Home' Greymouth Star : February 23rd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, February 23, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1573 - Irish rebellion is crushed effectively with
surrender of James Fitzmaurice; pacification of
Perth ends fighting in Scotland between Regent
and supporters of Mary Queen of Scots.
1836 - Siege of the Alamo begins in US state
of Texas against Mexican attackers.
1854 - Britain agrees to leave territory north
of Orange River in South Africa, allowing for
establishment of constitution for Orange Free
1861 - US president-elect
Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly
in Washington to take office, an
assassination plot having been foiled
1911 - New Zealander Joseph
Hammond carries the first aircraft
passenger in Australia: Mrs
1942 - In World War Two, a Master Mutual
Aid Agreement is signed between the United
States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
1944 - Josef Stalin dissolves the Chechen
republic and forces one million Chechens into
exile, accusing them of collaboration with Nazi
1945 - US Marines on Iwo Jima capture
Mount Suribachi, and raise the American flag.
1997 - Scientists in Scotland announce they
have succeeded in cloning an adult mammal,
producing a lamb named Dolly.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Samuel Pepys, English diarist (1633-1703);
George Frederick Handel, German composer
(1685-1759); Sir George Frederick Watts,
English artist (1817-1904); Constantine
Caramanlis, Greek president (1907-1998): Sir
William McMahon, former Australian prime
minister (1908-1988); Peter Fonda,
US actor (1939-); Johnny Winter,
US singer-musician (1944-2014);
John Sandford ( John Camp), US
author (1944-); Brad Whitford,
guitarist for Aerosmith (1952-);
Viktor Yushchenko, former Ukraine
President (1954-); Howard Jones,
British singer (1955-); Helena
Sukova, Czech tennis player (1965-); Kristin
Davis, US actress (1965-); Emily Blunt, British
actress (1983-); Aziz Ansari, US actor (1983- );
Dakota Fanning, American actress (1994-).
“Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to
his parents.” — Abraham Lincoln (1809-65).
“But whenever you pray, go into your room
and shut the door and pray to your Father who
is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret
will reward you. ” — Matthew 6.6
The myriad road
signs at present
displayed on the main
south artery out of
Greymouth would be enough to make the
ner vous motorist stop his car and walk the rest
of the way. But they are all for a good cause
and many will disappear when the Ministry of
Works’ big road widening project is completed.
There are five road warning signs over 25
yards, with three advertising hoardings thrown
in for good measure. The sign erectors are
leaving nothing to chance. First there is ‘Road
Works’ in the foreground, then ‘Danger’.
Behind that ‘School’ and beside that the notice
to motorists that this is a 30mph area.
If these were not enough to get the speed
hog’s foot off the accelerator, beyond that there
is another sign warning of a ‘Narrow Road’.
With the widening of the road and the
subsequent road works, some footpaths have
disappeared and this aggravates the danger
to school children travelling to and from the
So far, motorists’ co-operation has been
excellent, according to senior traffic officer in
Greymouth Mr I G E Coddington.
Last night, in a hall splendidly decorated for
the occasion, the biggest Rotary conference
ever to be held on the West Coast got under
way. Coxon Hall, the scene of the two-day
discussion, was packed to capacity with
Rotarians and their wives who heard opening
messages in this, the 60th annual conference of
Rotary District 298.
Mayor of Greymouth Mr F W Baillie
declared: “You have no doubt heard that
our West Coast theme is friendliness and
hospitality, and we really mean it.”
uFood for thought
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Tribute to Mike
It was with great sadness that we learned
of the passing of Mike Bennett. We feel
fortunate to have known him and to count
him as a friend.
In a region that produces many great
characters, Mike was unique.
He was a wonderful campaigner for the
protection of the environment where his
deep understanding of the issues produced
many letters full of the wisdom, so needed
to counter the agendas of government
agencies meddling with matters they do
We hope a public showing might be
arranged of the video in which Mike
played the part of Arawata Bill. It would
be a fitting way to farewell a grand
gentleman whose contribution to the
Coast deser ves to be widely honoured.
May he rest in peace.
Margo and David Tranter
I would like DOC to show us
any seedlings that seeded from the
rhododendron on Taylors Hill, Kumara,
or any seedlings from any rhododendron
from the same genus anywhere on the
Coast. Why? Because there are not any!
I spent a lot of time trying to find
seedlings over the years and did not find
Does Ian McClure not know that the
New Zealand bush is acidic, like the
rhodos, and they are in fact compatible?
So, where are these rhododendron
ponticum that have crept into the forest?
Perhaps DOC should spend the same
amount of time and money to train people
so they really understand what is going
on in the bush; or should we just add it to
the list of DOC’s discrepancies regarding
wildlife and nature?
If they were so concerned about self-
seeding invasive trees, then what about
the pinus radiata that destroy land so that
nothing else will grow, and how big an
area do they encompass?
I am a heterosexual married Kiwi male.
I am a Christian. I am pro-life. I have
children. On the political spectrum, I
am a classical Conser vative. My business
also sponsors events, and one of the
organisations my business supports is
Yet, in the Charities Commission’s
opinion (in their upcoming attempt to
de-register Family First as a charity in the
Wellington High Court in a few months)
the perspectives, and beliefs of thousands
of members of Family First, in terms of
upholding traditional family values are
quote ‘controversial’, ‘no public benefit’,
and that ‘it is in the public interest to
remove the Family First Trust ’.
In 2014, after a five-year battle,
Greenpeace won a Supreme Court hearing
against a similar attempt by the Charities
Commission to have Greenpeace de-
registered as a charity, citing ‘political
activity and lobbying’ as the primary
cause of the Charities Commission action
Child Poverty Action Group, Action for
Children and Youth Aotearoa, Amnesty
International New Zealand Inc, EPOCH,
Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa
New Zealand, Humanist Society of
NZ, Agender Christchurch Inc, QSA
Network Aotearoa, and Rainbow Youth
Incorporated are all registered with
the Charities Commission, and all are
involved in overt political lobbying as
charities (as is their right in a free and
democratic society), yet the Charities
Commission is not targeting any of these
organisations for holding the positions
This action against Family First by
the Charities Commission is not about
controversy, public benefit, or public
interest — it is about a Government-
funded quango trying to ‘stack the deck’
within the arena of public debate in favour
of the opinions of its political masters.
If the Charities Commission is successful
in its ideologically leveraged endeavour
against Family Firsts’ legitimate right to
stand up for traditional family values, then
the question must be asked — whose ideas
will be next to be silenced by the Charities
Mental health care
Many years ago, when corporate
juggernaut agendas began supplanting
common sense and the views of
experienced health professionals, a group
of Otago nurses stated in the media that
their request for a much-needed ward
nurse resulted in management giving
them “a computer, Windows 95 and a
I wrote a skit about it around Robbie
Burns’ poem about a mouse which was
duly printed in the Oamaru Hospital staff
magazine — imagine a member of the
public getting a satirical piece in one of
today ’s DHB self-praising propaganda
Judging by a recent statement from
Canterbury-West Coast DHB boss
David Meates (Greymouth Star, February
16) little has changed in bureaucratic
responses to people’s real needs.
While people on the Coast say, “social
workers need to be out in the community,
the need for more communication
between the personal health care
providers, and a need for day care in
a secure environment for dementia
patients”, Mr Meates chortles on about,
“ instant feedback ... possibly through
tablet computers”, “an electronic ‘real time’
feedback system” and, “the use of internet
devices such as tablets”.
Despite his reference to “real time”
Mr Meates is clearly living in an unreal
world if he thinks electronic gadgetry
takes precedence over the work of mental
health professionals and proper care.
It might, occasionally, be useful but
with bureaucracy chundering on about
technological jiggery-pokery while
sidestepping the care needed in the real
world, one can only wonder where it will
Some years ago I visited a mental health
patient living in a tiny flat in Greymouth.
It was a cold day and their only means
of heating was to have their oven full on
with the oven door wide open — a highly
dangerous situation. I reported it but when
I checked the person had moved on. I
often wonder what happened to them.
Yet again we are seeing ongoing
examples of the new ‘consultation’ as
defined at the outset of National’s 1990s
health reforms (deforms) by Dr Alistair
Scott: ‘Listening without hearing, talking
Will they ever learn? Not while their fat
salaries depend on toeing the government
Democrats for Social Credit
Needless car gadgets
Clever technologies seem like a good idea, but maybe it is time to get back to basics
he car industry is always
coming up with clever new
technology and comfort-
convenience features. While
these tend to be restricted
to top-end models at first,
they soon trickle down through model
ranges to the maximum number of buyers.
Usually, that is a good thing.
But sometimes, it seems that the car
industry is so busy being pleased with how
clever it is and car buyers are so stoked
to have new toys to play with, nobody
bothers to really think hard and ask
whether they are worthwhile.
We reckon there are plenty of
increasingly commonplace technologies
we could do without. Here are our five of
Please stay with us: this is not the usual
rant about how if you cannot park your
own car you should not have a licence
(although you really should not).
But we do wonder whether cars that
park themselves are an annoyance to other
road users and a means to undermining
the good judgment and spacial awareness
required to drive a car safely. Automated
parking is one of those “because we can”
technologies that has been made possible
by electric power steering, really good
radar and (on some cars) sophisticated
Here is the problem: Once you activate
self-parking, you spend a lot of time
trawling along at low speed, waiting for
the technology to identify a suitable space
and getting in everybody else’s way. This is
especially true on busy city streets, which
is exactly where you are going to be using
True, some self-parking systems are
incredibly quick and accurate once they
are under way, but others are complex and
unreliable. Factor in the entire process
— identify space, get the car in there,
complete the manoeuvre — and we would
be very surprised if the human driver was
not quicker every time.
Yes, we are all obsessed with
smartphones and their capacitive touch-
screens, letting us not only select items but
also swipe and pinch, enlarge or shrink
But does that mean we need capacitive
controls in cars? Apparently yes, given
the way that this technology is creeping
into prestige models and down into the
What is the problem, we hear you ask?
Well, it is fine on a mobile device because
you are actually holding it and looking at
what you are doing all the time. You can
control all those finger movements with a
great deal of finesse because the device is
like an extension of your body (too much
so with some people).
In a car, you are never holding the device
you are operating, so it is a much less
intuitive experience. The nature of the
technology also requires you to be looking
carefully at the screen you are working
with, which is not conducive to keeping
your eyes on the road.
So all of your attention goes towards
making sure that the movements of your
fingers correspond correctly to what you’re
trying to achieve on the screen. We’re
rapidly getting to the point where you
have to pull over to safely operate satellite
navigation or infotainment that relies on
a capacitive control. Click, click — bring
Seems like such a clever idea, does it not?
You come back to your car with a handful
of shopping or luggage and instead of
having to fumble for the keys, you simply
“ kick” your foot under the bumper and the
tailgate or boot opens automatically.
In reality, it is all a bit of a disaster. So
often with these systems, you have to
make such a broad sweep with your foot
that you end up crouching over on one
leg with those heavy bags, looking less
than elegant. Especially if you do not
quite sweep the right spot and you are still
standing there staring at a closed tailgate
after a couple of tries.
If the tailgate does open, you quite often
have to step back out of the way to avoid
the imminent threat of a bootlid badge in
In reality, a conventional powered
tailgate is still a better option, even if you
cannot reach for your keys. If you have to
get close enough to the car to kick anyway,
it is just as easy to use a free finger to
trigger the boot release and let the electrics
do the rest.
One Korean car maker has solved the
entire problem in such a way that must
make the rest of the car industry feel kind
of stupid. It works like this: if the car
has been locked for a period of time, you
simply walk to the tailgate and as long as
you have the keys in your pocket or bag,
the boot will open automatically after a
few seconds. No dancing required. Well,
Continuously variable transmissions
Continuously variable transmission
(CVT) is the gearbox technology of
choice for many Japanese makers. No
problem with that.
You may well be familiar with it: instead
of having a sequence of ratios, a CVT
works by belt or chain to continuously
alter gearing depending on the driving
situation. It is an odd sensation if you
are new to it, as engine speed does not
always equate to road speed. But it has its
strengths, especially in smoothness around
town and fuel economy.
However, many car makers are now
pretending you can have manual control
over a CVT, by introducing modes with a
set number of gears (really just pre-selected
steps) that you can cycle through. Some
have six, some have seven, some have eight.
It could just as easily be 56 or 143.
It is all nonsense of course and they
are really not fooling anybody, because
even in pseudo-manual mode you get the
characteristic “slip” of CVT. More to the
point, pretending CVT has a sequence
of set gear ratios holds owners back
from learning the different driving style
required to really get the best out of this
idiosyncratic transmission technology.
A controversial one this, because
automatic headlights are now so
common. Granted, in Europe, where you
might be charging down an autostrada
and encountering a tunnel every few
kilometres, this technology is quite handy.
But here in New Zealand, it has its
problems. Have you ever driven a car with
automatic headlights that illuminate when
you want them to? Exactly. You always
seem to spend an hour driving in fading
light, wondering why the headlights have
not come on yet. Unless you get a tunnel
to kick-start them.
Ostensibly, automatic lights eliminate
the danger of a driver forgetting to turn
them on — which can easily happen when
you are under street lighting in the city.
That is good. But an unfortunate side-
effect is that many more drivers are on
the road at dusk (a dangerous time) with
no headlights, because they trust that
their automatic lamps will turn on at the
Is there any reason why we should not
have our lights on all the time anyway?
The campaign to replace automatic lights
with always-on lights starts here.
— New Zealand Herald
The kick-motion boot often needs more than a few passes to activate.
Self-parking technology can be unreliable. It is one of many new car features we
could simply do without.
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