Home' Greymouth Star : July 29th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, July 29, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1833 - Death of William Wilberforce who
campaigned successfully for the abolition of
slavery in the British Empire.
1841 - Group of Maori chiefs sell about
1214 hectares around Waitemata
Harbour, present site of Auckland,
to New Zealand government.
1890 - Vincent van Gogh, D utch
post-impressionist painter, die.
1937 - Japanese seize Tianjin in
China; 18-year-old Crown Prince
Farouk is crowned as king of Egypt.
1948 - First Olympic Games after World
War Two open in London.
1958 - US President Dwight Eisenhower
signs the National Aeronautics and Space Act,
which creates Nasa.
1974 - US singer Mama Cass Elliot dies aged
1981 - Prince Charles marries Lady Diana
Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
1983 - Death of David Niven, British
film actor who won an Oscar for his role in
Separate Tables in 1958.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator (1883-
1945); Dag Hammarskjold, Swedish UN
Secretary-General and Nobel Peace
Prize laureate (1905-1961); Clara
Bow, US silent-era film star (1905-
1965); Peter Jennings, US television
anchor (1938-2005); David Warner,
British actor (1941-); Martina
McBride, US country singer (1966-
); Stephen Dorff, US actor (1973-);
Fernando Alonso, Spanish F1 world champion
“The fellow who says he will meet you
halfway usually thinks he is standing on the
dividing line.” — O A Battista, Canadian-born
“And we have seen and do testify that the
Father has sent His Son as the Saviour of the
world.” — (1 John 4:14).
“They ’re only flesh
and blood — get out
there and beat them,”
said Ron King to his
team. And, by golly, they nearly did! The mud
pool that is Rugby Park and was the arena for
this great fight by 15 dedicated and determined
men was surrounded by a crowd that was slow
to awake to the early-dawning surprise that
the Boks were not going to be executioners at a
On the bank, the early feeling after the first
flurry was: “ Well, they should have at least 30
up by half-time.” But by half-time, scoreboard
attendant Bernie Barrow, who had expected
to be a busy man, had only had to post the
score twice and from his Springbok end of
the ground had seen very little close-up of the
There will be doubters about West Coast-
Buller’s performance yesterday. There will
be points of view that our home team was
outgunned and even in the mud 11-0 was a
decisive win by a Springbok team that was not
flat out. Do not believe it.
The combined side asked for no quarter. They
gave none and the 15 home men fought to the
very end. They gave away weight. They gave
away speed and they gave away reputations.
But did this deter the combined side? Like
men possessed, they fought and fought and
fought. And when the final whistle was
sounded, the Boks knew they had been in a
game of rugby.
The home team were: R T Dawe, B Stack,
B Halsall, B W Johnson, J B Maughan, G R
Wood, B E Caldwell, O H Nahr, M S MacRae,
P W Veale, B P Roche, J C Smith. Player of
the match was Barry Caldwell.
uFood for thought
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estling in the hills
between Damascus and
the Lebanese border,
the cool summer air and
stone houses of Zabadani
once made it one of
Syria’s best-known resorts, particularly
popular with Gulf holiday-makers.
Nearby, the Christian village of Bloudan
became Syria’s best-known skiing centre,
an easy ride from the capital 50km
It is likely to be a long time before the
tourists are back. Besieged, bombarded by
regime jets and turned into a defensive
nest by Islamist rebels, Zabadani has
become the latest victim of Syria’s endless
“The other day I was watching tv, and I
thought I saw a familiar area, and it was
my house,” said one resident, a 64-year-
old housewife who has now escaped to
the firmly pro-regime town of Tartous to
the north. She asked for her name to be
“I turned to my family and told them,
and we all watched. It ’s a battleground
Zabadani was one of the first towns
to be “ liberated” from the regime, in
early 2012, its largely Sunni residents
maintaining for a while a rather relaxed
stand-off with the army. It then changed
hands a couple of times, before the
fighting in the area between the capital
and the Lebanese border became
increasingly bitter last year.
In pre-war years, it was a key supply
point for Syria’s Iranian allies to supply
their proxy Shia militia in Lebanon,
Hizbollah, and it is Hizbollah that is now
leading the fight to return it to regime
hands. As the government retrenches in
its core areas, having lost so much of the
north and east to rebels and Islamic State
of Iraq and the L evant, Iranian support
is contingent on its basic demands being
That includes ensuring Hizbollah supply
It is a bloody affair. The rebels have come
to be dominated by two Islamist militias,
the Qatar-backed Ahrar al-Sham and the
Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam, now working
roads, to bring
in supplies, and
fortified the old
town as, in recent
and troops began
to surround them.
Then the air
them with a
series of strikes.
Obser vatory for
said 600 barrel
bombs had landed
on the town since
the start of the
army ’s operation
at the beginning
of the month,
from the sky
earlier this month
showed a string
from missiles in
a line of smoke
across the town.
The barrel bombs were confirmed by
Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations
envoy to Syria, who visited Damascus
last week and said they had caused
“ unprecedented levels of destruction
and many deaths among the civilian
population”. It is estimated that more
than 1000 civilians remain there, with
upwards of 1200 rebel fighters.
As the army and Hizbollah move in,
they are now trapped in a space about
3km by 3km, one highly placed rebel said.
The regime is boasting that it is on the
verge of taking the town, and is sending
messages to the rebels holed up inside
demanding they surrender.
“O armed gunman ... the army is coming
... the curse of the people of Zabadani is
pursuing you ... save yourself,” says one
typical text message.
However, the army has also admitted
that it is facing sterner resistance than it
expected, partly due to the rebels’ local
knowledge and ability to forge resupply
lines through the mountains.
“On Wednesday there were attempts
by the regime and Hizbollah to advance
from the Zabadani plain, and despite
intense fire they managed to make some
progress,” said Ali Diab, an opposition
activist with sources inside the town,
which is virtually cut off from outside
“But then on Thursday night to
Friday, the revolutionaries launched a
sudden attack and seized some regime
On Saturday, there were reports that
Hizbollah was offering a ceasefire and
a peaceful withdrawal of the defenders,
perhaps propelled by the difficulty of
the attack and a new tactic by the rebels
— specifically linking their defence to
assaults on regime outposts elsewhere in
Ahrar al-Sham said it was attacking
Fuaa and Kefraya, two Shia enclaves in
the north of Syria, in retaliation for the
siege of Zabadani.
Meanwhile, the Ahrar al-Sham
spokesman, Ahmed Kara Ali, confirmed
it had been ask to negotiate a deal, though
he refused to say what it might be.
Even if the battle ends now, it is hard to
see how Zabadani, like much of the rest
of Syria, will be anything other than a
ghost town for years to come.
Satellite footage shows its centre
reduced virtually to rubble.
The irony of Gulf-backed fighters now
fighting amid the ruins of what was once
a playground for Gulf holiday-makers is
lost on few. “Zabadani was the number
one place in Syria for Gulf tourists,” the
former resident said.
“In summer, they would all come and
start renting everywhere. You couldn’t
find a place to rest your head. We also
had restaurants, cafes, everything ... It was
beautiful.” — New Zealand Herald
Syrian people search for bodies of wounded and dead Syrians after a bomb attack of Syrian regime forces on Syria’s Zabadani region, close to the border
Victim of Assad’s war
Zabadani, once a former retreat for wealthy Damascenes, is now a ghost town after years
after being besieged and turned into a defensive nest by Islamist rebels
Monday, leaflet day. Look through the
supermarket offerings. As a coffee a day
man, I am immediately drawn to the
Countdown One Card club price page,
which features Greggs Cafe Gold sachets
20 pack at $8.50 — a very good price.
Make my way down to Countdown at
10am but find that the appropriate spot
is empty. Happened to pop in again at
7pm and once again there are no 20 packs
Come Tuesday and just have to have that
coffee fix, so at 11am front up again. Same
result. Time to speak to someone. Must
mention that the three different people I
spoke to were all extremely helpful, but
alas, I was informed that this product,
although featured in the brochure, was not
in fact on Greymouth’s stocking list. This
in spite of the fact that a flat white is the
most common of all coffees ser ved.
Perhaps Greymouth falls into the wrong
Must go now, have a coffee and cut up
my One Card.
Hospital site risky
To build a new hospital virtually at
sea level is blatantly irresponsible and
ignorant, jeopardising the community.
This decision was obviously made by
people with their heads in the sand.
Placing a vital regional facility in an
exceptionally prone area is unacceptable.
The sea was roaring a warning through the
airport fence just last month.
Build the new hospital on a much higher,
geologically stable terrace and in time the
town would hopefully follow.
Get off the beach, the tide is coming in.
Is drama a dying thing? Coaltown Blues,
a play originally written and performed
in the 1980s by Runanga’s Mer vyn
Thompson — one of New Zealand’s most
significant and controversial playwrights
— is now performed by Chris Green
all across New Zealand. The Regent
Greymouth is very fortunate to bring this
One problem — who is going to attend
on August 8? We have exhausted all
possible avenues to get word out to the
public. Newspaper, radio, social media,
drama groups, schools and multiple
personal contacts. All this comes at a cost,
and the results on sales to date are very
We hear it time and time again that the
town does not have enough entertainment
but you, the locals, need to show your
support or face the possibility that shows
like this will not be back.
Coaltown Blues captures an important
part of West Coast history, so rather than
chuck another lump of coal on the fire, get
down to the Regent Theatre Greymouth
and grab a ticket and learn about the
hardships, tragedy and comedy of poverty
and politics surrounding this black gold
I have followed the regional policy
statement from the media reports from
West Coast Regional Council meetings
to the meeting on the footpath outside
the Development West Coast office in
Greymouth, and later at the meeting at
the Regent Theatre.
On summing up media reports and
other information it became clear that
the regional council intends to give
themselves the power to influence what
requires a resource consent and what
does not. The reason for this is to ‘offset
the conservationists’ (Cr Archer’s words).
Council chairman Mr Robb tells us that
‘they (the conser vationists) do not have
to live with the decisions that in some
cases interferes with our everyday lives’.
‘This is a chance for West Coasters to
have their say.’
No, Cr Robb and Cr Archer, it will
certainly give the West Coast Regional
Council the power to get their own way,
however the good people of Westland or
anywhere else will get no say at all on any
decision that the regional council cares to
make if this long-term plan is passed.
I wrote a five-page submission and
filled in the official submission form
and requested that my full submission
be heard. The council acknowledged
my submission and advised me I would
be contacted once the summary of
submissions had been prepared. I am still
Can we trust the West Coast Regional
Council to make balanced decisions
on all resource consents before saying
yes or no? After the secret $1.5 million
purchase of 50% shares in a business that
deals in pest control products and 50% of
a proposed factory that will produce 1080
and brodifacoum poison baits — while
well knowing that at least 80% of West
Coasters would be against this deal —
the answer to the above question must
surly be a definite ‘no’.
Henry Ford once said: ‘If the people of
the nation understood our banking and
money system, I believe there would be
a revolution tomorrow morning’. A host
of people before and since have expressed
Incredibly, 97% of money in the world
is debt — and, of course, where there
is debt there are vast interest payments
which benefit the big banks, speculators
and anyone else with the cunning to
exploit this system.
Since 2010, the IMF, European
governments and the European Central
Bank have lent Greece 252 billion euro;
of this, 232.9 billion euro has been
spent on debt payments, bailing out
Greek banks and paying ‘sweeteners’ to
speculators. Less than 10% of the money
has been used to help the Greek people.
Ridiculous? I think so — and so do a
great many people much better-informed
on these matters than I.
Taking out more loans to try to keep up
the payments on already existing loans
is patently absurd, so why do elected
politicians not ask the obvious questions?
Every time a loan is taken out by, for
example, a local council, the ratepayers
have to finance the resulting debt plus
interest. Yet, it is perfectly possible for
governments to legislate so that loans for
desirable public works could be arranged
through Reser ve Banks without interest
so that only management costs would be
So how much would it save the
taxpayers? If the loan for the new $67
million Greymouth Hospital runs over
25 years — and given the DHB is always
broke, how will the loan ever be cleared?
— the interest will more than double the
budgeted cost, so taking a further $67
million-plus away from health services.
Until the general public demands action
from their representatives, the rich and
privileged who benefit from this gigantic
rip-off will continue to pick the public’s
pockets — legally.
Will Kevin Hague and Damien
O’Connor publicly state their views on
NZ Democrats for Social Credit
Council not listening
In reference to the article re
amalgamation (Greymouth Star, July 22).
If it was ‘a bit of a surprise’ to the regional
council chairman Andrew Robb over the
comments made by Local Government
Minister Paula Bennett that it was time
for a change in the way we structure our
councils, then his comments that ‘the
community would need to let its leaders
know what they wanted’ is an even bigger
Has Mr Robb slept his way through his
time as chairman and not seen the public
revulsion at the use of 1080 poison? Yet
his council sees fit to invest in a plant
in Canterbury to manufacture the stuff.
Wakey, wakey, Mr Robb. People have had
a gutsful of councils that do not listen.
Finally, the public has been given a
glimpse of where the new Greymouth
Hospital is going to be (Greymouth Star,
July 24). The question remains whether it
will ser ve the needs of the region.
In New Zealand, a hospital ser ves many
functions. A hospital provides health care
outside the expertise of primary care. It
ser ves a vital role in education and training
of the current and future workforce.
Hospitals make significant contributions
to the economy. The contribution to the
local economy depends on where the
workers live and spend.
Hopefully, the function of the hospital
was considered in the plans. A base
hospital has to provide ser vices provided
outside the main hospital in a larger city,
such as rehabilitation, hospice and long-
term care. A base hospital needs additional
bed space to accommodate for fluctuating
available expertise of the peripheral
hospitals such as Buller and Reefton. The
needs of those living in remote areas, who
may need to stay in hospital longer should
be considered in the bed numbers.
Often, claims are made that more
ser vices in the community will decrease
demand for hospital beds. Figures
from patients attending A and E in the
Waitemata region doubts the success of
the current strategies. Patients with more
severe illnesses were presenting late to A
and E. The available ser vices lacked the
necessary expertise in early inter vention.
In the past, patients were accepted, based
on the needs of the patient, GP or clinical
training. I had provided same day acute
medical assessment ser vices in nine of the
13 New Zealand hospitals I had worked
in. Each of them had suitable locations
and the mix of expertise within the
hospital to ser ve the needs of most.
Hopefully, hospital planners would have
looked at the needs and learned lessons
from the past, present and elsewhere.
Spiders in grapes
When is New Zealand going to import
a few container loads of the whiptailed
psychedelic stamp-footed hobgoblin to
wipe out all the black widow spiders they
Is it some diabolical plan to wipe out
all the old and infirm or very young in
hospital who receive grapes from caring
All we need is to be overrun with
poisonous spiders, but I suppose if New
Zealanders are continuously bombarded
with 1080 poison we will build up an
immunity to anything.
Even if they fumigate the grapes, do
we have to wash each one before we eat
them, or is it just part and parcel of being
On Sunday, July 26 some family
members of Stephen Neal and Robert
Hughes came together to remember the
lives these two men had, and also the
tragic day of July 28, 1985, when they were
swept off the breakwater at the Blaketown
We would like to express our sincere
thanks to Mayor Tony Kokshoorn, who
unselfishly gave his time, support and
understanding for the families who
gathered for this anniversary. Also a huge
‘thank you’ to the Blaketown Rugby Club
for allowing us the use of their clubrooms
to hold our function on a day when the
weather prevented us from holding this at
the original venue.
We are extremely thankful for the
generosity we received from the people
of Greymouth as we thoroughly enjoyed
their friendliness and hospitality.
Garry and Maree Smith
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