Home' Greymouth Star : January 26th 2017 Contents 150 YEARS SINCE 1866
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THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2017
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Sparking power lines have resulted
in three call-outs for the Westport
Volunteer Fire Brigade this week.
Deputy fire chief Trevor O’Dea
said the brigade was out twice on
Tuesday night and again last night
after power lines in the town began
sparking, probably the result of salt
spray corrosion. The brigade stood
by in each case to keep the public
clear while electricity lines staff
carried out repairs.
Minister on site
Minister of Finance and Minister
of Infrastructure Steven Joyce
will be visiting the new Grey
Base Hospital building site this
afternoon. The groundwork is
largely done on site and the steel
work is now imminent.
The Taramakau Bridge will be
temporarily closed between 8.15am
and 9am on Saturday for the annual
Around Brunner Cycle Race. The
New Zealand Transport Agency
asked motorists on the route
Stillwater-Greymouth — to be
aware of cyclists.
Showers clearing to fine day
Greymouth Star On-line
A number of bemused beaus have
taken to social media to reveal the
very unusual things they discovered
about their partners after a number
of years together. One woman who
found out her husband hated ham
and pineapple pizza, after 20 years
of marriage. “My mum told me a
few years ago that on their first date
they went out for pizza. My mum’s
favourite is ham and pineapple and
my dad says, ‘Great, I love pineapple
on pizza!’ Fast for ward years and
years of my dad eating ham and
pineapple, he finally confesses that
he hates it. He actually ate sh...y
pizza for 20 years instead of just
admitting that he hates it. Another
wrote: “Every day, my grandma
would make grandpa a Vegemite
sandwich to take to work. When
he retired, she offered to make him
a Vegemite sandwich for lunch
at home. ‘No thanks, I don’t like
Vegemite’, he said.’” — Daily Mail
Police are keeping an open
mind about the whereabouts of a
mother of four who was last seen
at Punakaiki a month ago.
West Coast police said today
the search for Shelly Crooks had
been broadened, after focusing
on the Punakaiki to Fox River
area of the Coast Road in the
past few days.
The missing mother of four
has not used her eftpos card
since she stayed at the Punakaiki
campground on December 22.
She was apparently heading to
Opotiki to spend Christmas with
her children but failed to arrive.
Detective sergeant Kirsten
Norton, of the Greymouth CIB,
said the search had been widened
based on information received by
police, although they conducted
further inquiries in and around
“These inquiries have helped
us to more clearly understand
December 21-22,” Ms Norton
With the assistance
other areas, Coast police were
continuing to work through
“potential sightings” of the
missing woman — based on
information received by police
“As we are still working though
these potential sightings, we are
unable to provide any specific
details at this time.
“ While Shelly has not yet
been located, we continue to
keep an open mind about her
whereabouts,” Ms Norton said.
Meanwhile, “screams” heard
behind Punakaiki about the time
Ms Crooks was thought to be
in the area in the week before
Christmas may in fact have been
A pair of overseas tourists in the
Inland Pack Track area reported
hearing noises about December
They reported that to a local
horse trekking operator, who in
turn passed it on to the police.
Punakaiki Horse Treks co-
proprietor Neil Mouat said
the location reported by the
overseas pair to his staff was not
necessarily specific “from the
point of view where they might
Police asked Mr Mouat to
check out the area himself,
based on where the tourists said
they were and what they had
apparently heard. At the time, he
had concluded the noise reported
could have been from kids in the
It was considered “a coincidence
in date and time” and the police
were aware of that possibility,
Mr Mouat said.
In the meantime, local residents
were “hoping for the best ” and
doing everything they could to
assist, keeping in mind that many
missing persons cases eventually
Meanwhile, the Punakaiki
campground today clarified that
they got it wrong yesterday when
they said Ms Crooks had stayed
there the same time as movie
star Sacha Baron Cohen and his
In fact, they had stayed there a
A 40-year-old convicted sex
offender made a brief appearance
in the Greymouth District Court
this week on a variety of assault
Eric Reihana Hepi, who has
been in jail since August, did
not plead to charges including
assaulting a female, intent to
injure and assault with a blunt
instrument. Hepi was remanded
until February 14.
He is still ser ving a six-month
jail sentence he received in the
Greymouth District Court last
year on charges of shoplifting and
being in the company of a young
child, in breach of his extended
super vision order. Hepi was
reported at the time to be a high-
risk sex offender.
Judge Robert Murfitt excused
Hepi’s attendance from his next
court appearance, unless an audio
visual link could be arranged from
Christchurch Men’s Prison.
Offender back in jail
Trains back on track
The big slip that buried the Midland
railway line near Otira last week
was cleared and the line repaired
yesterday,allowing trains to resume
The slip has also been largely cleared
off the adjoining State highway 73,
which has reopened on the hour for
10 minutes from 8am to 7pm daily.
A week after the slip was brought
down near Deception Point, between
Otira and Aickens, the Tranz Alpine
passenger train today resumed the full
journey to Greymouth.
The Tranz Alpine had been running
only as far as Arthur’s Pass. Kiwi Rail
says it will also be running freight
trains between 7.30pm and 7am, a
night schedule that will allow work to
continue on clearing the slip from the
road during daylight hours.
“Our staff and contractors have
worked hard, and getting the line
open again so quickly after last week’s
devastating weather bomb is a real
credit to them,” Kiwi Rail South
Island network ser vices manager
Jeanine Benson said.
Four more towns get fast broadband
The Government is extending its ultra-
fast broadband (UFB) from Greymouth
to include Hokitika and Westport, and
even Runanga and Reefton.
Communications Minister Simon
Bridges said once completed, an
additional 10,500 people in those towns
would be able to experience the same
fast broadband as New Zealanders
living in larger centres.
The extension is part of the second,
$300 million phase of the Government ’s
UFB programme, which will see fibre
rolled out to 151 towns and 43 suburban
fringe areas around the larger centres.
Greymouth already has UFB, but this
is the first time it has moved further
afield. The Government aims to have
the extra towns connected by the end
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn
said the councils in conjunction with
Development West Coast lobbied for
the other towns to be included.
“For places like Runanga to get it, is
really good,” Mr Kokshoorn said.
An increasing number of people
worked from home these days, and
having good broadband meant they
could live in the likes of Runanga, he
In Reefton, tearooms owner Paul
Thomas said their till worked through
broadband so a faster connection would
lead to greater efficiencies.
“For the West Coast having UFB, it
just meant that people can do business
here on the West Coast with ease.
They ’re enabled,” Mr Thomas said.
Mr Bridges said the $8.5 million
investment in the UFB extension for the
West Coast reflected the Government ’s
broader focus on ‘growing’ and
diversifying regional economies.
“Connectivity is critical to our regional
economies and to New Zealand ’s future.
Fibre has already been deployed to
Greymouth under UFB1.”
With the extended coverage more
than 18,000 people on the West Coast
will have access to fast broadband.
It is expected to boost video-
specialists and patients, and improve
access to on-line resources for students
National Party list MP Maureen Pugh
said improved connectivity was valuable
in ‘growing’ the regional economy,
driving innovation, and supporting
local education and health services.
“The expansion will mean an
additional 10,000 locals will be better
connected, and able to reap the benefits
of a world-class broadband ser vice,”
Mrs Pugh said.
Man in walking frame jailed for rape
An elderly Buller man who appeared
in the Greymouth District Court on
a walking frame was this week jailed
for 12 years on numerous sex offences,
Joe Ward, 73, of Hector, was tried in
November and found guilty of rape,
touching a person knowing they had
an impairment, digital penetration, and
Lawyer Richard Bodle told Judge
David Saunders he could not ask for
credit for remorse or a guilty plea, as
Ward still denied the offending.
“He maintains his innocence so I can
not ask for credit. However, there is his
health and age which can be taken into
account, as well as Mr Ward wanting to
make the trial process as comfortable as
possible for everyone,” Mr Bodle said.
Ward was “in a pretty bad way,
mentally” at the moment.
“He has stopped taking his medication
and is not eating.”
He had also received a beating when
he returned to Hector following the
trial. That assault had been reported to
Mr Bodle accepted that the length of
the prison sentence would be affected
by previous similar convictions against
Ward dating to the 1980s.
The victim impact statement was read
out on behalf of the complainant, who
was not in court. She said she felt unsafe,
had been undergoing counselling, was
shy of going out and scared she would
be approached. Her life had changed as
a result of the offending.
Judge Saunders said Ward would be
given a first strike warning.
“There are various levels of sentencing
and yours is at band four on the upper
level of misconduct because of the
period the offending occurred — over
five years — and you breached the trust
of a person who was vulnerable.”
Judge Saunders said Ward would be
given some mercy because of his age
“ You are 73 and not in robust health,
and that is the only credit you can get,”
the judge said.
The starting point was 16 years
imprisonment, but four years was taken
off because of his poor health and age.
Judge Saunders said Ward would
have to ser ve at least one third of the
sentence before he would be considered
Potential sightings investigated
PICTURE: Paul McBride
The Tranz Alpine passenger train inches past the cleared slip at Deception Point, between Aickens and Otira late this morning.
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