Home' Greymouth Star : January 11th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, January 11, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
49 BC - Roman dictator Julius Caesar crosses
the Rubicon river and moves his troops into an
offensive position in the war against Pompey.
1569 - First lottery in England is drawn in St
Paul’s Cathedral under the patronage of Queen
1866 - Ship “London” is wrecked
en route to Australia. Some 231
1922 - A 14-year-old Canadian,
Leonard Thompson, becomes the
first person to have his diabetes
successfully treated with insulin.
1928 - Death of English novelist
and poet Thomas Hardy.
1935 - US aviator Amelia Earhart begins a
trip from Honolulu to Oakland, California,
becoming the first woman to fly solo across the
1962 - Avalanche buries village in the
Peruvian Andes, and 3000 people are killed.
1964 - US Surgeon General Luther Terry
issues the first government report saying
smoking may be hazardous to health.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
William James, US philosopher (1842-1910);
Rod Taylor, Australian actor (1930-2015);
Clarence Clemons, US saxophonist with rock
group Bruce Springsteen and the
E Street Band (1942-2011); Daryl
Braithwaite, Australian singer
(1949-); Kim Coles, US actress
(1962-); Mary J Blige, US singer
(1971-); Rahul Dravid, Indian
cricketer (1973-); Holly Brisley,
Australian actress (1978-); Cody
Simpson, Australian pop singer (1997-) .
“If you are ruled by mind you are a king; if by
body, a slave.” — Cato, Roman statesman and
historian (234 BC-149 BC).
“Just as He chose us in Christ before the
foundation of the world to be holy and
blameless before Him in love.”
— (Ephesians 1:4).
Thirty guides and
their leaders, who
have never been to the
West Coast before,
left this morning with greenstone and gold
mementoes. The purpose of their national
heritage trail, to study the country first-hand,
had been more than achieved here. But 12
Australian girls in the party were disappointed.
They did not get to see the glaciers or snow,
although they were willing to go at their own
Under the guidance of Brown O wl Mrs
E Shaw, the girls have crammed a lot of
learning into a short time and every member
of the party was delighted with the province.
Yesterday they inspected the greenstone
factory at Hokitika, lunch was taken at Lake
Mahinapua, and the afternoon was spent
goldpanning at a Rutherglen claim. The girls
considered this the highlight of the tour.
“ We could have spent all day there. It was
such a beautiful spot,” said Mrs Shaw.
The death occurred in Greymouth early this
morning of Mr Frederick Charles Dense. Mr
Dense was born at Kaimata 77 year ago and
had lived on the West Coast all his life, his
parents the late Henry and Helene Dense
being pioneer settlers.
Mr Dense worked in the sawmilling industry
on the Midland Line and in particular Te
Kinga and Moana for most of his life. He
had resided at Kumara Junction for the
past 12 years. In his younger days he was a
keen sportsman and his main interests were
chopping and yachting.
A single man, Mr Dense is sur vived by one
brother Albert (Greymouth), and two sisters
Rose (Mrs Trowland, Christchurch) and Doris
(Mrs Gray, Nelson).
uFood for thought
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3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
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03 755 8422
Wet as a shag tourists
As a resident of Te Kinga it has been
my obser vation over the past 16-plus
years that there is a complete lack of any
welcome for the many tourists delivered
daily via the Tranz Alpine. Most are just
left to stand around getting wet as a shag
or being cut to bits by that shocker of a
wind or popping over to The Warehouse.
Why on earth would you do much
else when your host just can not be
stuffed putting themselves out? Come on
Coasters, get your act together, get some
market stalls there like those at the races
and more. Make those in transit or day
trippers feel welcome, set up a stall, sell
them some whitebait, Blackball sausages
on bread, raise funds for school. Get
off your backsides and hopefully, led by
Mayor Kokshoorn, make a difference.
All it takes is some attitude, not the usual
West Coast cynicism.
Nice one, Westfleet. Buy port land
(thanks Grey District Council), fence it
off, and do not supply fresh fish to the
Port town with no fish shop. Cheers.
Haast water exports
I refer to your news article of January 6
with the headline ‘Group vows to protest
water export scheme’.
In your article you report that
Okuru Enterprises is now trading as
Alpine Pure. I wish to advise that this
is incorrect. Okuru Enterprises is a
company that has applied for and been
granted consents to export water. Alpine
Pure is a completely separate company,
with different shareholding, and is just
one of a number of companies that are
marketing the water for which Okuru
Enterprises has consents to export.
I also note from your report that an
action group plans to oppose one of the
last consents Okuru is currently applying
to renew and this group commenting
that, “a few West Coast opportunists
plan to make billions and billions of
dollars off this pristine resource”. This
claim would seem a little exaggerated
given Okuru have held the consents for
25 years and not a single dollar has been
earned to offset the significant financial
cost and time incurred in applying for the
New Zealand is fortunate to have good
quantities of fresh water, millions of
litres of which is bottled and exported
as pure New Zealand water. The
export of the water provides overseas
income, employment, business to local
communities and additional revenue to
the IRD on any profits and additional
business generated. The exporter of the
water, therefore, is not the only person
who benefits from the venture. The same
will apply to any water sold from the
The water Okuru has consents to take
is not glacial water, as some other media
have reported. It is rain and snow run-off
from an area with over 6m of rain-snow
per annum, so it is 100% renewable.
For millions of years this water has run
into the sea and the majority of it will
continue to do so for the next many
millions of years. The taking of the water
has no detrimental environmental impact
and, with buried pipelines, will have
very minimal visual impact on the local
Virtual health, or
I wonder how much longer the
jargon junkies in health management
will continue to use the absurd term
‘ virtual’ to disguise the fact that their
changing a face-to-face health ser vice
to an impersonal phone-based system
or other means of contact is nearly
always a lessening of the previous ser vice
(Greymouth Star, December 23).
And as more robotic ways of
delivering services are sneaked into
such areas as elderly care, is society
going to be condemned to an ever-
de-personalisation of human contact,
regardless of the harmful effects it has on
In the case of the closure of the
Greymouth Family Planning Clinic it
is, as often happens, the NZ Nurses’
Organisation which highlights the
politicians’ and bureaucrats’ apparent
indifference as to the practical
consequences of yet another drastic
As the NZNO West Coast organiser
Lynda Boyd pointed out in the Star
article, not only would two longstanding
health practitioners be displaced by the
closure but, “the community had not been
consulted on the new model of sexual
health delivery as they should have been.
Assumptions have been made without
asking the public what they need ”.
How familiar that scenario is in just
about every significant change to public
health ser vices.
It is time this ‘virtual’ service nonsense
and robotic tomfoolery was reversed and
applied, not to those on the receiving end
of changes, but to those who arrogantly
dictate such changes, not from experience
and wisdom, but according to their bare-
faced cheek in pretending, as they so often
do, that drifting into health management
from inappropriate backgrounds is a sane
way of running a public health system.
Let ’s have virtual bureaucrats for a
change and the minimum required
number of real-life ones properly qualified
Come to think of it, most politicians
might as well be replaced by robots - they
could not do any worse than the ones who
have completely failed the West Coast,
and most of New Zealand, in recent years.
NZ Democrats for Social Credit
Librar y appreciated
I have nothing but admiration for our
wonderful library here in Greymouth. A
town without a library is a town without
Nothing is too much trouble for the
terrific staff. Th e shelves abound with
masses of excellent books. The armchairs
are comfy and the loo so appreciated.
I love reading — yes, I confess to being
an incorrigible bookworm. I do not think
we all realise the treasure we have. Once
again, thank you all.
L A Elphick
Thank you for the article in the
Greymouth Star (December 30)
clarifying the earlier piece in which
Winston Peters suggested that
Westpower would suffer 131% increase in
My primary interest in clarifying this is
to remove any incorrect information that
might have a negative effect on the New
Zealand public’s understanding of the
West Coast. There are many good things
happening on the Coast and they should
be highlighted. One thing we should
agree on is that we promote the positives
and enhance the prospect of investment
in the region.
Any additional charges levied on
Westpower are the direct concern of the
West Coast electricity consumers because
the business is, in effect, owned by the
consumers through the West Coast
Electric Power Trust.
I expect the West Coast will be a
winner when the negotiations over
Transpower pricing are finally settled,
thanks to the very good work of the
Westpower management team.
Westpower Ltd chairman
anuary 19, 1967. I woke at
4.30am to one of those nice
West Coast dawns with the
promise of a lovely summer’s
day. Lunch made and packed
in the crib, breakfast downed. I
do not remember what I had
for breakfast but the rest of the
day is in my memory forever. I
was out the door by 5.30am walking from
my home in Dobson to the local railway
station to catch the Christchurch railcar
into Greymouth, where the miners’ bus
took us out to the Strongman Mine.
I started work with State Coal Mines
in January 1966 as a mine survey cadet,
initially at the Dunollie Mines Office,
then a few months at the Dobson Mine,
where my father Bernie Bland worked
as a miner. I was then placed at the
Strongman Mine with the new surveyor
down from Denniston Mine, Vernon
I was not sure if Vern would be at work
that day as the previous day he had been
in pain with a recurring back injury
and was to see a chiropractor for some
treatment. Vern, however, had made work
and sorted out our sur vey work for the
day with two sections we had to work in.
The ‘Slant Dip’ was the main developing
section and ‘Green’s Dip’, where the main
work was splitting pillars and extraction.
Normally we would visit Greens first and
then spend the rest of the shift down the
Slant Dip section, however with his back
still in a bad way Vern said we would go
to the Slant Dip first and get all that work
done, then if he was up to it we would do
the pillar splits in Greens on the way out.
Just before 10am we finished our survey
work in the new panel off to the right of
the Slant Dip, at the bottom layby. We
were ready to walk up the dip to John
Burn’s winch, then on into Green’s. We
were talking to Dave Kirk, deputy of the
section, when there was a bit of a bump
and the air pushed a bit, and the brattice
airway heaved in and out. It made us
look! Maybe it was seam movement or a
goaf (the waste left in old mine workings)
falling in back up the line?
A few minutes later a phone call came
for Dave to get everyone to vacate the
mine as Green’s Dip had an explosion.
None of our group spoke on the walk out,
the only sound being the crunch of boots
in the loose coal as we walked up the
Slant Dip roadway.
I had turned 18 the previous November
and did not really comprehend the
enormity of the situation, however the
miners with me obviously did.
The landing at John Burn’s winch was
deserted and eerily quiet. A layer of dust
covered everything and there was an odd
smell in the air. A few footprints were
in the dust going past the Green’s entry
and heading down to the road out to the
mine mouth. The bulk of the miners were
behind us making their way out of the
Looking down into Green’s Dip as I
passed I hoped the miners were already
outside. As we signed out of the pit I
realised only at this stage that no one was
yet out of Green’s. From then on it was
wait and hope; standing outside watching
the mine entrance, feeling so helpless
and hoping, still feeling they would be
brought out alive.
My father was mining at the Dobson pit
and ran out of the mine upon hearing of
the explosion — no mean feat due to the
steepness of those drives. He knew the
general order; Vern and I usually worked
the mine in that section but he did not
know what had happened to me until he
and my mother met me on the street in
Greymouth eight hours later. Someone
reported to dad they thought they had
seen me on the surface after the explosion,
but no one knew for sure.
Then there was the plight of the families
of all of those at the mine, not knowing
who was missing, and from there on it
was a matter of waiting and hoping as
slowly the names of the missing men
Noel Prescott, who was at Greymouth
High School with me; Russell (Buff )
Cust, who was always there with a ‘hello’
and cheerful chat when we went through;
Harry Van L ooy and Hector McKenzie,
who were running mates of a Dobson
friend of mine; Billy Foster-Lynam with
the unusual eyes; George Kinsey of the
three-quarter coat and natty hat (a bit like
Arthur out of the Minder tv show).
All the crew down there in the short
time I had been at the pit, had made me
feel like one of the team, which is the way
of miners all over the country.
There are not many days over the past
50 years that I have not thought of that
fateful day and those who died. With me
forever is the sight of a blanket-covered
stretcher being brought out along the
main rope road to the entrance; it slipped,
revealing the soles of a pair of work boots.
Then there was the realisation that the
boys would not be walking out to join us.
In retrospect, if it had not been for the
‘drippers’ creating a water barrier at the
bottom of Green’s which extinguished
the explosion and Vern’s crook back, it is
highly likely he and I would have been
casualties also. I thanked him for his
bad back for the rest of his life, and our
sons grew up knowing that except for
this circumstance they would not be here
either. Vern passed away in Tweed Head,
Australia, in November 2014 — a great
workmate and friend till the end.
I continued with mine surveying,
qualifying as a mine surveyor and
transferring to Huntly, where I worked in
mines all over the district before ending
my career at Huntly East Mine in the
Coalminer Ted Bland, outside the Strongman Mine portal in 1968.
Retired West Coast coalminer TED BLAND, now of Huntly, was among the dozens
of men working underground the day the Strongman Mine exploded on the morning of
January 19, 1967. As the 50th anniversary of the mining disaster approaches he casts his
mind back to that fateful day that claimed the lives of 19 of his colleagues.
A miner remembers
Ted Bland revisits the mine site in 2015.
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