Home' Greymouth Star : April 11th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, April 11, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1512 - In one of the bloodiest battles of the
16th century, the French defeat Spanish and
Papal forces at Ravenna.
1814 - Napoleon Bonaparte abdicates as
emperor of France and is banished to Elba by
Treaty of Fontainebleau.
1842 - New South Wales colony unveils its
first statue, of Governor Sir Richard Bourke.
1894 - Uganda is declared a British
1899 - Philippine islands are transferred from
Spain to the United States.
1913 - French pilot Gustave Hamel makes a
record return trip across the English Channel
from Dunkirk to Dover and back in only 90
1919 - Voters in a New Zealand referendum
go against prohibition. The constitution of the
International Labour Organisation goes into
1921 - Q ueensland aviator Bert Hinkler
betters his own long-distance non-stop record
of 1046km, set in 1920 when he flies 1130km
from Sydney to Bundaberg, Q ueensland.
1951 - US President Harry Truman relieves
General Douglas MacArthur of his command
in Far East.
1951 - The Stone of Scone, symbol
of Scottish independence stolen from
Westminster Abbey by nationalist
protesters, is recovered after an 107-
1973 - Senior Nazi official Martin
Bormann, pursued throughout
the world since 1945, is officially
declared dead and taken off West
Germany ’s “most wanted” list.
1985 - Death of Albania’s Stalinist
strongman Enver Hoxha.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
George Canning, English statesman (1770-
1827); Manuel Quintana, Spanish poet
(1772-1857); Oleg Cassini, French fashion
designer (1913-2006); Ethel Kennedy, widow
of US politician Robert F Kennedy
(1928-); Joel Grey, US actor (1932-);
Louise Lasser, US actress (1939-);
Jeremy Clarkson, British television
presenter (1960-); Lisa Stansfield,
British singer (1966-); Ian Bell,
English cricketer (1982-); Alessandra
Ambrosio, Brazilian model (1981-);
Joss Stone, British singer (1987-);
James Magnussen, Australian swimmer (1991-) .
“Only the vanquished remember history.”
— Marshall McLuhan, Canadian
communications theorist (1911-1980).
“ Jesus began to weep.” — John 11:35
Mr Roger Hall,
superintendent of the
Marsden Point oil refinery, has just returned
from a three-month course on oil-fired power
generation in the United States. Mr Hall is
of Napier, formerly of Greymouth, and the
brother of Mrs L J Wicks of Greymouth.
He was eductaed at the Grey Main and
Greymouth High schools, where he took
a course in engineering before ser ving an
apprenticeship at the Dispatch Foundry. He
then ser ved at sea for five years, gaining his
His wife, formerly Miss Dorothy Gold, was a
nursing sister at the Greymouth Hospital.
A shot which had blown out into a waste
area behind the coalface, had ignited firedamp
and an explosion of coal dust had followed.
This was stated by Mr J W Lundon assistant
district mines manager at Greymouth,
yesterday afternoon when the Commission of
Inquiry into the Strongman Mine disaster on
January 19 began its hearing in the Greymouth
Mr Lundon — who was in the witness box
for the whole six hours of yesterday’s opening
session — also stated that there was evidence
of regulation breaches in the manner in which
the shots had been laid, and it was possible that
the explosion which claimed 19 lives was not
spontaneous. It could have come after some
burning materials, set alight by the shot, had
ignited coal dust.
Next to take the stand will be Mr A Auld
the man in charge of the rescue work, who will
give his opinion on what he saw. The hearing is
expected to last for a week.
uFood for thought
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Answers at last
Leo’s parents never gave up search
or seven years, it has sat there
unnoticed. Just off Nelson’s
thrumming main road.
Charter yachts soundlessly
passing over, pleasure craft
fizzing white tails, silt and
sea life washing through, divers groping
You used to be able to drive down to the
wharf at Wakefield Quay. You could park
up and fish on your car bonnet.
Today, a yellow barrier blocks all vehicles.
A sign warns of danger, “Risk of falling”.
For the last seven years, missing Nelson
teenager Leo Lipp-Neighbours appears to
have lain in his orange-yellow 1987 Toyota
Corolla station wagon, at the bottom of
By pure chance, commercial divers found
it on Monday, bobbing with the tides,
eddies, and container ship propeller wash.
Human skeletal remains were found
For seven years, Lipp-Neighbours’
parents, Charlotte Lipp and Colin
Neighbours, have wondered whatever
happened to their boy — accident,
misadventure, suicide, foul play?
Now, they are much closer to finding out
“All parents could imagine what it’s been
like,” Charlotte said when asked about her
reaction to the news.
She did not want to speak further, while
inquiries are continuing. Police say results
from the investigation of the remains “will
take some time”.
The last person to see University of
Canterbury engineering student Mr
Lipp-Neighbours — on January 24, 2010
driving away from his valley suburb flat
about 4am — was his best mate Ben
At the weekend, although he still has
plenty of unanswered questions, he spoke
of his relief at the discovery.
“It’s good that he is finally home,” Mr
Mr Lipp-Neighbours’ friends said he
was “in a dark mood” on the night he
disappeared. That he left his flat after a
night out clubbing saying he was going “to
be at one with nature”.
Despite extensive searches around the
top of the South Island and appeals —
including a $50,000 reward — there had
never been any trace of the 19-year-old or
his distinctive-coloured car.
The chance encounter divers had with
it on Monday has finally brought a break
in one of New Zealand’s highest-profile
missing persons cases.
Luxury super yacht Fidelis, 56m long,
had berthed at Wakefield Quay in Port
After hunkering down for the weekend,
crew dived to uplift the yacht ’s anchors on
Monday ahead of pushing off again.
It was then that a diver spotted what
he thought was a car tyre, and possibly a
He did not inspect any closer, but instead
told vessel agent John Baudier of Yacht
Ser vices New Zealand.
Mr Baudier reported a potential hazard
in the harbour to Port Nelson.
The port then phoned experienced
local commercial diver Bruce Lines, who
happened to be working on another diving
job just 50m away.
Mr Lines went and had a look, while the
port also contacted police.
“I found it pretty quickly,” Mr Lines said.
Visibility in Nelson waters is usually
poor, with its silty, muddy estuaries and
New Zealand’s highest tide, which can ebb
and flow up to 4.6m.
But Mr Lines said the water was as clear
as it had been “for years” on Monday.
He found the vehicle at a depth of
between 7m and 9m, and about 20m from
the edge of the wharf.
“It was a fair way out really. Further than
you’d think,” Mr Lines said.
“Then again, there could’ve been some
movement over the years from prop wash
from ships and tugs working around that
Covered in marine life and silt, he first
thought it may have been a four-wheel-
Intrigued, he thought that he would
at least find out its colour to give the
port, and police, something more to
“So I rubbed the door panel and straight
away a bright yellow popped out. Instantly,
I thought of Leo,” Mr Lines said.
“ I guess it ’s such an unusual thing to see
a yellow vehicle, you just don’t see them,
apart from the odd Lamborghini, so it was
a real trigger, and the fact it was old. It
looked like it had been there for years, and
I thought sh—, that ’s two likely scenarios.”
When he surfaced, he explained his
findings to police officers who had just
“That put a bit more interest and heat
into the situation,” Mr Lines said.
He used his phone to check photos on-
line of Mr Lipp-Neighbours’ car before
going down for another look.
He cleaned some more of the vehicle and
thought there was a pretty high chance it
was the same missing car.
“ It confirmed it really.”
Nelson Bays police area commander
Inspector Mat Arnold-Kelly soon
confirmed skeletal remains were found
“ We’re reasonably confident that it is
Leo’s vehicle,” Mr Arnold-Kelly said.
As the car was removed for forensic
examination, Mr Lipp-Neighbour’s
parents and friends watched on.
Theories on what happened to Mr Lipp-
Neighbours over the years have included
his car going off a steep bank, suicide
and in more recent years, that he was the
victim of foul play.
His parents have said how they had
considered every scenario and had “been
around in circles”.
The out-of-character disappearance led
to a massive search around Nelson and
further across the region and neighbouring
Divers had searched around the coastline
but that stretch of water was never
Mr Lines has dived Nelson Port for two
“There’s not much of it that I haven’t
dived. But that one spot . . . it’s just outside
of everything,” he said.
“The crazy thing is that we’ve done full
bottom searches under super yachts there
but we’ve never had (a yacht) big enough
to justify going that little bit further, until
the other day.
“ We might’ve got 6m to 10m from it. It’s
just sneaked under the radar.”
In retrospect, Mr Lines says the spot
where the car was found was “such an
obvious place to look”.
“ Four minutes from his house, one of
three places you could literally get into
the water . . . It’s just one of those things,
just how it was overlooked I don’t know.
But that ’s the thing with retrospection, I
Mr Lines, along with many other locals
spoken to last week, hopes that the find
will bring some answers and finality to Mr
Lipp-Neighbours’ family and friends.
“As horrible as it would be to relive it,
at least it will bring them some closure
— they haven’t had that before now,” Mr
“ If we just found the car and no evidence
of Leo, it would’ve dragged it out further
for them. But the fact it ’s very likely we
have got him and the car, it’s a really good
The only evidence that such a tragedy
has ever occurred at such picturesque spot
is a pile of bouquets, and a candle, left over
the last few days.
The cloudy green water below the wharf
eddies and flows, bobbing its quarry of
flotsam and jetsam - leaves, bark and stray,
tossed hot chips that schools of tiny fish
Tourists meander by, diners laugh over
lunch, and a tanned elderly man with a
shock of white hair and white singlet stops
to look at the flowers.
“ It ’s so sad,” he says, not to anyone in
Asked if he knows anything about the
case, he replies: “ We all know about poor
He added, “It’s like he’s come home, but
he never even left.” — NZME
Leo Lipp-Neighbours’ car is hauled from the water in Nelson Harbour.
The recent death of Westland identity
Duncan Davidson leaves memories of a
man who was loyal to the West Coast and
especially Hokitika, where he lived all his
Duncan was a man of character and
held in high regard and well respected by
everyone who knew him, whether in the
nursing profession, on the rugby field or
around the political table.
A member of the well-known
pioneering Hokitika family from
Davidsons Foundry, D uncan worked
for the Post Office after leaving St
Mary’s High School and then he took
up a lifetime career in mental health,
qualifying as a psychiatric nurse at
He was fully devoted to his role as a
male nurse and worked closely with the
residents in care at Seaview and then in
latter years at the Grey Base Hospital
mental health unit.
Duncan was a keen follower of rugby,
playing for the once formidable St Mary’s
club. He also represented West Coast in
the late 1960s, playing as halfback. He was
also a former president of the St Mary’s
Rugby Football Club and a long-ser ving
“Duncan was very genuine and was
a very good administrator. He took an
interest in whatever he was involved in,”
friend and fellow St Mary’s administrator
Bernie Lee said. “ When he took a job on
he did it properly.”
Duncan was a property investor, which
included buying the Central Hotel in
Hokitika and redeveloping that as the
Highway Tavern, and he developed motels
in the town.
He ser ved his community well as a long-
ser ving volunteer to the Hokitika Fire
Brigade, being awarded the 25-year gold
star for his dedication.
Duncan Davidson was also politically
active, as a past member of the West Coast
District Health Board and for many years
as a Westland representative to the West
Coast Regional Council.
John Joachim O’Brien
John O’Brien was a West Coast
character and a true gentleman who had a
smile and a kind word for everyone.
John was a devout Catholic and a
collector for the St Patrick’s parish in
Greymouth for many years.
In sporting circles he was known as
‘old man time’ due to his diligence and
watchful eyes on the timepiece with his
stopwatch ticking at athletics, galloping
and harness codes.
John was resident timekeeper at Victoria
Park for at least 50 years and ser ved an
incredible 61 years with the Greymouth
Athletic Club as a coach and official
timekeeper at both Anzac Park and the
John was from the old school and used
his trusty spring balance stopwatch in
preference to the digital age.
He was made a life member of the
Greymouth Athletic Club in 1974 and in
2002 was presented with the gold award
for ser vices to sport.
While a lot of his spare time was as a
timekeeper, John was also a
keen follower of horses. He raced the
handy gallopers Zara’s Star and Kathy’s
Dream and did not mind the ‘occasional’
flutter at the TAB.
John was also a top-line 45s player.
In his working life, John knew every
automobile part by name and spent a
career in sales in the automotive trade parts
department, firstly behind the counter at
Brown Walters garage, prior to starting
the West Coast Auto Spares business in
partnership with his cousin Paul.
John O’Brien was a former chairman
of the Greymouth Harbour Board and a
foundation member of the Greymouth
Workingmen’s Club and an active member
until the end. He also gave very long
ser vice to St John.
John was a founding member of the
Jack’s Mill School Kotuku Heritage
Society, and was deeply involved in the
restoration of the school house and
museum, ser ving as a volunteer for many
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