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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2015
Sunshine draws record
crowd to Westport trots
fog-bound in Ross
The West Coast NZCC Rescue
Helicopter was stranded by fog
in Ross last night after a mercy
dash to the top of Franz Josef
Glacier to assist a tramper who
had become ill. West Coast police
acting area commander Inspector
Iain McKenzie said the helicopter
was called out about 10.30pm
following a report of a person having
suffered a seizure while staying at
the Centennial Hut. On its return to
Grey Base Hospital the helicopter
encountered thick fog and was
eventually forced to ground at
Ross. “ We ended up being pushed
underneath it,” a rescue helicopter
spokesman said. The unwell climber
was taken to hospital from Ross
by ambulance and the helicopter
returned to Greymouth later this
morning once conditions had
Police, the Rescue Co-ordination
Centre and Greymouth Lifeguards
mounted a maritime search
early today off the coast south of
Greymouth after flares were seen out
to sea in the Karoro area. A police
spokesman said a sighting of three
red flares off the shore at South
Beach was reported to emergency
services about 11.30pm from a
“reliable informant ”. The coastguard
was subsequently called out and
conducted a grid search of the sea
from 2am to 4am, 1-2km offshore.
By 5am the emergency services
were stood down. Police said there
had been no reports of a missing or
overdue vessel in the area.
A man died on Christmas Day
in Germany after he was hit in the
head by a flying piece of metal from
a condom machine that he and two
accomplices blew up in an apparent
robbery attempt. The 29-year-old
man was taken to hospital in the
western town of Schoeppingen,
near the D utch border, by the two
other men who fled the scene of the
explosion in a car, leaving condoms
and money scattered around the
gutted vending machine. The two
men told hospital officials that their
friend had fallen down the stairs,
injuring his head. Suspicious of their
story, the officials called the police.
During questioning, police said one
of them admitted that the three had
blown up the condom machine, and
that their cohort was hit in the head
by metal as he tried to take cover
from the explosion. — Reuters
Showers developing about ranges
The tills were ringing in some West
Coast shops on Boxing Day, contributing
$1.1 million of sales to a record period of
spending throughout the country.
The latest figures from eftpos network
operator Paymark show the Coast
enjoyed a 12.8% increase in the value of
sales on the same time last year, while the
total volume of sales rose by 16.4% over
Around the country $151.7m was spent
on Boxing Day — up 11.2%.
Ellery’s 100% owner Clark Ellery
echoed the rise in sales nationally.
“For us it was a better Boxing Day than
last year, mainly due to the type of product
we were selling — a lot more bigger stuff
this year than last year,” Mr Ellery said.
The Greymouth store had actually
closed an hour earlier than planned, as
by closing time all his staff had “had it ”.
However when they shut the doors at
3pm, “town was still busy ”.
Visitors had contributed to the better
sales figures: “I think it ’s showing the
tourists are in town earlier, we seem to be
a month ahead.”
Colls Sportsworld owner Scott
Williams said they had also enjoyed a
“good Boxing Day ”.
“It was up a little bit on last year so it
was worth being open, that ’s for sure ...
the weather gets people moving.”
Rushworth said that while Christmas
Eve was always the biggest day of the
year, Boxing Day this year had given
retailers an extra boost.
“Boxing Day sales have traditionally
been strong and we’ve seen an increase
in spending among cafes and restaurants.
Liquor merchants and speciality food
outlets have had a strong Boxing Day in
particular, with an increase of 37.7% and
18.3% respectively over last year.”
The busiest time of day for sales
was 12.21pm, when a peak of 157.46
transactions per second was measured
a new record for the number of
transactions per second the eftpos
network has processed.
Paymark’s network processes eftpos
transactions for more than 75% of New
PICTURE: Lisa Rangi
Bargain hunters at The Warehouse in Greymouth were among shoppers across
New Zealand who spent their way to a record Boxing Day for retailers.
No Christmas break for rescue chopper
PICTURE: Stuart Drake
The West Coast NZCC Rescue Helicopter in the picturesque Adams Valley, inland from Hari Hari, after responding to an emergency personal
locator beacon activated by a sole hunter early on Christmas Day. A spokesman said the hunter was well prepared but had suffered a knee injury. He
was taken to Grey Base Hospital for medical treatment. It was one of several call-outs that had the rescue helicopter busy throughout the
Christmas period, including uplifting a cyclist who crashed near the Gates of Haast bridge, at Haast Pass. The injured cyclist suffered a blow to the
head, cuts and bruises and was flown to Christchurch Hospital.
The sun beat down on Greymouth
Christmas Day, defying
predictions of heavy rain from
controversial alternative weather
forecaster Ken Ring.
In his 2015 Weather Almanac,
published in August 2014, Mr Ring
had the West Coast down for the
highest rain potential of any region
in New Zealand, with the area inland
of Greymouth the most likely area of
the Coast to have rain.
He predicted changeable conditions
“partly cloudy, heavy rain, breezy,
chance of localised flooding”.
Contrasting that, conventional
forecasts by the Metser vice were for
dry and sunny conditions.
“There has been high pressure over
the country, and it has been quite
slow moving. It ’s been a wonderful
period of weather for the country, it’s
been quite settled,” forecaster Peter
He cautioned against putting too
much store in long-range weather
predictions, such as those in Mr
“We tend not to try to put out
forecasts beyond 10 days. It becomes
very difficult to put out a forecast
more than 10 days in advance.”
The last rain to fall on Greymouth
was on the morning of December 22,
with a good outlook into the New
Some “weak frontal” weather
patterns would move up the coast
this week but would bring little relief.
“I can’t see any major rain on the
radar until early next year,” Mr Little
Given that 2015 was an El Nino
year, which was supposed to mean
higher than average rainfall for the
West Coast, the dry Christmas
period would have been a “good
surprise for some people”.
For the record, Mr Ring’s forecast
for New Year’s Eve is “heavy rain,
fluctuating breezes, warm day, cool
night ”, and he gives the Coast the
highest level of rain potential for the
Christmas rain on Coast? Yeah, right!
Heavy traffic flows on Coast highways
West Coast roads have carried
heavy traffic volumes over the
Christmas holiday period since
Christmas Eve, but apart from
a couple of minor accidents the
amount of traffic has resulted in few
issues, police said today.
Acting area commander Inspector
Iain McKenzie said police staff at
Hokitika, Reefton, and Westport
had reported “very busy ” holiday
traffic flows through their towns,
with a large number of self-drive
So far, police had dealt with
a couple of fairly minor traffic
incidents but nothing remarkable,
Mr McKenzie said.
ambulance were fairly quiet apart
from supporting routine medical
call-outs across the West Coast.
The Greymouth Volunteer Fire
Brigade had a quiet holiday weekend
with just one call-out.
Senior station officer Colin
Thomas said they got a call on
Saturday to Main South Road after
a report of a small barbecue gas
bottle having fallen off a trailer. In
the event, the bottle could not be
found and it was likely whoever had
lost it had retrieved it, he said.
In Westport, the fire brigade
dealt with a couple of rubbish fires
and a bonfire on the beach after
Fire chief Alan Kennedy said the
brigade was called to a household
rubbish fire in Westport on Boxing
Day and another one yesterday in
the town where people were burning
rubbish in their back yards. They
were given an appropriate warning.
The brigade also doused a small
bonfire at North Beach, on Sunday.
Unemployment is still rising on the
West Coast after another wave of
The latest figures, for September
2015, show 400 people receiving
jobseeker support through Work and
Income in Westport, compared to 397
three months earlier, and 366 the year
In Greymouth, 642 are registered for
jobseeker support, compared to 608 in
June and 627 a year ago.
Coast-wide, when all benefits are
included, the figure is 2363, compared
to 2334 a year earlier, and 2350 in
September 2013. The main age group
is 40 to 54 years, and 511 have been
receiving a benefit for more than a year.
Labour Party leader Andrew Little
said recently there had been a more
than 30% rise in those out of work in
the South Island this year.
“The West Coast region is now in
recession, according to ANZ. The
health of the economy should be
measured by the health of its people.
And yet in just the past three months
11,000 jobs were lost taking our tally
of unemployed Kiwis to more than
150,000 people,” Mr Little said.
In May, Solid Energy cut 113 jobs
at Stockton and six at the mothballed
Spring Creek, and 186 the previous
winter. The Terrace Mine at Reefton
closed earlier in the year, while Oceana
Gold is putting its Reefton mine into
‘care and maintenance’, with 106 jobs
gone by the end of September.
Mine cutbacks boosting dole queues
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