Home' Greymouth Star : May 2nd 2015 Contents www.greystar.co.nz
New-look Greymouth unveiled
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SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2015
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WEST COAST FEATURE
Trail of weed
The West Coast cycle trail has
had an unexpected result — the
invasive weed gunnera is sprouting
up along it. A Department of
Conser vation report says the weed
had spread via “unclean gravels”. The
contractor who sprays the trail had
been made aware of the problem.
Also called Chilean rhubarb, it
grows much like common garden
rhubarb but on a giant scale. Plants
can grow up to 3m high and
2 to 3m wide, shading out other
plants and taking over whole areas
of both native habitat or pasture
set to start
Work will begin on Monday
on the $22.3 million Mingha
Bluff realignment project on
State highway 73, east of Arthur’s
Pass township. It is the biggest
reconstruction project on the
highway in the past decade. The
first sod will be turned on Monday
afternoon. The New Zealand
Transport Agency said yesterday
the work, which would be carried
out by Hawkins Construction Ltd,
would involve construction and
realignment of a 5.2km section
between Mingha Bluff, near
Greyneys Shelter, and Rough Creek
Bridge, through Arthur’s Pass
A wild turkey broke into a
woman’s bathroom, turned on her
tap, and severely flooded her home.
A little over a week ago, Nancy Page
of Rhode Island thought a pipe
burst when she returned home to
find water pouring from her garage
ceiling. But the culprit turned out
to be an unusual house guest that
dropped in. Nancy went upstairs
to find the source of the running
water and discovered a wild turkey
had crashed through a bathroom
window and somehow turned on
the sink. Page says she immediately
realised it was a turkey, which left
behind some Turkey droppings.
Cloudy periods, light winds
Greymouth Star On-line
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
New principal — for a day
Grey Main School’s new ‘principal’ Marshall Whyte presents the ‘take the cake’ award to Hannah Hsieh at a junior school assembly yesterday. ‘Mr Whyte’ took
over the responsibilities from the actual principal Mandy O’Sullivan yesterday as part of his new role after winning the school’s ‘principal for a day’ draw.
Tourism consultants were on the West
Coast this week scouting out routes for
the proposed ‘Pike River great walk’.
The first proposed walk would lead
from the mine site at Atarau and
across the Paparoa Range to Punakaiki,
possibly emerging in the Pororari Valley.
The other, longer possibility would
take four nights, and pass through
mining heritage areas. Starting at the
mine site, the walk would quickly reach
the mountain tussock area and from
there link up with the Moonlight and
Croesus tracks, along the tops of Mount
Sewell and Mount Davy, emerging at
the historic Brunner Mine site, where
65 men and boys were killed in an 1896
TRC Tourism Ltd has been engaged
by the Department of Conser vation to
carry out a detailed feasibility study.
DOC said TRC would also look at the
options for using the infrastructure still
at the Pike River Mine site.
Families spokesman Bernie Monk said
he understood the consultants would
meet with the families early next week
to discuss options.
“ We will find out where they are
looking and what they are doing,” Mr
While Punakaiki was a tourism
drawcard, on the other hand it would be
good to open up the mining history of
the area, he said.
The Government backed the great
walk proposal in January.
The mine site, which Solid Energy
will soon hand over to DOC, will
automatically become schedule four
land, which cannot be mined while also
guaranteeing public access.
The West Coast District Health Board
has had to write off $126,000 in bad
debts owed by tourists in the past five
Frampton said the board had provided
treatment to the value of over $600,000
to “ineligible” patients.
Over the same five-year period about
$126,000 had been written off as bad
debts — the equivalent of about 40
cataract removal procedures, he said.
“The age of outstanding debts varies
widely, as we often enter into payment
arrangements as a means of collecting
outstanding debt (but) we are unable to
separately identify debt for tourist visa
holders as a subset of these ineligible
patients,” Mr Frampton said.
The West Coast DHB is not alone.
It was recently revealed the Northland
District Health Board had to write off
almost $48,000 in debt, largely from
tourists who refused to pay their medical
bills. That amount related to about 20
patients, mostly overseas visitors who
had been treated in public hospitals in
Northland. While the New Zealand
Government picks up the bill for New
Zealanders, and those from countries
with reciprocal medical agreements,
tourists without medical insurance
are meant to repay the cost of their
treatment. Northland DHB chairman
Anthony Norman said it was an “internal
dilemma” as medical professionals were
bound by an oath to provide care but
often there was a large financial burden,
the New Zealand Herald reported.
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien
O’Connor said he had looked into the
problem when he was tourism minister.
It also related to people working in
New Zealand who were sometimes
ineligible for free medical treatment.
“O verall, relative to the income from
the tourist industry and across the
economy, the level of unpaid (fees)
is relatively low,” Mr O’Connor said,
though acknowledging it was still a
problem for the West Coast board.
The Coast was probably worse affected
because of the high number of tourists
passing through, he said.
Tourists run up bad debts at hospital
Experts investigate ‘great mine walk’ routes
A spruce up of the Otira township has
unearthed some of its buried past.
Otira Hotel owner Lester Rowntree
said the township had been extensively
refurbished, and he and other residents
had worked hard for the past 10 months
to tidy it up.
It was important because the town
“held a lot of history”.
“There really is no place like Otira in
New Zealand,” Mr Rowntree said.
Greymouth man Troy Cashin was hired
to help with the clean-up, including
comprehensive landscaping, which had
also uncovered an old blacksmith’s site.
Other artefacts found while digging
up the town included 1923 era lamps
from an early power scheme, as well as
horse and carriage parts, kettles, old cars,
bottles, and cups and plates from when
the railway station was used as a cafe.
Plans were also afoot for a pond, where
visitors could catch mature salmon and
then have them smoked at the hotel.
Horse and cart rides from the railway
station, hot pools and goldpanning were
also on the agenda.
Mr Rowntree said it was especially
important to make Otira a place for
people with disabilities to enjoy.
Over the years the Otira population
has fluctuated from a high of about
700 when the tunnel was being built, to
about 50 today.
Treasures unearthed in Otira
Greymouth shoppers are too
lazy to visit a store if they cannot
find a car park directly outside,
feedback on the Grey District
Council central business district
plans has confirmed.
The council hopes to change
that as part of CBD renewal,
though the Greymouth Business
and Promotion Association says
shelter from the weather will be
The draft proposals suggest
various changes to Mawhera
Quay, Mackay and Tainui streets,
including reducing parking to
allow for more green spaces and
Council corporate planning and
community manager Quecha
Horning said they had consulted
with more than 60 businesses and
organisations to come up with the
Business people had obser ved a
trend that Greymouth shoppers
were reluctant to walk far and
would not stop at a business if
they could not get a park outside
it, Ms Horning said.
However she believed those old
habits could change.
As part of the revamp the council
would develop a parking strategy
and all parks that were lost would
be made up for elsewhere.
Responses to public sur veys
also commented on the habit of
driving to the door, including one
that put it bluntly: “Locals are too
lazy to walk a block to shop”.
Another noted that a mindset
change was needed.
“I was surprised to discover that
people in Greymouth believe they
are entitled to park directly in
front of the shop where they are
going; people need to understand
that walking a block or two is
normal and they should build it
into the visit in town. It is cars
lining the streets that make the
centre unpleasant. ”
Promotion Association deputy
chairman Clark Ellery, a retailer,
said protection from weather was
“ We have to face it, our weather
is extreme, people will not walk
100m in the rain,” Mr Ellery said.
“If people don’t like shopping
in Greymouth they will go
somewhere they do like shopping.”
The shelter from weather would
be more decisive than the distance
“Shelter from the weather is
going to be the issue, the next
stage of planning must be around
providing that shelter.
“It’s no good having sheltered
shops but then doing a 15m sprint
through the rain.”
Mr Ellery said retailers and shop
owners needed to help out.
“It is time for retailers to
turn around and say what they
are going to do ... there has been
a fair bit of cloak and dagger,”
he said. “No matter how nice the
CBD is, it is pointless if there are
no shops down there. If there isn’t
any retailers, there isn’t a CBD.”
He hoped an alternative could be
found instead of having trucks go
down Mawhera Q uay, especially
if the plan was to make it more
appealing to pedestrians.
Overall Mr Ellery commended
the work being done to revitalise
“I feel as though they have made
more progress on this than anyone
has in 20 years.”
Plans revealed, p 6-7.
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien
O’Connor wants Development
West Coast to write out a cheque
now to buy the Kingston Flyer
Grey District Mayor Tony
Kokshoorn recently asked DWC
to look into purchasing it, sparking
interest throughout the West
Mr O’Connor said as a single and
well promoted visitor attraction, it
would be worth the purchase price
alone in publicity for the West
Coast region, notwithstanding the
technical issues to work through.
“I believe Development West
Coast should just write out the
cheque and purchase the machine,”
Mr O’Connor said.
The train was an attraction that
would link Greymouth, Reefton,
Westport and Hokitika, and
provide opportunities for tour
groups and conference groups.
It would also build on what had
already been achieved with the
steam school at Shantytown, he
Current owner David Bryce, of
Blenheim, owned the train for two
years until he put it on the market
two years ago for $2.5 million,
citing health issues. He later
dropped the price to $2.1m. The
train has been idle for a couple of
years. DWC chief executive Joseph
Thomas said they would comment
after the next board meeting on
DWC should ‘write
cheque’ now to buy train
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