Home' Greymouth Star : April 30th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, April 30, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1883 - Death of Edouard Manet, French
1900 - Hawaii becomes a territory of United
States; Legendary American railway engineer
Casey Jones dies saving passengers just before
the crash of the Cannonball Express.
1945 - Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his
Berlin bunker with his wife Eva Braun.
1970 - US President Richard
Nixon announces he has ordered
American troops into action against
Communist sanctuaries inside
1973 - US President Richard
Nixon accepts responsibility for
the bugging that took place at the
Watergate apartment complex in 1972.
1975 - Vietnamese Communist troops take
over Saigon, ending the Vietnam War.
1976 - The skeleton of Tasmanian Aborigine
Truganini is cremated.
1993 - Tennis star Monica Seles, the world’s
No 1 player, is stabbed with a kitchen knife
courtside in Germany by a German supporter
of her rival Steffi Graf.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Casimir III The Great, Polish king (1310-
1370); Willie Nelson, US singer (1933-);
Bobby Vee, US singer (1943-); Jill
Clayburgh, US actress (1944-2010);
Jane Campion, New Zealand film
director (1954-); Paul Gross, US
actor (1959-); Ian Healy, Australian
cricketer (1964-); Kirsten D unst,
US actress (1982-); Nikki Webster,
Australian singer (1987-) .
“ To die for a religion is easier than to live it
absolutely.” — Jorge Louis Borges, Argentine
“ We also constantly give thanks to God for
this, that when you received the Word of God
that you heard from us, you accepted it not as
a human word but as what it really is, God’s
word, which is also at work in you believers.”
— (1 Thessalonians 2.13).
A sudden gust of
wind thought to
be a ‘twister’ early
this morning lifted
St Brendan’s Roman Catholioc Church in
Blackball from its foundations and deposited
it eight feet from the original site. The
60-year-old building was later described as
a “write-off ”, it being “quite unsafe”. It is
thought the incident occurred about 5am in
the midst of a vicious storm which lashed most
of the Coast. The sanctuary actually collapsed
during the “airlift”.
The wind is believed to have swept in from
the south and besides the church it left a
trail of debris and destruction. A strong gust
also ripped half the roof from the home of
Mr J Berry, of Clifford Street, Blackball.
Widespresad damage was reported at the
Blackball swimming pool.
Police in Westport, Murchison and Reefton
are searching for vandals who left a trail of
destruction and damage behind them in the
Murchison and Upper and Lower Buller
Gorge areas on Tuesday night. In an orgy of
unrivalled vandalism the miscreants placed
a barricade across the iron bridge in the
Upper Gorge which held up a motorist for
several hours yesterday morning. They also
ripped wiring and rear vision mirrors from
earthmoving machinery, damaged switchboards
and tipped out scores of gallons of oil and
They broke into road workers’ toolboxes and
stole quantities of tools and clothing and they
tampered with a case of gelignite.
Police have been alerted to be on the lookout
for two youths who escaped from a State ward
home in Takaka on Tuesday.
uFood for thought
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her hands shook the day she
touched the Ogilvy plaid.
That was in Christchurch
in 1998 when she packed
it up to send it off to the family’s ancestral
home in Scotland for safe-keeping and
“I’m an art teacher. I’ve got some idea of
the value of it.’’
She remembers it was taller than a tall
man; coarse to the touch, but light and
finely woven from sheep’s wool; and
coloured with vegetable dye in the Ogilvy
“It was a beautiful bit of weaving.’’
believed it was at least 262 years old.
She handed it over to a courier and
watched a piece of Scottish taonga begin
its journey back to its rightful home, at
Cortachy Castle, near Dundee.
The intended recipient was the head of
the Ogilvy clan L ord David Airlie, who
resided in the 500-year-old, 90-room castle.
Lord Airlie, in a letter to Mrs MacIntosh-
Handtschoewercker in 1997, promised to
take “the greatest care’’ of the plaid.
He suggested it might be placed alongside
the dress worn by a former Lady Ogilvy
when she attended the ball given by
Charles Stuart, prior to his march into
England in 1746.
The provenance of the plaid is unclear,
but Mrs MacIntosh-Handtschoewercker
felt this offer established that it would be
treated as a highly-valued clan artefact.
The plaid was delivered by courier into the
hands of the butler at Lord Airlie’s castle.
That much Mrs MacIntosh-
Handtschoewercker has established.
She has a letter from Lord Airlie himself
saying he received it.
“I am truly grateful to you for allowing
this historic plaid to be returned to the
head of the family and I can assure you
that it will be well looked after, not only by
myself but by my successors,’’ the letter said.
The importance of the plaid to Scottish
history centres on the Battle of Culloden.
The history books show Charles Stuart
— who later became known as Bonny
Prince Charlie — was trying to regain the
throne of England, Scotland and Ireland
for the Stuart family.
His Jacobite uprising was backed by
Scots and Catholics but came to an end
in a hail of musket and cannon fire at the
Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746.
It was part of Mrs MacIntosh-
understanding that their ancestor, John
Ogilvy, was a supporter of Bonny Prince
Charlie and wore the plaid prior to the
famous battle and the defeat of Charlie’s
After the battle, Jacobite supporters
found themselves in considerable danger
from the victor, the D uke of Cumberland,
who became known as ‘the Butcher’.
John Ogilvy escaped to France and his
plaid disappeared from sight.
says it resurfaced in the 1800s, at a time
when wearing a plaid had become the
fashion, and was worn by an ancestor
presented to Queen Victoria.
Eventually, it came to New Zealand
as the result of some complex family
issues, and was placed in a bank vault in
Invercargill for safe-keeping.
It remained there for three generations.
The plaid’s final New Zealand
connection was with Mrs MacIntosh-
Handtschoewercker’s late aunt Alice
Ogilvy MacIntosh, of Christchurch, who
did not marry and had no children to
hand it to.
In her later years, Miss MacIntosh
decided it should be sent back to Scotland.
At that point, relations with Lord Airlie
were “quite cordial’’, Mrs MacIntosh-
In 2007 she informed Lord Airlie she
intended to visit the castle, and that was
when she learned the plaid was missing.
Lord Airlie wrote: “I well recall receiving
an Ogilvy tartan plaid some years ago and
placing it carefully in one of the many
cupboards in the castle.
“ You will appreciate the castle is large
with numerous cupboards and as I write,
and after a search, I cannot be sure which
of many tartan plaids placed in the castle
is the one in question.’’
There was further correspondence,
and in April last year a letter from a
representative of Lord Airlie seemed to
indicate all was well at last.
‘’... the plaid has been found safe in the
“ It had lain there undiscovered due to
someone placing a curtain on top of it. ’’
then asked two members of the Scottish
Tartans Authority to help determine the
But when they arrived at the castle
they were presented instead with a box
containing the photos of the plaid she had
taken in Christchurch and a silk scarf in
the Ogilvy tartan.
Authority member Brian Wilton MBE,
confirmed the visit and that the plaid had
not been found.
“ If examination of the plaid by our
experts had been possible and had
shown that it was
the Battle of Culloden,
then it would have
been of immense value
from the historical
side as being the only
known plaid that had
sur vived the battle.
“ It would certainly
have been one of the
star attractions of the
planned new National Tartan Centre.’’
Mr Wilton said there had been many
claims of plaids having been worn at
Culloden but none had been found to be
Lord and Lady Airlie have now vacated
the castle but despite a room-by-room
search, the plaid has not turned up.
says she was left with a dilemma — should
she do nothing, or should she kick up a
“ We could just roll over and forget about
“ But it ’s not fair.
“ It makes us cross. ’’
After careful consideration, she decided
to make a fuss.
She has contacted the Scottish Police
and the Scottish media, and is preparing
a video ‘lament ’ for the plaid she will post
on You Tube.
She is awaiting developments.
Lord Airlie has not yet responded to an
Otago Daily Times e-mail.
The pattern of interlocking stripes
called a tartan is often mistakenly known
Plaid actually comes from the Gaelic
word for a blanket, and is specifically used
in the context of Highland dress to refer
to a large length of material.
The original kilt was known as the
‘ belted plaid’ and consisted of a length of
cloth (basically a large blanket) that was
gathered and belted at the waist.
The plaids were most often made
from a tartan cloth, and so the confusion
between the two terms is understandable.
Eagle or dragon? As the United
States prepares to join the Trans-Pacific
Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that is
the choice New Zealand may soon have
to make. The TPPA entered this world as
a New Zealand initiative: this country’s
bold attempt to edge its economy
around the stalled Doha Round of trade
talks; but that is not what it is now. In
its current guise, the TPPA is both a
diplomatic and economic containment
measure, configured in the United
States and aimed directly at the People’s
Republic of China.
President Obama has quite openly
declared that only the TPPA can prevent
the Pacific basin from becoming an arena
in which “China sets the rules”. Just
how determined he is to prevent that
from happening may be judged by his
willingness to let the TPPA rip apart the
unity of his own Democratic Party and
US or china — New Zealand’s dilemma
Tale of missing plaid
This is the tale of an ancient tartan cloth, or plaid, gone missing. It is set in a 500-year-old Scottish castle,
and the players include a Scottish Lord, an elderly maiden aunt and Cardrona’s Robyn MacIntosh-
Handtschoewercker. The action is said to have begun at the battle of Culloden, Scotland, 270 years ago, moved
on to Invercargill, then Christchurch, then ... Otago Daily Times Wanaka bureau chief MARK PRICE has
been on the trail of the missing ‘Ogilvy plaid’.
wrong-foot the campaign of his putative
successor, Hillary Clinton. When it
comes to the geopolitical objectives of
the TPPA, President Obama is taking no
Which leaves New Zealand in
an extremely invidious position,
diplomatically-speaking. O ur increasing
dependence on the Chinese economy
leaves us acutely vulnerable to Beijing’s
displeasure. Were the TPPA to become
a reality, and if China was looking for a
trading partner upon which to visit her
extreme displeasure — pour encourager
les autres — then New Zealand offers the
perfect target. We are small; we are weak;
we are non-Asian; and we have made a
diplomatic fetish out of being “very,
very, very good friends” of the United
New Zealand’s determination to
preserve this close relationship with
the US explains the consistent refusal
of its political, diplomatic and trade
representatives to acknowledge the
near-insuperable contradictions at the
heart of the TPPA policy. No one is
willing to answer the question: “How can
New Zealand expect to go on enjoying
the benefits of free-trade with China,
after joining a US-brokered agreement
intended to limit China’s freedom of
New Zealand’s political leaders are
constantly reassuring their people that
there is nothing to prevent them from
having their cake and eating it too. No
reason why their country cannot go
on selling its milk powder to China
as well as doing everything possible
to reassure the US of New Zealand ’s
unswerving loyalty to the US-led
security alliance, epitomised by the
so-called ‘Five Eyes’ agreement. Indeed,
so confident were these politicians that
the trading relationship with China was
indestructible that they contemplated
hacking into the communications of its
Auckland consulate and passing on the
information directly to the US National
New Zealand’s blind loyalty to the
US (to the point of alienating its major
trading partner) raises the question of
whether or not the TPPA should be
broad enough in scope to replace, if
necessary, the increasingly vulnerable
NZ-China free trade agreement. Were
the US to open its borders to all the dairy
products New Zealand could send — as
China has done — then the economic
and diplomatic interests of this most loyal
of America’s allies could be brought into
It is an outcome that would, almost
certainly, make New Zealanders feel more
comfortable than they do currently. The
many cultural and political differences
between the authoritarian, State-capitalist
Asian superpower and tiny, liberal-
democratic New Zealand argue strongly
against the two countries ever being able
to develop the sort of ties that bind New
Zealanders to Americans.
By all accounts, however, the TPPA
will not open the American (or the
equally lucrative Japanese) market to
New Zealand’s dairy exporters. Like
all super powers down the ages, the US
takes for granted the loyalty of its allies
and feels no obligation to reward their
steadfastness with anything more than
sentimental rhetoric. That making the
Pacific safe for another American century
might entail some small sacrifices on
America’s part simply does not occur to
US negotiators. It is the interests of their
agribusiness giants, not ours, that will
prevail — along with those of all the
other trans-national corporations whose
profits are under written by American
It is entirely possible, therefore,
that New Zealand could end up with
the worst of both worlds. Bound
diplomatically and militarily to the
American eagle, with very little in the
way of reciprocal economic benefit, while
regarded with mounting suspicion, even
hostility, by the Chinese dragon — upon
whose goodwill New Zealand ’s economic
prosperity increasingly depends.
Chris Trotter is a left-wing political
Missing tartan . . . The ‘Ogilvy Plaid’ pictured with the
PICTURES: Otago Daily Times
Lost or worse . . . Robyn MacIntosh-Handtschoewercker holds letters back and forward to the Cortachy
Castle outside her Cardrona home.
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