Home' Greymouth Star : October 20th 2017 Contents P2
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017
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Hokitika focus for
Forest Service reunion
All revved up for
Greymouth street races
The most read newspaper per capita in New Zealand
Readership of 11,000
A 50-year-old Greymouth man
was arrested last night during a
police drugs raid on a Main South
Road address. Senior sergeant Brent
Cook said the man would face a
number of cannabis-related charges.
He is due in court next week and
has been released on bail in the
turns up in arson
A Christchurch man in his 20s
was arrested yesterday afternoon
in Greymouth. He was taken into
custody as police were conducting
further inquiries into the suspicious
arson of a house bus in Ngarimu
Street, early on Wednesday
morning. Police unexpectedly
chanced upon the man, who was
wanted in Christchurch for historic
burglary charges, during the course
of visits to various addresses in
the area of the suspicious bus fire.
Senior sergeant Brent Cook said
police were keeping an open mind
at this stage in terms of leads in
the inquiry into the bus fire. The
Greymouth Star understands a note
was left after the suspicious fire,
directed at the bus owner saying,
“you’re next,” but police were not
commenting on the nature of any
inquiry leads. As yet no conclusions
have emerged in relation to the
unexplained fires that destroyed
two vacant houses at Runanga and
Ruatapu this week. Mr Cook said
police were working with fire safety
inspectors to reach conclusions.
Aggressive polar bears are holding
a village hostage after forcing
hundreds of frightened walruses to
jump off 125ft cliffs to their deaths.
About 20 bears have surrounded
Ryrkaypiy in Russia, with one cub
even trying to enter a house through
the window. A local wildlife official
called the situation in the village,
which has a population of just 601,
“alarming”. The polar bears were
attracted by a walrus rookery in a
special protection zone in the far
eastern region of Chukotka. Many
of the frightened marine mammals
fell off cliffs at Kozhevnikova
Cape as they tried to flee. “Several
hundred fell to their deaths, and the
polar bears then ate the carcasses,”
reported The Siberian Times. Now
the other walruses have reportedly
migrated away and the polar bears
are encircling the village.
— The Mirror
Rain in morning, easing later
O’Connor eyes cabinet posts
After nine long years in opposition,
O’Connor was on a plane back to
Wellington this morning, happy to
be back on the treasury benches with
the new Labour-New Zealand First
The new Government, with its
pledge already to revitalise the regions,
will mean some significant policy
decisions for the West Coast.
Mr O’Connor, in his 24th year in
Parliament, is now one of the most
senior Labour MPs in caucus.
When last in government, with
Helen Clark as Prime Minister, he was
the minister of Rural Affairs, Tourism,
Immigration and associate minister of
He said today he was hoping for
a cabinet post, and had his eyes on
primary industries and regional
development, which were his “passion”,
along with tourism.
Many roles, though, will go to NZ
First which gets four cabinet posts and
an under-secretary, while the Greens
get three ministers outside cabinet.
The new Government may also spell
the end of the controversial public-
private funding arrangement for the
new Westport integrated family health
centre to replace Buller Hospital.
That has drawn huge protests in
Westport, and prompted a policy
promise from Labour to reverse the
With the Greens on board, former
government plans to car ve up the
Denniston Plateau for mining and
conser vation will probably also be
The Pike River Mine families seem
set to get their manned re-entry of
the stone drift leading into the mine
workings, where the bodies of the 29
victims remain. A massive rockfall on
the unstable faultline stands between
the drift and the mine workings.
However, the Labour-Green alliance
may be hard for some on the West
Coast to stomach.
“ I think there’s a bit of paranoia
about the Greens,” Mr O’Connor
said this morning.
But the two parties were pragmatic
and could work through things, he
paramount for the Greens. The only
area of real disagreement was over
“The reality is the international
market price will determine that.”
Asked if he thought the deal gave
Mr Peters too much power, he said the
NZ First leader had been “incredibly
responsible” during the negotiations.
Mr O’Connor said in his dealings
with him over many years, he had
found him to be up front and
It is only five weeks since Prime
Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern
spoke to a crowded Regent Theatre in
“Labour’s plan demonstrates our
commitment to the West Coast, where
the Labour Party itself was started in
1908, and our commitment to thriving
regions around New Zealand,”
Ms Ardern said at the time.
Fund an upgrade and development
of two cycle trails, the Old Ghost Road
and the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
Make industrial engineering
exports a key focus of the Tai Poutini
West Coast economic development
action plan. A facilitator will work
with engineering businesses across
the Coast to share expertise, identify
common goals, and develop supplier
and marketing information.
News delivered by thumbs up
A thumbs up from across the aisle of an
aeroplane told West Coast-Tasman MP
Labour’s Damien O’Connor he was part of the
Mr O’Connor had been in Wellington
yesterday for meetings and was hopping on a
plane to fly south just as Winston Peters began
his speech at Parliament Buildings.
“The first confirmation was a thumbs up from
across the aisle,” Mr O’Connor said today.
He said until last night, everyone had been
“genuinely baffled” about which way New
Zealand First would swing.
Once home, Mr O’Connor dealt with a flood
of e-mails and texts.
Early this morning, he was trying to catch a
flight back to the capital for a caucus meeting
early this afternoon.
After nine years in opposition it was a good
feeling to be part of the Government again, “to
be in a place of positive influence ... it’s a huge
responsibility,” he said.
After watching the West Coast suffer through
huge job losses, the new coalition had the
regions in its gaze.
“ We will be putting the brakes on what
has been unrestricted growth in Auckland,”
Mr O’Connor said.
Pike River Mine families’
hopes buoyed by Labour
It has taken almost seven years and a series of
false starts, but the Pike River Mine families
may finally get their hope of having a manned
search of the drift leading into the mine.
Only one person has been deep inside the mine
since the 2010 disaster — an electrician sent in
to investigate why the power had gone off that
fateful Friday afternoon.
Mines Rescue came close to entering, but the
second, massive explosion put paid to that.
Last night, when New Zealand First chose
to go with Labour, the country was delivered a
new Government in which every party backs a
Most of the bodies — and possibly all 29 —
lie behind the rockfall. But the families believe
there is a chance that some remains could be
found inside the drift. A manned re-entry is also
a chance for experts to collect evidence and, for
the families, to get some sort of closure.
“ You’ ll be aware that manned re-entry to the
Pike River Mine was a firm commitment for the
Green Party, the Labour Party and New Zealand
First. Absolutely,” Prime Minister-designate
Jacinda Ardern said last evening.
The pledge made before the election with the
families was to create a special agency to be
solely in charge of the mine recovery effort, to
be set up within 100 days of a new government
NZ First did not sign the agreement, but has
been clear that it backs manned re-entry.
“A lot of people in New Zealand are asking
what do the families want out of this,” Bernie
Monk said today of the new Government.
The first was a manned re-entry. The second
was the possibility of finding remains, and
importantly, to “give a lot of the families closure”.
“ Justice has got to prevail.”
When the news came in last night, Mr Monk
was contacted by some of the overseas families,
who were ecstatic.
“ We’ve had a lot of high hopes, you think you’re
there,” Mr Monk said of the past seven years.
“(But) you’re never there until you start going
down the drift. ”
The search has been suspended for missing
Greymouth fisherman Kieran Lynch after two
day ’s searching by a police dive squad in the area
where the Wendy J sank at Smoothwater Bay on
In a statement late this morning, police said
the search of the wreckage of the fishing vessel
had been completed.
The body of crewman Jay Cairney was found
inside the wreck a few days after the sinking, but
Mr Lynch, 22, has not been seen since the boat
went down in a storm.
Police divers yesterday spent a second day
searching the water near the entrance to
Smoothwater Bay, around the point from
Good weather and visibility allowed a full
day ’s searching to clear the wreckage and its
surrounds, police staff said.
“ Unfortunately,Mr Lynch’s body was not found.
The formal search has now been suspended, and
is subject to review if new information emerges. ”
Smoothwater search suspended
Whitebait ‘pudding’ for tea
PICTURE: Laura Mills
Brendon Cameron had reason to smile this morning as the whitebait started their run up the Grey River. He had caught about three
pounds by late-morning and said it was his best day fishing for a while. Others confirmed quietly that the bait was running, though in
usual whitebait style, lips were sealed. Whitebaiters were packed in along the floodwall, net to net. There are also reports of a run in the
Buller River yesterday — in time for the Westport Whitebait Festival this weekend — and the Taramakau was busy this morning.
commitment to a full rebuild of
Buller Hospital, if elected, was
music to the ears of those fighting
the National government ’s plans
for a private-public partnership.
But today they were not
holding their breath.
Reacting to the coalition news,
both Steve White and Phyllis
Phipps, leaders of the Buller
Hospital Action Group which
stood against National’s plan
for a private-public partnership
for a smaller health centre, said
there would be no let up yet to
ensure Westport gets the fit-
for-purpose and fully publicly
funded replacement hospital that
Labour had promised.
“ We have a nice political
commitment with a smile, but
that doesn’t necessarily mean
anything,” Mr White said this
Mrs Phipps said they would
keep their “fingers crossed” and
the group would continue to
work to ensure Labour “keep to
“Hopefully they stick with
what they said,” she said.
Jacinda Ardern, in Greymouth
just prior to the election,
promised a new Buller Hospital
on the existing site with all of the
$20m capital cost to be funded
by the Crown. There would be no
public-private partnership and
Labour would ensure a fit-for-
purpose hospital “which reflects
the community it ser ves,” and on
the existing site.
Labour would “immediately
stop any further planning” for
the much smaller site across the
road, pushed by National under
a new funding model and which
did not cover the total cost.
“There will be no third party
funding for this; the Buller
Hospital will remain owned by
all New Zealanders, as it should
be. Building the hospital using
Crown finance will save up
to an estimated $1m in fees,”
Ms Ardern said.
Mr White greeted the Labour-
NZ First led coalition as
“reasonably good news, although
I put a very big disclaimer around
“ While it’s positive for our case,
it doesn’t necessarily mean we
will get what we want,” he said
programme for the first 100 days
meant it was likely the work to
reconfigure health bureaucracy
and mindset, along with coming
up with plans for a reconfigured
hospital project, would be
delayed. It would appear to me
they may not be able to manage
this hospital process for the next
year or so. ”
Westport to hold Labour to promise
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