Home' Greymouth Star : July 27th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, July 27, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1866 - The first successful trans-Atlantic
telegraph cable between England and the
United States is completed.
1909 - Orville Wright tests the US Army ’s
first aeroplane for one hour, 12 minutes.
1921 - Canadians Sir Frederick
Banting and Charles Best isolate
insulin for the first time. It proves an
effective treatment for diabetes.
1940 - Billboard magazine begins
publishing its bestseller charts of
albums and singles;.
1949 - The British De Havilland
Comet, the first jet-propelled airliner, makes its
1980 - The deposed Shah of Iran dies at a
military hospital outside Cairo, Egypt, aged 60.
1984 - James Mason, English actor of stage
and screen, dies aged 75.
1998 - White House intern Monica Lewinsky
ends six months of silence to talk with
prosecutors investigating her relations with US
President Bill Clinton.
2003 - Bob Hope, the British-born US
comedy legend, dies aged 100.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Alexandre D umas II, French author (1824-
1895); Geoffrey De Havilland, English aircraft
designer (1882-1965); Norman L ear,
US writer, director and producer
(1922-); Bobbie Gentry, US singer
(1944-); Allan Border, Australian
cricketer (1955-); Gorden Tallis,
Australian rugby league player
(1973-); Alex Rodriguez, US baseball
player (1975-); Jonathan Rhys-
Meyers, Irish actor (1977-) .
“ Life does not cease to be funny when people
die any more than it ceases to be serious when
people laugh.” — George Bernard Shaw,
English playwright (1856-1950).
“ In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the
Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and
wealth and wisdom and strength and honour
and glory and praise!’.” — (Revelation 5:12).
As a precautionary
Greymouth police are
supplying a guard for
the Springboks while in Greymouth. As well,
the venue for tomorrow ’s match, Rugby Park,
is being carefully watched in case any attempts
are made to place anti-apartheid signs in the
Last night a member of the Greymouth
police force spent the night on guard at the
ground which was well illuminated by a
powerful spotlight. A policeman was also on
duty at the Springboks’ hotel as a precautionary
measure, Inspector G Twentyman, head of the
Greymouth police explained today. This was
normal procedure with any touring side, he
Only one anti-apartheid sign was aparent in
Greymouth yesterday. It was worded “Boycott
the Springboks” and appeared in Tainui Street.
Tomorrow ’s big rugby match between South
Africa and West Coast-Buller is to receive the
VIP treatment. Much preparation has been
under way to give the game full media coverage
and highlights will be covered in overseas and
New Zealand newspapers, broadcasting and
While possibly 6000 people will crowd
Rugby Park tomorrow afternoon, a small band
of men will be busily engaged at work in the
union’s meeting room. These men will not see
the match though they will undertake the
important role of communicating its play to
readers throughout the world, particularly in
South Africa. They will be teleprinter operators
attached to the Post Office Department who
will tap out the many thousands of words
which will be handed to them by reporters.
uFood for thought
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elcome to the jungle
— the Mt Eden
In this private
universe violence is a
part of daily life and
drugs are freely available. Mt Eden prison
has its own bizarre codes of conduct and
even its own jailhouse economy.
Former inmates gave the benefit of their
experiences, showing how far from the
outside world the Serco-managed prison
Footage of prison “contender” fights
put a spotlight on Mt Eden prison and
questions over safety intensified when
Labour Party MP Kelvin Davis alleged
former inmate Nick Evans had died from
injuries after being ‘dropped’ off a balcony.
The jury is still out on the death of
As more details emerge, it seems
increasingly likely he sur vived the
extraordinary jungle of the Mt Eden
Correctional Facility in the same way most
other inmates do — with bruises and a
Evans spent about three months among
almost 1000 men under the care and
management of multi-national prison
Those men — many waiting on their day
in court — are citizens of an incredible
Take tobacco — a banned substance in
prisons since July 2011.
On the outside it costs $40 for a 30g
pouch of tobacco. On the inside, according
to a former inmate we will call The
Smuggler, the same amount sells for $300.
It is so easy, he offered to show how it
The Smuggler starts with a pair of
trainers. Colour is important — black or
white are safe colours with blue, red or
yellow associated with particular gangs.
Lifting out the inner sole, The Smuggler
shows how the sole of the shoe can be
gouged out with a craft knife to make
more room for contraband.
In this demonstration, he uses tobacco
but says marijuana, methamphetamine or
anything of value on the inside can be sent
by the same route.
“If you hack enough out, you can fit a
cellphone in there.”
Whatever is being sent needs to be
protected from the dogs which will sniff
at mail arriving at the prison. To do
this, The Smuggler uses plastic which is
clipped in the shape of the inner sole then
completely sealed, aside from a small space
at the heel.
With scales carefully measuring out
equal amounts, the 30g pouch of tobacco
is split into two piles and fed into the gap.
It is important not to let it clump — “it’s
got to be consistent ” — so The Smuggler
carefully smooths it out then smashes it
flat. Having done so, it is mechanically
sucked flat and then sealed at the end.
The contraband is fed back into the shoe
and the inner sole fixed on top with glue.
The shoes are weighed again to ensure
they balance perfectly. “ You imagine how
much meth you can fit in there,” he says.
At the other end of the process, prisoners
are able to request certain items. The
Smuggler said the contraband-laden shoes
would be sent in response to such requests
with the end product designed to look as if
the shoe had never been tampered with.
“If it doesn’t come away from the shoe
then it belongs (on the shoe). They can’t
just f*** your shoe up. ”
This demonstration did not result in
contraband being smuggled. And it is not
the only road into the prison. There is, for
instance, a prisoner known for his ability
to carry significant amounts internally.
Tobacco is sold inside at the rate of $5
for each thinly rolled cigarette.
Oddly, tobacco costs about as much as
marijuana, which is also available. Even
nicotine patches had a disproportionate
value. A full-strength patch would sell for
$40. Tea from a tea bag would be folded
inside patches and steeped in hot water
and then dried to be used as a tobacco
And despite the cost there is a demand.
“ What else are you going to do,” asks one
Methamphetamine is available and can
sell for much the same as it does on the
outside. At other times, says one prisoner,
a $100 “point ” can sell at up to $500.
The inmate says he entered prison on
violence charges with a P habit and spent
two weeks in solitary confinement drying
out only to find his release into the main
area put him in the middle of a drugs
“ You could score pretty much anything
you wanted. Mostly weed, a fair amount
of meth. People even had acid (LSD).”
The former prisoner did admit being
baffled as to the appeal a hallucinogenic
would have while trapped inside.
The drugs are not free and there is no
money inside. Instead, the currency takes
the form of phone cards, transfers to
prisoners’ P19 internal canteen accounts
or payments in the outside world between
family or friends.
Alcohol is also available and — like
every inmate workaround — is ingenious.
Prisoners brew their own using bread,
water, sugar and fruit. It is fermented in
plastic bags with heat generated by warm
water in plastic bottles packed around the
It is obvious to anyone looking, says
the inmate. Only the outrageous would
tumble prisoners. One inmate was busted
doing a massive brew up in a full-sized
rubbish bag. “ There were searches but
they were not really searches,” says the
And it is this lax attitude which inmates
say distinguishes Serco-run institutes
from other prisons.
The inmate who ser ved time on violence
charges says the worst beating he received
in prison was as he woke in his cell. He
says it was far worse than the attacks
which he had dished out resulting in his
convictions and his time in prison.
He could barely see out of pulped eyes,
had a broken nose and a jaw which is still
out of shape many months later.
He found himself in the medical centre
bloody and vomiting, with staff debating
how they could keep him out of hospital.
He claims he was told by a senior prison
official that “nothing is going to happen”
so there was no point in complaining.
“It was swept under the carpet.”
He was then sent to have his face
x-rayed and found himself alongside his
attacker, who was having his fist checked
out, with only one staff member between
That assault halfway through his time
was a violent ambush and quite different
from the ‘contender’ fights faced when
entering the mainstream population. He
was quickly told on entering “if you’re
going to stay in here you have to fight”.
“It was right outside the guard’s office.
I had to defend myself. They had a clock
on the wall. It was just one three-minute,
“If you don’t throw a punch you’re a
bitch. If you fall you’re a bitch. I got a few
punches in. My eyes were black and my
nose was bleeding. From there, the next
week was actually all right.”
The talk of ‘dropping ’ last week was
dismissed by a number of former inmates.
One said it had been “ blown out of
proportion” while others doubted the
All agreed there was far worse inside
Mt Eden prison without stories being
It is a jungle, and inside are animals.
But for the inmate forced to detox,
forced to fight and then beaten bloody,
his finest moment came when segregated
from the mainstream population and
presented with courses on preventing
violence and parenting. The presence
of mental health patients meant the
presence of health workers.
It reminded him there were also people
in the jungle. “It was good to be treated
like a human again.”
Inside Accommodation Block B at the Auckland Central Remand Prison.
Welcome to the jungle
A former Mt Eden inmate reveals tobacco and drugs are regularly available, and shows
DAVID FISHER of the New Zealand Herald how they are smuggled in.
Not only is our quirky national bird
flightless — it is also colour blind.
The long-suspected finding comes from
new research revealing how the kiwi
evolved its sense of smell and colour 35
million years ago to help it cope with
its nocturnal life sniffing around the
undergrowth at night.
The insights have been revealed in a
study, published in the journal Genome
Biology, which mapped for the first time
the genome of the North Island brown
kiwi — the most common species of the
Kiwi have proven curious creatures to
scientists for many reasons, among them
their highly developed sense of smell,
low metabolic rate, and enormous eggs in
relation to body size.
How they have developed genetically to
have these characteristics, however, has not
been well understood.
When a team of German researchers
sequenced the genomes of two kiwi, they
discovered not only that it was one of the
largest bird genomes sequenced to date,
but also strange evolutionary changes
that could help it explain how it gradually
adapted to nocturnality.
This behaviour is obser ved in less than
3% of all bird species.
“ We’ve seen for the first time that kiwi
lack colour vision, and that their olfactory
receptors can probably detect a larger
range of odours which may be essential for
their night-time foraging,” said study lead
author Diana Le Duc, of the University of
Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for
“These adaptations seem to have
happened around 35 million years ago,
soon after their arrival in New Zealand,
probably as a consequence of their
The gene responsible for black and white
vision, rhodopsin, was found to be similar
to other vertebrates.
However, the team identified mutations
in the green and blue vision receptor
genes, which could render blue and green
colour vision absent in the kiwi.
The changes in kiwi vision and smell
were consistent with changes thought
to occur during adaptation to nocturnal
lifestyle in mammals.
The researchers estimated the onset time
of these changes to around 35 million
years ago, suggesting that the kiwi adopted
its nocturnal lifestyle shortly after the
arrival of its ancestor in New Zealand.
At the time the kiwi arrived other ratite
birds, the moa, already inhabited New
These now extinct birds, of which one
species was over 3m in height, are thought
to have monopolised food sources during
the day, forcing the kiwi to adopt an
alternative nocturnal lifestyle.
Kiwi are unique among birds in having
nostrils present at the end of their long
beaks and it has long been thought they
are more similar to mammals than birds
in their reliance on tactile and smell senses
The kiwi genome showed significantly
higher diversity in smell receptors than
other investigated birds, suggesting that
they may be able to distinguish a larger
range of odours.
Nocturnal animals tend to have low
energy metabolism, and kiwi have the
lowest metabolic rate among all birds.
In the genome, the team found enriched
changes in genes related to energy
expenditure, reser ves and metabolic
processes, which may also be linked to this
The study marks the latest leap in our
understanding of kiwi and its clouded
Last year, DNA sequencing revealed
the kiwi was closely related to the extinct,
2.3m tall elephant
bird, a native
re-writing a back-
story that had the
likely flying in
collective sigh of
relief at the fact
our kiwi was no
the new findings
Of the more
than 10,000 bird
a mere 50 of them
had a readily
are small, compact and highly conserved,
the publication of the kiwi genome will
help pave the way for a new era in the
conservation of bird biodiversity in New
Using a high quality genome like that
generated for the North Island brown
kiwi would allow for the development of
species-specific genomic resources, she said.
“These resources will provide a more
accurate representation of genome-wide
diversity and better inform conservation
management strategies to minimise the
loss of genomic diversity, particularly for
threatened birds like the North Island
Last year, the Department of
Conser vation warned that the kiwi could
become extinct within our grandchildren’s
Wild kiwi numbers were falling by 2%
each year and, at this rate, the bird could
be wiped out on the mainland within the
This year’s Budget included a special
$11 million allocation for kiwi
conser vation, with an aim to turn the 2%
decline into an annual increase as soon as
But despite conser vation such efforts,
North Island brown kiwi are still at high
risk of extinction, Dr Le Duc said.
“ We made a first estimate of the diversity
of the kiwi genome by comparing the
sequence of two individuals, and it appears
to be as low as that of inbred birds.
“This is an important indication of the
level of the threat, and we expect further
insights from the genome to help in
developing conser vation management
Dr Lara Shepherd, a genetics researcher
at Te Papa, expected the new data would
not stop the decline of wild kiwi, which
could largely be blamed on predation by
“ New funding for kiwi predator control
announced in this year’s budget will
hopefully halt this decline.”
— N Z ME-New Zealand Herald
Kiwi not only f lightless, but colour blind
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