Home' Greymouth Star : July 28th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, July 28, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1586 - First potatoes arrive in England from
Colombia, brought by Sir Thomas Harriot.
1741 - Italian violinist and composer
Antonio Vivaldi dies aged 63.
1750 - Death of Johann Sebastian
Bach, German composer and
1858 - First time fingerprints are
taken as a means of identification,
by William Herschel of the Indian
Civil Service at Jungipur in India.
He took the print of Rajyadhar
Konai on the back of a contract.
1868 - Third Maori War breaks out in New
Zealand; Fourteenth amendment to the US
Constitution is ratified, granting citizenship
to black people.
1914 - World War One begins when
Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
1945 - US Army bomber crashes into
Empire State Building in New York City,
2005 - The Irish Republican Army guerilla
group formally announces an end to its armed
campaign against British rule in Northern
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Beatrix Potter, British author and illustrator
(1866-1943); Jacques Piccard, French
sea explorer (1922-2008); Jacqueline
Kennedy Onassis, former US first
lady (1929-1994); Sir Garfield
Sobers, West Indies cricketer (1936-
); Jim Davis, Garfield US cartoonist
(1945-); Peter Cosgrove, Governor-
General of Australia (1947-); Sally
Struthers, US actress (1948-); Glenn
A Baker, Australian rock historian (1952-); Lori
Loughlin, US actor (1964-).
“ Verily, when the day of judgment comes, we
shall not be asked what we have read, but what
we have done.” — Thomas a Kempis, German
“ We are writing these things so that our joy
may be complete.” — (1 John 1:4).
A well-known West
sergeant J A L ( Jim)
Wright has been
named for transfer to the Nelson police station.
Formerly a Hokitika man, sergeant Wright
has lived in Greymouth for 18 months while
A keen rugby footballer for the Excelsior
Club he has represented the West Coast since
1961 and has played 29 games for his province.
Sergeant Wright is shortly to embark on a
rugby tour of the South Island which will be
his second tour with a West Coast team. He
travelled to the North Island in 1961.
He is also an enthusiastic indoor basketball
player, being a stalwart of the police side.
At a meeting of the Westland Rugby
sub-Union on Monday, members expressed
concern at the condition of both grounds on
Cass Square. It was decided to investigate the
possibility of bringing back into use a field at
The Railways Department in Greymouth has
received no official notification that the West
Coast will be allocated any of the new Japanese
diesel engines unloaded at Lyttelton yesterday.
The locomotive super viser in Greymouth
Mr N McNamara said this morning that
the department in Greymouth had not been
advised on the dispersal of the engines.
“ We have no official notification that any
will be coming here,” he said. “ There has been
nothing definite said.”
“A great natural asset right at Greymouth’s
back door” would be lost if the 2000 millable
trees on the Kaiata golf course were not pruned
and thinned, said Conser vator of Forests in
Westland Mr J P Bonish this morning.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
In response to recent comments
from Mark Haldane directed at myself
concerning the council decision on
painting panels on the Greymouth
floodwall (Greymouth Star, July 26), I
suggest Mr Haldane gets the facts right
instead of relying on speculation, as I do
not recall him being present during the
regarding street art; I actually consider
some of the pieces of artwork in the Grey
district to be quite good.
What I actually did in the meeting was
question the need for this expenditure,
as well as express my concerns about the
ongoing maintenance cost of this project
in the future as they do start to lose their
impact if they are not maintained. Further
to this, I suggested that we should have
gone out for expressions of interest from
some of the other quality artists we have
in the district for their suggestions on
I make no apology whatsoever for my
decision to oppose this project or the
comments made on this matter. We
as elected members are there to make
decisions on what we consider gives
the best value to the ratepayer, and our
decision making is judged at election time.
Mr Haldane has chosen not to do the
artwork after the council voted to proceed
with his contract. At the end of the day
it is his inability to handle criticism that
has ended this project, not the councillors
who voiced concerns regarding this
Eastern ward councillor
MP on Westport
The indifference of politicians regarding
matters crucial to their constituents’ future
well-being is stunningly illustrated by
National list MP Maureen Pugh in her
pitiful responses to questions regarding the
proposals for the Westport health Centre
(Greymouth Star, July 24).
Mrs Pugh’s claim, “we’ve actually got
approval and funding to build a new family
health centre”, is a feeble attempt to gloss
over her Government having not only
drastically slashed the facility from the
original $26 million budget to less than half
that amount but — adding insult to injury
for Buller people — have refused to fund a
single dollar towards the project.
Regarding Mrs Pugh’s claim that funding
through public-private partnerships (PPPs)
is “the way of the future”, it is going to
be a pretty grim future given National’s
love affair with PPPs when one considers
experiences elsewhere with PPPs. For
example, just today the United Kingdom
newspaper The Telegraph stated: “British
taxpayers rarely benefit from public-
private partnerships (PPP), which are
more expensive and no more efficient than
government-procured projects, a study has
A New Zealand report by Auckland
University Professor Jane Kelsey and
others identifies these weaknesses of PPPs:
“Procurement processes are usually slow,
expensive, and have led to increased costs
with reduced value for money; contracts are
frequently inï¬‚exible, making alterations
to the ser vice requirements diï¬ƒcult;
inadequate transparency regarding future
liabilities to the taxpayer and of investor
returns; high-risk factors for the private
company carry a high-risk premium for the
Australia has suffered similar experiences
involving new hospital buildings under
Mrs Pugh’s attempted excuse for her
ignorance of any details regarding the
proposed Westport facility — that it
had been “such a moving feast ” — fairly
boggles the mind. When asked whether
the ‘partnership’ group supposedly planning
West Coast health facilities should include
West Coast residents she replied, “ These
are the professionals, I guess, that work in
this space”. What is meant by “this space” is
anyone’s guess since they all live elsewhere,
with four out of the six members resident
in the North Island. Wherever the “space”
is that they work in it is certainly not the
space that Coasters live in.
The “I guess” comment would seem
to sum up the National list MP ’s entire
Having left the Coast nine years ago
to live overseas it seems incredible that I
know far more about these matters than a
local MP. As the article makes clear, one
would only have to read a few editions of
this newspaper to know what was going on
in this whole murky, privatisation-aimed
National Government agenda.
Democrats for Social Credit
It is pleasing to see that sanity has
reigned over the suggestion that
$10,000 be spent making the panels
of the floodwall (if the reproduction
in the Greymouth Star was any
guide) no less dreary than they already are.
If the Grey District Council does have
a spare $10,000 rattling around in the
coffers and wants to brighten up the area,
might I suggest that it open the job up
to the art students at Westland, Grey and
John Paul II high schools, giving them
each $2000 to design and paint a panel
and offering the extra $4000 as a prize for
the best effort.
l Deere was the least
popular man on D unkirk
beach when he arrived,
completely out of the blue,
in late May, 1940.
“ Where the hell have you
been?” someone shouted.
Mass evacuations were under way and
German planes were dive bombing the
French beach, picking off dozens of soldiers
each time. More than 200,000 still needed
to be rescued.
Deere’s head was wrapped in a bandage
and he had just hitched a ride from
Belgium, where he had crash-landed on
another beach hours earlier.
Those giving the 22-year-old stick had no
idea he had already shot down six German
planes over the previous few days, tirelessly
flying during all hours of daylight to protect
“The soldiers had been on the beach for
up to a week and the RAF had not been
particularly visible during that time, so
there was a perception that the pilots were
sitting back in England eating bacon and
eggs,” explains Deere’s nephew, Brendon
“But they had been active up the coast
and over the sea engaged in one-on -one
aerial battles. I know my uncle’s patrol
started at about 4am in the morning and
lasted all day.”
In total, 145 RAF planes were downed
during a nine day period.
Al Deere, one of the lucky sur vivors,
eventually managed to talk his way onto
one of the few destroyers ferrying men back
to England from the famous D unkirk mole.
Less than a day later he was back in the
air. There was no time for rest, there was a
battle going on.
Brendon Deere, a retired businessman,
was one of the first in line to see
Christopher Nolan’s retelling of the
Dunkirk story. He says the movie was
stupendous, realistic and faithful.
He had heard there were similarities
between one the movie’s protagonists,
Spitfire pilot Farrier, played by Tom Hardy,
and his uncle.
While the film’s producers have
fictionalised every character out of respect
to the real-life heroes, the popular US
website History vs Hollywood says Farrier
“most closely resembles” that of Al Deere.
Farrier’s fictional experience is indeed
similar. After shooting down several
German planes, he too is forced to crash-
land east of D unkirk, likely on a Belgian
beach. Unlike Deere, Farrier is captured in
the closing shots.
“ You can see that Christopher Nolan has
tried to find an everyman-type character
to represent each of the ser vices,” says
“But the arc of Tom Hardy’s character
does closely echo Al. His characteristics as
well — the steely resolve and determination
to get the job done — are pretty typical of
Dunkirk was, in fact, flying officer Al
Deere’s first experience of combat. In
shooting down a Bf 109 — the backbone
of the Luftwaffe — he became the first ever
Spitfire pilot to claim an aerial victory over
the German plane.
Deere was born in Westport in 1917 and
later moved to Whanganui. He had dreams
of becoming a pilot from a young age when
he saw an aircraft land on a beach.
After spending time working as a
shepherd and a law clerk, British recruiters
came calling in 1937.
“I think Dunkirk made all those young
pilots realise the experience wouldn’t be
much fun. Al always said it was quite
terrible. What they did wasn’t a question of
bravery — they were all scared to death —
they had a job to do and that job started at
Dunkirk,” says Brendon.
It was the waiting that got to Al, he
explains. He would be based at a remote
station for most of the day and would
be deployed, or “scrambled” multiple times.
“He often talked about the misconception
that pilots go off and fly and come back and
go to the pub, but that wasn’t the case.”
After Dunkirk, the square-jawed
hero was awarded the Distinguished
Flying Cross by King George VI. He then
solidified his legend during the Battle of
Britain. Between July and August he shot
down eight planes, and was himself shot
down twice more.
In one instance, with both pilots playing a
fiery game of chicken, he collided head-on
with a German plane. He crash-landed in a
corn field and smashed his way out of
the cockpit before his Spitfire burst into
A few weeks later he found himself
pursued by five German fighters near
the French coast. He managed to evade
them until reaching England, where he
attempted to bail out of his bullet-ridden
plane, which had caught fire.
In his own account, Deere wrote: “I shot
out a few feet but somehow became caught
up. Although I twisted and turned I could
not free myself. The nose of my aircraft
had now dropped and was pointing at
the ground which was rushing up at an
alarming rate. Then suddenly I was blown
along the side of the fuselage and was clear.
A hurried snatch at the rip cord and, with a
jolt, the parachute opened.”
During his flying days, Deere crash-
landed a total of nine times. It is why he
named his autobiography Nine Lives.
Once, after bailing from a damaged plane,
Deere and his faulty parachute landed in
the soft part of a sewerage farm.
“The Germans called him ‘the Kiwi we
couldn’t kill’, says Brendon.
“He was in the press a lot and was put
for ward as being very brave and lucky. I
think he would consider himself more
He fought until the end of the war,
finishing with a ‘score’ of 22, 10 probables
and 18 damaged. He remained in Britain
and held distinguished positions in the
RAF. He led his fellow Battle of Britain
pilots during Winston Churchill’s funeral
and after his death in 1995, his ashes were
scattered from a Spitfire.
“I was six when I first met my uncle and
I was inspired by his life and flying career
and have had a lifelong interest in aviation,”
“I’ve also had the privilege to own a few
warbirds, the pride of which is an old
Spitfire which has been painted in the
colours of Al’s plane. I’ll bring it down to
Wellington and the national war memorial
for the Battle of Britain commemorations.”
He describes his uncle as a fiercely proud
New Zealander who kept his citizenship
throughout his life.
“He was a very unassuming, low-key
character who wasn’t full of himself or full
of stories of the war. In fact, he very much
just wanted to put it all behind him as
much as someone like him could.”
— The Wireless-New Zealand Herald
Westport hero of Dunkirk
At 22, Al Deere became a hero shooting down German planes during the Dunkirk
evacuations, inspiring Tom Hardy’s character in the new movie.
Al Deere, right.
Brendon Deere with his Spitfire.
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