Home' Greymouth Star : August 19th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, August 19, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1692 - Clergyman and five women convicted
of witchcraft are executed in Salem,
1812 - The USS Constitution,
defeats the British frigate Guerriere
during the War of 1812.
1914 - British Navy torpedoes
and damages German battleship
Westfalen in North Sea and the
German fleet bombards English coast.
1918 - Britain opens offensive on the Western
front during World War One.
1913 - Adolphe Pegoud becomes the first
person to fall out of an aeroplane when he bails
out from his Bieriot craft above France, his
parachute bringing him down safely.
1942 - Large raid by British and Canadian
commandos on Dieppe, France, is repulsed.
1968 - Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact
nations begin invading Czechoslovakia.
1977 - Death of US comedian-actor Groucho
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Benjamin Harrison, 23rd US president (1833-
1901); Orville Wright, US aviation pioneer
(1871-1948); Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, French
fashion designer (1883-1971); Frank
McCourt, Irish author (1930-2009);
Renee Richards, US tennis player-
coach (1934-); Johnny Nash, US
singer (1940-); Jill St John, actress
(1940-); Bill Clinton, US president
(1946-); John Deacon, British
musician (Queen) (1951-); Lee
Ann Womack, US singer (1966-);
Matthew Perry, US actor (Friends) (1969-);
Mary Joe Fernandez, US tennis player (1971-) .
“One can live in the shadow of an idea
without grasping it. ”
— E lizabeth Bowen, Irish author.
“ But immediately Jesus spoke to them and
said, “ Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
— (Matthew 14:27).
It is unlikely that
the Runanga Borough
Council will help
finance the proposed
PRO in Greymouth. Firstly, Runanga’s gain, if
any, would be very slight and secondly, funds
will not permit it. These were the conclusions
reached after a lengthy discussion at the
council’s meeting last night.
“ We discussed this 12 months ago and we
were prepared to put a sum into a pool for a
public relations office,” said the Mayor Mr
CR Wylde, opening the discussion. He asked
councillors’ views on how a PRO could benefit
the Runanga borough.
“The gain to Greymouth is going to be much
more than to Runanga,” commented Cr W H
S Wick. The mayor agreed. “ We are not in a
financial position to pay out money,” said Cr R
T Archer, adding that local commitments came
first. “Any finance we could make would be
goodwill,” added Cr Wick.
Mr Wylde agreed that the council should
“ lend moral support”.
A Karamea dairy farmer, Mr D Doyle had
his home in the Wangapeka Valley burned to
the ground early this morning. The Karamea
Volunteer Fire Brigade was alerted quickly
after the blaze began but, after its 18-mile
journey to the farmhouse, only a washing
machine had been saved. The cause of the fire
is not known.
Mr Doyle, his wife, daughter and
granddaughter left the house safely. They stood
by and watched the home burn to the ground,
unable to do anything.They are staying with
another Wangapeka Valley farmer, Mr Alex
It is three years since a house was burned
down in the district, and following that fire, the
brigade was formed.
uFood for thought
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s a ghost writer, you once
said the celebrity subjects
of your books were always
honest with you. You did
a book with Rolf Harris
— was he honest?
No. That was quite
a chastening experience and I feel very
betrayed by Rolf Harris. Nothing compared
to the betrayal all his victims feel, obviously.
The book actually reveals that he was a bit
of a lech. He was a man of his generation,
prone to getting a slap on the face for
making inappropriate remarks to women.
He was a groper. But I was devastated by
the revelations (that he was a multiple sex
offender). It was one of those books that
I took off my shelf and basically wish I’d
never had any involvement with.
2. Did you like him?
He’s a charming guy. In hindsight though,
the one thing I found was that he was very
depressed. His daughter wouldn’t talk to me
for the book. In the book Rolf talked about
wanting to spend the rest of his life making
things up to his wife and his daughter. I
thought he meant that he’d spent his life
touring and wanted to spend more time
3. You also ghost wrote a book for Geri
Halliwell. How was that experience?
Her story was a sort of late 20th century
fairy tale about what it ’s like to be a young
person who gets chewed up by the machine
and finishes up being incredibly famous
and rich but never more miserable. When I
met her she was bulimic, she was anorexic,
she was a mess. She had just done up an
ex-monastery west of London and she
was rattling around in this big place with
heated marble floors. I lived there for six or
seven weeks while I was writing the book;
we would go rollerblading down these
empty corridors. She hadn’t yet hired a
housekeeper and she couldn’t cook so I was
feeding her, which was a challenge.
4. Did you like her?
Yeah, I did. I saw two sides of her. The
first Geri I met was very insecure, very
bruised. She’d lived in a bubble for so long
— she was worth £14 million but didn’t
know her PIN number. By the time we
finished the book Geri was launching a solo
career and she sort of became a different
person. I think I preferred the little girl lost
to the hard-headed pop diva.
5. Could you be a ghost writer if you had
a big ego?
No, you have almost got to make
yourself into a blank canvas. There are
times your subject will say things that you
fundamentally disagree with, or you think
of a joke that you’d love to put in there
but you can’t because it wasn’t their line.
But you’ve got an opportunity to look at
the world through someone else’s eyes,
to absolutely inhabit their skin and find
out how they were formed, their deepest
fears, their greatest highs; all that is a huge
privilege. And it was a stunningly good
grounding for a novelist because all of those
skills of capturing someone’s voice, I could
then turn to writing fiction.
6. Is it necessar y for you to relate to your
Totally. As a journalist in the UK I was
very fortunate to work closely with a man
called Paul Britton, a pioneering forensic
psychologist who was the inspiration for
Fitz in that wonderful BBC series Cracker.
Paul spent over 20 years working with the
criminally insane. He understood the way
psychotic and sociopathic people think,
and he’s got a brilliant, brilliant mind. He
worked on a lot of the biggest crimes of the
80s and 90s including Fred and Rosemary
West. And one of the things that Paul
taught me is that these villains don’t spring
from nowhere. Society gets the monsters it
7. What did society do to deser ve Fred
There were three generations of incest in
Fred West ’s family so he was never going
to be a normal individual. When the police
first called Paul Britton in to the West case
they only had the three bodies in the back
garden and the Wests were denying all
knowledge. Paul looked at all the inter views
with them and told the police that they
buried their bodies close because they liked
to fantasise about what they had done. The
police said “so that ’s why they used the
garden”. And Paul said, “No, they ’ve used
the garden because the house is full”. And
then they checked the basement and found
seven more bodies.”
8. Where did you grow up?
My father was a country high school
teacher so he moved around a lot. I spent
all of my high school years in Gundagai, a
tiny country town halfway between Sydney
and Melbourne. I decided I wanted to
become a writer when I was really young
so I applied for a journalism cadetship and
moved to Sydney. I had never been in a lift
before, never been in a building with more
than three storeys. Never knew there were
so many rich people in the world. I was a
complete hayseed, completely blown away
by Sydney in every way.
9. You then moved to London. How
were your Fleet Street years?
Oh amazing, a revelation. I was there for
the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the
whole dismantling of the Soviet Republic,
reporting on history being made. Actually I
was a day late getting to Berlin.
10. You quit journalism in your early 30s
It was a great profession but it owned
me. I’d go to India and before I’d even got
on the plane to come back they ’d ask me
to go somewhere else. I always said that I
wanted to become a writer. When I was 33,
my wife was pregnant and I thought, now
is the time.
11. As a self-employed writer at
home how do you stop yourself from
Writing is what I do. It ’s almost like I
can’t stop myself. I write seven days a week.
I write Christmas morning. Sometimes I’ll
come out of a day with just a single line.
I’ve thrown 40,000-word novels away and
12. Your latest book Close Your Eyes
opens with a murdered teenage girl. Was
that hard to write as the father of three
If you look back through my books they
often involve a teenage girl in jeopardy. My
nightmares all involve my children — that I
can’t get to them or reach them in time and
maybe I just put demons on the page in the
hope that they ’ll never appear in real life.”
— New Zealand Herald
Sydney-based Michael Robotham has sold more than six million books — first as a
ghost writer of celebrity biographies, now as the prolific author of crime novels.
Congratulations to those responsible for
such a detailed report on the Taramakau
Bridge clip-on (Greymouth Star, August
18). Hopefully, we will see such a detailed
report on progress with planning of the
new road bridge.
A report some time ago stated that
drilling investigations would be carried
out prior to the whitebait season. Has
this happened, and if not when is it now
reser ve funds
Mayor Tony Kokshoorn stated in the
Greymouth Star (August 14), ‘The reser ves
funds are tightly held special accounts for
specific purposes into the future’.
1. Is it legal to rob these funds for Tony ’s
‘ Tonka town’?
2. How much of the subdivision and land
sales reser ves — $120,000 and $400,000
— c am e from the sale of harbour board
3. Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not
true that each ratepayer is paying $30 a
year for 30 years for the swimming pools,
plus running costs?
4. Reser ves funds used for the stadium
are how much?
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn
responds: ”It is completely legal and it was
a unanimous vote by all councillors to fund
$1 million of the CBD renewal from reser ve
funds held for that purpose. Not one dollar
came f rom the sale of harbour board land.
Each ratepayer is paying $20, not $30, for
the 30-year loan for swimming pools. For
similar complexes around New Zealand,
ratepayers fork out over $200 per year. A huge
amount of volunteer work and fundraising
resulted in only a $20 per year contribution.
That is why our rates are the lowest on the
West Coast and under the average charged in
As I stated in the Star, ‘ The reser ve funds
are tightly held special accounts. The funds
used for the stadium amount to $482,000 at
present, all passed by councillors. Our reser ve
funds increase by over $600,000 every year
and are projected to be $16m at the end of this
There is still lots to do but Mr Cox will be
happy to hear that the council is in a good
position and on the right track.”
Might I suggest that each of the
councils put aside $50,000 of their
$1 million Development West Coast
handout for joint research into a
sustainable economy for the Coast?
There are immediately some obvious
topics. What examples are there
nationally and internationally of
regionally located businesses (reliant or
not on fast broadband)? Hemp keeps
cropping up — what are the possibilities?
Are there other horticultural possibilities?
What would keep our talented young
people here? Or persuade them to return?
What high value uses are there for our
high value coal? How could they be
introduced here? What are the transition
packages that could be fought for
Without such information, while our
politicians are at last saying words that
correspond to reality, we fumble in
the dark in terms of the realising of a
Finally, can we rely on the invisible
hand of the market to deliver the
goods? What it has delivered is what
we have got: a declining population and
a declining economy. What political
consciousness is required, and then, what
political interventions have to be made?
I am writing in regard to the ‘Horror
movie’ article on the front page of the
Greymouth Star (August 8). Frankly, I was
surprised at the crude terminology of both
male and female anatomy and reference
to ‘deathgasm’. Are we sexualising death
now? Notoriety does not always justify the
I have the opportunity to be part of a
local youth ministry The Shed, and have
met inspiring young people, one of whom
has recently returned from Nepal working
voluntarily in relief work post-earthquake.
As a parent of a teenager I would like to
think that we would encourage our kids
towards what is life giving.
Sometimes the media glorify
entertainment when it is questionable.
What does it take to entertain us these
I see rising sexual health issues in our
country and conclude by quoting a famous
singer with a moral conscience, ‘the trouble
with normal is that it always gets worse’.
Ann Marie Douglas
St John ‘betrayal’
The public notice by St John, distancing
them from me, was an unnecessary,
ill-considered response. Had I been an
employee, I would have had grounds to
drag St John before the Employment
Court and extract a lot of money for stress,
humiliation, pain and suffering.
Basic employer behaviour was ignored.
No inquiry, no warning either written
or verbal, and a dismissal notice via the
media. Because I am not an employee, but a
volunteer who served with distinction, does
not give them the right to treat me with the
A basic inquiry would have revealed that
I had made it very clear that all matters
in contention did not come from St
John. These extracts from my letter to the
Westland District Council make this clear:
‘I wish to make it clear that in sending
this letter I am acting as a concerned
resident, not a representative of St John’.
And again, ‘Currently I hold no official
position in St John. I am addressing this
letter as one of a number of concerned
residents who have been disturbed by the
actions of council outlined in the attached
Clearly, there was no need for St John to
distance themselves from me; I had already
done that for them.
St John’s declaration of support for
Haast is very welcome. It is also long
overdue. I and a very small team of
dedicated volunteers have been struggling
for recognition of the desperate need in
Haast since 2007. We have suffered knock
back after knock back. It is ironic that
recognition arrived in this manner. It is
more ironic that on the day of publication, I
had sent research material regarding Haast
to St John as per their request. This was my
note of thanks.
St John has declared a desire to work
with the Westland District Council, and
I applaud that. However, the current
difficulties were brought about by the
council, not by me. One expects before you
abandon an old faithful friend, for a new
one of doubtful record, you would check
I have devoted 16 years to St John,
working in senior positions both locally and
regionally. During my watch, the working
conditions and facilities for West Coast
ambulance crews were changed from a
national disgrace to top of the line, in an
unprecedented rebuilding effort.
Through my personal effort a seeding
fund was set up that generated some
$630,000. I developed excellent
relationships with the Westland District
Council, and the district health board. In
2006 I negotiated an agreement with the
DHB to join forces in addressing building
needs West Coast-wide. The facility at
Franz Josef Glacier was the flagship, and
Haast was to be next cab off the rank.
In 2007 I was awarded St John Order
Member status by the Governor-General.
This is a lifetime honour that can only be
removed by the Governor-General, and
that has not happened, so I am still inside
In 2008 I gained an undertaking from the
Westland District Council to make land in
Haast available for an ambulance station.
That resolution is still on the council’s
books today. In 2012 the council confirmed
the lease of land in Haast for St John use.
On the other side of the ledger, suffice
to say that this council has not been user
friendly. In an ill-considered decision,
this council overthrew their predecessor’s
generous arrangement for land.
I accept that some council decisions will
be unfavourable. But if in making this one,
the rules were broken, and then councillors
must expect to be challenged. That is what
happened here, and I am the challenger,
not St John. This is about holding our
elected representatives to account. That is
important. It is also our right.
The mysterious 20 questions referred to
in the St John public notice were what was
put to the council. To date, this council has
failed to answer them. They were discussed
in secret, so the public are mystified as to
‘ what questions’. It is time to publish them.
The media have held a copy for some time
without publishing. Now is the time.
But let ’s not cloud the bigger issue. That
is the appalling state of the ambulance
facilities at Haast. Our local efforts have
recently unearthed an exciting possibility
for Haast. The biggest impediment is the
lack of funds. The practical way our regional
friends can demonstrate the sincerity of
their commitment to Haast is by making
sufficient funds available. With goodwill
from all parties, we can produce a facility
that will ser ve Haast with more than just
ambulance services. A win-win situation.
In summary, the spat between me, my
friends, and the council is our affair. St John
was exposed to zero harm, but may stand
to gain significantly. Why they rushed to
print is mystifying. They have displayed
a ‘Big Brother’ approach that may well
backfire. They have soured their crews,
and supporters, who are the backbone
of their organisation. St John’s biggest
problem is recruitment and retention. This
performance demonstrates why.
As for me, I feel betrayed, but I am not
going away any time soon, so use me, it
would be foolish not to. But to St John:
do not dictate to me as a ratepayer, how I
deal with my council, or my local media, on
matters that are not your affair.
Des McEnaney, MStJ
A recent article in the West Coast
Messenger (August 5) on the Tunnel
Creek Hut near Paringa, rekindles
memories for me.
In approximately 1969, I was asked to
help build the original hut as an employee
of the old New Zealand Forest Ser vice,
when based at Hari Hari.
The hut was built by goat funds from
the culling operations of the Noxious
Animals Division (NAD) of the Forest
Ser vice. The NAD field officer Peter
Ramsden, a keen hunter himself and an
ex-woodsman, requested my help to build
the prefab hut, which had been previously
dropped on the site by helicopter. We
packed in the essentials, plus handsaws,
hammers etc and food, all in backpacks.
We were well loaded up for the four and
a half hour walk in, then settled in an old
Internal Affairs hut (vintage 1930s) on the
opposite side of the river.
Our bush carpenters, the Olmverina
brothers, in their mid-50s at the time,
were hardy breeds, and I recall Max
Olmverina saying he owned or leased the
Ikamatua garage prior to 1968-69.
We took about 2-3 weeks to build the
hut before walking out again.
There were quite a few deer about in
those days, in fact while I was assembling
the hut chimney and fitting it, two deer
stepped out of the bush and looked at us
about 200m away. They stood there for
about 10 minutes before going back into
the bush. The riverbed where the red and
white shelters are standing in the photo,
was about 100m in length and the upper
part turned at a rectangle followed the
I believe from information received that
in the early part of the venison export
days, which was quite lucrative, fixed-wing
aircraft were used in various parts of South
Westland prior to the full onslaught of the
Anyhow, this section of boulder strewn
and shingle covered riverbed, once cleared
of logs and other obstacles, was used by
the Piper Cub venison hunters of South
Westland in the 1960s. When looking
at the riverbed and conditions for flying
fixed-wing aircraft in and out of there, I
would have to say that the requirements
for safety as per the Civil Aviation
regulations was not part of their agenda —
I cannot mention any names, of course.
I certainly miss the New Zealand
mountains and backblocks and feel
strongly about the enormous contribution
given to these places for the common
good of New Zealand by the people who
received little or often no recognition of
their efforts, whether they were guides or
sur veyors, explorers or bushmen and deer
cullers, and the early Internal Affairs field
officers like Jim Ollerenshaw etc.
After reading the Greymouth Star of
August 7, I am left with the feeling that
the three correspondents who criticised
my previous letter should have taken the
time to re-read that letter before writing
I did not question the medical
qualifications of Mr Martinus. He may be
a very well educated person, but it would
seem to me that he has no tact when it
comes to repeatedly writing about medical
mishaps etc. Unfortunately, a number of
departments are under-staffed.
One correspondent mentioned an
apology from me, but I would point out
that although I have been away from
Greymouth for a number of years, I am
still a West Coaster and have a number of
family members down around Greymouth.
Because of this, I feel I should be able to
write to your newspaper. I do write letters
to the Nelson Mail, and have over the
years been given valuable assistance from
the editorial staff.
St Patrick’s 150th
I am writing to inform you and your
readers that in late November of this year
the Catholic people of Greymouth will be
celebrating 150 years since our parish was
first established here in Greymouth.
The first parish priest was responsible for
the area from Charleston to the Taramakau
River and spent much time on foot or
travelling by sea to visit his extensive flock.
Things have changed a lot in Greymouth
since 1866 and the parish has used three
sites for St Patrick’s Church, first in Arney
Street, then in Chapel Street and now in
Everyone is most welcome to join us in
celebrating this important milestone in our
history. Registration forms are available
in the church foyer or in the parish office
or via e-mail at st_patricksgreymouth@
hotmail.com or by post to: Jubilee
Committee, 40 High Street, Greymouth
May God bless you and your readers.
St Pats Jubilee Committee
The TPPA is not a trade deal. One
example, tobacco-related disease, kills
hundreds of New Zealanders annually and
costs our health sector. If the Government
passed a law to implement plain packaging
of tobacco products it could be sued for
millions by the tobacco corporations. It
happened in Australia.
Tens of thousands marched against the
TPPA over the weekend. Our money
market trader Prime Minister called them
‘misinformed’ and ‘rent a crowd’. They
said, ‘people before profit and community
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