Home' Greymouth Star : September 29th 2015 Contents www.greystar.co.nz
Excitement over Mars
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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015
Est. 1866 Phone 769 7900
off to Doha
Coast farmer up
for NZ award
Rotomanu farmer Katie Milne
is one of the 100 influential
women named as finalists in
the 2015 Women of Influence
Awards. With a record number of
nominees this year, the panel of
judges said selecting the top 100
had been tough, and determining
the category winners and overall
winner would be a challenging task.
Ms Milne is nominated in the rural
category, for her role as a national
board member of Federated
Farmers. Former Grey Base
Hospital anaesthetist Judy Forbes
is also nominated, as is lawyer
Stacey Shortall, who represented
Pike River Coal chief executive
Peter Whittall. The winners will be
announced on November 4.
‘Now, listen here,
A Rotomanu dairy farmer
apologised after pointing the
finger at a judge in the Greymouth
District Court yesterday. Judge
David Saunders was trying to help
Donald McKenzie Harcourt, who
is defending himself against animal
welfare charges relating to 77
emaciated dairy cows. However, at
one point Harcourt took issue with
the judge, pointing his finger and
saying “now, you look here” before
walking out and muttering he was
“p... off ”. When Harcourt returned,
he was warned the hearing was
not an occasion for “a witch-hunt ”
about the Ministry of Primary
Industries visiting another farm.
He had already been warned by the
judge to “take the irrelevancies out
of it,” in the course of questioning
Becoming cloudy, patchy drizzle
A Hong Kong woman had a
stomach-churning sushi experience
after biting into a piece and finding
three false teeth inside. The woman’s
daughter had reportedly bought
two boxes of sushi from a takeaway
chain in the Tsz Wan Shan area in
southern Hong Kong. In the wake
of the disgusting find, the chain,
called Sushi Express, is now under
investigation by health inspectors.
The woman’s daughter said she
paid $HK75 for the meal, which
she brought home for them to
share. The woman put a piece of
salmon nigiri in her mouth, she bit
down on to something hard, and
quickly spat it out. Both mother and
daughter were shocked to find a set
of three connected false teeth in the
mouthful of sushi. — Daily Mail
A Lake Brunner farmer had his milk
supply contract cancelled after Westland
Milk Products learned he was subject
to an animal welfare investigation,
in September 2012, the Greymouth
District Court heard yesterday.
Donald McKenzie Harcourt is
defending himself on three charges
brought under the Animal Welfare Act
by the Ministry of Primary Industries
after he allegedly failed to meet the
health needs of 72 calves, having 77
cows with a body condition score of 2.5
(emaciated), and for failing to comply
with the requirements of an inspector.
MPI lawyer Grant Fletcher said the
case against Harcourt might be viewed
in light of other high profile animal
welfare cases but it was “not as serious
(an) animal welfare matter as this court
has seen in recent years”.
The ministry would be seeking a
“modest ” fine.
“ We don’t want to be seen as kicking
a man when he is down,” Mr Fletcher
Officials first visited Harcourt’s 680ha
farm at Crooked River on September
13, 2012, after a complaint about
skinny and under-condition calves on
It was later forced to inter vene and 77
cows had to be slaughtered.
During the first visit an MPI inspector
found about 740 head of stock,
including about 540 in-milk dairy cows,
plus empty or un-calved cows, young
stock and calves. A significant number
were underweight or emaciated.
A veterinarian subsequently found 72
calves “stunted in growth”. The calves
were visibly “shaking” with a heavy
“parasitic burden” (worms).
At the time, about 10 days worth of
feed was estimated to be left on the
farm to feed all the stock.
“The property was overstocked,” Mr
Harcourt was given room to fix the
situation, including a feed plan and
“As this matter progressed Mr
Harcourt received direction to increase
the feed to his cows, and he did not
follow that direction.”
A “significant resource” was required
to rectify the situation, in the end, Mr
On September 20, MPI district
compliance officer Peter Hyde returned
to the property with farm consultant
Harcourt was ordered then to feed
16kg of dry matter per cow per day;
the ministry later found that Harcourt
had purchased 28 tonnes of palm kernel
and by September 30 “the situation was
getting back under control”.
However, by October 11 he was not
feeding out the supplement and there
was evidence of only a small amount of
the palm kernel having been used, Mr
On October 24-25, 2012, an MPI
operation identified 77 emaciated
cows, which were sent for emergency
slaughter at the Kokiri meatworks.
Mr Fletcher said the ministry learned
then that the freezing works had
already noted a “significantly higher
than normal rate” of emaciated animals
arriving from Harcourt’s farm.
He said the MPI would provide
evidence of “a deteriorating relationship”
Later in the hearing, Mr Hyde
outlined discussions with Westland
Milk Products after it advised the
ministry it was going to cut milk
collection from Harcourt.
“The general tenor was around welfare
issues, and also effluent issues.”
“Threats” by Harcourt to Westland
Milk staff were also discussed, Mr
The ministry outlined its concerns to
Westland Milk about the impact on
animal welfare from suddenly stopping
milking cows, such as mastitis, and the
environmental issue of dumping milk.
It subsequently heard that the dairy
company had been saying the MPI
had ordered it to cut off Harcourt,
“that WMP had told people in the
community that MPI had directed it
to stop collecting milk from Donald
Mr Hyde said he subsequently spoke
with the company to refute that, then
wrote to the company to say “we did
not direct WMP to stop collecting”.
PICTURE: Moe Bowes
A fur seal nonchalantly suns itself on the rocks yesterday morning as whitebaiters tr y to net themselves a feed from the Grey River.
Toxic rubbish burned in backyard
A Cobden resident who was caught
burning rubbish on his property last
night was ordered to extinguish the
fire himself, and to get a permit.
The Cobden Volunteer Fire Brigade
was called to the fire off Richmond
Street about 6.30pm.
Fire chief Gary Pollock said the
resident was burning “toxic rubbish”
and did not have a permit.
“ We made the occupier put the
fire out and told him to get ... a
permit,” Mr Pollock said. “People
need to realise that carpet and plastics
generating toxic smoke are a no, no.”
Anyone who wanted to burn rubbish
only needed to get a permit from the
Grey District Council.
Meanwhile, a rubbish fire in a drum
at Blaketown and an un-permitted
burn-off at Arnott Heights had the
Greymouth Volunteer Fire Brigade
out twice last night.
Deputy fire chief Graeme O’Dea
said the brigade was called to
Blaketown about 10pm after someone
called in worried about a fire, in the
vicinity of the beach. It turned out to
be a legitimate rubbish fire in a drum.
“There was nothing really wrong
except for the time of the night it was
being done,” Mr O’Dea said.
A few hours later the brigade was
called out again, this time to Stirling
Drive at 2am to burning vegetation
on a residential section.
The fire was extinguished but it
begged the question “who would
be up at that time” to burn off their
section? Mr O’Dea said.
A District Court judge yesterday
slapped down a pending case against
Kiwi Rail over alleged poisonous
fumes in the Otira Tunnel after the
State-owned enterprise sought a
hearing to dispute some of the facts.
Judge David Saunders described
the delay as “a complete and utter
waste of court time” after indicating
he would enforce a timetable to
disclose disputed facts prior to Kiwi
Rail entering pleas to two of four
representative charges related to the
risk to workers of carbon monoxide
poison fumes in the rail tunnel, on
or about November 6, 2013.
The rail operator has been charged
under the Health and Safety Act
with failing to take any action
or practicable steps to ensure its
employees were safe and not harmed
while working in the tunnel. The
same charges were laid in relation
to Kiwi Rail contractor, MBD
In the Greymouth District Court
yesterday, Kiwi Rail disputed some
facts and was seeking a hearing for
Representing Worksafe NZ,
lawyer Marcus Zintl said a disputed
facts hearing would have “no useful
purpose,” particularly as a conviction
would carry no penalty under the
law for a Crown agency.
Judge Saunders noted that four
weeks had already been set aside
to hear the case, which had been
pending since June last year.
He said he was reluctant to waste
further court time and indicated
he would impose time limits to
ensure the facts were clarified
“ within a month,” before transferring
the case to the Wellington District
Mr Zintl said Kiwi Rail could
not be fined as a result of any
prosecution, there was no recourse
for reparation and there were no
However, Worksafe was still
seeking to have a prosecution
Judge Saunders then asked what
was the point “of all this palaver”.
“I’m going to require you people to
identify what is in dispute ... Is Kiwi
Rail so precious about their record
that they don’t want a conviction
The principle behind the
prosecution was “to ensure the
safety of workers,” Judge Saunders
said, noting the court’s main
concern would be if workers had
been exposed to carbon monoxide
poisoning in the Otira Tunnel.
Mr Zintl said Worksafe was
satisfied that Kiwi Rail had now
taken steps to mitigate the risk.
The judge said it was time to “put
up and shut up”, giving Kiwi Rail
until October 16 to identify disputed
facts, with an indicative court date
of December 14, in Wellington.
Otira Tunnel gas leads to court
FLOATING SCREENS, REPLACEMENT BAGS & MORE
The whitebait are running . . .
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