Home' Greymouth Star : May 8th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, May 8, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1886 - Atlanta pharmacist John Styth
Pemberton invents the flavour syrup
for Coca-Cola and it is ser ved at Jacobs
1902 - Mt Pelee on the Caribbean
island of Martinique erupts, wiping
out the city of St Pierre and killing
all but two of its 30,000 residents.
1916 - Forces from Australia
and New Zealand arrive in France
during World War One.
1942 - Battle of the Coral Sea
ends when a US fleet turns back a Japanese
invasion force heading for Port Moresby.
1945 - British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill broadcasts to the nation as part of
VE (Victory in Europe) Day celebration.
1970 - Up to 200,000 Australians participate
in demonstrations against the Vietnam War.
1978 - David Berkowitz pleads guilty in
a Brooklyn courtroom to the Son of Sam
killings that have terrified New Yorkers.
1984 - Soviet Union announces it will not
compete at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic
Games, following the US boycott of the 1980
2011 - Lionel Rose, the first Australian
indigenous boxer to win a world title, dies in
Victoria, aged 62.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
“The power of accurate obser vation is
commonly called cynicism by those who have
not got it.” — George Bernard Shaw, Irish
dramatist and writer (1856-1950).
“So let us not grow weary in doing what is
right, for we will reap at har vest time, if we do
not give up. ” — Galatians 6:9
uFood for thought
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3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
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1930 — 2017
Pat Fisher was regarded as the ‘mayor
of Nelson Creek’ and will long be
remembered as a true character of the
Pat was often referred to as the gentle
giant. He had hands as big as banjo
shovels and a personality to go with his
Born in Ngahere he spent his whole life
living and working in Nelson Creek. As
a young lad he went into the butchery
trade, firstly working in Blackball and
then teaming up with his father to open a
butcher’s shop at Nelson Creek.
The raw meat operation had a reputation
and captured the Grey Valley market,
with Pat delivering meat to customers
from Kaiata through to Bell Hill and
In later years he worked in the Nelson
Creek abattoir until his retirement when
he turned 70.
Pat was president of many community
organisations and chaired the numerous
committees in his domain, from the
camping ground, to the school and local
hall. He was a past-president of the
Ahaura-Grey Valley Lions and the West
Coast Darts Association.
The Ngahere and Nelson Creek Catholic
churches were always a mainstay of Pat
In 2004 he received a mayoral civic
award in recognition of his ser vices to the
Nelson Creek community.
Son-in-law Ray Baxendale said Pat
was one of a kind and had strength of
“ He was a gentle giant but he could
certainly stamp his mark when required.
An example of that humour was the
time the meat inspector checked his van
and said he had too many flies in it. Pat
replied, ‘how many am I allowed?’ He then
peered in the back of the van at the flies
and said they were not his, they belonged
to Jack Burrows up the road.
“Basically he told him to clear out —
that was Pat,” Mr Baxendale said.
Pat Fisher is sur vived by his wife
Margaret and daughters Donna and Vicki.
Patrick William (Pat) Fisher
In a recent West Coast Messenger
community comment, titled ‘Untamed
West is not wild’, MP Damien O’Connor
said he hoped that title should not mean
an image of ‘wild west governance’. Sorry
Damien, not looking hopeful.
Westland District Council currently
has a Serious Fraud Office investigation
happening. We are told procedures and
internal systems and contracts are being
audited, that the Office of the Auditor-
General and the Department of Internal
Affairs are keeping a “watching brief ”, and
a councillor from the previous council told
me and others that an auditor had briefed
him and other councillors during their
tenure, that “millions of dollars” was found
to be unaccounted for. This has never been
We now have a mayor who can just
wander into the Westland District
Council office at any time he wants, on
this occasion a Sunday, and it appears to
me he can access any file he wants, take
that information back to his home and
broadcast it on social media
— or do whatever else he wants to do with
How is it possible that the mayor of
Westland is able to access public records
held by council administration on the
release of the Kumara endowment fund,
including, as Mr Smith says, ‘confidential’
minutes on a Sunday?
Are we to assume Mr Smith now
dictates the executive powers of the chief
executive to release such information?
Why is it Mr Smith can release ‘official
information’ any time he wants through
social media, when citizens of the district
have to request such information through
a stringent, statutory Official Information
As for Mr Smith’s blog on Sunday,
April 30, are we to believe he has direct
access to all official information and file
rooms, including electronic and paper
files, and including correspondence
between Westland District Council staff
and all parties who have an interest in
the finances and reser ves that council
administer on behalf of ratepayers?
It begs the question, what guarantee
can Mr Smith give that such information
cannot disappear with the push of a
Mr Smith, please kindly respond via the
letters to the editor forum.
To the Office of the Auditor-General,
the Department of Internal Affairs and
Local Government New Zealand —
please do the job you are required to
do and uphold the Acts of Parliament
you administer. Ratepayers of Westland
deser ve better.
Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith
responds: “I have already answered this and
nothing has changed. Find a project and work
to improve your community.”
In reply to Greame Hopcroft from
the Bay of Plenty, the principles of
sustainable logging are well established
and have been practised successfully in
Europe for nearly a century. Logs are
taken out at half the rate in which trees
In a West Coast forest, that would be
one tree per hectare per year. That means
half the dying trees remain to provide
food for insects and the birds that feed on
There are no adverse effects. It benefits
the environment greatly because New
Zealand does not have to import as
much timber from clearfelled overseas
Good on the Grey District Council for
Health care changes
A recent article about changes to Buller
Health ser vices commented on further
development of trans-alpine ser vices,
‘transition’. With change, it is important
for the public and staff with knowledge
of local conditions and capabilities have
their say. The system of planning and
monitoring the consequences of changs
has been less than ideal.
Recently a patient from Reefton shared
his story with the media about the
delayed diagnosis of his bowel cancer.
He described how he presented with
bleeding from the bowel. He was initially
seen and reassured by a nurse practitioner
and later a doctor in Buller.
When he was eventually referred,
there was further delay in a diagnostic
colonoscopy, done in Christchurch.
The cancer was incurable at the time of
It is important to note that bowel
cancer is curable when diagnosed early.
The evidence and leading guidelines at
the time, stated he should have been
referred for a colonoscopy, when he
presented with bleeding, at the age of 59
years. He should have been followed up,
for consideration of further investigation,
regardless of age.
If the waiting time for a colonoscopy
was considered unreasonably long,
alternative tests could have been done to
establish the diagnosis.
Until the ‘new model of care’ in recent
years, the necessary alternative diagnostic
testing could have been done at Grey
Base Hospital, in Greymouth, within a
few weeks of referral. Even though best
practice guidelines were not followed at
many levels, the internal investigations
and Health and Disability Commissioner
did not find fault with the management.
It was left up to the ACC external
investigators to acknowledge one of the
causes of the avoidable delay in diagnosis.
A competent quality assurance,
and incident investigation systems
with a sense of integrity, are essential
components of health care, monitoring
changes, and staff clinical education.
Compromised safety without such
systems, I am sure breaches many laws
governing provision of health care.
of the Otago Daily Times
poho School in D unedin
has called for those
complaining about its
heating system to put
their money where
their mouth is and help
already underfunded schools pay for more
School board of trustees chairman
Otto Hyink is angry leaflets have been
dropped around the area, encouraging
people to sign a petition that urges the
school to investigate and commit to a more
sustainable and environmentally-friendly
alternative for heating by the end of 2018,
as opposed to the present method of
The leaflets, created by Y Jiang, say:
“Opoho School put your words into action
and stop burning coal.
“Opoho School is marketing itself as
having one of the highest standards of
Enviroschools in New Zealand.
“However, it burns between 12 to 14
tonnes of coal a year which can potentially
lead to health implications ranging from
asthma, lung cancer and heart disease.
‘Opoho’s practices are contributing almost
40 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually to an
already over-polluted atmosphere.
“ Will you allow your children to study in
this polluted environment?’’
Dr Hyink was angry the leaflet appeared
to be “shaming’’ the school into upgrading
or replacing its boiler, when it was not
financially in a position to do so.
“It ’s unfair. The majority of D unedin
schools still operate coal-fired boilers.
“ We don’t have money to replace the
school’s heating system on a whim.
“ We have to work with the Ministry of
He said the school was given property
grants from the ministry every five years
to spend on property maintenance and
improvements, but it was nowhere near
enough to upgrade or replace the present
He said investigations had found it could
cost up to $100,000 to convert the coal
boiler to burn woodchips, or up to $500,000
to replace it completely.
The figures were confirmed by the Energy
Efficiency and Conser vation Authority
University of Otago plant operations and
controls energy manager Hans Pietsch said
for a small school like Opoho, it could cost
between $120,000 and $220,000 to replace
the boiler, but if pumps, piping, radiators
and bunker etc needed replacing also, it
could cost up to $500,000.
Dr Hyink said the present boiler was
about 50 years old and nearing its “end of
The board’s investigations had found
conversion was not an option because of the
He said replacement was the “sensible
option’’, but it would not be feasible to do
until the boiler reached end-of-life, when
the board would get significant financial
support from the Ministry of Education.
“Other wise, that will cost us about 10
years worth of property money.
“That money is for maintaining all of
the school’s property, not just the heating
If those who signed the petition wanted
it done sooner, they could put their money
where their mouth was, he said.
“ We received a letter from a few people,
including the person who set up the
petition, which said money was just an
“ We responded by saying we don’t have
any money, so feel free to donate to the
Y Jiang is a third year student studying
one of Ralph Adler’s papers at the
University of Otago.
Professor Adler lives next to Opoho
One of the projects in the paper is an
“activist project ’’, in which students select an
organisation to “influence’’ and “make more
responsible’’, prof Adler said.
“There’s different groups doing different
things, and one group — the one which
Y Jiang is in — they ’ve chosen to look at
the environmental practices of schools in
Dunedin. They ’re trying to influence what ’s
“I haven’t seen it (the leaflet), but I’m not
unhappy about it.
“ We live in a society where I hope there’s
free speech, where people care about society,
and we have scientific evidence which tells
us that this is wrong what we’re doing.’’
In an e-mailed response to questions, Miss
Jiang said her project focused on Opoho
School because it promoted itself as caring
for the environment, as well as being the
top Dunedin school in the nationwide
“ Yet after discussions that have already
been held with the school and with
professors at the University of Otago, they
have made no resulting attempt to manage
their practice of burning coal.
“The main problem to the schools does
seem to be they don’t currently have enough
funds to support a new heating system.
‘However, funding options are available,
such as the Ministry of Education providing
capital development funding to the school
each year which the school has discretion to
spend in any manner they see fit.
“ We are not meaning to unjustly target
Opoho School. However, we are intending
to place pressure on the school to take their
Enviroschool stance seriously and robustly
investigate funding options and alternatives
rather than just playing a waiting game
until someone else does it for them.
“ In comparison, for example, Logan
Park High School weren’t sitting on their
principles. They made the decision to
convert to a sustainable heating option,
went out there and secured funding for half
their conversion from EECA.’’
She said her project aimed to
encourage schools to solve the funding
and technology problems inherent in
converting from coal to a sustainable
energy option, and she believed Opoho
was in a prime position to lead the way for
other Dunedin schools.
“This assignment has been designed by
us to get the ball rolling, get people talking
about the issue and working together as a
community to achieve better outcomes. ’’
Logan Park High School acting principal
Peter Hill was supportive of Opoho
School’s plight. He said Logan Park was
one of only a few schools in Dunedin which
had converted its coal-fired boilers to wood.
The school was forced to make the
change about a decade ago when the Otago
Regional Council tightened emissions
regulations, which meant the school would
not be able to get resource consent to
continue using its coal-fired boilers.
Mr Hill said upgrading or replacing the
school’s boiler was not a decision that
should be rushed or taken lightly.
“There’s a lot of time, energy and expense
in doing it well, and it shouldn’t be rushed
into. You’ve got to prepare well for it.’’
Otago Primary Principals’ Association
chair woman Debbie Smith said State
schools were between a rock and a hard
place, because boards of trustees did not
own school property — the ministry did.
So even if the school could somehow
accumulate enough funds to replace its
boiler, it would have to get permission from
the ministry to do it.
Mrs Smith said the ministry preferred
to replace coal boilers rather than convert
them, because they did not want to fix,
repair or replace them again in 10 years’
“Also, if you’re spending money on a
boiler, you’re not spending money on
modern learning environments to enhance
“ You’ve got to weigh up what is most
School heating underfunded
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Opoho School principal Jenny Clarke outside the school’s coal-fired boiler.
employees of the
at home this morning as the nationwide rail
strike began silencing other industries. The
mine, one of the biggest on the West Coast,
can be reached only by rail. Workers on the
dogwatch who finished this morning had to
find their own way down.
The district manager of State mines Mr
J W Glendenning said this morning that the
Liverpool miners will not be paid during the
stoppage. They are not entitled to basic pay, he
confirmed. The same does not apply though to
non-striking railway employees not carrying
out their normal duties. The traffic manager
of railways in Greymouth Mr A D Campbell
said employees would be paid for a 40-hour
week. There would be no penal rates.
To many people the decision to strike was
unexpected. A spirit of optimism existed until
10 o’c lock last night when it was announced
that all attempts to reach a settlement with
railway tradesmen had failed.
The distress call ‘fire’ became familiar to
Mrs V Coburn when she was engaged at
the Greymouth fire station over the past few
years, taking calls and giving the alarm. Now
the excitement of wailing sirens and rushing
firemen has been replaced by the quiet of a
guest house in Albert Street.
However, her retirement was to be
short-lived today — a fire broke out in
the kitchen. Knowing exactly what to do
she dialled the emergency number and
had the brigade promptly on its way. They
quickly extinguished the small fire caused by
overheated fat igniting and setting alight a
Joan of Arc, patron saint of France (1412-
1431); Henri Dunant, Swiss founder of
International Red Cross (1828-1910); Harry
S Truman, US president (1884-
1972); David Attenborough, British
naturalist and broadcaster (1926-);
Peter Benchley, US author (1940-
2006); Toni Tennille, US singer
(1943-); Gary Glitter, British rocker
(1944-); Melissa Gilbert, US actress
(1964-); Darren Hayes, Australian
singer Savage Garden (1972-); Enrique Iglesias,
Spanish-born pop star (1975-) .
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