Home' Greymouth Star : July 28th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to email@example.com
uLetters to the editor
1586 - First potatoes arrive in England from
Colombia, brought by Sir Thomas Harriot.
1741 - Italian violinist and composer Antonio
Vivaldi dies aged 63.
1750 - Death of Johann Sebastian Bach,
German composer and organist.
1858 - First time fingerprints are
taken as a means of identification,
by William Herschel of the Indian
Civil Ser vice at Jungipur in India.
1868 - Third Maori War breaks
out in New Zealand; Fourteenth
amendment to the US Constitution
is ratified, granting citizenship to
1914 - World War One begins when
Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
1940 - British forces repulse German
attack on the Mediterranean island group of
1945 - US Army bomber crashes into
Empire State Building in New York City,
killing 14 people.
2005 - The Irish Republican Army guerrilla
group formally announces an end to its armed
campaign against British rule in Northern
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Beatrix Potter, British author and illustrator
(1866-1943); Jacques Piccard, French deep sea
explorer (1922-2008); Jacqueline
Kennedy Onassis, former US first
lady (1929-1994); Sir Garfield
Sobers, West Indies cricketer (1936-
); Jim Davis, Garfield US cartoonist
(1945-); Peter Cosgrove, Governor-
General of Australia (1947-); Sally
Struthers, US actress (1948-); Glenn
A Baker, Australian rock-music
historian (1952-); Lori Loughlin, actor (1964-).
“ Verily, when the day of judgment comes, we
shall not be asked what we have read, but what
we have done.” — Thomas a Kempis, German
“ For Christ must reign until He has put all of
His enemies under His feet.”
— (I Corinthians 15:25).
A hand inadvertently
turning off a switch
could well have led to
a serious injury being
sustained by an employee at the Westland Milk
Treatment station this morning. At 6.45 the
station was suddenly rocked by an explosion
from the boiler room. Luckily no one was in
the vicinity of the boiler. There was, however,
one employee in the room and if he had been
standing next to the boiler he could have
sustained serious injury.
The explosion caused a wide split to open
in the steel drum. No structural damage was
caused to the factory, which will now have to
switch to a standby boiler. The explosion was
caused by a switch controlling the boiler pump
being turned off. Th is ran the water in the
A moveable restaurant is planned for
the present Haast township and should be
completed before November 6, the opening day
of the new road link. When the township is re-
sited the restaurant will move correspondingly.
Explaining this today was Mr H Buchanan,
whose daughter Gloria will run the restaurant.
As yet, no decision has been made where
the town will be re-sited, but the possibility is
strong that Greenstone will be the base.
Twelve non-playing members of the touring
Springbok team now in Greymouth, last night
found West Coast deer more elusive than many
of the New Zealand sides they have met.
The party, accompanied by newsmen and
photographers and local stalkers, trudged in to
an area behind Ahaura, where only two of the
‘Boks were successful in the hunt, felling two
stags and some possums and hares.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Close your eyes and think of
Greymouth? What do you see? If you
are a local, the hills to the north and
east, the Grey River on its way to the
Tasman, or all the empty parking spaces
now available in the centre of town; for
a visitor who has been and gone, one of
those magic days when the air is so clear
it’s like looking through opera glasses
— or what made it that way, the rain;
for someone reading about modern-day
Greymouth, an image of the name might
Greymouth is half honorific — ‘Grey ’
after Sir George Grey, New Zealand ’s
governor at the time the town was settled
in the mid-1890s, and half descriptive —
‘mouth’ because it is close to the mouth
of the Grey River. The other two kinds
of placenames are commemoratives, such
as Christchurch, which is named after
Christ Church, a college at the University
of Oxford; and illusory, for surely only a
small part of the Pacific Ocean was calm
the day it was named.
Like a book, a town should not be
judged by its name, which is just as well
for Greymouth. Imagine if it was.
‘There is no there there,’ Gertrude Stein
famously said about her hometown of
Oakland, California, on a return visit
after living in Paris for many years. She
wasn’t ridiculing Oakland for lacking in
substance and culture, as many people
think. She used the phrase to highlight
her disappointment at finding no
evidence of her childhood.
Applied to Greymouth, the ‘no there
there’ is even more to the point: ‘grey ’
is an achromatic colour, which means a
‘colour without colour.’ That ’s enough to
make a local feel down in the mouth. So
we’ ll leave the name at that.
I have been an autochthonous product
of Greymouth in exile for a long time,
spending a period at ‘home’ each January
on either side of the Kumara Races.
Greymouth still casts a sunny light on my
memories. But I look at the town now
and ask: what happened to the place that
novel by Harold Robbins?
The remnants of that era are buried in
time not because of progress, but because
of the collapse of vital local industries.
Like hundreds of cities and towns in
other parts of New Zealand and around
the world, Greymouth’s well-being is
under pressure. The town’s once booming
coalmining industry has been laid low not
only by the tragedy of Pike River nearly
five years ago, but also because the global
demand for coal is dropping as coal-fired
power stations are phased out. Burning
coal is one of the causes of global
warming and no upturn for the industry
is expected any time soon. Sawmilling,
another long-time contributor to the
local economy, has also been laid low.
Fishing isn’t contributing as much as it
once did. And more tourists are opting
to stop over in Hokitika on their way
Shrinking industry leads to a town’s
most important loss: people. They have
to leave to look for work in other towns.
The 110 or so ex-pats who turned up at a
Monteith’s night at the Commerce Club
in Auckland some years ago made this
obvious. There were 747 pilots, a judge,
lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers,
entrepreneurs, CEOs, teachers, trades
people, and a disproportionate number of
men and women in the field of television
— producers, engineers, cameramen and
The town’s hierarchy might consider
kick-starting a programme of reinvention
by inviting a group of young locals
to follow the footprints left by the
tv specialists to produce a video for
uploading on to You Tube. Done well, it
almost certainly would be picked up by
one of the tv channels. With the right
kind of PR support, the exercise would
generate a lot of positive publicity for
Greymouth in the print, broadcast, and
And while they ’re about it, they might
consider introducing a new name
to replace Greymouth as part of the
reinvention strategy. There’s nothing
new about that either. Towns all over the
world are adopting a new name to give
them a new lease of life.
hidden tunnel complex
that formed Britain’s first
line of defence in World
War Two has opened to
the public after six decades
buried as a forgotten time
The underground labyrinth is inside the
White Cliffs of Dover, a famous symbol
of England on its south-eastern tip and a
natural coastal defence at the closest point
to continental Europe.
Standing at the clifftop entrance, tour
guide Gordon Wise looked across the
busy English Channel.
“ You can actually see France, 34km away,
just 70 seconds flying time for a shell,” he
said as he surveyed the lights, buildings
and beaches visible on the other side.
“ You get some idea that this was really
the frontline. This was where the defence
of Britain had to start.”
The tunnel network, 23m down inside
the chalk cliffs, supported the 185 troops
and their four officers who manned three
gun batteries and slept in bunks.
The digging began after Prime minister
Winston Churchill visited Dover in
July 1940 and was enraged to see enemy
German ships sailing unopposed through
the straits between Britain and Nazi-
The Fan Bay Deep Shelter tunnels were
constructed within 100 days.
The 325 square metres of tunnels were
abandoned in the 1950s and filled in with
debris in the 1970s. Only a metal cover
plate on the grassy clifftop gave any clue
as to what lay beneath.
The National Trust conservation body
rediscovered the shelter after purchasing
this section of the cherished cliffs in 2012,
and began a mission to revive the tunnels.
Fifty volunteers — Wise among them
— spent 3000 hours over 18 months
removing by hand the 100 tonnes of
rubble tipped down the surface entrance.
“It’s an important piece of wartime
heritage and it ’s also a piece of forgotten
history,” Jon Barker, the site’s project
“The story of the cross-Channel guns
was largely forgotten,” he said.
Some 125 steps down, the tunnels are
damp with condensation due to the moist,
warm summer air. They smell of the
creosote on the wooden support beams.
The tunnels are lined with rusting
corrugated steel arching, some of which
was removed for scrap in the 1950s,
revealing the fossil-filled pristine white
chalk behind it.
The temperature remains a cool 12degC
all year round.
“ Today the tunnels are abandoned, they
feel quite spacious and they ’re very quiet,”
“But during the 1940s, it would have
been an extremely busy place. It would
have been quite hot, noisy and smelly.”
The project ’s volunteers found abundant
traces of the long forgotten soldiers’
Cigarette packets, telegrams, improvised
clothes hooks, football betting coupons
and rifle rounds were discovered, while a
copy of The Shadow on the Q uarterdeck,
a 1903 raunchy naval adventure, had been
stashed on top of an air duct.
The chalk walls are etched with graffiti,
usually the names of troops, such as
“Nobby Clark 7/11/42.”
Elsewhere there is a game of noughts
and crosses, a tiny car ved face, and some
bawdy graffiti on bricks from the
latrines, making light of the lack of
“Parade is due I dare not linger/here
goes I’ll use my finger,” reads one example.
Later graffiti car vers left their mark,
including adventurous cavers and locals.
“Nick and Julie” snuck inside for many
enjoyable visits in the 1970s.
“It was very difficult and dangerous
to get in. Because of that, it us kept the
tunnels in fantastic condition, which
is why they ’re a time capsule from the
1940s,” Barker said.
The dig also uncovered two rare World
War One acoustic mirrors built into the
Before the advent of radar, the 4.6m
diameter concave sculptures concentrated
sound waves and gave an early warning
on the direction of incoming aircraft,
shipping and enemy fire.
Hosted by volunteer enthusiasts, a
torchlit guided visit down the tunnels
costs £10 ($23).
Telephones from the 1940s connect
the shelter to the surface. The handset
in the tunnel suddenly rings and a jovial
volunteer answers, “Hello? Winston?”
A woman walks out of the Fan Bay Deep Shelter within the cliffs at Dover, England.
War tunnels reopened
Lifting the shade on Greymouth
Greymouth-born JOHN HARNETT, who started out as a cadet reporter for the
Greymouth Star and ended up at the Dominion newspaper in Wellington, offers
comment from ‘exile’ on the sudden decline of his hometown.
A few weeks ago, at the height
of the panic in the Chinese
sharemarkets, a sour joke was
doing the rounds: “Last month,
the dog was eating what I eat.
Last week, I was eating what
the dog eats. This week, I think
I’ll eat the dog.” A lot of people
have lost a lot of money.
The Chinese government
is permanently terrified. It is terrified
of climate change, of slowing economic
growth, even of a fall in the sharemarket
— of anything that might cause the
population to turn decisively against it.
When you are running a 66-year-old
dictatorship, and your only remaining
credibility in the public ’s eyes is your
ability to keep living standards rising, any
kind of change is frightening.
How terrified is it? Consider its
reaction to the recent sharp fall in the
two main Chinese sharemarkets. China
has a capitalist economy, albeit a highly
distorted one, and sharemarkets are a
normal part of such economies. They
go up, they go down, and normally
governments do not inter vene in the
The Chinese sharemarkets have recently
been on a roller-coaster ride. After
treading water for years, prices exploded
in June 2014. O ver the next year, there
was a 150% average rise in prices on
the Shanghai Composite exchange, and
almost 200% on the Shenzhen. Obviously
this was not sustainable, especially since
growth in the real economy has been
falling for years. A “correction” was
It came with a bang, on June 12 this year.
Since then prices have fallen 30% on the
Shanghai market, 40% on the Shenzhen.
About $4 trillion in paper values have
been wiped out — but so what? Chinese
share prices are still far higher than they
were a year ago. Indeed, at an average of
20 times earnings they are still over valued
by real-world standards.
Why would any government inter vene
over this? Some investors will win, some
will lose, and it will all work itself out.
But the Chinese government inter vened
in a very big way. First it cut interest rates
to the lowest level in history. When that
did not stop the slide in prices, it banned
large investors (holding more than 5% of
a listed company ’s shares) and all foreign
investors from selling their shares for six
It encouraged about 1300 Chinese
companies — half the sharemarket — to
suspend trading in their stocks. It forbade
any new listings (IPOs) on the markets.
It even ordered a State-backed finance
company to make new loans to people
who want to make bigger bets on the
sharemarket than they can afford.
Anything and everything to stop the
prices from falling, and lo! They did stop.
Prices even rose a bit.
This may just be what traders call a “dead
cat bounce” — if the price falls from high
enough, there is bound to be a little bit
of a bounce at the bottom — but that is
mainly of interest to Chinese investors.
The interesting question for the rest of
us is: why did the Chinese Communist
regime do all this?
Because there are 90 million private
investors in the Chinese sharemarkets.
They tend to be older (two-thirds of them
did not finish high school), they have been
betting their savings on the market — and
according to State media they have lost,
on average, 420,000 yuan ($67,000) in the
past six weeks.
That would be no problem if you were
already in the market a year ago; you
would still be well into the black. But a
great many of the private investors piled
in very late in the game — 12 million
new accounts were opened as recently as
last May — and
they have already
lost their shirts.
They would have
lost their skirts
and trousers too
if the government
did not stop the
collapse in prices.
So the regime
inter vened. This
may be because
loves the citizens
so much that it
cannot bear to see
them lose. It is
more likely to be
because it is frightened that those tens of
millions of sharemarket losers (who were
officially encouraged to invest) will start
protesting in the streets. Whether the
Chinese regime’s power is secure or not, it
certainly does not feel secure.
This latest government action is part
of a pattern that extends back to the
global bank crisis of 2008, after which
China was the only major country to
avoid a recession. It did so by flooding
the economy with cheap money. So few
people lost their jobs, but the artificial
investment boom created a bubble in the
housing market that is now starting to
deflate: millions of properties lie empty,
and millions of mortgages are “under
Sooner or later, this game is going to
run out of road. The risk is that China’s
road ends where Japan’s 30 years of high-
speed growth ended in the late 1980s,
with a collapse to 2% growth or less and
a quarter-century of economic stagnation.
China is around the 30-year point now,
and its regime is doing all the same things
that the Japanese government did just
before the collapse there.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
China: the dead cat bounce?
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Links Archive July 27th 2015 July 29th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page