, so be very careful if
you have to pass riders in this event (or
at any other time). Show respect to our
visitors, give them space — share the road.
Hall and gymnasium
Seventy people or 7% of Reefton’s
population, which is an outstandingly
good turnout, came to discuss the future of
their hall and gymnasium at a community
meeting held in the hall last Wednesday.
An agenda was followed which included
the reason for the meeting, the heritage
vision for our character town, the history
of the facilities, the use of the facilities
including the barriers to use, the Buller
District Council perspectives on the hall
and process, the community perspectives
and the way for ward.
A high level of participation occurred.
Councillor and deputy mayor, Graham
Neylon, expressed that there were three
options for the hall/gymnasium in terms
of improving the earthquake integrity: 1.
Strengthen the buildings as per the BDC’s
consulting engineer’s recommendations.
2. Strengthen the buildings as per the
outcomes of the Heritage New Zealand
review of the consulting engineer’s
recommendations, and 3. Build a new
The audience learned that in the initial
earthquake assessment of the hall and the
gym (2013), the buildings were between
16-19% of the new building standard
(NBS). However, following a Heritage
NZ review of the assessment (2015) by
Win Clark, one of the country’s leading
earthquake and structural engineers, the
hall rating was lifted to 30% of the NBS,
and if the hall seating was reduced from
400 seats to 290 seats, the hall would be
at 34% of the NBS, which is the New
Zealand minimum standard. The gym
remains at 16-19% NBS.
The audience was concerned about the
rushed process and the lack of community
consultation to get a facilities option into
the draft long-term plan, which was to be
considered at the BDC meeting this week.
From the meeting the way for ward was
1. That the hall should be de-rated in
seating to 290 seats, so that the minimum
NBS of 34% is achieved immediately.
2. That the three earthquake
strengthening options be placed in the
long-term plan, noting that with the new
build option there was a strong desire to
adapt/reconfigure the existing hall.
3. That there is a process of further public
consultation over this year.
The recent newspaper article about
decreased hospital admissions in the
West Coast, disproves the frequent claims
that an ageing population will inevitably
use more health care resources.
Each person making a healthy lifestyle
change and managing problems within
the capabilities of the individual can
contribute to positive changes. Hospitals
also have the potential to positively
contribute by providing timely access
and appropriate expertise for early
detection and treatment of problems
when the problem lies outside the scope
of expertise of primary care.
The public should also be aware that if
a hospital restricts access to the people
in greatest need this can also reduce
admissions in an undesirable way, as the
patients can lose the desire to live.
Some of the numbers such as ‘avoidable
conditions’ can be meaningless without
use of experts appropriate for the
problems and a good quality assurance
system. The outrageous lengths of time
taken to ‘investigate’ incidents alone
demonstrate the level of failure. Recently
reported incident rates of one of highest
in the country may reflect this but is still
What the West Coast public may not
know is that there was a period in the
recent past when circumstances were
very different. In a 2007 report to the
Health and Disability Commissioner,
the West Coast was commended for its
quality of safety culture described as one
of the best in the country. Unfortunately,
even before the report became public
the safety culture was systematically
destroyed. Some senior managers and
clinical directors from 2007-10 period
should be able to educate the public, how
this transformation from best to one of
the worst was achieved.
Bovine Tb rates
I would like to clarify the statements
made by Ron Eddy (Greymouth Star,
January 9) on the number of herd Tb
The 2013-14 Ospri annual report
quoted in the Central South Island
Farmer refers to the number of infected
herds as at July 1, 2013 compared to July
1, 2014 (91 and 72 respectively). The
remaining figures Mr Eddy refers to are
based on Ospri’s monthly reports. In
December 2013 there were 100 infected
herds and in September 2014 there were
65 infected herds.
We are sure farmers appreciate that
infected herd numbers fluctuate, but are
trending downwards as we work towards
eradicating the disease. The fluctuation
is due to the seasonal nature of testing;
which brings the number up. Plus herds
that clear infections; which pushes the
number down. It is comparable to any
disease, for example mastitis cases vary
month to month in dairy cows.
I hope this helps to alleviate any
confusion on the subject.
Ospri South Island relationship manager
In the Greymouth Star ( January 22)
there was an article on slavery in the
USA. There was a tiny mention of the
‘ underground railroad ’. Here are two
families who were involved in the Ohio
part — Aaron Benedict and his wife
Elizabeth Knowles, and their son Reuben
and his wife Anna Stevens. They are my
fifth and fourth great-grandparents.
When an escaped slave came to their
homes they would be put in the basement
until it was safe to move on. When a slave
owner came pounding on their door, the
wife would place a rug over the trapdoor.
She would then place a spinning wheel on
top and start spinning to drown out any
noise below. When it was safe to move
them on, they would hide in a cart driven
by the children, some as young as eight.
Many men had bounties on their heads.
The underground railroad that my
ancestors were involved in helped between
20,000 and 40,000 slaves escape to
Canada. If it was not for these people,
Abraham Lincoln would not be so
After the Civil War, my great-
grandparents ran a farm that was part
of a cotton plantation in Missouri. They
lived in an overseer’s cottage. The wood
oven was used as an incubator when my
grandmother was born several weeks early.
Elizabeth Knowles was the great-
granddaughter of Alice Lake, who was
executed as a witch. Alfred Masher Butts,
creator of Scrabble, was Alice Lake’s
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