Home' Greymouth Star : June 23rd 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, June 23, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1980 - Sanjay Gandhi, eldest son of Indian
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, is killed while
flying his plane.
1992 - Mafia godfather John Gotti
is sentenced to life in prison.
1993 - US woman L orena Bobbitt
cuts off her husband John’s penis.
She is later acquitted of malicious
wounding by reason of insanity.
1995 - Death of Jonas Salk, who
developed the first vaccine against
1998 - Death of Irish-born actress Maureen
O’Sullivan aged 87.
2005 - Former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar
Ray Killen is sentenced to 60 years in prison
for orchestrating the 1964 killings of three civil
rights workers who were registering black voters
2016 - Three Australians and one New
Zealander are among a group of mine workers
kidnapped by gunmen during a deadly attack in
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Josephine, French empress and wife of
Napoleon Bonaparte (1763-1814); Edward,
Duke of Windsor (1894-1972); Alfred Charles
Kinsey, US sexologist (1894-1956);
June Carter Cash, US country
singer (1929-2003); Adam Faith,
British singer-actor (1940-2003);
Frances McDormand, US actress
(1957-); Zinedine Zidane, French
footballer (1972-); Selma Blair,
American actress (1972-); Jason
Mraz, American singer (1977-).
“Even the merest gesture is holy if it is filled
with faith.” — Franz Kafka, author and poet
“ When this perishable body puts on
imperishability, and this mortal body puts on
immortality, then the saying that is written will
be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in
victory’.” — (1 Corinthians 15:54).
Continuation of the
special West Coast
is one of the bright
spots for this region in the Budget presented
last night by the Minister of Finance Mr
“ To assist such development projects,
the Government has decided to introduce
legislation to ensure that the benefits of
incentive provision taken into account in the
planning and costing of a development will be
available for that project until completion. The
West Coast Investment Project qualifies under
the new provisions,” the minister said in his
A needle blight affecting pine trees which
has spread through parts of New Zealand
from Rotorua since 1964 has found its way
into West Coast forests. A spokesman for the
Forest Ser vice at Hokitika said that while the
disease had been found here, it had not reached
“ We will have a look at the trees at the start
of the spraying season and if areas are seriously
affected then we may have to spray,” he said.
Regulations to control forest diseases have
been recently announced by Minister of Forests
Mr MacIntyre .
Chief Scout ’s commendation awards have
been bestowed upon two Grey district men.
They are Messrs A E Pickering, of Dobson
and J A Laughton, of Cobden. They have been
awarded in recognition of good ser vice to the
The awards, made to 31 other adult members
of the New Zealand scouting movement as
well as the two West Coasters, were approved
by the Governor-General Sir Bernard
Fergusson, acting in his capacity of Chief
Scout of New Zealand.
uFood for thought
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eorgia Tann lead one
of America’s biggest
black market adoption
schemes, stealing babies
from poor families off
the streets, and out of
day care centres and selling them to the
In a new book, by Lisa Wingate, titled
Before We Were Yours, the shocking
crimes and emotional impact on Tann’s
victims have been revealed.
Tann lead the Memphis branch of the
Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a
supposedly charitable organisation that
turned out to be sinister. She orchestrated
the theft of babies from hospitals
right after birth and taken to dismal
orphanages, or sent to their new families,
with their identities wiped.
Most of the children who were stolen by
the Children’s Home Society never saw
their birth parents again.
Tann’s organisation terrorised poor
families in the south of America for
almost three decades and specialised in
stealing white babies, especially those
with blonde hair and blue eyes.
It was estimated that Tann was
responsible for stealing over 5000 children
from 1924-50 and over 500 babies are
said to have died as a result of the poor
care and abuse endured at the hands of
Newborns were most at risk, and in
1945 over 50 children perished due to
dysentery while they were in her care.
To cover her tracks, Tann and her
organisation falsified adoption records
and destroyed any trace of where the
children had come from, or who they had
Wingate’s book tells of two families,
one wealthy and one poor, who were
connected through the terrible events that
took place in Tennessee.
Wingate told the New York Post that
Tann would tell the new families that the
children were blank slates.
“ What really resonated with me is that
they ’re not. Foster kids, adopted kids,
they ’re not blank slates. They ’re people.
And they have genetic tendencies and ...
talents and abilities that are all their own,”
Tann was not alone in her schemes and
had police, hospital workers and even a
judge working on her side.
Camille Kelley, a juvenile-court judge,
pretended to act in the best interests of
the children and would legally remove
the parental rights of the children and
transfer them to Tann.
Tann came into big money when
interstate adoptions took place, most from
New York and Los Angeles. The agency
was able to charge as much as $5000,
which was mostly pocketed by Tann.
Among the Tennessee Children’s Home
Society’s clientele was Joan Crawford,
who adopted her twin daughters Cathy
and Cynthia through the organisation in
Hollywood power couple June Allyson
and Dick Powell also used the agency
when adopting their daughter, Pamela and
future pro wrestler Ric Flair was among
those that Tann abducted.
After years of Tann getting away with
her crimes, eventually her act caught up
with her and adoptive parents began to
In mid-1940s Tann was diagnosed with
uterine cancer and in the final months
of her life was investigated and the
case against her was announced several
days before her death in 1950. She was
Even after charges were laid, Tann
was only considered guilty of pocketing
money from the State and not
She never had to face the music for
her crimes and the Tennessee Children’s
Home Society closed two months after
her death. Tann’s crimes became national
news in the United States, however few
attempts were made to reconnect birth
parents with their stolen children.
After Tann died, her co-conspirator
Kelley announced her retirement as a
judge and also avoided prosecution, dying
from a stroke in 1955.
The legacy left by the Tennessee
Children’s Home Society and Georgia
Tann is painful and complicated for
those involved. While Tann was able to
achieve some form of good with her acts,
by popularising adoption for parents who
are unable to have children on their own,
obviously the bad far outweighed the
good, with legislation for closed adoptions
and sealed records only being lifted in
Tennessee in 1999. Many states still
having the legislation in place today.
The impact of Tann’s scheme lives on
today, with thousands of families not
knowing where they came from after
being torn apart and separated from their
parents and siblings.
Lisa Wingate believes it is a story you
could not make up if you tried: “If you’d
invented that story, it would seem so
far-fetched that you would think, ‘ That
could never happen. Not in this country’,”
“And yet, it did, and it did for a long
For Wingate, the story is not over: “It
still matters today, because there are still
so many children that need that one
advocate, that one place to be, that one
person who will step in. We do have to
still be watching for things that are not
above board or are corrupt, where children
are being used for profits of one kind or
another. That ’s on all of us, as a public.”
— New Zealand Herald
Joan Crawford’s twin daughters Cynthia and Cathy were
unknowingly adopted from Tann’s blackmarket scheme.
5000 babies stolen
PICTURES: New Zealand Herald
Georgia Tann, the woman who led one of America’s biggest black market adoption schemes.
June Allyson adopted her daughter Pamela from Tann.
We have come a long way from the days
when if you had a ute, a radio and a dog,
you were qualified to be a chippie. But in
spite of registration schemes, upskilling
and a raft of new regulations to keep
the construction industry in line, experts
say there are still too many builders in
business who have gaps in their skill sets.
Now there is a plan to do something
New Zealand Certified Builders wants
to launch a scheme to upgrade the skills
of busy builders by taking the training
to them. The move was sparked by its
concerns over “build quality and basic
construction principles which were not
cutting through to building sites”.
A pilot carried out in Waikato and
parts of Auckland that ended in January
has been declared a success, and now
funding is being sought to expand it.
The NZCB says while builders who are
members of either of the two building
trade associations (NZCB and Registered
Master Builders) receive ongoing training
as part of their membership package,
about a third of all builders in the country
are not a member of either association.
This Building Insights scheme aims to
deliver on-site training to anyone who asks
for it, regardless of affiliation.
NZCB chief executive Grant Florence
says the scheme is timely as the problems
of an industry under pressure kick in. The
country’s building boom has been great
for the industry’s bottom line, but clients
are increasingly feeling the rough edge of
the rush. When that door is still sticking
a week after the big renovation, just try
getting your builder back. “ They ’ve moved
on to the next job, because at the moment,
there’s always a next job. There’s a growing
concern around building quality, because
when the industry is very busy, quality
does tend to drop,” he says.
The pilot programme, in conjunction
with BRANZ, was run over five months
using “wise old heads” in the trade who
were happy to step away from the tools
for a bit and share their knowledge. “ The
building industry is ageing so we have
members who are happy to mentor and
train,” says Florence. “ They ’d like to give
something back. ” They visited over 50
residential building sites, reaching more
than 450 builders.
Trailers were fitted out with the
necessary equipment and driven to
building sites, the educators aiming for
tea breaks. One problem area where a
lot of complaints come from is window
installation, another common issue is the
installation of frames around the edges
of concrete slabs. Get either of those
wrong and it means leaks. F lorence says
after some demonstrations you would get
builders admitting they had been installing
windows for 20 years without using best
Direction on what skills were lacking
came from council building inspectors.
In Auckland at the moment about 25%
of building inspections fail. That is a
significant improvement from the 40%
of two years ago, when the Auckland
Council was lamenting the lack of
skilled professionals in the city to ser vice
the demand, saying some builders
are skimping on quality. The council’s
inspections manager, Jeff Fahrensohn
says they have done a lot of work with
the industry since then to ensure work is
ready to be inspected when site visits are
made. There has been increased awareness
of building code requirements, and the
industry continutes to upskill.
One of the council’s tips for building
inspections is to check that your builder is
a registered licensed building practitioner
before you get any work done.
Ironically you do not have to have
qualifications to be a registered LBP,
which is something that irks NZCB.
Florence says the industry has had
ongoing talks with the Ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment
over it, and minister Nick Smith is
sympathetic. “ Up until the licensing
initiative, anybody could become a builder
— there was a low barrier to entry,” he
Florence says introducing licences put
a line in the sand, but the industry would
like that line moved up and standards
improved further. In the meantime, it is
hoped the Building Insights scheme will
help improve standards, despite what
NZCB describes as “the weakness of the
Florence points out there are rules and
regulations in place designed to protect
customers — but he says most people
do not seem to know about them. For
example, any work worth more than
$30,000 must have a written contract
drawn up. A recent NZCB sur vey found
more than half of homeowners doing
big renovations had no such contract.
“ People have massive levels of trust in
their builders,” he says. “ If you go and buy
a cellphone you sign a contract but it is
not unusual for hundreds of thousands of
dollars worth of work to be done without
one. It’s crazy.”
He says clients should also ask for
references and check them, check their
builder belongs to a recognised trade
organisation, and check they are a licensed
builder. — Newsroom
Plan to plug the gaps in shoddy building work
Builder Mike Hayward, left, gets a skills update from demonstrator Jason McClintock on a building site in Hamilton with the
travelling home improvement trailer.
There is good news for those who love
the song of the tui, but a recent report
show many of our garden bird favourites
are on the decline.
Landcare Research has released research
from the past 10 years on the populations
of garden birds, with 28,960 gardens
The bird that has suffered the biggest
decline is the silvereye — its population
is down 44% since 2007, likely due to
increasing winter temperatures.
June 2016 was the second warmest in
10 years and silvereye numbers were the
lowest recorded then, with that trend
expected to continue this year.
“It is possible that in the mild
winters more food was available in the
surrounding countryside, so birds did not
need to come into gardens in search of
food,” says Dr Eric Spurr, the NZ garden
bird sur vey organiser.
Other garden birds recording low
populations since 2007 were starlings
(down 35% overall), goldfinch (down 27%)
and blackbirds (down 11%).
However, the tui numbers were
encouraging — up 14% — while the
swallow saw a healthy 52% swing upwards
in the past decade.
Mr Spurr said the tui numbers have been
aided by re-planting native vegetation and
Catriona MacLeod, who leads Landcare
Research’s Building Trustworthy
Biodiversity Indicators programme, says
birds can be indicators of the health of the
environment people are living in.
“Some species feed on ground-dwelling
invertebrates, suggesting that changes in
our urban landscapes such as increased use
of paving are impacting these birds,” she
The 2017 NZ garden bird sur vey takes
place between June 24 and July 2 — check
the Landcare Research website to take
part. — NZN
New Zealand garden bird species on decline
Silvereyes in a garden bird bath.
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