Home' Greymouth Star : January 18th 2019 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, January 18, 2019
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Editor Paul Madgwick
Sports Editor Viv Logie
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
Reporters 03 769 7913
Hokitika reporters 03 755 8422
TODAY IN HISTORY ROBERT ALLENBY
TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS KEVIN COSTNER
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be
dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen
you and help you; I will uphold you with my
righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10.
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“Be intolerant of ignorance, but understanding
of illiteracy.” — Maya Angelou, American writer
Edmund Barton, Australia’s first
prime minister (1849-1920); Alan
Alexander Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
author (1882-1956); Cary Grant, US
actor (1904-1986); Danny Kaye, US
actor (1911-1987); Paul Keating,
former Australian prime minister
(1944-); Kevin Costner, US actor-director (1955-);
Jesse L Martin, US actor (1969-); Jason Segel,
American actor (1980-) .
1788 - HMS Supply, first ship of
Britain’s First Fleet to Australia,
reaches Botany Bay.
1919 - The World War One Peace
Congress opens in Versailles, France.
1936 - Author Rudyard Kipling dies
1945 - Soviet troops relieve Leningrad after a
16-month German siege.
1952 - Anti-British riots break out in Egypt.
1963 - Government of Charles de Gaulle in
France insists that Britain be barred from European
1974 - Egypt and Israel sign an agreement to
disengage their forces along the Suez Canal.
1977 - Australia’s worst rail crash, at Granville in
Sydney, kills 83 people when a train hits a concrete
1991 - Three teenage fans are crushed to death
at an AC/DC concert in Salt Lake City.
1996 - Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson files for divorce
from Michael Jackson.
2015 - Australian golfer Robert Allenby is
reportedly bashed, robbed and kidnapped in
WEST COAST YESTERYEAR
The black track — a tarsealed road from
Christchurch to the West Coast — will become a
reality within the next few months when the last
link of the road at the Rahu Saddle is completed.
Westport contractors and the Ministry of Works
have been working on this last and difficult
section of the road throughout the past year in
an effort to have it finished by the end of the
financial year on March 31.
Resident engineer of the MOW, in Westport,
Mr J S Douglas, said today that the project could
take a little longer than expected because of
some unforeseen circumstances during the year.
The May 24 earthquake caused a hold up
on the project early last year, when we called
the contractors off the job to help repair roads
damaged by its force.
“If they require additional time to complete this
job they are entitled to it,” he said.
“But at the moment progress has been steady,
and it now seems that this section of the road
will be completed on time.”
Mr Douglas said that the two and half mile
section of the road that the contractors
were working on was very awkward for road
construction and had presented many problems
“ The material available there is not the best to
work with but progress has been steady.”
The one mile section that the MOW was doing
itself would almost certainly be completed on
time, he said.
“ The only hold-up I can see at the moment is
bad weather,” he said. “ This road is very difficult
to work on in wet conditions.”
When this section of the road is completed, the
sealed road link will extend from Christchurch,
through the Lewis Pass, Greymouth and Hokitika
and down as far as the Franz Josef Glacier.
Reported crime on the West Coast over the
holiday period this year has been less than in the
No burglaries have been reported and thefts
have been of a minor nature, stated a member of
the Greymouth CIB today.
t is frustrating: you buy a new
appliance then just after the
warranty runs out, it gives up the
You cannot repair it and cannot
find anyone else to at a decent
price, so it joins the global mountain of
You are forced to buy a replacement,
which fuels climate change from
the greenhouse gases released in the
But help is at hand, because people in
Europe and parts of the United States
will soon get a right to repair — of
Libby Peake is senior policy adviser
at Green Alliance, a United Kingdom
charity and environmental think tank,
she tells it is a problem all over the
“The right to repair movement really
stems from consumer frustrations with
products that break long before they
should and cannot be repaired because it
is either too expensive, or it is too much
of a hassle. Increasingly, it is because
products are not designed to be repaired,”
Ms Peake says.
Consumer goods such as washing
machines are often designed with sealed
drums that prevent consumers and
repairers from accessing parts that would
be easily and cheaply replaced, such as
ball bearings. Faced with the choice of an
expensive repair, consumers often choose
to simply buy a new machine — “and it’s
no wonder”, she says.
The movement started in the United
States, where lawmakers in Massachusetts
passed legislation that forced car
manufacturers to provide information to
consumers which would allow them to
make repairs to vehicles themselves.
Increasingly, it has moved into
consumer electronics. Eighteen states
across the US have now passed legislation
for the right to repair and now the
European Union is gearing up to do
the same. Already, the European
is looking at improving product standards
for things such as fridges, washing
machines, dishwashers and televisions.’
The movement would be hugely
beneficial to the environment, Ms Peake
“There are massive environmental
consequences to the growing mountain of
electronic waste that is being created. It’s
the fastest growing waste stream — not
just the products, but the manufacturing
itself which includes mining, water, and
electricity use. It’s an energy intensive
Previously the EU had focused on
the eco-design directive which dictates
standards on energy use, for instance
LED lightbulbs and electricity or water
use. Now it is moving on to resource
efficiency, product lifetime and the ease
several manufacturers have protested
the proposed changes and argue only
professional repairs should be
conducted on their products. But the
legislation has support from higher-
end manufacturers who believe that if
everyone were forced to meet minimum
standards, it would make the industry
more competitive and drive the least
efficient products off the market,
Ms Peake says .
Planned product obsolescence used to
make sense for manufacturers to force
new purchases of defunct electronics,
but consumers are increasingly in
favour of long-lasting products and
their frustrations will begin to hit
manufacturer bottom lines as consumers
seek out more robust products.
Now that jumps in technological
advances have decreased, manufacturers
could design things like phones and
televisions with disassembly in mind,
so the parts can be re-used or
recycled. In terms of the losses
they would incur by selling more
robust phones for example, she says
manufacturers may need to pivot
to charging for things like software
upgrades or repair services.
“People are increasingly sick of ‘take,
make, dispose’ economy we’ve got. They
want something that ’s much more
circular and doesn’t damage the planet
so much — and ultimately — doesn’t
damage their wallets.
“Not having to replace poorly made
products over and over again is ultimately
good for consumers.” — RNZ
The right to repair
Carey L Biron
From his office in downtown
Washington, DC, half a mile from the
White House, architect Michael Wiencek
can see something most people cannot:
“The 1970s building across the street, the
four floors I see are all vacant,” he said.
“I’m looking at another building across
the street which has been half-vacant since
I’ve been in this office.”
While someone walking the streets
of the capital would be hard-pressed to
recognise it, this region has in recent
years experienced the highest commercial
vacancy rates in the country, according to
the Metropolitan Washington Council of
Governments (MWCOG), a non-profit
And in those empty blocks, Wiencek
sees something many do not: opportunity
and a way to help alleviate Washington’s
A September report from MWCOG
warned that by 2045 the region would
need to build 100,000 more homes than
are already planned.
Across the country, “no state has an
adequate supply of affordable rental
housing for the lowest income renters,”
according to the National Low Income
Housing Coalition, a non-profit
Over the past dozen years, Wiencek and
his firm have been involved in numerous
projects in and around Washington to
convert empty office space to housing,
particularly for low-income residents.
The economics can be surprisingly
feasible, Wiencek said — in part because
flat complexes have become so expensive
to buy, but also because tearing down and
constructing a new, large building is cost-
Converting disused office space also
brings residents back to what are often
run-down parts of the city, he said.
Fifteen years ago such conversions were
a new idea. Today there are more of them,
though “not nearly as much as there could
Wiencek has noticed significant interest
in conversions from developers across the
Policymakers are also paying attention:
since October, an official task force in
Washington has looked at how the city
can encourage developers to convert
vacant office space, with the explicit
intention of addressing the lack of low-
Its recommendations are expected early
Washington is something of a bubble
because it is a “federal town”, said David
Whitehead, a housing activist with
Greater Greater Washington — a non -
profit organisation advocating for walkable
urban communities, and a member of the
Commercial real estate owners have for
decades been able to charge high rents
to government entities, contractors and
non-profits seeking high-class office space
downtown, he said.
Yet recent years have seen major
changes in the demand for office space,
fuelled by the rise of remote working
and co-working, and because the federal
government has decreased in size.
“The need for office space is shrinking,”
a planner with MWCOG warned in
But, said Whitehead, many commercial
real estate owners had yet to accept this
new reality. Meantime, city tax penalties
for vacant commercial space remain low
and hard to impose.
That goes to explain why Washington
has a large surplus of office space,
Whitehead said; roughly equivalent to
two Pentagons, or at least 13 million
Meanwhile, an official count last year
found there were nearly 7000
homeless people in the city.
Most were living in emergency
shelters. Nearly half that
number were families.
“ We have this sitting surplus
of office vacancy and draining
of affordable housing, so why
can’t we figure that out?” he
said, although he admitted the
task force faced big challenges.
“It’s not an easy thing to
convert vacant commercial
space to housing in general,
and beyond that, we’re now also
talking about converting and
subsidising,” he said.
According to the United
States Energy Information
Administration, a government
agency, the country had about
88 billion square feet of
commercial floorspace in 2016.
It expects that number will
reach about 123 billion square
feet by 2050.
According to real estate consultancy
CBRE, the national commercial vacancy
rate currently stands at about 13%.
Which is why, even as Washington
assesses its vacant office space, other
states are looking at theirs — including
fast-emptying commercial spaces such
as groceries and “big box” stores that
have been hit by the rise of the internet
A pilot project in Florida is looking
to convert a former Saint Petersburg
grocery store — which sat vacant for four
years — into housing and a venue where
low-income entrepreneurs could start a
Commercial property owners across
Florida are finding it increasingly
difficult to keep retailers in “large format ”
stores, the project ’s organisers said.
That is particularly acute in low-income
“The idea came through thinking
about places I pass by quite a bit that
stood vacant,” said Ashon Nesbitt of the
Florida Housing Coalition, a non-profit
“In a lot of low-income communities
there are these resources of buildings.
Instead of looking at them as liabilities,
we need to see them as resources that
need to be redeployed in a different way,”
In addition to a “severe lack” of
affordable rental housing, Mr Nesbitt
said, Florida has experienced widespread
closures of retail and grocery stores.
With a grant from the national
mortgage-backer Fannie Mae, the FHC
is drafting a blueprint that could be used
by local governments, developers, housing
finance authorities and others across the
country for similar conversion projects,
said the FHC’s Ben Toro-Spears.
Few models exist in the United States
for this type of project, he said, which
meant the concept of adapting the
building for a different use was new for
its owner — a national property owner.
The firm was keenly awaiting the
proposal, Mr Toro-Spears said.
The rising number of vacant commercial
spaces — on which owners must still pay
taxes, utility bills and other expenses —
meant there was potential to scale up the
project nationwide, he added.
“These are really large organisations, and
if we can demonstrate early on that this
can be successful, I think they ’ll adopt it
Already the two have been inundated
with interest from across the State,
including from cities and civic groups.
“They continue to ask what ’s going on:
‘ We have a site. Can you look at this
site?” Mr Nesbitt said.
“It’s definitely something that caught
folks’ attention, and people want to
see similar things happen in their
communities.” — Reuters
Vacant office buildings converted to housing
There has been a lot of correspondence
in various media lately regarding the use
of 1080 poison to control pests. There are a
lot for and a lot against the use of 1080.
The perfect opportunity has arisen to
demonstrate how good 1080 is with the
appearance of stoats on Great Barrier
Island, in the Hauraki Gulf.
There would be no better place to
demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of
1080 poison. What are they waiting for?
The article ‘Coast DHB facing shake-up’
(Greymouth Star, January 12) recalls — yet
again — the words of Petronius Arbiter in
“It seemed every time we were beginning
to form up into a team we would be
reorganised ... and a wonderful method it
can be for creating the illusion of progress
while producing confusion, inefficiency
and demoralisation”. O bviously those
responsible for this latest change-for-the-
sake-of change agenda find it necessary
to create these upheavals lest it become
all too obvious that management do not
actually do anything that could not be
done better by a far smaller bureaucracy
with enlightened leadership and proper
consultation with the medical people, as
happened in the pre-corporate health
I note that ‘Medical leadership roles
were not addressed in the proposal but
the report said that should be done
immediately’. How typical — propose
all sorts of changes and then think about
‘medical leadership roles’ after wards.
I have just been sent a selection of Star
articles covering many years of other
‘shake-ups’ — same old story. Every time
management boast of vastly improved
ser vices being planned, when it is all
too obvious (to those not blinded by
bureaucrat-speak) that the Wellington-
driven agenda going back two decades
or more has been ultimately aimed at
running down the Coast ’s public health
system in both the mental and general
Finally, it is high time that the farcical
term ‘disestablished’ as applied to health
positions was discarded and replaced by
what is really meant — that health staff
have been dumped, sacked, fired, call it
what you will.
Bureaucrat-speak is a disease that needs
to be eliminated and replaced by good old
plain, honest English.
Perhaps somebody, somewhere is able to
solve the following question.
Why is it that in America, a land that is
over-supplied with crazed, armed-to-the-
teeth, wholesale mass murderer nuts, and
an entire population of cretins (they voted
for Trump) — why hasn’t Trump been
After all, a woman fled the US and gave
the startling news — in her ‘home’ back
stateside there were 32 guns ... including
two pistols in the loo! How about that? Is
your mind boggling?
L A Elphick
With one in five New Zealanders dying
from heart disease, the Heart Foundation
needs more people to join with it by
volunteering as street collectors for its Big
Heart Appeal 2019 next month.
Every year over 6500 New Zealanders
die of heart disease. While the time
commitment involved as a volunteer for a
few hours on one day is small, the reward
is huge and will play a vital role in the
fight against New Zealand’s single biggest
killer, heart disease.
Funds raised during the Heart
Foundation’s annual appeal are used
to support heart-related research and
specialist training for cardiologists. The
Heart Foundation is New Zealand’s
leading independent funder of heart
research. Since 1968, it has funded more
than $70 million in research and specialist
training for cardiologists. Additionally,
we also perform a wide range of activities
to help support people living with heart
disease, and their families, and provide
educational programmes and campaigns
that promote heart-healthy living.
The Big Heart Appeal street collections
will take place on Friday, February 22
and Saturday, February 23 and we need
volunteers in all regions.
To fi nd out more about volunteering
for the Big Heart Appeal and to sign up,
Heart Foundation of NZ
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