Home' Greymouth Star : January 16th 2017 Contents 150 YEARS SINCE 1866
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MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2017
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The bad weather just keeps
rolling in. The Metser vice said this
morning heavy rain was on its way
from this afternoon for areas south
of Hari Hari. Other parts of the
South Island were told to prepare
for westerly gales.
The Greymouth Police Station
was evacuated when the fire alarm
was triggered this morning. The
Greymouth Volunteer Fire Brigade
responded with two appliances at
8.15am. “ There was no fire, a faulty
sensor set the alarm off,” fire chief
Lee Swinburn said.
The Westland District Council
says it is taking a “cautious approach”
to a contamination problem with
the Kumara drinking-water supply,
which has been put on a ‘ boil water’
notice. Group manager district assets
Vivek Goel said the notice was
expected to stay in place for the next
few days. “ The first positive reading
for e-coli (faecal content) we got
was when we tested the water at the
treatment plant, and as yet continued
testing has not returned a negative
result,” Mr Goel said today. He
could not explain what had caused
the contamination. The ‘boil water’
notice was put in place on Saturday
after the contamination was picked
up during routine testing. All water
used for food preparation needs to be
boiled. The council said that as long
as the water was fully boiled in an
electric jug, any bacteria and viruses
would be destroyed.
A sex-mad tortoise has developed
arthritis after, erm, making ‘the
tortoise with two backs’ too often.
Poor old horny Bert now requires
wheels in order to get around its
home at the Dinosaur Adventure
Park in Norfolk, United Kingdom.
The 22-year-old African spurred
tortoise had developed swelling in
its rear legs when it returned from
a breeding programme in 2011. The
two-month session saw it sleep with
five females, producing an unknown
number of offspring. “ He is a
lover not a fighter, that is certainly
true,” said Martin Hocking, acting
manager at the park’s Secret Animal
Garden. “African spurred tortoises
are prolific breeders who can
produce up to 60 to 70 offspring a
year and he is no exception.”
Political interest is growing
in the Pike River Mine sealing
row, with a visit from New
Zealand First leader Winston
Peters on Saturday, and the
Green Party and Labour leader
Andrew Little lining up to join
the blockade on Wednesday.
Mr Peters fronted about 60
people at the locked gate on
the mine access road at Atarau
on Saturday afternoon, before
visiting Blackball and the
Greymouth RSA later in the
day. Yesterday he held a more
formal meeting in Paroa with
about 90 people, including
families of some of the 29
Mr Peters said on Saturday
he was there with “very mixed
It was not about politicking
but putting a stake in the
ground, which the New
Zealand system was failing
to do through a “political stall
He was backing the families’
plea to go back into the mine to
find out “as much as humanly
and industrially possible”.
Mr Peters said it was ironic
that the very workplace safety
law which had been an outcome
of the Pike River disaster was
now being used against the
families’ wish to search the
mine drift for remains and
He referred to former Prime
Minister John Key ’s broken
“I keep my word,” Mr Peters
“The Government has gone
back on its word. We’re not
here for politics. If you don’t
think 29 people are worthy ...
then we’ve turned into a very
He related his own work
underground mining in the
Snowy River region of New
South Wales as a young man to
pay his way through law school.
“The feeling and concern
New Zealand First has is
you’ve been stitched up from
the word go,” Mr Peters said.
The parliamentary system
had failed not only the Pike
29 and their families, but every
worker in New Zealand.
“ What ’s happened here, it’s
just been a shutdown. Even the
select committee ... that was
shut down by a parliamentary
The Government had failed
to protect and advocate for
those who mattered most in
the situation and it needed to
listen and follow.
“ We’re not interested in a
review but that the expert
advice you got is followed.
If you’ve got a democracy
where no one is being held
accountable then we are not
the great democracy we think
we are. This just stinks.”
spokesman Bernie Monk said
they were heartened by Mr
Peters’ visit and it seemed other
politicians were now “falling
“At the end of the day, he’s the
first who’s really stood by the
families and said ‘let ’s do this
job,’” Mr Monk said.
He said a Solid Energy staff
member had asked this week
why it had taken the families
six years to “start fighting”.
His reply was because until
recently they had faith in the
Government and its agencies
to keep their word.
However, Prime Minister
Bill English said today that
Mr Peters was misleading the
families by telling them the
decision not to re-enter the
mine is political.
The decision not to re-enter
the drift was one of safety and
complying with laws that had
been strengthened in the wake
of the Pike River disaster.
“Any decision to go in there
has to comply with that law.
Mr Peters is misleading the
families if he’s telling them
it’s a political decision,”
Mr English said from London.
“If he’s willing to become a
director of a company and take
legal responsibility then I’d
take him a bit more seriously.”
Mr Peters has vowed to make
re-entry of the mine non-
negotiable in any coalition deal
his party makes during this
O’Connor said it was great
news the political parties were
now “coming on board” in
support of the families.
“I think it is important that
there is focus on the technical
Recovery is possible — we
know that. The issue is who
makes the decision to make
that happen?” he said.
He was looking for ward
to the parliamentary select
committee hearing on the
matter on February 16 where
the petitioners “can finally
lay on the table” the re-entry
Mr O’Connor agreed with
the sentiment expressed by Mr
Peters on Saturday that the way
the families were treated was a
mark of a civilised democracy
in New Zealand.
“ We have to remind ourselves,
in the Erebus disaster, in times
of war, in many situations of
risk we do everything we can
to recover loved ones. The least
we can do for the Pike River
families is everything that is
reasonably possible. ”
PICTURE: Brendon McMahon
Winston Peters chats to Runanga stalwart Alice Menzies at the picket line on the Pike River Mine access road, on Saturday afternoon.
A minute’s silence will be observed
in Greymouth on Thursday to mark
the 50th anniversary of the 1967
Strongman Mine disaster which
claimed 19 lives.
The Last Post will also sound on
Saturday at the memorial at Nine
Mile, on the Coast Road, as part of the
commemorations and reunion, with
200 people registered to attend, largely
family members, surviving rescue team
members, former colleagues and others
associated with the mine.
Two services will be held in
Greymouth, organised by the 50th
commemoration committee and
Greymouth Churches Ministers
On Thursday a small informal service
will be held at the mass gravesite at the
Karoro Lawn Cemetery.
The ser vice will be officiated by the
Anglican Archdeacon Robin Kingston
and will include a minute’s silence at
10.04am, the time of the explosion.
A wreath will be laid by Mayor Tony
An official commemoration service,
closed to the public, will be held at
the Strongman Mine site, north of
Rapahoe, on Saturday morning. It will
be officiated by representatives from
the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting
Churches in Greymouth and include
wreath laying by the families and
The service will close following the
sounding of the Last Post for those
miners killed who were also armed
For many family members this will be
their first opportunity to visit the mine
site itself since the explosion 50 years
ago. Access to the mine site has been
granted by Solid Energy, and those
attending will travel in four buses from
the reunion headquarters, the Runanga
Minute’s silence to mark Strongman Mine disaster 50th
Coast escapes doctors’ strike
Grey Base Hospital will be unaffected
by a three-day junior doctor strike starting
tomorrow, because only a handful of the
doctors are in the union.
Nationally, the Resident Doctors’
Association will go ahead with industrial
action over rosters and pay, affecting 18 of 20
DHBs. It is the second round of industrial
action by the union, after a two-day strike in
The Taranaki and West Coast DHBs will
not be taking part after receiving insufficient
The West Coast DHB said on Friday it
employed 11 junior doctors and confirmed it
had not received notice of strike action from
The union confirmed today that only four
of those 11 junior doctors on the Coast were
in the union.
The Greymouth Star understands there are
simply not the numbers in Greymouth to
support the action.
At the time of the first strike action in
September the union said the West Coast
had one affected roster and claimed the
DHB needed to employ one further doctor.
“ While being the smallest DHB in the
country presents its own challenges, there is
nothing to prevent safer rosters from being
implemented by West Coast DHB,” national
secretary Deborah Powell said then.
“In a hospital where the RMO is often the
only doctor on duty, ensuring they are not
suffering from fatigue is critical. All we are
asking for is one more doctor to be added to
the roster,” Dr Powell said.
During the last strike, the health board
said that some junior doctors continued to
“support ” Grey Base Hospital staff, including
some union members, which meant Grey
Base Hospital was operating only slightly
below normal levels.
Tourism spending nears $1⁄2 billion
The West Coast is edging towards
$500 million of annual tourism spending and
is now the third fastest growing of 28 regions
competing for the tourist dollar.
Spending on the Coast increased 11% to
$475m in the year to November, according
to figures just released by the Ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment.
That was up $44m on November 2015. The
latest monthly regional tourism estimates
show tourism expenditure grew in most
regions over the year to November.
Ahead of the West Coast the fastest growing
region was Nelson, up 15% to $337m and
Otago up 14% to $3.5 billion.
Tourism West Coast chief executive Jim
Little described the increase as a great result
“considering very limited resources” on the
“ Tourism is on a roll. We need to ensure we
capture every opportunity going,” Mr Little
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