Home' Greymouth Star : May 1st 2017 Contents The most read newspaper per capita in New Zealand
Readership of 11,000
Big upset in
Fire brigade opens
doors for 150th
MONDAY, MAY 1, 2017
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Youth caught with
‘pot plant ’
A Greymouth youth might
think twice about transporting his
cannabis plants in future after he
was ‘potted’ by a police patrol on
Saturday night — on the Cobden
Bridge. Police said they did not
know what the 17-year-old boy
might have been thinking but he
was taken into custody after a patrol
crossing the Cobden Bridge spotted
him walking and carrying what was
visibly a cannabis plant in a pot.
Senior sergeant Paul Watson said
the cannabis must have been big
enough to be readily identified from
a passing patrol car. It was “not a
good look” for the youth, who was
also found to be carrying a cannabis
pipe. He was later released with a
A Hokitika family managed to
escape their Brittan Street home
this morning before fire took over.
Thick smoke was billowing from
the property shortly after 10am. The
Hokitika Volunteer Fire Brigade
was bolstered by a fire crew from
Ross to bring the fire under control.
St John was also at the scene and
treated one family member for
A monkey that has been given
the nickname ‘uncle fatty’ is finally
getting help for his obesity. The
33lb long-tailed macaque will go
to boot camp after gorging on food
from tourists including melons,
milkshakes, sweetcorn and noodles
by visitors to a floating water market
in Bangkok, Thailand. He was taken
in by primate conser vation group
Monkey Lovers who confirmed that
he was not sick, just fat. They now
aim to get him to half his current
weight and will make him run and
swing around with other animals
to help him lose weight. Organiser
said: “Uncle has got fat because he
has just been eating everything that
people give to him.” — Metro
Cloud increasing, drizzle turns to rain
‘No surprise’ in mine footage
Police and Mines Rescue are adamant
that video footage leaked to television
news last night showing men inside
the Pike River Mine drift was filmed
just inside the portal — not 1.6km
underground in the mine workings.
The footage aired on TV3’s Newshub
last night and showed two Mines
Rescue workers underground, four
months after the explosion that killed
29 men, apparently relaxed as they
worked on a makeshift cover for one
of the robots that were sent further up
The robot is seen steaming or
smoking well inside the mine, but the
workers do not panic, and nothing
The fact the footage was leaked,
sparked a media frenzy with accusations
of a government cover-up. It implies
the men were deep inside the mine,
but all parties involved were today firm
that the airing of the footage without
context was misleading.
Police said in a statement the workers
shown in the film were at the portal to
the stone drift, and not inside the mine.
This was backed up this morning by
Mines Rescue and former chief mines
inspector Tony Forster, who advocates
for the Pike families.
The Greymouth Star reported at the
time the re-entry attempt with the
robot, stating on March 17, 2011 that
another robot had been sent down and
Mines Rescue general manager
Trevor Watts said today the two Mines
Rescue members on film, in breathing
apparatus, had been working in the
shipping container positioned at the
mouth of the portal in March 2011.
They were working only 2 or 3m
inside the drift. Mines Rescue was
installing an airlock into the shipping
container at the time.
Mr Watts noted that nitrogen was
still being pumped into the drift, so
the environment was a lot safer than
it is today. “ There’s a lot being talked
about, a lot of agencies are saying it ’s
the methane stopping re-entry going
on. But the atmosphere is only one
component of the decision.”
Footage from the robot showed part
of the drift was in reasonable condition
in 2011, which Mr Watts said was no
However, it did not show the Hawea
faultline or the collapsed end of the
drift near the mine, where the fire had
Continued on p2.
in shock as
in river plunge
A dog found on the roadside
in the Lower Buller Gorge had
to swim for its life on Saturday
evening when its owner crashed
and died in the Buller River.
The driver crashed just before
5pm after failing to take a right-
hand curve while exiting the
Ohikanui River bridge, about
15km from Westport.
Senior sergeant Paul Watson of
the Greymouth police said today
the dead man’s name had yet to
be released, however he was not
a West Coast local.
Some of the man’s closest family
had been advised but at this stage
other close family members,
who police understood were
currently holidaying somewhere
on the West Coast, had yet to be
contacted, Mr Watson said.
The dog found on the roadside
soon after the crash was believed
to belong to the dead man
and was today in the care of
the Buller District Council, in
that the dog was with him,”
Mr Watson said.
Buller animal control officer
Tracy Judd said the dog — a
type of long-snouted bull terrier
was in shock when recovered
on Saturday night but it was now
comfortable and settled.
“He’s as okay as he can be
considering what he’s been
through,” Mrs Judd said.
She described the black and
white terrier as “a lovely dog” in
good condition and well cared
It had spent Saturday night at
the vet clinic after being checked
over then returned to the care of
the council until its ownership
could be definitely confirmed.
No one had stepped for ward to
claim it by this morning.
The dog was believed to be
about four years old.
Mrs Judd said staff were
keeping it safe and warm and
enjoying what was a nice dog
until its ownership could be
That was “a waiting game” and
it would be for family members
to step forward — otherwise it
would be put up for adoption.
The vehicle involved was pulled
out of the river late yesterday
afternoon following efforts by a
police dive squad assisting the
location and recovery of the
Otira publican Lester Rowntree
is now the proud owner of the
entire Otira village.
Mr Rowntree moved from
the Nelson area to Otira in
2014, when be purchased the
hotel and has since restored the
historic pub — renamed the
Otira Stagecoach Hotel — and
assembled a vast collection of
Aucklanders Bill and Christine
Hennah, bought the hotel and
old railway village in 1998, they
paid just $78,000. Mr Rowntree
said today the purchase price he
paid was “top secret ”.
He has plenty of plans afoot
for the township including a
museum and an auditorium with
daily live shows about the history
of the area.
He also wants to stock a pond
with salmon to enable visitors to
try their hand at fishing.
Otira village sold
Firemen take the night off
Firefighters were given a rare night
off on Saturday as the Greymouth
Volunteer Fire Brigade celebrated 150
years of continuous service, 24 hours a
day since 1867.
Chief fire officer Lee Swinburn said
while luckily there were no callouts
during the celebratory dinner, held in the
Greymouth Fire Station, a crew from
Hokitika spent the night in town to
cover for the locals just in case.
The 160 current and former firefighters
gathered for the dinner on Saturday
night after a successful open day around
the corner at Karoro Learning.
“ We had steady numbers to the open
day, from when we opened at 10am until
we packed up around 2pm,”
Mr Swinburn said.
Former Greymouth firemen returned
from all around New Zealand, along
with three from Australia and one
from Papua New Guinea who travelled
specially to join the celebrations.
Invited guests included United Fire
Brigades president Alan Kitteltey,
Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne,
New Zealand Fire Service Commission
chairman Paul Swain, West Coast-
Tasman MP Damien O’Connor and
New Zealand Fire Ser vice regional
chairman Steve Turek.
During the evening the brigade was
presented with awards to acknowledge
150 years’ service, from the United
Fire Brigade Association, West Coast
Provincial Brigades and the New
Zealand Fire Ser vice.
PICTURE: Stewart Nimmo
The Greymouth Fire Station was cleared out on Saturday night as 160 current and former Greymouth Volunteer Fire Brigade members celebrated the brigade’s
150th anniversar y with an official dinner.
A recovery plan was proposed for kea
after a ‘Kea Konvention’ at Arthur’s Pass
at the weekend, but anti-1080 groups
say it must address kea deaths from 1080
The recovery plan was proposed at
the convention, hosted by the Kea
Conser vation Trust, Arthur’s Pass
Wildlife Trust and Department of
Forest and Bird welcomed the plan but
warned it would fail without new money
for more predator control, while also
advocating for the eradication of lead
from buildings in high country huts and
even Arthur’s Pass village, because the
lead poisons the scavenging birds.
“As well as more government funding
to protect kea from predators, funding
is also needed to make DOC huts, high
country properties and alpine villages
lead-free. Lead on buildings is killing
kea,” Forest and Bird spokesman Geoff
Mary Molloy, from Farmers Against
Ten Eighty, attended the convention
and said DOC director-general Lou
Sanson told the audience that Arthur’s
Pass was the most “1080ed place in New
However, kea numbers in the Arthur’s
Pass valley had gone from 50 birds to 15.
“They are really focusing on leadhead
nails but it ’s a bit like palliative care,”
Mrs Molloy said, referring to 1080
Bill Wallace, who set up the Ban 1080
Party three years ago said the kea plan
had to address 1080.
In 2011, a DOC 1080 poison drop
killed seven kea being monitored with
radio tags near Franz Josef Glacier and
Mr Wallace said authorities knew that
1080 killed kea back in 1963 when they
picked up four dead birds and had them
tested. The population had since gone
from 250,000 to several thousand.
“1080 has brought kea to the brink,”
Kea plan ‘needs to address 1080 poisoning’
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