Home' Greymouth Star : October 6th 2017 Contents P2
Coast to Coast on
track for record 980
heads to Greymouth
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2017
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A momentary dash inside by
a Greymouth woman yesterday
morning resulted in the loss of both
her packed lunch and car key, which
she left on the bonnet. Police said
the Lydia Street resident was about
to leave for work at 8.30am when
she realised she needed to go back
inside after forgetting something. A
plastic bag containing her lunch and
an expensive electronic smart key
tucked inside for her vehicle were left
on the bonnet. When she returned it
was gone. Police want to hear from
anyone who may have “inadvertently”
picked up the bag, or who might
have information about it.
to Pike minister
A Labour-led government will put
a minister in charge of re-entering
the Pike River Mine. Deputy leader
Kelvin Davis told the Newshub
AM show this morning that Labour
stood “in solidarity” with the Pike
families, alongside Winston Peters,
and a Labour-led government
would establish a Minister for
Pike River. “ That person will be
responsible for making sure there is
an entry,” Mr Davis said. Four family
representatives met Labour and
the Greens on Wednesday and NZ
First yesterday, prior to preliminary
coalition talks. — NZ ME
The NZCC West Coast Rescue
Helicopter was called to South
Westland early today after a
personal locator beacon was
activated south of Bruce Bay.
Helicopter staff left Greymouth
about 1.30am and were able to
trace and uplift a whitebaiter who
had become medically unwell and
activated their beacon. The patient
was flown to Grey Base Hospital for
Rain, easing in evening
Turkish archaeologists believe they
may have discovered the remains
of St Nicholas — from whom the
legend of Santa Claus emerged —
beneath a church at his birthplace
in southern Turkey. St Nicholas was
born and ser ved as a bishop of what
is now the Turkish Mediterranean
town of Demre, near Antalya, in the
4th century. He was buried there,
but his bones were long believed
to have been taken to the southern
Italian town of Bari. The head of
Antalya’s monuments authority said
overnight that archaeologists now
think his remains may be lying in a
temple below the church.
It is deja vu for National Party list MP
Maureen Pugh, who again has a ner vous
wait for the special votes to be counted
from the general election to find out if she
will stay or be knocked out of Parliament.
The former Westland mayor is second
from the bottom of the National Party
Special votes, which this year account
for 15% of the total, tend to favour the
Greens and Labour, although the odds
are all could lose or gain. The results will
be announced tomorrow afternoon.
Green Party leader James Shaw said
this morning that, while the numbers
were tight, just a 0.3% increase from the
specials would be enough to give the
Greens an extra MP.
There was a chance Labour could also
snatch another seat off National — and
that would be Mrs Pugh’s seat.
In 2014, Mrs Pugh just scraped in on
the night at the bottom of the party list,
only to be out again a month later when
the specials were tallied.
She was called back a year later when a
National MP retired from further up the
Mrs Pugh now sits at No 44 on the list,
which puts her back in the House based
on the 46% of the vote National gained
on September 23.
However, West Coast-Tasman Labour
MP Damien O’Connor pointed out this
morning that special votes tend to go
Labour’s way, “which is a positive for us”.
“ What that means in actual seats is hard
to know. There’s positives and negatives
for just about every party,” Mr O’Connor
said this morning.
However, from his look both Labour
and the Greens were likely to gain an MP
NZ First would probably lose an MP,
while National could lose two.
“I understand that if National loses two
that will affect the West Coast National
MP, so I guess she’ ll be closely watching,”
Mr O’Connor said.
Given the uncertainty Mrs Pugh would
have cause to be nervous, he said.
“For all the individuals involved, it ’s a
Mrs Pugh is currently out of the country
on a break but her office said she was fairly
relaxed about the final count: “I think
she’s not worrying about anything. ”
The $110,000 paid to families of
each of the 29 victims of the Pike
River Mine disaster was described
by two family members in the
Supreme yesterday as “unlawful”
and “unprincipled ”.
Lawyers for former Pike River
Coal Company mine manager and
later chief executive Peter Whittall,
paid the $3.41 million when Work
Safe NZ’s predecessor agreed to
drop 12 charges laid against him
relating to the deaths.
The court yesterday heard an
appeal from Pike River widow Anna
Osborne, who lost her husband
Milton in the explosion, and Sonya
Rockhouse, who lost her son Ben.
They are seeking to overturn the
decision to drop the charges against
Whittall, who has since returned to
Asked today if she had accepted
the $110,000, Mrs Osborne said
the first they knew of the money
was when it was paid to all of the
families, without warning.
Representing them yesterday,
Nigel Hampton QC said the money
was paid to curtail a prosecution
“ We see the money as a bargain
made for charges to be dropped and
it is unprecedented in New Zealand
legal history. It is unprincipled
there was no judgment against
the defendant and we contend the
agreement reached is an unlawful
one,” Mr Hampton said.
Mrs Osborne, speaking from
Wellington this morning, said
the action had been filed jointly
by her and Mrs Rockhouse with
the backing of many of the other
“The majority of the families are
very supportive,” Mrs Osborne said.
The court reserved its decision
yesterday but they hoped to have a
decision within three months.
“There was definitely a really good
vibe. We feel very positive for a good
She had described the settlement
paid out in conjunction with
Mr Whittall’s insurers as “blood
Mrs Osborne said today they were
not aware at the time there might
be a deal involving a payment in the
In the aftermath of the disaster,
money from various sources was paid
to those related or in a relationship
with the victims.
“The thing about the money was
every family member gave the
District Court in Greymouth their
bank account number months before
this came about, believing that the
Crown would pay compensation.
We had no knowledge of a
backroom deal being made. I don’t
know of any family being told of the
deal with Peter Whittall.
“It was a backroom, dodgy deal —
blood money. It wasn’t even a choice
given to us.”
Mrs Osborne said the payment did
not override the principle that there
should be justice for the victims in
Mr Whittall being held to account.
Town square jigsaw
Pike families’ payment ‘unprincipled’
A Greymouth man alleged to have
stabbed the tyres on 44 vehicles
parked in central Greymouth in May
has been arrested in Invercargill.
An arrest warrant was issued for
Steven Michael Bellis, 52, when he
failed to show in the Greymouth
District Court this week to answer
charges of burglary, unlawfully
taking a motor vehicle and 15 of
Senior sergeant Paul Watson,
of Greymouth police, said Bellis
had since been tracked down to
Invercargill, where he was arrested
and held in custody.
The arrest concluded what had
been a drawn out investigation to
identify who was responsible for
the vandalism, which had affected
several Greymouth car yards and
“ We really felt for the victims at
the time,” Mr Watson said.
Bellis faced “multiple counts”
following a spree that stretched
from the railway station to at least
Montieth’s Brewery, early on the
morning of May 9.
The charges relate to 44 motor
vehicles and damage to 50 tyres.
Charges of unlawfully taking a
motor vehicle and burglary were
also Greymouth-related, he said.
Bellis will appear in court in
Greymouth towards the end of the
including the victims of the random
acts of wilful damage, the public
and the police would be relieved an
arrest had been now been made.
The inquiry had been extensive
and ongoing, but also frustrating
at times for all involved wanting a
“It’s been a combination of a
lot of work by our local staff here
and assistance from members of
the public and the victims. It’s
been a really good joint outcome,”
Mr Watson said.
Police were still interested to hear
from other victims of the May 9
vandalism who may not have taken
the formal step of reporting the
crime, or from people who might
have fresh evidence from that period.
Mr Watson said police would be
seeking reparation orders in the
court for the victims.
Alleged tyre vandal in custody
PICTURE: Viv L ogie
It ’s back-breaking work but the pavers were in perfect rhythm today as the paving bricks went down for the $1.7 million Greymouth town square
and shared street development, in lower Tainui Street. The damp weather is not hampering work, which is fast taking shape. Mature trees and the new
street lights are all now standing in pride of place. The tiling will be followed by the glass canopy and street furniture.
Greymouth was offered the chance
to host the women’s Spring Challenge
touted as the ‘ largest adventure
race in the world’ — but the Grey
District Council decided not to burden
ratepayers with the $25,000 hosting fee.
The 2018 event will instead be hosted
by Westport on September 28-29. It
was run in Hokitika three years ago.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn
said yesterday he would have “ loved” to
have had the race in Greymouth, but it
was turned down purely because of the
financial impact on ratepayers.
Greymouth would not miss out,
though, as it would still get a “spin-off ”
from the Westport event, he said.
“ Westport will not be able to
accommodate the 1800-odd women
and it’s likely some will come to
Greymouth,” Mr Kokshoorn said.
“Had we decided to pay the $25,000
to host the event it would have ramped
the rates up.
“Currently, the Grey district have the
eighth lowest rates in New Zealand out
of 67 district councils.”
Mr Kokshoorn said the decision on
what to support for the district and
what not to was a juggling act.
“ We worked hard to get Agfest and
went the extra mile, and with the
Spring Challenge we left it alone ... but
in the end all the region will benefit.”
The Spring Challenge is run as a
business by five-time adventure racing
world champion Nathan Fa’ave, and
has been held annually since 2007.
Grey passes up challenge
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