Home' Greymouth Star : November 19th 2015 Contents www.greystar.co.nz
Reflections of Pike River... then and now
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2015
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The sender and the intended
recipient of an innocent looking
package in Greymouth should expect
a visit from the police soon, after
New Zealand Post staff became
suspicious about a strong smell
wafting through the mailroom
yesterday. Senior constable Mike
Tinnelly, of Greymouth police, said
they were called after a package that
smelt “very strongly” of cannabis
was identified. The parcel contained
a catalogue which had 2.1g of the
drug concealed within its pages. Mr
Tinnelly said police inquiries today
included tracking down both the
person who posted the cannabis, and
the intended recipient.
Police are seeking information after
a call about 1.45am today reporting
that a man had been seen walking
around Cobden with a ladder. The
ladder carrier was nowhere to be
seen when police went to investigate
shortly after. A 46-year-old man was
forbidden to drive by police when he
was stopped in Greymouth yesterday
and it emerged he did not have a
valid driver’s licence, having let his
licence lapse. A 28-year-old man was
arrested in Greymouth for assault,
the result of a domestic-related
A Polish tramper in her 30s was
picked up by the NZCC West
Coast Rescue Helicopter from the
Welcome Flat Hut on the Copland
Track, just south of Fox Glacier,
about 9am today. She was with
a group of people tramping the
trans-alpine track when she became
Rain, heavy and thundery
Answering the call of nature when
out in public can be a perilous
adventure. But visitors across China
can actually look forward to their
hunt for a toilet, as many of the
facilities that they encounter have
been kitted out with entertaining
themes, turning them into a tourist
attraction in their own right. From a
UFO bathroom, to a giant camera-
shaped toilet, China ensures that
visitors to its public restrooms enjoy
a unique experience. — Daily Mail
Five years after the Pike River
Mine disaster, there are several new
babies, several new marriages, and
the youngest of the Pike children are
heading off to school.
As the families headed back to
the mine site in the hills north of
Greymouth today to remember their
men, there is also finally talk of a way
The 29 men remain entombed deep
underground, and a legal challenge
over their deaths on November 19,
2010, is grinding its way through the
Yet, a new ‘great walk’ is confirmed,
health and safety reforms have been
drafted, and the thousands of dollars in
donations that poured into Greymouth
that terrible November are awaiting
their place in a new visitor centre at the
mine site at Atarau.
Among the families left behind, some
have moved away from the West Coast,
while others have stayed; there are new
babies and re-marriages.
“A lot has happened but nothing has
happened,” said Carol Rose, who lost
her son Stuart.
This fifth anniversary is the last one
the families will be officially organising,
but many, who found comfort in each
other and had made great friendships,
would continue to mark November 19
together in smaller groups.
“I can’t really talk for all the families,”
Mrs Rose said. Everybody was at a
different stage, but most were excited
about the new walking track, with 21
families in favour.
But they were all agreed that they
wanted someone to take responsibility
for what happened to their men.
“Not blame, but responsibility. I hate
the word blame. The families are pretty
unanimous — they want justice,” Mrs
Anniversaries were always hard, she
said, with that yearning to get the men
Bernie Monk, the spokesman for the
families, is today remembering his son
Michael — a builder, not a coalminer
who was down the mine that fateful
day — and is busy working on the
great walk, and the on-site memorial.
“There’s lots of work to be done. If
the (great) walk is done in the next
three or four years, I’ll be surprised,”
Mr Monk said.
He was thrilled the $10 million
walk would give something back to
the Coast economy, which had been
struggling with five years of mine
closures that started with Pike River.
“ We are putting something back,
something forever. The families have
got to realise — they have done that.”
His biggest fear was that nothing
would change after the disaster. But
new health and safety legislation had
been drafted, and the planned visitor
site would be a permanent reminder of
the lessons of the disaster.
Families lawyer Colin Smith said
they still had in storage a “plethora” of
things donated from the world over —
condolence books, wreaths, paintings,
gifts from children, and letters.
They hoped the new visitor centre at
the mine site would display and store
Grey District Mayor
Kokshoorn, whose father and father-
in-law both worked in coalmines,
stood shoulder to shoulder with the
families five years ago.
In the decade before the disaster, he
helped the Pike River Coal Company
get access to the mine, which was
promised as a huge employer.
“My family and wider community
support made the disaster and
aftermath easier to cope with, but with
no body recovery it remained stressful
for a long time after the disaster,”
Mr Kokshoorn said.
Five years on, many Coast residents
were still angry at the health and safety
failings, he said.
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien
O’Connor, who sat through parts of
the Royal Commission of Inquiry,
said the region faced some big
“I’m sure we can overcome,” he said,
referring to the glut of coalmining
job losses that started with Pike, and
were compounded by the slump in
international coal prices.
The Coast had moved — “but it’s
hard to say we’ve moved on”.
Pike families rebuilding after five years of pain
A Blackball man is heartbroken at the
suspected poisoning of his cat, and angry that
someone in the township may be targeting
Daaron Curtain and his wife Raewyn are
trying to come to terms with the loss of
nine-year-old Blue, which they had raised
from a kitten. It is one of a number of cats
in Blackball that have disappeared in recent
“He would only come to me and my wife ...
I am disabled, he was extremely comforting,”
Mr Curtain said.
He was worried when Blue disappeared for
a few days. “ Then he came back, he wasn’t
right, he was a bit nutty — he was very
emaciated and dehydrated. He wouldn’t eat,
I knew he was really sick. ”
He took the cat to West Coast Vets in
Greymouth, but they released it, saying it
was just dehydrated.
“But we took him back again, I wasn’t
happy with his behaviour,” Mr Curtain said.
On the second visit to the vet, at his request,
Blue was force-fed but still did not improve.
When the vet told him the cat was going to
die, he took Blue home. However, the vet
first took a blood test, which confirmed it
had been poisoned.
The vet did not say what the poison was,
but Mr Curtain thought it was anti-freeze.
“I have narrowed it down because I looked
it up on the computer — it ’s a very popular
poison for people who know what it does to
cats. You just have to look up — anti-freeze,
cat-killer. To cats it tastes sweet, they just lap
Mr Curtain said he knew of at least three
other people in Blackball who had their
cats die in the past few weeks, one of which
suffered the same “ wobbly leg” symptoms
that Blue had.
He said he had a “pretty good idea” of who
had been poisoning the town cats, but had
not yet gone to the police because he did not
have a “ burden of proof ”.
Stevenson said his female tabby cat ‘The Stig’
had not been seen for two weeks.
“Coming home from work, she’s always
on the picnic table at the back of the house.
She has been poisoned by the sound of it ...
there’s a few in Blackball that would do that,
Daaron’s wife said it was anti-freeze in their
“ I have had a good look around, had a
good look in lots of places. People know
my cat, but no one has seen her around, so
Anne Christie, said her cat Poppy Stray
disappeared six weeks ago. It had reappeared
one day when she got home after a fishing
trip, but by the time she had gone into the
house the cat had gone again.
“S he was an inside cat most of the time,
she didn’t really venture much outside. I
started looking for her and I couldn’t find her
anywhere,” Mrs Christie said.
She was not sure exactly what fate had
befallen her cat.
“I can’t say that my cat was poisoned. I
never would have thought of poison when
I saw her. I thought maybe she had been
clipped by a car, or even someone had kicked
“ But after listening to Daaron, to what
happened to his cat, I thought that was what
might have been happening with mine.”
After six weeks she had accepted that her
cat was not going to come back, but she
would rather the cat had died at home with
her, “where I can find her”.
PICTURE: Ben Aulakh
Daaron Curtain with a photo of Blue the cat, which he believes was poisoned with anti-freeze.
One section of the new Pike
River ‘great walk’ is 29km long,
and another 29 miles, raising
the possibility that each of the
29 victims of the 2010 mining
disaster could have 1km or 1 mile
dedicated to their memory.
The Greymouth Star was alerted
to the coincidence by families
spokesman Bernie Monk, who
indicated the possibilities that
raised, and Environment Minister
Nick Smith confirmed it yesterday.
“I am advised that the track from
Blackball through to Punakaiki
is exactly 29 miles. From Pike
amenities area to Punakaiki, is
29km,” Dr Smith said.
Today is the fifth anniversary of
Dr Smith said there “may be
some discussion with the families
about how we can sensitively
recognise the loss of each of the
The Government would be
guided by the families committee,
The $10 million walk and
mountainbike track will total
45km in length, running from
Blackball to Punakaiki, including
part of the existing Croesus Track
and the popular Pororari River
Track, with an 8km-long side track
to the Pike River Mine site and a
discreet memorial at the mine
29km track for 29 mine victims
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