Home' Greymouth Star : April 13th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, April 13, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1059 - Pope Nicholas II issues a decree
on the election of popes, declaring that only
cardinals will be allowed to elect them.
1528 - Pope Clemente VII establishes
commission to determine validity of King
Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon
1935 - London-to-Australia airline ser vice is
introduced by Imperial Airways and Qantas.
1941 - Russia and Japan sign a five-year pact
of neutrality in World War Two.
1969 - Last tram ser vice in Brisbane closes.
1970 - Apollo 13, four-fifths of the way to
the moon, is crippled when a tank containing
liquid oxygen bursts. The astronauts managed
to return safely.
1982 - US Secretary of State
Alexander Haig returns to
Washington after failed attempts in
London and Buenos Aires to settle
the Falkland Islands dispute.
1989 - Solidarity trade union in
Poland files for registration after
1990 - Soviet Union admits for the first time
its responsibility for the 1940 massacre of
thousands of Polish officers at Katyn, Poland.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Thomas Percy, English author (1729-1811);
Thomas Jefferson, US president (1743-1826);
Frank Winfield Woolworth, US retailer
(1852-1919); Gladys Moncrieff, Australian
singer (1892-1976); Samuel Beckett, Irish
writer (1906-1989); Don Adams, US actor
(1923-2005); Edward Fox, British
actor (1937-); Col Joye, Australian
singer and promoter (1936-); Paul
Sor vino, US actor (1939-); Alan
Jones, Australian radio personality
(1941-); Al Green, US singer
(1946-); Christopher Hitchens,
English-born journalist, critic, and
author (1949-2011); Ron Perlman,
US actor (1950-); Garry Kasparov, Russian
chess champion (1963-); Ricky Schroder, US
“Any idiot can face a crisis — it’s day to day
living that wears you out.” — Anton Chekhov.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the
righteous run to it and are safe.”
— Proverbs 18:10
A syndicate from
Runanga and another
from Cobden struck
“paydirt ” in a big way
when they took major prizes in the fourth
Mammoth Golden Kiwi lottery drawn in
Wellington this morning. Burgess syndicate,
Runanga, carried off second prize of £12,000,
while Ted syndicate, Cobden, took one of the
Holders of the £12,000 ticket are Runanga
stationmaster Mr D Burgess, his wife and three
children. Ted White and his wife comprise the
£1000 winning group.
Mr Burgess’s future plans? “I haven’t decided
what we will do, it ’s pretty hard to say as
everything has been so sudden. All I can say is
that I’m a very happy man. ”
The Vicar of Greymouth, Rev Canon K G
Aubrey said the large congregation of several
hundred was significanat testimony to the high
esteem in which Ronald James Walton was
held, when a memorial ser vice was held in the
Holy Trinity Church at Greymouth yesterday
afternoon. Mr Walton is presumed to have
lost his life as a result of an explosion on the
motor vessel Kokiri in Wellington harbour last
It was also pleasing to see so many teenagers
in the age group of Ron Walton present, the
canon said. The sympathy of the community
is extended to Mrs Walton and her family in
their great grief in the loss of a trustful and
thoughtful son and brother, said the vicar.
Engagement.— Crooks-Morland.— Mr and
Mrs N H Morland, Kaiata, have much pleasure
in announcing the engagement of their only
daughter, Margaret Noeline, to Noel Roderick,
eldest son of Mr and Mrs G G Crooks,
uFood for thought
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The second coming of Theresa Gattung
y business standards, Theresa
Gattung was a child star.
Made chief executive of
market colossus Telecom at
37, an age when most people
are thinking about repaying
mortgages, she admits to succumbing to
that difficult second album syndrome.
After departing the job in 2007, having
spent eight years in charge, she recalls
asking herself: “ What do I do now? I’m
only in my mid-40s. What ’s my second
One thing she did not do was splurge.
Despite booking more than $20 million
in salary and bonuses during her run as
chief executive, her home in Balmoral
(with a fairly Auckland-ordinary rateable
valuation of $1.5 million) is more
bungalow than mansion. It is home to
just her and her cats — Ollie and Archie
— a sm all pool and tropical-style garden
that seems to have been landscaped and
planted with low maintenance in mind.
“I think I’m probably an eccentric
person. I’ll spend a lot of money on a
Matisse chair and then don’t really care
whether my cats get fluff on it,” she says
from her minimalist living room, where
The Luminaries shares bookshelf space
with 10 copies of her autobiography Bird
on a Wire and a cluster of new age tomes
ranging from numerology to Secrets of the
She talks like a runaway train, jumping
tracks mid-sentence, never quite arriving
at her signalled destination without a
detour through business or personal
philosophies. “I’m a really optimistic
person and enjoy every day”, and “I’ve
never been a retiring violet ”.
Two years ago, this train of thought
led her to pitch her capital and time to a
start-up business. At that time the new
company was run out of the offices of
an au pair placement agency, but it has
grown quickly, to become a high-profile
“Once you’ve run Telecom, it’s hard to
do something that ’s only small,” Gattung
says, adding that since the business started
with its shared-office arrangement, it has
moved twice to allow expansion and now
employs 60 staff.
“This might be saying something about
the scale of New Zealand, but by a
banker’s definition we’re already a small
That fast-growing business is the food
delivery company My Food Bag, in which
Gattung is founding shareholder, with
a 40% stake. She says her attraction to
the subscription food and recipe business
came from her own inability to cook. “ It’s
a real hassle to think about what you want
to eat, to get out and get what you need to
cook it. And if you’re a mother with kids,
it’s more than a hassle; it ’s a serious stress
in your life, a serious stress.”
She owns the business with co-founders
Cecilia Robinson (who has a 40% stake)
and Masterchef winner Nadia Lim (20%),
as well as their husbands. Numbers
provided by Gattung suggest the business
has already grown to a point where it is
larger than many stragglers on the NZX.
With 15,000 customers subscribing an
average of roughly $65 a week, growth
is expected to result in revenue nearly
doubling this year to $50m. Gattung says
the business broke even nine months ago
and has been profitable since.
Despite Gattung’s unwillingness to
disclose internal valuations of the business,
it’s safe to say the founding shareholders
have already made millions each from
the venture. An investment banker said
there was not enough information to
calculate discounted cashflows, but in the
United States, similar — and similar-
sized — businesses Plated and Blue Apron
have attracted $US21.4m ($28.3m) and
$US72m respectively in capital-raisings.
Gattung says private equity buyers
have been sniffing for a stake “from
the beginning” but so far only Saatchi
and Saatchi executive chairman Kevin
Roberts has been cut a 1% slice to join
as chairman, as the company this year
embarked on its push into Australia.
Aside from the change in scale from
Telecom, Gattung says her baptism with
the My Food Bag startup has made her
appreciate not being the focus of critics
and the market.
“I do like private companies where
you don’t have to, every quarter, justify
yourself,” she says. “ Where you can take
a longer-term view and make mistakes,
pick them up and change them, without
the spectators in the stands giving you a
scorecard and booing. ”
Gattung makes an effort to hold the
lotus position, but she is not fooling
anyone. “I really enjoyed all the different
periods of my life,” she says when asked
about the regulatory apocalypse that
occurred on her watch as chief executive,
and which led to the break-up, and
ultimate rebranding, of Telecom. She
calls the unbundling episode, triggered by
the high-profile leak of a Cabinet paper,
“ unforeseeable”, describing the process as
something akin to a hurricane.
“It was huge pressure and huge stress,
but nobody planned it that way. It ’s just
that sometimes . . .” she says, searching
for a more diplomatic expression before
reverting to her first thought, “. . . sh—
She declines an opportunity to speak ill
of the responsible Minister David Cunliffe
— or even acknowledge that her pug-
faced cats would have performed well if
submitted during 2013’s on-line quest for
“Cats that look like David Cunliffe” .
She claims she’s all serenity now, but
is sharp enough to know that repeated
questions about her role as Big Telco
Punchbag are probing for any residual ill
feelings. “Of course I would have preferred
it ended differently. But nothing in life
is altogether good, nothing is altogether
bad. I mean I really, truly, believe that you
actually learn and become a bigger person
by experiencing all sorts of things. But if
you talked to me at the time of course I
wouldn’t have been Zen-like.”
Telecom had developed a reputation
among shareholders as a solid dividend
stock and among would-be rivals as
an anticompetitive innovation blocker.
Gattung bristles at the suggestion that
her tenure resembled that of King Canute
— vainly endeavouring to hold back the
tide of regulation before the sea inevitably
swallowed her and the company.
“Those words come out of your mouth
— that ’s your perception,” she says of the
comparison. “ If you go to Google, there’s
hundreds of pages on me. There’s good
stuff, there’s bad stuff — and there’s crap.
People make up sh—. ”
She notes that her tenure was not all
regulatory Armageddon and that in
the months before her departure she
successfully offloaded — a hospital pass, it
turned out — Yellow Pages to a Canadian
pension fund for $2.2 billion.
She quotes Dickens in describing how
things were at Telecom: “So there’s also
the best of times, there’s the worst of times
— it was never just one-dimensional like
Pushed, she reveals she does not always
wear rose-tinted glasses looking back at
her time at Telecom and perhaps eight
years was enough. “ If I had my time again
— knowing what I know now — I would
have done things differently. But knowing
what I knew then, I did the best I could.
So it was not the way I wanted it to end,
but it was about the time I wanted to go. ”
“Of course I would have preferred that it
would have ended differently. Everything
from that period . . . ” she begins, before
drifting off the track and returning to life
lessons, “. . . nothing in life is altogether
good. Nothing is altogether bad.
This state of flux — flickering between
anger and acceptance, bottling up the
stages of grief — is reflected in the
way Ms Gattung shaped what she calls
her “portfolio career” in the downtime
between Telecom and My Food Bag.
Her return to high profile business came
via an invitation to chair the ultimately ill-
fated venture Wool Partners International.
“ I didn’t come from an agricultural
background and didn’t realise what a
challenge that would be. I ’m a townie,” she
Shorn of the administrative support
that comes with executive roles in large
companies, Gattung eventually accepted
that being self-employed did not mean she
had to make do with less and hired her
former executive assistant.
She picked up the job of chairing insurer
AIA, and took a similar role on the boards
of the Wellington SPCA and education
sector provider Telco Technology Ser vices.
She rides horses for fun — although less
often since My Food Bag began sucking
up time — set up her own charitable
foundation supporting mainly women’s
causes and became an individual sponsor
of the Auckland Writers Festival.
Having avoided over-capitalisation
in real estate, Gattung bought a 10%
stake in start-up text message marketing
company Mobit Technologies. (“A really
cool company developed by two boys
from Albany. One’s a techo, and one’s a
sales guy. They ’re brothers.”) She also has
a 17.5% share in local makeup maker The
She says the company, run by women,
has a “ big, global launch” soon — but is
not willing to elaborate — and says she is
well aware of the ridiculous margins on
offer in the cosmetics industry.
For a moment in the late 90s, Theresa
Gattung was held up — with Helen Clark,
Silvia Cartwright and Sian Elias — as a
feminist icon who proved the glass ceiling
had been smashed in business, politics,
government and law.
It is a label Gattung never agreed
with, and she’s uncomfortable at being
considered a herald of equality when it’s
unclear whether there has really been any
“ Well, none of us were replaced by
women; we were all replaced by blokes!
I’m not really sure that during my lifetime
it’s gone for ward or backwards.”
The paucity of women running
companies on the NZX has not gone
unnoticed by Gattung, who dismisses
talk of pushing female representation on
company boards as “not enough”.
“There’s been no women appointed to
run a company even approaching the size
of Telecom since I did it — and that ’s 15
years. ” — NZME-New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: Getty Images
Former Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung speaks at a Telecom conference in Napier in March 2004.
No end to horror after Gallipoli
About 16,000 Australians landed at
Gallipoli on Sunday, April 25, 1915.
About 60,000 fought there over the
following eight months.
The Gallipoli campaign resulted in
about 130,000 deaths from all the nations
involved. That included some 8700
Australians and 2700 New Zealanders.
Those numbers were dwarfed by the
Turkish casualties, estimated at 86,692
At least the evacuation of the Anzacs in
December 1915 was a success: there were
remarkably few casualties during their
withdrawal and voyage back to Egypt.
In the wake of Gallipoli, the Australian
Imperial Force (AIF) formed the 4th
and 5th Divisions in Egypt, and the 3rd
Division in England.
Cadres of men from each veteran
battalion were split off to form the nucleus
of the new battalions which, along with
the original unit, were brought up to
strength with reinforcements.
The Australian divisions began sailing for
France in March 1916.
Meanwhile the Light Horse, which had
been sent to Gallipoli equipped as infantry,
were reunited with their horses.
With the New Zealand Mounted Rifles,
they became part of the new Anzac
Mounted Division and went on to take
part in the Sinai and Palestine campaign.
By the time the Australians began
arriving at the Western Front in significant
numbers, the war there was a stalemate
of mud and barbed wire, with trenches
stretching for hundreds of kilometres
along the French-Belgian border.
But the Anzac veterans, sick of Turkey
and Egypt, were initially enchanted by the
French landscape they glimpsed from the
Private Henry Morgan Davill from
Broken Hill, who had fought with the
10th Battalion at Gallipoli, wrote to his
mother: “It is a treat to be in a civilised
country again after spending so long at
The three-day train journey north from
Marseilles was “somewhat tiresome,
but the scenery along the track was
magnificent and an eye-opener to most of
Soon the Gallipoli veterans, and the
rest of the Australians, were being
blooded in Western Front warfare. The
5th Division was the first to see serious
action, at the Battle of Fromelles on July
“ We thought we knew something
of the horrors of war, but we were
mere recruits, and have had our full
education in one day,” Gallipoli veteran
lieutenant Ronald McInnis, of the 53rd
Battalion, wrote in his diary. (McInnis, a
Queenslander, was one of the lucky ones:
he made it home in 1919, and went on to
be a town planner).
Fromelles was just the start of the
horrors. Western Front battles were
marked by frenzied artillery and shelling.
A man could be blown to bits, or die
from the sheer percussive effects of a
The 5th Division was so badly mauled
at Fromelles — 2000 were killed in action
or died of wounds — that it did not
take part in further offences until 1917,
on the follow-up of the German forces
to Bapaume when they fell back to the
Many Gallipoli veterans fought on
through a series of notorious Western
The 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions all took
part in the fighting around Pozieres from
July 23 and into August, 1916. The 3rd
Division, which arrived in France in late
November 1916, saw its first major action
at Messines in 1917.
In October 1916, when shells landed
near Ronald McInnis, he had a common
experience: a trench wall collapsed on
him. “It was as though an iron band were
tightening round my chest and preventing
any movement,” he wrote.
McInnis was saved by the swift action of
those around him.
Small wonder that time in the front line
turned many into quivering wrecks of
Trenches were rat-infested, and
punctuated by unburied or half-buried
bodies. Trench foot was rampant — and
risk of gas attacks ever-present. The men
were issued with gas masks and capes to
protect them from its corrosive effects.
The misery increased as winter closed
in. Australian newspapers printed ads for
sheepskin vests and jackets to “keep your
Things were not relentlessly grim. Troops
were cycled through the lines of trenches
and, when away from the front, could
enjoy the pleasures of nearby French
towns or even, when on leave, cross the
Channel to “Old Blighty” and sight-see or
take in a West End show.
But sooner or later they would be back in
the firing line.
The long Western Front stalemate broke
when the Germans launched a huge
offensive in March 1918. Though the
Germans were initially successful, things
began to go the Allies’ way from April as
waves of American forces arrived and the
Germans were pushed back.
The Australians captured Hamel Spur
on July 4, 1918 and went on to further
successes at Mont St Quentin and
Meanwhile, the men of the Light Horse
were doing good work in the Middle East.
In September 1918 they broke through
Turkish lines on the Palestine coast and
led an advance that took the Allies all the
way to Damascus. Before long the Turks
The Germans followed suit. The
Australians were enjoying a break from the
front when the guns fell silent for good on
November 11, 1918.
The 4th Battalion, which still had
Gallipoli veterans among its ranks, was
being billeted in the French village of
Bazuel when the Armistice was signed.
The battalion’s official entry for
November 11, 1918 reads: “Company
parade in the morning. Afternoon 4th
Battalion v 3rd Battalion at Tug of War.
4th Battalion won in two straight pulls.
Armistice signed by Germany.”
The process of bringing the Australian
soldiers home took many months.
It is impossible to find concrete figures
on how many of the original contingent of
20,000 Australians who had set sail from
Albany, Western Australia on November
1, 1914 ever came home.
However, according to the Australian
War Memorial, of the 416,809 Australians
who enlisted for ser vice in the AIF
(about 330,000 of whom ser ved overseas)
in World War One, some 65% became
More than 60,000 Australians were
killed, and more than 220,000 were
wounded or fell ill. — A AP
Former Telecom boss back in new roles
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