Home' Greymouth Star : January 4th 2019 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, January 4, 2019
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TODAY IN HISTORY
T S ELIOT
TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS FLOYD PATTERSON
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who
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“Our civilisation is still in a middle stage, no
longer wholly guided by instinct, not yet wholly
guided by reason.” — Theodore Dreiser, American
Jacob Grimm, German author
(1785-1863); Louis Braille, French
inventor of reading system for the
blind (1809-1852); Sir Isaac Pitman,
shorthand inventor (1813-1897); Sir
William Deane, former Australian
governor-general (1931-); Floyd
Patterson, US world boxing champion (1934-
2006); Dyan Cannon, US actress (1937-); Doc
Neeson, singer-songwriter of Australian band The
1923 - Lenin dictates a postscript
to his “Lenin’s Testament” in which
he suggests Stalin is too rude to be
secretary-general and should be
1930 - Douglas Mawson
discovers what became known as
MacRobertson Land in Antarctica.
1936 - Billboard magazine in US prints first
popular music chart.
1951 - North Korean and Communist Chinese
forces take Seoul, Korea.
1958 - Sputnik I, world’s first artificial satellite
launched in October 1957 by the Soviet Union,
falls to earth.
1965 - Death of T S Eliot, American-born poet,
playwright and Nobel Prize winner.
1982 - Former Australian Liberal prime minister
Sir William McMahon announces retirement.
1997 - In Paris, a 99-year-old woman who
refused to leave her unheated home is among
the victims of a cold snap blamed for more than
225 deaths in Europe.
WEST COAST YESTERYEAR
The first nomination for the Greymouth Borough
Council vacancy was received by the returning
officer, Mr G C Hayter about mid-morning today.
It is that of Mr William Gordon McKay, a
retired civil engineer of the Ministry of Works,
His proposers were Messrs F W Baillie and
C E Heaphy and Mrs Eileen Kelly.
Until early this morning it looked as if the
festive season had completely overshadowed the
There had been no nominations at all, though
papers had been available for 10 days before
Christmas, Mr Hayter said.
There are, effectively, only two and a half days to
go till nominations close with Mr Hayter.
The supplementary roll will close a week later, on
January 16, and the election will be held on Friday
Commenting on the holiday season cutting
across the pre-election period in this manner,
Mr Hayter said: “It has come at an awkward time,
but we do not have much leeway under the Act.
“No doubt within the next few days they will
Within 20 minutes of his saying this, he received
Mr McKay’s nomination paper.
The by-election arises as a result of the surprise
resignation only five days after his inauguration of
Cr N E Gillman.
While confidence was expressed that the council
could operate satisfactory one man short, a
by-election was forced when a petition containing
sufficient signatures was received by Mr Hayter.
Too late for New Year’s dinner — but it was roast
At about 11.20 last night the Greymouth
Fire Brigade was called out to the corner of
Shakespeare and Heaphy Streets where residents
had heard a loud boom and witnesses a brilliant
These unusual happenings are thought to have
been caused by a duck flying into a power line,
bringing it to the ground and causing a shorting.
This shorting blew the Grey Electric Power
Board’s switch at Dobson and the supply had to
be completely cut to allow repairs to be effected.
Right to Life
Right to Life is opposed to all violence
against women at all stages of life and
fully supports the open letter to the
Prime Minister on the front page of
the New Zealand Herald on Sunday,
December 16, there were calls for the
Government to adopt a comprehensive
strategy to prevent and end violence
against women and to allocate adequate
resources to, “Ensure that every woman
in Aotearoa New Zealand has access
to culturally appropriate domestic and
sexual violence support and healing
services when and where they need it”.
Right to Life contends that an
important first step to this objective is
for the Government to reject its current
proposal to decriminalise abortion
and to instead promote adoption, as a
loving option. Today the violence of
abortion against a pre-born (female)
child — is seen as the government-
funded solution to the problem of an
unplanned pregnancy, it is inconsistent
for the Government to be talking about
a “comprehensive strategy to prevent and
end violence against women.
Right to Life commends the Prime
Minister for opposing violence against
born women but must ask why does she
not recognise the killing of the unborn as
violence against both women and their
New Zealand is a violent country. We
have some of the worst statistics for
sexual violence, domestic violence and
violence against women in the OECD.
To our shame, on average 13 women are
murdered each year in New Zealand. Our
police respond to an incident of domestic
abuse every five and a half minutes.
Eighty per cent of domestic violence goes
unreported. Why are we so violent?
Abortion is the ultimate in domestic
violence against women. Each and
every day 35 women have their womb
invaded by an abortionist and 35 unborn
children are killed. In a surgical abortion,
the abortionist violently forces his way
into the womb of a woman for the
purpose of stopping a beating heart
and dismembering her child by tearing
off its arms and legs. This preventable
violence is sanctioned and funded by
the Government. The Government is
currently deceiving women by promoting
this killing as a human right, a health
service and a “reproductive health choice
for women”. How many of these women
are victims of male violence and are
being coerced by threats of violence and
abandonment? These are the men who see
women as sexual objects, who are there
for their gratification, men who have
rejected the Creator’s plan for procreation
and demand abortion as a backup for
New Zealand is grieving and mourning
the death of Grace Millane cruelly
murdered in Auckland. Her violent
killing has touched the heart and
conscience of the nation. A beautiful
young woman with her whole life before
her, trusting that she would be safe in
our country, has had that trust shattered
as she is taken from us on the eve of
her 22nd birthday. This is an appalling
But so is the estimated 18 women who
are violently killed every day in New
Zealand in their mother’s womb.
Right to Life believes that the
fundamental reason for violence against
women by men is because women are
increasingly sexualised as objects of
male gratification. Women have an
intrinsic dignity conferred on them by
their Creator as the creator of new life.
Mothers are the heart of the home for
the natural family, comprising exclusively
one man and one woman. It is the duty
of men to be the protector of women
and children. When men lose respect
for women and see them as sexual
objects, there for their gratification,
respect quickly turns to violence and
Is the Government concerned about violence against women?
t is a giant collection of thick-
walled buildings that glows
candy-floss pink at dusk, sitting
on the edge of Auckland ’s inner
harbour, just past the bridge.
Many casual commuters have no
idea what it is, or how this institution has
shaped the suburb that sits above it. That
is changing with the opening of a wildly
successful cafe, Sugar, and visitor centre at
New Zealand ’s only sugar refinery was
built in 1884, from 1.5 million clay bricks
made by hand from the land the factory sits
on. The government was offering a subsidy
in order to reduce the country’s reliance on
imported sugar from Australia. Birkenhead
was the ideal spot — close to Auckland,
near a deep water channel for the ships to
berth, and close to a fresh water source,
Duck Creek. The entire catchment of the
creek was purchased, and it also provided
some timber, although the kauri trusses still
evident in the buildings were floated down
from Great Barrier Island. Dams were built
and the sugar factory rose.
With no harbour bridge the refinery
company built two whar ves, adding another
two at a later date — for passenger ferries,
sugar ships, coal ships and for the fleet of
lighter ships built on the premises.
Everything the industry needed, from
sugar sacks to golden syrup tins, was made
at the factory, and that meant a big payroll.
The refinery was the biggest employer on
the North Shore, at its peak providing 400
Current NZ Sugar general manager
Bernard Duignan says it was a tough
industry — “ hard work, manual labour,
heavy and hot, noisy and dangerous. It was
male-dominated until World Wars One
and Two changed that.”
Automation has also dramatically
changed the industry and now the
workforce is half that number.
The company also built homes and later
provided cheap loans so workers could own
them. Many are now historically protected
buildings, in Rawene, Huka and Colonial
It does not take long to find people still
living in Birkenhead who grew up in such
homes, and whose families have a huge
connection to the refinery. In many cases
it provided work for entire families, down
through generations, and there are still
workers there today who have been with
the company for more than 40 years. One
of them is production manager Tony Grant,
who as a 16-year-old lied about his age to
sign up. It was not until the payroll system
changed from wages to salary a decade
later that he admitted to being two years
younger than stated.
“It’s a feel-good thing working in a place
like this,” he says. “ There’s always been quite
a community spirit here . . . a lot of workers
Mr Grant is so loyal to the brand that
when he cut down from his milk-and-two-
sugars cup of tea he left out the milk.
He has seen dramatic changes in his time,
both in automation and health and safety.
It used to be so hot working running the
centrifuge machines that spin the sugar that
workers would be in shorts and no shirts.
At the pan stations the company provided
plastic sandals. “ That sort of attire is not
appropriate now,” he understates.
“A lot of people see the Chelsea site as a
bit mysterious — many don’t realise that
big pink place is a refinery.”
Actually it’s not “pink” — it is “Tuscan
red”, a change plotted by board member
Sir Michael Fowler in the early 1990s to
replace the patchwork of green and brown
Other changes include nearby road
names — Colonial Road, named for the
Colonial Refining Company that took over
ownership after the 1888 depression, used
to be Seddon Road; Huka Road (Maori for
sugar) used to be Hutton.
Nowadays the factory is secured and
protected, but once upon a time naughty
boys knew how to get around the
Dave Moore was one of those — he
and his mates, including the son of the
gatekeeper, would get in and play in the
sugar chutes, climb the stacks of sugar bags,
explore the factory and keep one eye out for
“The gatekeeper wasn’t there to stop kids
getting in, he was there to stop people
stealing sugar,” he says.
Mr Moore, now in his early 80s, admits
there was some consternation if they were
found at the top of the sugar stacks but if
they were caught they would just scarper.
His father, a good rugby league player, had
been lured to Birkenhead by the Northcote
Tigers with the promise of a refinery job.
The refinery was the children’s playground
— fishing and whitebaiting at the wharf,
stealing a ride on the cart horses used to
transport sugar, digging tunnels in bush in
what is now the suburb of Chatswood, and
building tree houses. The factory’s 4.35pm
knock-off whistle was their home time —
it could be heard for quite some distance.
Born and bred in Huka Road, Mr Moore
says growing up everyone in the street
worked at the refinery. “ The bush was full
of little tracks made by countless bare feet,”
The only place they did not go was the
higher dams. “ We were always frightened
of the manager (who lived there). He lived
in feudal splendour — no one knew him.
He was above us mere mortals. We never
knew his name, he was just The Manager.”
Black soot from the refinery’s coal fires
was a problem when the wind was in the
wrong direction. Window sills and the
sides of homes were covered with it and
housewives rushed to get the washing in
when they realised it was coming in their
direction. Colleen Hickinbottom says the
smell from sludge — residue from the
refining process — could also be extremely
strong, but a phone call would send the
workers scurrying to get rid of it. “ They
would bury it — they ’re very good people,”
Mr Moore remembers one day coming
across a lot of coal that had spilled from a
truck, and taking it home to his mother.
“Coal was rationed so it was a big triumph
for me,” he says. Except that the refinery
used high grade industrial coal from
Westport and when lit it burned through
the grate at his home, his victory turning
Many older residents remember fondly
the social events for sugar families — in
particular, the company Christmas picnics.
In the early days the picnics were at Pine
Island (now Herald Island). Later they
were at the refinery grounds, where the
sight of Santa rowing across the dam
enthralled children. Margaret King, a child
during the war years, still remembers the
sight — “there were always wonderful
parcels,” she says. “ Nowadays you would
say we were poverty stricken — we never
Jackie Kenyon grew up in one of the
historic cottages in Colonial Road
between 1966 and 1976, and still feels
a sense of ownership over the refinery
— she admits to being quite put out on
heading down to the new cafe soon after
it opened to find it flat out and full. She
says it was a unique way to grow up. “Lots
of people now don’t know what that pink
building is,” she says.
Her sister Donna Repia remembers
the beautiful brick homes as cold and
dusty — they have since been restored
and brought up to standard. Their mother,
Margaret Chambers, remembers the very
productive fruit trees there — “even to this
day I don’t like plum jam”. Her father, an
engineer, was brought out to work in the
refinery from England. He was in one of
the cottages as part of the refinery’s move
to always have a tradesman handy.
Ms Repia remembers the trucks making
their slow way up the steep route outside
her house — so slow that on their walk
home from school the drivers would chat
to them out the window and share their
cigarettes with the girls.
Today, 1000 tonnes a day of sugar
products crawl their way up the extremely
steep Colonial Road — 40 to 50 trucks
making return trips. The powerful bulk
tankers of today are a far cry from the
New Zealand Express trucks driven by
the likes of Ron Hickinbottom, who as a
free immigrant in 1959 from the United
Kingdom was made by the government to
take a driving job at Chelsea. Ron recalls
low-gear crawls up the hill that brought a
particular danger — the possibility that a
jerky gear change could mean the loss of a
70lb bag of sugar off the back. “Seven tons
just about loaded a truck and we had to
put a sheet across the back just to hold it
going up the hill.”
The grinding gears could be heard streets
“I had it happen once but I never had a
broken bag so I was lucky,” he says. When
that happened — others recall the shout
of “sugar!” and residents would come out
with their pots and cups to grab some of
the white gold, which was still rationed
in those post-war years. “ We’d scrape it
off the road it was that precious,” former
Huka Road resident Anne Stevens says.
Mr Hickinbottom’s job involved talking
public transport over to The Strand in
Parnell to pick up a truck before he started
his day. He found out only much later he
could have parked the truck at home. He
would load up with sugar bags thrown at
“tremendous pace” by the loaders, who
took great delight in trying to upset them.
Ron, 82, and his wife Colleen, 81, live in
a company house in Rawene Road and are
steeped in sugar history. Colleen’s father,
grandfathers, cousins and brothers all
worked at Chelsea.
“There’s no doubt about it, Birkenhead is
Chelsea,” she says.
This story first appeared on
Newsroom (www.newsroom.co.nz) and is
reproduced here with permission.
Golden syrup and treacle tins were made at the refinery — men packed
Life in sugar town
PICTURES: Chelsea Sugar
Coal fired chimneys and four whar ves — the Chelsea refinery circa 1920s.
There was an absolute art to stacking sugar bags — catch and flip. To young invaders
there was also an art to climbing the stacks.
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