Home' Greymouth Star : February 17th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 5
A Dunedin publican, David
“Murdoch’’ Miskimmin, is offering
a $1000 reward for the arrest of the
“scumbag ’’ who stole thousands of
gold coins from his pokie machines.
Earlier this month, on February 7,
his Mornington Tavern was broken
into by a crowbar-wielding thief
who made off with several thousand
dollars worth of gold coins.
The one man crimewave, who also
targeted other Mornington businesses
the same night, remains at large.
Mr Miskimmin has now produced
a “wanted’’ poster offering the $1000
reward leading to the arrest of the
“scumbag because I want to rattle
a few cages’’, “A thousand bucks
might inspire some of his criminal
mates to dob him in as well.’’ Asked
if his approach would encourage
vigilantism, he replied “good — more
of it should happen’’.
He urged anyone with information
to contact police in the first instant,
and the offering of a reward had been
checked by his lawyer.
He conceded he would lose more
money on trying to apprehend
the thief, “because we need to take
a stand and make it harder for
That stand included offering a draw
for a $100 meal voucher if people
shared the wanted poster on Facebook
and “hopefully it will go viral’’.
He was also holding a sweepstake on
when the offender would be caught.
Following the theft he has upgraded
the pub’s security.
The investigation into the burglaries
was ongoing, a police spokeswoman
— NZ ME -Otago Daily Times
$1000 reward offered after pokie machines theft
A $2.5 million meth ring run by
ex-pat Nigerians was smashed after
police turned their drug mule against
them, a court has heard.
The trial against seven defendants
accused of various levels of importing
the class-A drug began in the High
Court at Auckland this morning.
Ugochukwa Okpara, Nancy Leefe,
Whetu Leefe, Nnamdi Iwu, Hyacaith
Ochibulu, David Obiaga and Trevor
Miranda were arrested weeks after the
latter flew into Auckland Airport from
a “holiday ” in Papua New Guinea on
November 13, 2013.
It is alleged 69-year-old Miranda
arrived after five days in Port Moresby
and immediately raised the suspicions
of Customs officers who questioned
“He said he didn’t do anything but
stayed in his hotel room and went to
church . . . he couldn’t explain why he
chose there,” Crown prosecutor Yelena
A search of his luggage found 1kg
of methamphetamine in a panel of a
trolley suitcase and 500g in a backpack
he had been carrying.
After police spoke with him, Miranda
agreed to deliver the drugs as had been
arranged, Ms Yelavich said.
Meanwhile, police obtained a warrant
through the High Court which allowed
them to intercept the defendant ’s
It is alleged he received a call from
Palmerston North-based 36-year-old
Iwu shortly after his arrival.
The pair arranged to do the handover
outside New World supermarket
in Mt Roskill on November 16 but
after several hours Miranda left the
scene and went back to his home
Police had simultaneously been
tracking the phone calls of Iwu and
Ms Yelavich said they showed he had
become ner vous about the meeting.
Three days later, they tried again.
The Crown said the new plan was to
meet outside another supermarket in
Mark Hughes, who was originally
charged as part of the group but is
not facing trial, and Whetu Leefe
allegedly under instructions from
his mother Nancy Leefe — were
responsible for checking Miranda was
not being watched.
When they were satisfied that was
the case, Hughes went up to him to
complete the handover, but he was not
told the code word.
Eventually the bungled handover took
place, Ms Yelavich said, and the bags
were given to David Obiaga.
After driving around South Auckland
he stopped in an Air New Zealand car
park, hid the contents of the bag in
one bush and the bags themselves in
After three days wait, police removed
the luggage containing the hidden
drugs thinking the men may not return
but only an hour later Obiaga arrived
with Iwu, Okpara and Ochibulu.
After Obiaga could not find the haul
it is alleged the others made threats
against his family in Nigeria.
Over the next couple of weeks the
police investigation uncovered two
packages, containing 1kg of meth,
which they also connected to the men.
The trial before Justice Susan Thomas
is expected to last six weeks.
A legal battle with former chief
executive Alex Swney has seen
Heart of the City pull funding
from cash-strapped projects.
Swney was sacked by the
organisation’s board last year when
his name suppression lapsed, and
at Auckland District Court last
month, the 57-year-old pleaded
guilty to knowingly evading taxes
of more than $1.8 million.
Heart of the City (HOTC) — a
city centre business association
registered by Swney in 1994 — has
income-tax exemption on the basis
it was created to develop or increase
amenities for the Auckland public.
Compounding Swney’s problems,
the organisation announced in
December it was launching civil
proceedings against its former
Now that legal battle has had
potentially serious consequences
for festivals and organisations
formerly in line for funding.
“ Following the revelations in
October 2014, about our former
chief executive, a decision was made
to suspend event sponsorships to
seven organisations for the later
financial year 2014/2015,” centre
manager Tania Loveridge said.
“This was in the context of a full
review of HOTC’s finances and
for ward budgets carried out by the
board, and with the additional costs
imposed on HOTC through its
investigation and subsequent legal
action.” The Documentary Edge
Festival, set to take place in May
and June, found out shortly before
the announcement of the civil
litigation that it would miss out on
$15,000 previously promised.
Executive director Dan Shanan,
trying to put together a 10th-
anniversary package to dazzle
audiences, described it as “a huge
“It’s not a good position to be in
when trying to celebrate a milestone
year. ” After a phone call from
HOTC’s events and sponsorship
manager telling him the legal battle
had sapped too much cash, Mr
Shanan received a wordier e-mail,
formalising the position.
“The organisation is incurring
considerable extra costs in the
process of satisfying council and
stakeholders that our management
and processes are robust and
transparent,” it said.
But Mr Shanan did not focus his
frustration on HOTC.
“It’s quite astonishing the actions
of one person at the top can have a
tremendous effect on many others,”
“[Swney] had a great reputation
and status, but that doesn’t mean
anything these days, does it?” The
documentary festival suffered a
double blow shortly after the news,
when Auckland Council informed
them they missed out on $20,000
of contestable funding.
Another of the seven events to
miss out is the Big Egg Hunt,
which aims to raise money for
Starship Children’s Hospital.
Brad Clark, chief executive of the
Starship Foundation confirmed the
event, which it organises, would not
receive HOTC funding in 2015.
“Although Heart of the City is not
contributing financially to the 2015
campaign, it is keen to promote and
support the Big Egg Hunt in non-
financial ways,” Mr Clark said in a
“The Starship Foundation is
fortunate to have many generous
sponsors on board for this year’s
Big Egg Hunt and it promises to
be another exciting and successful
fundraiser for the national children’s
hospital.” The Starship Foundation
did not provide details of how
much funding it received from
HOTC for last year’s inaugural egg
Ms Loveridge said HOTC
intended to “revisit sponsorship”
for city events for the next financial
The total amount of the funding
shortfall for the seven events
would not be disclosed by the
organisation, nor would it specify
which particular projects would
miss out on cash.
“ We are unable to provide more
detailed financial information,
given that all matters relating to
HOTC’s finances are subject to
the Serious Fraud Office and civil
proceedings,” Ms Loveridge said.
comment but said he was unable to
discuss the matters.
He will be sentenced at the end of
April and is expected to be jailed.
(Reopens, updates context boxes)
The popular Auckland Lantern
Festival at Albert Park has also
taken a funding hit.
spokesman Steve Armitage said
HOTC contacted the organisation
last November to advise its regular
$6000 sponsorship towards lantern
decorations would not be available
“HOTC advised that they could
still support the event with their
marketing channels and stated it
was their intention to review their
financial position for Lantern
Festival 2016,” Mr Armitage said.
“The cost of CBD decorations for
2015 has been absorbed into the
existing Lantern Festival budget.”
Swney legal battle hits
Heart of the City projects
Contact Energy could be heading for
a showdown with minority shareholders
over what to do with a $1 billion pot of
The company announced yesterday it
was considering investing in geothermal
projects in countries on the Pacific’s
“ring of fire” rather than return excess
cash to shareholders, which was what
most investors had been expecting.
The company ’s share price had risen
strongly in the past six weeks largely on
expectations details of a long-awaited
capital return would be revealed at the
release of its half-year result. Instead,
Contact announced it was looking
overseas to spend its free cash flow
estimated at $1 billion over the next five
to six years. Shares tumbled nearly 9% to
$6.30, wiping about $450 million off the
value of the company.
One analyst said the plans were scary
and a fund manager, Salt managing
director Paul Harrison, said he feared
Australia’s Origin Energy, appeared to
be exerting its influence.
“As a minority shareholder you’re
open to having Contact do Origin’s
bidding and investing in areas that
you didn’t think you originally were.”
Harrison said Origin had geothermal
interests in Indonesia and if Contact
became involved there that would ring
alarm bells for investors who had seen
a New Zealand venture fail there in the
past when the Indonesian government
changed the rules.
Contact said it was holding its interim
dividend steady at 11c a share, and if
this was to continue Harrison said this
was looking “light” compared with other
Craigs Investment Partners head of
research Grant Swanepoel said the
market was taken by surprise.
“All the other energy companies are
giving cash back to investors, Contact
had promised to give cash back to
investors but when push comes to shove
(it says) it’s better to keep the potential
for further investment by having
another project. Investors showed very
quickly what they thought of that by
knocking 7% off the share price. At this
stage I’m getting the view that they don’t
want to give the cash back — that scares
me no end.” Fellow geothermal expert
Mighty River Power has had mixed
success overseas, last year pulling out of
geothermal ventures in Germany and
Chile. Swanepoel said MRP had never
fully identified the benefits for investors
and the ventures had overly complex
“If Contact can define the opportunity
we could support it. They haven’t pulled
the trigger on it so let ’s wait and see. ”
Contact Energy chief executive Dennis
Barnes said his company would make a
decision on whether to invest or return
capital within the next six months.
Any investment would be funded by
excess cash, would not result in cuts
to dividends and must not affect the
company ’s credit rating, he said.
Contact geothermal experts had been
in Indonesia, Chile and the United
States assessing opportunities, which
would need to be areas where there was
a proven resource, he said.
It would be a different approach
compared with MRP.
“ I think the big difference is that
we’ ll have a long-term vision and an
executable plan that has scale. That ’s
the big difference. ” The company
was looking at expanding overseas
because of stagnant or falling demand
growth in New Zealand which could
be exacerbated by the wind down of
the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, he
Contact ’s half-year profit was hit by
billing system problems and strong
competition which resulted in a 54%
drop compared with the same period
Earnings before net interest expense,
tax, depreciation, amortisation, change
in fair value of financial instruments
and other significant items fell, down
3% to $257m for the six months ended
December 31 last year.
“The first half of the 2015 financial
year was a transitional period for
Contact as the Te Mihi geothermal
power station and the new retail system
were integrated into the business,”
After the commissioning of a new
retail customer billing and ser vice system
the company had made considerable
progress in “stabilising the system and
the processes that support it”.
“A system change of this size always
creates challenges,” he said.
The company had been forced to can
call centre sales activity for four months
when up to 6500 customers were
swooped on by competitors and billing
system glitches meant there was about
$25m in ‘back billing’.
Underlying earnings after tax was
$76m, $21m (22%) lower than the first
half of the 2014 financial year reflecting
lower retail margins and the impact of
plant outages reducing earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation
and financial instruments by more
than the increased depreciation and
interest costs after the completion of the
significant capital programme.
Operating cash flow after tax
was $227m, up $54m or 31%. “ The
retail electricity market remains
highly competitive with discounting
dominating the market. ”
— NZ ME-New Zealand Herald
Showdown looms for Contact
A male mental health nurse faces
the possibility of a public disciplinary
hearing after he “sexually exploited”
a recent and still-vulnerable female
patient whom he had given a bottle of
The woman, a patient of a district
health board’s mental health ser vice,
suffered from major depression with
associated anxiety and panic attacks,
alcohol issues and a history of thoughts
about suicide, Health and Disability
Commissioner Anthony Hill said in
his decision on the case, published
The patient — those involved are
not named in the decision — told her
mental health ser vice case manager that
she had had sexual intercourse with the
registered nurse, who had been involved
in her care several months earlier.
“The registered nurse had arrived
at the woman’s residence in a district
health board car, and had provided
her with a bottle of wine before the
sexual intercourse occurred,”
commissioner’s office said.
“The registered nurse returned
later that day, and they had sexual
intercourse again. The registered nurse
told the woman that he would return
the following week with more wine,
and stated that he had always fancied
Mr Hill said the nurse’s conduct was
“unprofessional and unethical” and in
breach of the code of patients’ rights
and the DHB’s code of conduct.
The commissioner’s office said he
found that, “by having sexual intercourse
with her, providing her with alcohol,
and offering to bring more alcohol, the
registered nurse sexually exploited the
He recommended that the Nursing
Council review his competence and
referred him to the commissioner’s
independent prosecutor to decide
whether proceedings should be taken.
The prosecutor has not yet decided
whether to lay charges at the Health
Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
— N ZM E -New Zealand Herald
Nurse censured for
sex with patient
Pip Smit of the Bay of Plenty’s
Beachrentals.net.nz was unhappy to
discover his Trade Me advertisement
to rent a Pukehina Beach property
had been copied and put on to
He was unwittingly caught up in
the Nigerian property rental scam,
revealed last week.
“ We run a property management
business and we have recently been
made aware one of our properties
has been copied from Trade Me to
another site,” Smit said.
He has now laid a complaint with
the police and with the Department
of Internal Affairs’ scam site.
Jon D uffy, Trade Me’s head of trust
and safety, said serious protection
tools were in place to stop rogue ads,
but occasionally scammers created a
fake listing on his company ’s site.
“ We’re usually pretty quick at
getting it down but we strongly
urge any users with concerns to get
in touch with us so we can check it
out from our end before they make
contacts through the ad,” Duffy said.
Most scam listings came as a
result of phishing where users
inadvertently gave their log-in
details to scammers, thinking they
were dealing with a legitimate site,
Last Tuesday was Safer Internet
Day, an international drive for
shared responsibility, he said.
Internal Affairs said phishing
e-mails pretend to come from a
financial institution such as a bank
and urge you to click a link to the
company ’s website and enter your
bank account details, credit card
information, password, passport
information, home address, or even
your IRD number. Many websites
are clever fakes, and typing in your
details could result in your bank
account being emptied by fraudsters,
Barfoot and Thompson director
Kiri Barfoot issued a plea for
publicity in an attempt to stop
prospective tenants losing money
after she found her company ’s ads
had been copied.
Barfoot was aware of three cases
where would-be tenants had fallen
for the scam: two in Royal Oak and
one in Mt Albert.
But she said she knew of only one
tenant who had paid money in the
scam, losing about $2000 deposit
and rent in advance on an Auckland
Detective Inspector Scott Beard,
Auckland City District ’s field
crime manager, said last week
that no formal complaints had
been made over property in
“Our Financial Crime Unit has
been contacted by some people who
have discussed the issue, but we have
not received any official complaints,”
He warned people to be wary but
said there was little to be done.
“This is all online and money goes
overseas. Police prevention advice is
that people need to check the bona
fides of anyone seeking money from
them.” Helen O’Sullivan, REINZ
chief executive until the end of
last week, also warned people to be
Tenant Debbie Kebbell said
she was looking for a place in
Wellington when she found a flat on
Wellington’s Lambton Q uay which
looked exceptional value at only
$150 a week.
The owner claimed to be deaf and
living overseas and told Kebbell she
could not see inside but asked for
more than $1000 deposit and rent
so the keys could be sent.
Her mother, Jocelyn Kebbell,
helped her escape that scam.
“It just didn’t seem right. Their
e-mails didn’t make sense. I might
have fallen for it if I hadn’t told my
mum,” she said.
In Auckland, Rajeev Puri had an
e-mail from Pastor Fred Jones in
West Africa telling him a Mt Albert
house was available for $450 a week
and he should pay bond of $1350
and a week’s rent to get the keys.
— N ZME -New Zealand Herald
Warning as property
firm hit by scam
Two men are in police custody after a
fatal shooting in a small rural settlement
on the East Cape last night.
A 50-year-old man died in the incident
at a property on the main street of
Te Araroa, 42km north east of Ruatoria.
Police say the victim arrived at the
property with five or six other men just
after 7pm last night. Shots were fired
which resulted in the man’s death. He
died at the scene.
Two men from the property then ran
into a bush area near the settlement
carrying firearms. The Gisborne AOS
was called in to search for the pair.
Later in the night one of the suspects
gave himself up to police. The second
suspect was found in the area by armed
police just before 3am today. Both were
arrested without incident and are in
custody at the Gisborne Police Station.
Charges are yet to be laid.
The victim’s name will not be released
until family have been notified.
Detective Inspector Rob Jones said the
incident involved gang members and
“ We have a number of staff investigating
this, including a team from ESR in
Auckland. We are also in the very early
stages of the investigation, so there is not
a lot of information available at this time.
The circumstances of the shooting will
be revealed as we progress through the
inquiry,” Mr Jones said. — N ZM E
Two arrested after
More than 100 years of history and
honour for three of New Zealand’s
20th century war heroes has been
returned to their rightful owner in a
Maureen Paviour, 73, was
holidaying on Stewart Island
earlier this month and returned last
Thursday to find her Tamatea home
raided and car stolen.
The thieves took at least 10 war
medals from three of Ms Paviour’s
family members, including her
father Wilfred Paul Bull, a highly
decorated Royal New Zealand Air
Force veteran who fought during
World War Two.
However, in what Ms Paviour
described as a “blessing”, the medals
were returned on Sunday in a paper
bag and tossed on her front lawn.
“I went to church in the morning
and when I returned I thought I’d
just have a walk around the garden
and see the roses. Then I noticed the
paper bag near the footpath.” She
was “overjoyed” to find the medals
inside, four of which belonged to
her father, including the Pacific
Star, 1939-45 Star, World War Two
Medal and New Zealand Service
Five medals belonged to her uncle
Charles Henry Sebelin, who was a
farmer in Eketahuna, who fought
during World War Two as a sniper.
He was awarded the Africa Star,
Italy Star, 1939-45 Star, World
War two Medal and New Zealand
Ser vice War Medal.
Also stolen was her grandfather’s,
Thomas Sebelin, 113-year-old Boer
War ser vice medal.
She said a Hawke’s Bay Today
report on the stolen medals had
certainly “done some good” and was
grateful the tributes for “the men
who fought for us” were not further
— NZ ME -Hawke’s Bay Today
Medals returned to rightful owner
A new report by the group pushing to
reopen the Napier-Gisborne rail line
says re-establishing the track as far as
Wairoa is feasible but its financially
viability hinges on a deal being struck
between Kiwi Rail and Hawke’s Bay
The council has set
$5.46 million to potentially fund the
re-establishment of the line but says the
latest report from the Napier-Gisborne
Rail Establishment Group (NGR),
fails to answer several questions.
NGR’s 22-page business proposal,
setting out the case for re-opening the
Napier-Wairoa section of the line, will
be considered by the council’s corporate
and strategic committee at a meeting
The council asked for the business
proposal after receiving an ultimatum
from Kiwi Rail to commit to leasing
the mothballed line by March 1.
The business proposal concludes that
the Napier-Wairoa section of the line is
in a reasonable to good condition and
there is a sufficient resource of logs to
be harvested in the area to sustain a
log-based rail service to Napier Port for
at least 30 years.
It says developing a “ log hub” or inland
port for logs at Wairoa, in conjunction
with Napier Port, will produce benefits
and costs savings for both the forestry
sector and Napier Port.
However, the report said there
were a number of Kiwi Rail matters
that needed to be resolved before an
agreement could be reached. There had
been very little time to negotiate these
matters with Kiwi Rail, it said.
Securing private sector funding to
supplement the council investment
was another stumbling block NGR has
have advised that their
discussions with potential private
sector investors have been frustrated by
the lack of certainty in relation to the
Kiwi Rail-related costs,” the council’s
chief executive, Liz Lambert, says in
a report to councillors on the business
“Unless these issues can be finalised
at commercially sustainable levels then
securing private investors will remain
difficult.” Ms Lambert’s report also
addresses the need raised by NGR for
negotiations with KiwiRail.
“If the council cannot finalise an
acceptable lease agreement that enables
an operator to be viable financially and
operationally, then the matter must be
abandoned,” she says.
The council has stipulated it would
require a 6% return on its investment
in the line and Ms Lambert says in her
report the NGR business proposal “is
not a final business case upon which
HBRC can base a decision on leasing
Regional council chairman Fenton
Wilson said yesterday the council had
a commitment to seeing freight return
to the line and it appeared a logging
operation between Wairoa and Napier
Mr Wilson said he was awaiting with
interest a presentation to the council
NGR was due to give at tomorrow ’s
meeting, and the subsequent debate
The Government last year refused to
fund repairs on the Napier-Gisborne
line, saying it did not believe re-
opening the rail link made economic
sense. — N ZM E -Hawke’s Bay Today
rail line viability
hinges on deal
Links Archive February 16th 2015 February 18th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page