Home' Greymouth Star : November 13th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, November 13, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1789 - Benjamin Franklin writes a letter to a
friend in which he says: “In this world nothing
can be said to be certain, except death and
1909 - Some 250 miners die in
a fire and explosion at the St Paul
Mine at Cherry, Illinois.
1940 - Walt Disney animated
movie Fantasia has its world
premiere in New York.
1945 - General Charles De Gaulle
is elected president of the French
1956 - US Supreme Court rules that
segregation of the races on public buses is
1999 - Lennox L ewis beats Evander Holyfield
to become the undisputed heavyweight boxing
2003 - Residents of the village of Nubutautau,
on the Fijian island of Viti Levu, apologise to
the descendants of British missionary, the Rev
Thomas Baker who was killed and eaten by their
ancestors 136 years earlier — in 1867.
2010 - Pro-democracy hero Aung San Suu
Kyi walks free after more than seven years under
house arrest in Myanmar.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Don Lane, US-born Australian tv
personality (1933-2009); Kamahl,
Australian singer (1934-); Whoopi
Goldberg, US actress (1955-);
Tony Jones, Australian television
journalist and presenter (1956-);
Richard Fidler, Australian musician
and broadcaster (1964 - ); Jimmy
Kimmel, American comedian and talk-show
host (1967-); Samantha Riley, Australian
“ We love because God first loved us. ”
— (1 John 4:19).
“ History is simply a piece of paper covered
with print; the main thing is still to make
history, not to write it.” — Otto von Bismarck,
German statesman (1815-1898).
A late model
100 feet over a bank
after it failed to take
the corner at the top of the Blackball Hill on
Saturday. Only one of its three occupants was
admitted to hospital. He is Mr Roy Anderson
who received lacerations to the scalp and
multiple contusions. He is in a satisfactory
Mr Anderson who owns a furniture store in
Greymouth was a passenger in the vehicle. He
had to be cut free. The other two occupants,
both Christchurch men, were treated on the
spot, but were not admitted to hospital.
Greymouth’s ‘snowgoose’ has returned for the
15th year in succession. Yesterday, six weeks
ahead of schedule, Peter the Kotuku pecked at
the back door of Mrs E D Muir’s Gladstone
home. This now legendary white heron
usually turns up at Christmas or early January
commuting annually between the breeding
grounds at Okarito and Mrs Muir’s suburban
Two things about Peter have not changed.
“ He is still as cheeky and hungry as ever,” said
Mrs Muir this morning. Since yesterday he
has devoured all the liver intended for the cat
in the Muir household and as Mrs Muir was
talking to the Star he was pecking for attention
at the door.
For the second time in two weeks, the collier
Titoki has been diverted from Greymouth to
Westport to load coal for Castlecliff.
The Titoki which was in the roadstead off
Greymouth at the beginning of the month
but could not enter through bad weather
conditions, was diverted again this morning
after being in the roadstaed most of the
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
Recent press releases in the Greymouth
Star and the Hokitika Guardian show
the Kumara Residents Trust (KRT)
has $300,000 for garden items coming
from China and $20,000 coming from a
Chinese community fundraising dinner in
They were granted $172,500 from the
Kumara endowment fund on the casting
vote of the then mayor, Mike Havill, and
obtained approximately $37,000 from
the Kumara area ratepayers’ township
development fund, which they granted to
themselves without telling ratepayers.
They state they have $95,745 from
other Chinese community fundraising in
the bank. With the group in control of
such a large amount of ratepayer money,
why has the KRT not tabled a full set of
accounts to the community of Kumara and
Westland ratepayers? A transparent and
responsible community group would have
done this by now.
At a recent community meeting at the
Kumara school, KRT members requested
$30,000 to upgrade and seal a car park
by the Chinese garden site. Mayor Bruce
Smith and Cr Durham Havill were at
the meeting and said the KRT would
not get further money. But a few months
later, KRT applied for $68,709 from the
Westland District Council-administered
MDI fund (from Development West
Coast), and Mayor Smith was in
Christchurch helping them at the recent
What power does this ‘small voluntary
group’ (their words) wield over the
Westland District Council by expecting
more and more community or ratepayer
money whenever they put their hands out?
My concern around this fiasco
has actually nothing to do with the
Chinese garden concept, it is about
this group obtaining community and
ratepayer money for what I believe is a
commercial tourism venture, sited on a
busy and therefore potentially dangerous
intersection in Kumara, and the very
questionable process and information the
KRT provided to get that money.
Had Westland District Council
management stopped and had another
look at the application process when
concerns were first raised, or the KRT
themselves had put their hands up and
admitted the application was not up to
scratch, I believe this controversy would
have been put to bed a number of years
I intend to publish background
information on this in a forum that is
accessible to anyone who can use Google,
and anyone who has an interest in the
West Coast and reads the content, can
decide for themselves what is fair and
reasonable, and what is not.
Abridged. — Editor
Coast mining ban
Look after the regions . . . yeah, right.
The West Coast is a region that really
We have not even recovered from
the Pike River disaster, then comes the
collapse of Solid Energy, a State-owned
and poorly managed business. You can
blame the international coal prices, but
they have recovered and private companies
will no doubt make a profit from and
continue to employ local people.
To have Eugenie Sage announce no
more mining on public conser vation land
is just another kick in the guts. Do you
think she knows how much that might
affect our region? It could mean job
losses in the hundreds — from miners,
mechanics, hose doctors, engineering
suppliers, welders, I could go on and on.
Some of the conser vation land is of
questionable value, normally the roughest
that quite often has been mined before or
logged. It is mainly very poor land that has
a great crop of gorse and broom (very rare
What a terrible system MMP has
become with Eugenie Sage, a paid
professional protester, changing the rules
to suit her own agenda — she must be like
a child in a lolly shop.
The new Prime Minister could not give
Shane Jones the portfolio that involved
the fishing industry because of his close
ties to it, but then gives Eugenie Sage
the portfolios of conser vation and the
environment. I think that is a total conflict
of interest and should not have been
With only 5.7% of the party vote, as a
Green MP how can she have the mandate
to do this with no consultation at all? It
spells a terrible time ahead for all of us.
But wait, tourism will save us . . . yeah,
I wonder if the polytechnic has some
toilet cleaning courses available — better
get my name in quick.
Recently, the chief coroner released
the findings of the death of a patient,
from a ‘non-accidental’ insulin overdose,
in Middlemore Hospital. The case
demonstrates several areas of concern
in the quality assurance, and health care
The patient died in 2012 and it has
taken five years for the coroner to release
A delay in correction of the low blood
glucose levels, as well as the insulin
overdose, contributed to the death. The
doctors attending the emergency had
asked the nurse for a bedside blood
glucose test and had been told the blood
glucose was normal. This was likely to have
been due to ‘human error’ but required a
focused quality assurance investigations
at the time. This does not appear to have
After the low blood glucose was noted
in the intensive care unit, follow-up
tests would have identified the overdose
of injectable insulin, which was not
prescribed. Identification of the culpable
individual would have been a matter for
the police. Referral to the police should
have been made as soon as the cause of
the low blood glucose was identified. Any
delay in police investigation would have
compromised the investigation. If the
c linical staff did not refer the matter due
to the fear of intimidation, the Minister of
Health has a responsibility to be involved.
The coroner described the case as one of
a kind in New Zealand. If the victim is a
patient, police will only investigate if the
culpability of an individual can be proven.
A series of ‘one of a kind’ cases from the
West Coast can be used to describe how
delays compromise investigations, and
how most such cases do not get referred to
In addition, the witness reports describe
a patient who was depressed and suicidal.
There are no comments about the
involvement of mental health ser vices in
the management of the patient. Perhaps
this is another reason why the new
Minister of Health should get involved.
rom moss-mottled concrete
steps, Jules Wallace watches
Little fingers knead and
squelch slime. Raising their
goo oozes and drips in
stretchy tears to squeals of delight.
Wallace smiles. They remind her of
grandaughter Sophia before she died, not
much older than them. Children being
children. Not a care in the world, under a
high spring sun, as it should be.
Spare them the worries, the doubts. The
feelings of sorrow and loss, both fresh and
aged, at seeing your earthquake-smacked
house being unceremoniously razed by
digger jaws a year on. Let them smudge
and smear and giggle and grow.
Let the adults wonder, what now?
“The love is very strong here and we’re
very grateful for what we’ve got, but there’s
no doubt it ’s been a hell of a hard year,”
Wallace says, placing fallen plastic blocks
back on top of a multi-coloured tower.
If a year’s a long time in politics, 12
months can be both fleeting or eternity for
disaster sur vivors.
Just ask Cantabrians, even today. And so it
is for the people of Waiau and Kaikoura.
The magnitude 7.8 that tossed them from
their beds at 12.02am on November 14
last year turned both the contents of their
kitchens and their worlds upside down.
It claimed two lives, pancaked buildings,
sheared roads and rolling farmland,
collapsed mountainsides, and lifted the
Kaikoura seabed out of the water.
For many, the clean-up was quick. Life
soon went on. As Waiau resident and
community volunteer Alex Bush puts it:
“It’s a rural mindset of, you just suck it up
and move on.”
There are some, however, who are still
picking up the pieces. Authorities closely
monitor mental health. Insurance stand-
offs. Feelings of being forgotten. Major
roads are still closed and far from being
Tourists, the lifeblood of the seaside,
whale-watching mecca of Kaikoura, are
only trickling back.
With the children buzzing around her
feet, Wallace looks around little Waiau.
It is busy enough. Trucks are parked
outside Brenda’s on Lyndon cafe and shop.
Dusty farm utes thrum past with barking
dogs. A lawnmower whirrs.
But the quake has left its mark on the tiny
North Canterbury town, population 300.
It had 26 buildings red-stickered. For
such a small community, it has been a
devastating blow. L ocals are exasperated
that the event is officially coined the
“Kaikoura Earthquake” when Waiau wore
its vicious epicentre.
As well as many homes being destroyed,
several key community buildings and
infrastructure have been ruled off-limits.
These included the bowling club, Scouts
den, swimming pool, playcentre, church and
the only pub, which now trades out of a
temporary pop-up structure.
The future of many buildings are still in
limbo. They are cracked, leaning, fenced off,
boarded up, danger zones. The bricks from
some houses are stacked on front lawns.
Weatherboard is exposed.
Wallace wept when she watched her
home of nine years being demolished last
week. She and partner Peter managed
to save a memorial stone and cross to
grandaughter Sophia in the front garden
before the excavators moved in.
The popular 10-year-old with the
sparkling eyes died in a farm accident six
years ago. She is buried in the same plot as
her brother Liam, who died in his cot aged
“ We had a lot of memories there. When
your house dies, it ’s like you’re grieving
another death,” Wallace says.
A pillar of the town for more than 40
years, the parent-led playcentre building
was ruled off-limits. It has been fenced off
ever since. Grass grows tall around the sad
sight of the abandoned playground.
In March, the playcentre reopened in
the nearby Plunket building, opposite a
crumbling 107-year-old Waiau L odge
With a 10-month rent-free arrangement,
it is open twice a week, for up to 10
children. Cramped and temporary, it will
do for now.
Meanwhile, its hard-working committee
has leased land 100m away from Hurunui
District Council on a 20-year, $1-a-year
nominal lease. Now they are seeking grants
and fundraising relentlessly to come up
with the $250,000 for the new building.
The fundraisers have been true to their
rural New Zealand roots: catering at dog
trials and running pig hunts.
Heading 20km north towards the still
snow-topped Kaikoura mountain range,
Courtney ’s mother, Donna Ridings, has
At the bottom of a shingle road that
winds through a picturesque green valley,
her dream home, 106-year old Sher wood
Lodge pancaked in the quake.
Ridings and partner Paul Craig were
lucky to escape with their lives. As the
violent shaking increased in intensity, the
mansion’s walls started to cave in and the
second-floor roof collapsed. The pair leaped
2m out of a bedroom window and fled to
the relative safety of the tennis court.
A year later, their beloved homestead
remains a sorry sight of crumpled concrete
and river stone, oak, plaster and lath. It ’s
deemed a complete rebuild, estimated to
cost as much as $7.5 million.
Ridings has rejected her insurance
company ’s $1.8m cash settlement offer and
is now locked in negotiations.
“It ’s only been a year, and I know that for
people in Christchurch it’s been seven years
. . . but it ’s certainly not been a constructive
time for us,” the health and safety manager
Private insurers have fully settled 69%
of all residential and commercial claims
for the November 14 event. The Insurance
Council of New Zealand says it’s “very
pleased with our rate of progress”. However,
Christchurch accountant and advocate
for insurance and EQC claimants Cam
Preston says it ’s not good enough.
“People are living in garages, some haven’t
even seen an assessor yet; we don’t see that
as something to be proud of,” he says.
Preston is also concerned that private
insurers assessing damage in Kaikoura
have been advised by the Earthquake
Commission to use a part of the EQC Act
that he says wrongly defines replacement.
“Claimants are likely to be negotiating
replacement of damaged property at a level
that is significantly below the standard
of replacement that they are entitled to,
according to the Joint Agreement signed
last April,” he warns.
Things are moving on for many quake
Just south at Scargill, hammered by a
vicious magnitude-5 .7 aftershock, locals
are deciding whether to repair, rebuild or
erect a new community hall. Grants and
relief have come from Government but
communities are also pitching in and doing
Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley
urges his people to see opportunities
instead of loss.
“People have stepped up in their
communities,” he says. “ There’s always
good stuff that comes out of adversity, it
just takes time and a bit of letting go of the
past.” he says.
Getting the roads back will be critical
to the respective recoveries of North
Canterbury and Marlborough.
State highway 1 south of Kaikoura
“reopened ” before last Christmas. But
it has been closed regularly after storms
or aftershocks and for ongoing repairs
and heavy work, much to the frustration
of locals, especially business owners in
Kaikoura, Cheviot and Greta Valley, who
become cut off.
The NZ Transport Agency this month
confirmed plans to reopen State highway 1
north of Kaikoura to traffic on December
15 this year, restoring the critical coastal
highway link from Picton to Christchurch.
However, several sites will remain under
construction. There will be some unsealed
surfaces, lane closures and stop/go traffic
controls. The route will be closed at night
in places for several months and there
will be planned closures for “high-impact
The Inland Road to Kaikoura was the
first accessible overland route to the
stricken seaside town after the quake.
For months, the journey took hours,
with multiple stops at roadworks where
contractors and machinery of all types
— diggers, bulldozers, graders, rollers,
tractors, trucks — worked furiously to
clear giant landslips.
But now it ’s a different story. Inland
Route 70 from Waiau to Kaikoura takes
around 75 minutes in either direction.
The improvements to the road are vast.
Stop-go signs are infrequent. The road is
re-directed at the worst sites, particularly a
section known as Whales Back.
But once in Kaikoura, it is evident that
things are far from returning to pre-quake
levels of tourist boom.
The main street of West End is eerily
quiet. Locals doing routine errands and
fluoro-shirted roading contractors greatly
Several cafes are closed at lunchtime. The
historic and imposing Adelphi Hotel has
been partly demolished. Other buildings
are boarded up or cordoned off.
One tourist, Zeus Romero, a 27-year-
old magician from Barcelona, has come
to see the seals. He will stay for two days
before heading south to Queenstown and
“ We had friends say there was an
earthquake and the seals had gone, but
they are now back, so we came to see.
There is no reason not to come,” Romero
It has been tough times for the tourist-
Two of the major operators, Whale
Watch and Dolphin Encounter, both shut
for weeks after the quake.
Damage to the town’s marina, and with
the seabed jumping an extraordinary 2m,
meant they couldn’t get their boats into
Whale Watch, world-renowned for
spotting 20m sperm whales, was forced
to put three of its four boats in dry dock.
Running at just 25% capacity for almost
a year was challenging for the company,
admits marketing manager Lisa Bond.
“That ’s just what we had to do. There was
no other option,” she said.
It was a similar story for Dolphin
Encounter, says co-owner Dennis
Buurman. Business has been down at least
“ It ’s been exceptionally challenging,” he
says. “ It’s been sur vival in a way.”
But on Tuesday, on the first-year
anniversary of the quake, a redeveloped
multi million-dollar marina will be
officially opened at South Bay. Thousands
of cubic metres of rocks have been dug
out of the channels and a new jetty will be
able to cater for cruise ship tenders.
It can not come soon enough for the
The tour companies are feeling positive
about the new marina, and with the
reopening of State highway 1, an expected
return of more tourist cash. Whale Watch
now has its four boats back in the water
and early summer bookings are reportedly
“ We’ve never experienced anything like
what we went through,” says Buurman.
“ But we’re confident the people will come
back. People still come here and can’t
believe the place. With the sea and the
mountains, it’s still pretty hard to beat.”
There are other success stories in town
Quake-damaged Mitre 10 Kaikoura
reopened last month as Hammer
Hardware Kaikoura. Roz and Bruce Hills,
along with son James and daughter Cindy,
have been flat out ever since.
Mark Fissenden’s Paper Plus shop was
yellow-stickered after the deadly jolt.
So he jumped on his father’s digger and
helped clear a passage through the Inland
Road, meeting fellow father-and son
contractors Mark and Sam Powell from
Lyford Contracting at the Conway River
A fortnight later, he had relocated to a
smaller store a few doors down.
Now, he is the driving force behind a
new pop-up mall across the road on the
c leared Adelphi site which will open
“ It ’s going to take some time to recover.
We’re looking to summer and we think
it’ll be okay, but will it be good? That’s the
Around the town, the ser vice industry
— the garages, engineers, contractors,
supermarkets — is flat out.
But others, especially smaller operators
and people Gray describes as being “in the
area of discretionary tourist spend”, are
The financial stress, losing homes and
businesses, coupled with Kaikoura’s
isolation and the disaster coming after
three years of North Canterbury drought,
has also seen an increase in mental health
Over the past 12 months, a small team
of mental health professionals have been
touring the quake-hit communities and
taking referrals from GPs and social
ser vice providers.
They have also had a presence at dog
trials, school barbecues and community
meetings on road updates.
Tomorrow ’s first anniversary will be
emotional for many people, she accepts,
but stresses it is important to acknowledge
the landmark moment without
A landslip blocks State highway 1 and the railway line north of Kaikoura after last year’s earthquake.
Kaikoura a year on
Twelve months after the Kaikoura earthquake, those whose lives were jolted apart are still hurting but they say
they must suck it up and move on. They also say it has been a tough old year. KURT BAYER of NZME reports.
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