Home' Greymouth Star : March 18th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 5
Offer to save ‘dam buster’ medals for NZ
A solution may have been
found to keeping veteran “dam
buster” Les Munro’s medals in
Lord Michael Ashcroft has
offered to donate $150,000 to
the upkeep of London’s Bomber
Command Memorial if Mr
Munro withdraws his medals
Philanthropist Lord Ashcroft
will donate £75,000 to the
Royal Air Force Benevolent
Fund, which looks after the
memorial, in return for Mr
Munro donating his medals
to the Museum of Transport
and Technology (MOTAT) in
MOTAT has offered to cover
the auctioneer’s fees and out-of-
Mr Munro’s awards, including
the Distinguished Ser vice Order
and Distinguished Flying Cross,
were expected to fetch between
$80,000 and $100,000 at auction.
The 95-year-old veteran had
put the medals up to be auctioned
on March 25 to raise money for
the upkeep of the memorial,
which commemorates his fallen
A consortium of New Zealand
museums had been in talks with
Mr Munro to find a way to keep
the medals in New Zealand, but
yesterday said they could not
bid as a consortium, and did
not have the resources to do so
Lord Ashcroft donated more
than $2 million to build the
Bomber Command Memorial,
airmen who died while flying
with the Bomber Command,
during World War Two.
His proposal has the support
of the NZ Bomber Command
Association, and if successful,
MOTAT will develop a travelling
exhibition on the history of the
He has also offered to personally
collect the medals from the
auction house in London and fly
them to New Zealand.
Lord Ashcroft is
philanthropist and businessman
who founded Crimestoppers
UK and helped set up a similar
ser vice in New Zealand. In 2007
he offered a reward of $200,000
for the return of the medals
stolen from the Waiouru Army
Museum. — NZME
Cyclone Pam has come with a silver lining
for many farmers, bringing much-needed rain
to most parts of the North Island but not
enough to make a meaningful difference for the
drought-stricken South Island.
Parts of Otago, Canterbury and Marlborough
have remained in drought, but the latest dose
of rain is likely to take the pressure off the
Ministry for Primary Industries to declare
other parts of the country as being affected by
a so-called “medium-scale adverse event ” as
“Certainly farmers in the North Island, as far
as we can establish, have had plenty of rain,”
Federated Farmers spokesman Don Carson
“It’s a bit close to winter, and if temperatures
fall there won’t be much grass growth coming
out of it, but North Island farmers are no longer
praying for rain, put it that way.
“In the South Island, the further south you go
the more acute the problem has been, and there
does not look to be much rain heading in that
Metser vice meteorologist Georgina Griffiths
said most of the country received some rain this
“Mobile fronts and north-westerly rainfall
characterised the start of March, while Cyclone
Pam brought significant rain to the east of the
North Island in the middle of the month,” she
Gauges in the western half of the North Island
have seen about 40mm of rainfall since the start
of the month, due to north-westerly rainfall and
some solid afternoon showers.
The cyclone brought significant rainfall to
eastern Northland, Coromandel, much of Bay
of Plenty, and the eastern North Island during
the last few days.
Most of Gisborne recorded about 100mm
during the Cyclone — with higher elevations
picking up in excess of 200mm — while parts of
Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa received about
The South Island’s western regions have
experienced between 200mm and 300mm of
rain, mostly due to northwesterlies at the start
of the month.
Southland, as well as Nelson and Marlborough,
have clocked up a helpful 40mm but rainfall
had been quite patchy for Central Otago and
the east of the South Island.
“Soil moisture levels in Canterbury and
Central Otago remain in significant deficit,”
“Another solid top-up of rain is also needed
for coastal Otago, Marlborough, Waikato, and
for the southwest North Island from Taranaki
to Palmerston North before we break the back
of this drought.”
The outlook for the remainder of March is
promising, with mobile fronts expected to bring
intermittent rainfall in to most areas of the
country. — NZ ME
Rental vehicle companies have agreed
to develop a code of best practice to
target visiting drivers.
The leaders of about 25 rental vehicle
companies gathered at a meeting
in Auckland on Monday to discuss
concerns over the safety of visiting
drivers and agreed to develop a code of
The meeting was convened by the
Tourism Industry Association New
Zealand (TIA) and the Rental Vehicle
Association New Zealand (RVA).
The code will be developed urgently
and will include increased screening of
driver experience at the time of hiring
and at vehicle pick-up, more pre-arrival
information about New Zealand driving
conditions and more information-
sharing between rental vehicle operators
about visitors whose contracts have been
TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said
the code would build on work already
done to educate visiting drivers on what ’s
different about driving in New Zealand.
RVA chief executive Barry Kidd said
those at Monday ’s meeting recognised
the need for their sector to take more
“ We will also be working with other
tourism organisations to ensure they are
aware of the code of best practice and
giving preference to those operators who
have agreed to use it,” Mr Kidd said.
AA motoring affairs general manager
Mike Noon, who attended the meeting,
said it was a welcome step by the rental
“ It was great to see the commitment
to positive action from the CEOs and
sector leaders at yesterday ’s meeting.
Getting the industry working together
and supporting the actions being taken
by the government will achieve better
road safety outcomes,” Mr Noon said.
hire code of
A New Zealander jailed for insulting
religion in Myanmar says he will appeal
against his conviction.
Philip Blackwood, 32, and two locals
were charged in December over an on-line
advertisement for the V Gastro tapas bar
which featured a picture of Buddha wearing
At court in Myanmar’s former capital
Yangon overnight, they were each sentenced
to two and a half years in prison.
The sentences included two years of hard
labour for insulting religion and six months
for disobeying an order from a public ser vant,
After the verdict, as he was led to a police
van, Blackwood told reporters he would
Outside court, a handful of monks and
hardline Buddhists reportedly gathered to
hear the verdict.
Bar worker Blackwood, from Wellington,
has been detained for months in Myanmar’s
notorious Insein Prison.
He and bar owner Tun Thurein, 40, and
manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin, 26, were arrested
on December 10 after the Buddha image
resulted in a backlash on social media.
A complaint was then made by an official
from the country’s religious department.
The bar managers immediately cancelled the
advertised event and apologised.
According to Myanmar law, anyone who
attempts to insult, destroy or damage any
religion can be punished by a maximum
of two years in jail, with another two-year
penalty for those who try to insult religion
through the written word.
Myanmar, a majority Buddhist country, has
had a number of recent outbreaks of religious
violence, with minority Muslims among the
Blackwood, originally from Wellington, had
lived in Yangon previously but returned to
New Zealand for a year in 2013.
His first child, a daughter named Sasha, was
born in Wellington last August. He and his
partner Noemi Almo returned to Yangon to
live in October.
Blackwood’s partner, who also works in
Myanmar, and their six-month-old daughter
remain in the country.
Speaking from Wellington, Blackwood’s
father Brian said his son should have been
found not guilty because it was not an
“ We were advised not to go over — just to
let the justice system take its course, which
we have done. Now we’re absolutely gutted
by the ridiculous decision that ’s been made by
the judge over there.
“There’s no way that Philip would do
anything like that maliciously — it was just
a stupid mistake that he made posting that
Brian Blackwood said under Myanmar’s
laws, the act had to be proved to be malicious
for his son to be found guilty.
He said his son was not aware of
Myanmar’s strict rules, and had consulted
co-workers to see if it was all right to post
Brian Blackwood said he had not been able
to make any phone calls to his son since his
“ We have managed to get one letter from
He said his son was in isolation at prison,
and the Red Cross was able to check in on
him only a month into his detention.
His lawyer also had very limited access, with
Blackwood’s first visit coming more than two
weeks into his detention. The next lawyer’s
visit came a month after that, and there had
been only three visits since.
The family has been advised the appeal
process could take one month. — NZ ME
Buddha insult conviction appeal planned
Phil Blackwood, a bar manager from New Zealand, talks to reporters after being sentenced
to two and half years in prison, at Bahan township court near Yangon.
Prime Minister John Key will join
his Australian counterpart along with
Prince of Wales and Prince Harry at next
month’s centenary commemorations of
the Gallipoli landings.
Mr Key will lead a New Zealand
delegation to Turkey on April 25, which
marks 100 years since the first New
Zealand troops came ashore at Gallipoli.
Gallipoli was the first major combat
role for New Zealand forces in World
War One and was where 2721 New
Zealanders were killed — a quarter of
the total New Zealand forces sent to the
“At these commemorations we’ll be
honouring their sacrifice and remembering
all New Zealand veterans of conflict,” Mr
Key said yesterday. “ The significance of
this event is of course felt strongly by New
Zealanders, with 2000 expected to travel
to Gallipoli through the ballot system.”
Mr Key will attend a number of
commemorative ser vices
Gallipoli Peninsula on April 24 and 25,
including the dawn ser vice, the New
Zealand Ser vice at Chunuk Bair and the
Australian Ser vice at Lone Pine.
Mr Key and Australian Prime Minister
Abbott will jointly attend the Anzac Day
ser vices on April 25.
“ We are delighted the Prince of Wales
and Prince Harry will also be attending
Gallipoli ser vices in Turkey on the 24th
and 25th of April,” Mr Key said.
The Prime Minister’s official delegation
includes Veterans’ Affairs Minister Craig
Foss, Opposition Leader Andrew Little,
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-
General Tim Keating and other senior
Defence personnel, and RSA president
Also in the official party will be 25
youth ambassadors, highly-decorated
New Zealand veteran Brigadier Neville
Reilly and historian Dr Chris Pugsley.
“Gallipoli is hugely significant for New
Zealand, Australia and Turkey. It ’s where
the Anzac relationship was cemented
and it also a very important chapter in
Turkey ’s history,” Mr Key said.
“The Anzac spirit lives on in the way
New Zealand works collaboratively and
respectfully with Australia, together with
our Turkish hosts to hold the Anzac Day
commemorations in Gallipoli every year.
resources to ensuring these important
commemorations are undertaken safely
and respectfully, and we are grateful for
their hospitality.” — NZME
4 Pack or Can
Fresh Chicken Thigh
Cutlets Semi Boned
Church Road 750ml,
excludes McDonald Series
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330ml 15 Pack Bottles
Specials available South Island only from 16 March - 22 March 2015 or while stocks last. Trade not supplied. Due to current
Licensing Trust laws, liquor not available at Elles Road, Windsor & Gore. Specials may not be available at all stores. Club Deals are
only available to Clubcard Members at New World South Island stores when they scan their Clubcard at the time of purchase.
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