Home' Greymouth Star : December 19th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, December 19, 2013
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uLetters to the editor
1154 - Henry II crowned as King of England.
1688 - William of Orange enters London.
1732 - Benjamin Franklin begins publishing
Poor Richard's Almanac.
1843 - Charles Dickens' classic Yuletide
tale, A Christmas Carol, is rst published in
1848 - Death of English writer
1851 - Joseph Mallord William
Turner, English artist, dies.
1863 - Linoleum, the smooth
oor-covering, is patented by
Frederick Walton of London.
1907 - 239 workers die in a coal
mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania.
1915 - British troops begin withdrawal from
Sulva and Anzac in Gallipoli in World War
1946 - War breaks out in Indochina as troops
under Ho Chi Minh launch widespread attacks
1972 - US Apollo 17 spacecraft splashes
down on target in Paci c Ocean, ending US
programme of landing men on Moon.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir Ralph Richardson, British actor (1902-
1983); Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet Communist
Party chief (1906-1982); Jean
Genet, French writer (1910-1986);
Robert Urich, US actor (1946-
2002); Mike Lookinland, US actor
of Brady Bunch fame (1960-);
Jennifer Beals, US actress (1963-);
Alyssa Milano, US actress (1972-);
Ricky Ponting, Australian cricketer
(1974-); Jake Gyllenhaal, US actor (1980-).
"And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless
Us, Every One! " --- e closing line of A
Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
"Remember then what you received and
heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake
up, I will come like a thief, and you will not
know at what hour I will come to you."
--- (Revelation 3:3).
e possibility of
further accidents on
the Raupo railway
crossing has been
lessened with the installation this week of
warning bells in the area. e bells are on
each side of the crossing and are automatically
operated by any railway vehicle on the line 440
yards on either side of the crossing.
Four people have been killed by railcars at
this Totara Flat crossing, which subsequently
became a compulsory stop.
A young Camerons youth, 15-year-old Leslie
Holmes, is having a fascinating trip from
Camerons around the Coast Road, through the
Buller Gorge to Reefton and home again via
the Reefton-Ikamatua main highway.
e novel part of Leslie's trip, however, is that
he is making it on horseback. His mount is a
ve-year-old brown gelding which Leslie has
Roy ompson Kyle, 49, a High Street grocer,
had used the horn of his motorcar in Elizabeth
Street on November 19 "otherwise than as a
reasonable tra c warning", the prosecution
claimed in the Greymouth Magistrate's Court
this morning. In giving evidence, sergeant J F
Waugh said he had been in Elizabeth Street
in the police car when Kyle had driven past
and tooted his horn four times for no apparent
reason. e sergeant said he had then followed
Kyle and stopped him in Paroa Road where he
had said he had "just felt like" tooting the horn.
Kyle was ned £2, costs £3.
Boys have won both dux awards for this
year at the Reefton District High School. Top
award for the high school has gone to John
Dickson, while David Ledson is the primary
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Healy s view
David KeysArchaeologists have just
completed the most
detailed study yet of the
life story of a prehistoric
What they have
discovered sheds remarkable new light on
the people who, some 5500 years ago, were
building the great ritual monuments of
what would become the sacred landscape
A leading forensic specialist has also
used that prehistoric Briton's skull to
produce the most lifelike, and arguably the
most accurate, reconstruction of a speci c
individual's face from British prehistory.
e research gives a rare glimpse into
upper class life back in the Neolithic.
Five and a half millenniums ago, he was
almost certainly a prominent and powerful
individual --- and he is about to be thrust
into the limelight once again.
For his is the prehistoric face that will
welcome millions of visitors from around
the world to English Heritage's new
Stonehenge visitor centre.
e organisation estimates that around
1.2 million tourists from dozens of
countries will "meet" him as they explore
the visitor centre over the next 12 months.
He was born well to the west or north-
west of the Stonehenge area, probably
in Wales (but conceivably in Devon or
Brittany). Aged two, he was taken east,
presumably by his parents, to an area
of chalk geology --- probably Wiltshire
(around the area that would, 500 years
later, become the site of early Stonehenge).
However, aged nine, he then moved back
to the west (potentially to the area where
he had been born) --- and then, aged 11,
he moved back east once more (again,
potentially to the Stonehenge area).
Scientists, analysing successive layers of
the enamel in his teeth, have been able to
work all this out by analysing the isotopic
values of the chemical elements strontium
(which changed according to underlying
geology) and oxygen which re ected the
sources of his drinking water.
He grew into a taller than average man,
reaching an adult height of 1.72m. In
Neolithic Britain, the average height for
adult males was 1.65m, while in Britain
today it is 1.76m. He probably weighed
around 76kg and had a fairly slender build.
roughout his life, he seems to have
consumed a much less coarse diet than was
normal at the time. His teeth show much
lighter wear than many other examples
from the Neolithic. He also had a much
higher percentage of meat and dairy
produce in his diet than would probably
have been normal at the time.
By analysing nitrogen isotope levels
in his teeth, a scienti c team at the
University of Southampton, led by
archaeologist Dr Alistair Pike, have
worked out that he obtained 80 to 90%
of his protein from animals --- probably
cattle, sheep and deer.
He had few injuries and there is no
evidence of severe illness. But he seems
to have died relatively young, probably
in his late 20s or 30s, from an unknown
cause. However, he was probably given an
impressive funeral --- and certainly buried
in a ritually very important location.
Initially his body was almost certainly
covered by a turf mound but some years
or decades later, this mound was enlarged
to form a substantial mausoleum --- one
of the grandest known from Neolithic
Britain. He was the only individual
buried there during his era --- although a
thousand or more years later, several more
people were interred in less prominent
locations within the monument.
is great mausoleum --- 83m long and
several metres high --- was treated with
substantial respect throughout most of
prehistory --- and can still be seen today
some 2km west of Stonehenge.
Given the ritual signi cance of the
Stonehenge area, even at this early stage, it
is possible that he and his father and other
ancestors before him had been hereditary
tribal or even conceivably pan-tribal
priests or shamans in a possibly semi-
It is also likely that such people also
played roles in the secular governance of
emerging political entities at the time.
Most tantalising of all is the likely link
between Wales and the pre-Stonehenge
ritual landscape. When the rst phase
of Stonehenge itself was built around
3000BC, the stones that were probably
erected there were not, at that stage, the
great sarsens that dominate the site today,
but were probably the much smaller so-
called "bluestones" (some of which are still
ose bluestones originally came from
south-west Wales --- and were therefore
almost certainly brought from there to
Stonehenge by Neolithic Britons.
--- New Zealand Herald
Facial reconstruction expert Oscar Nilsson adds nishing touches to the early Briton.
Prehistoric Briton revealed
New Zealand is no longer a Christian
nation. e results of the 2013 Census
con rm the steep decline in the Christian
religion since 1996. Seventeen years ago
63.8% of New Zealanders belonged to the
Christian faith. e latest census results
put that gure at 44.5%.
Christians may snatch a scrap of solace
from the fact that those unequivocally
declaring themselves to have 'no religion'
represent an even smaller minority
(37%) of the New Zealand population.
But nothing can hide the fact that the
Christian religious tradition which has
underpinned our nation's culture since
colonisation, is rapidly diminishing.
Indeed, if the rate of decline of the past 17
years is repeated over the next 17, then by
2030 barely a quarter of New Zealanders
will still call themselves Christians.
Does it matter? Should we be worried,
or relieved, that we New Zealanders are
an altogether more secular and sceptical
bunch than the Americans --- two-
thirds of whom reject Darwin's theory of
evolution in favour of ancestors fashioned
by the Almighty out of dust and clay?
Is it not more reassuring to know that
nearly 40% of us remain unmoved by
religious belief, than to contemplate a
religious establishment so strong that
within the living memory of most New
Zealanders it wielded a power su cient
to sway governments and outlaw
I am certainly glad that a dour and
embittered Protestantism no longer
holds sway over much of suburban New
Zealand. And I rejoice that generations
of young working-class girls and boys
are no longer expected to make sense of
their urban neighbourhoods through an
incense-laden fog of saintly superstition
and clerical bigotry.
I am proud to be part of that vast
generation, the Baby Boomers, who dared
to call the religious establishment to
account for its sins. Not religious sins, you
understand, but for the moral crimes born
of unchallenged authority and heartless
hierarchy. For the lies that were told;
the cruelties in icted; the young souls
twisted by sectarian hatred; the old souls
unredeemed by Christian love.
Right by human right we pillaged the
Christian establishment: the right to
contraception; the right to abortion;
the right to love a member of the same
sex (and, eventually, to marry them) the
right to express oneself sexually without
religious condemnation or secular
punishment; and, nally, that most
important of all human rights: the right
to seek for the meaning and purpose of
human existence on our own terms, and
using the whole of the natural universe as
And yet, in perusing the census data, I
have also experienced an uneasy feeling of
loss: of slowly drifting away from familiar
In my mind's eye, running like a family
video, are memories of the past, of my
childhood, ickering and fading. Of a
little limestone church in Herbert, North
Otago. Of the farming families and their
children, all wearing their Sunday best.
Of the low murmur of the organ; voices
raised in song; and simple New Testament
sermons about love and forgiveness.
I recall my years at Sunday School and
learning the Bible's many stories: Moses
and the burning bush; David vanquishing
Goliath; Daniel in the lions' den; Jacob
wrestling with the angel; Joseph and
his coat of many colours. And, every
December, I remember, the familiar stories
and carols of Christmas. Mary and Joseph
and their long journey to Bethlehem. e
Magi and their search for the one foretold,
Emmanuel, meaning "God is with us". e
shepherds keeping watch in the elds by
night. e Heavenly Host singing Glory
to God in the Highest!
I remember them all, and that little
community, glowing through the
lengthening summer shadows with peace
And I ask myself, as we sail away from
all those little churches, those devout
congregations, those simple sermons of
love and redemption: "Quo vadis?"
I ask it of myself; of my family and
friends; of my entire and beloved country,
"Quo vadis? Whither goest thou?"
Chris Trotter is an independent left-
wing political commentator
NZ --- 'no longer a Christian nation'
Fans are ready to plunge once
more into the collective imagination
of J R R Tolkien and Peter
Jackson, when the trilogy's second
instalment, e Hobbit: Desolation
of Smaug, opens.
Hobbit star Martin Freeman
says the story of hobbits, elves
and dragons has captured people's
imaginations because Bilbo is an
accidental bystander who tries to do
the right thing while surviving the
chaos of a world gone wrong.
Freeman believes this is how
many of us feel about our own lives.
"Bilbo is the audience basically,
and Bilbo brings the audience
through this terrifying apocalyptic
world where he shouldn't really be.
feel that about ourselves. We should
look at Bilbo and see ourselves.
"I look at him and de nitely see
me. Massive similarities," he adds,
Freeman says people of all ages
connect with Tolkien's children's
tale because of the "general tenants
of good and bad and decency".
"I suppose like all so-called
children's lms or fairytales or
anything that has a very simple tale,
those things do tend to stay with
us for ages. Everyone has an idea
of evil, or whatever we call evil, or
whatever we call good, even if we
think they're myths."
e vast world Tolkien invented
is plagued by all the same problems
as our own one. e characters
struggle against racism, mistrust,
poverty, war and evil.
Richard Armitage, who plays
the grim dwarf king orin, says
his character's quest to return his
people to their kingdom, which was
destroyed by the dragon Smaug
(Benedict Cumberbatch), recalled
Jewish dispossession and Zionism.
" e driving force for him, which
initially is about leading his people
back to their homeland, a race of
people that are in exile. Perhaps
that's a re ection of the Jewish
Armitage says the world orin
inhabits is divided by prejudice and
ancient grudges held between elves,
men and dwarves.
" e dwarves are racist towards the
elves. It's got the same thing, a race
that rejects another race," he says.
orin's personal hatred of
the elves and his hunger for the
enormous pile of gold and gems
Smaug uses for a bed, clouds his
"It becomes a very personal
vendetta between orin and
randuil (the elf king) and you see
them go head-to-head very early on
in the movie."
Armitage says audiences will
recognise the dwarves' obsession
with gold and Bilbo's growing
fascination with a certain ring as a
re ection of our own culture.
"When you look at the dragon
and the rise of evil and the excessive
consumption of wealth and greed.
ey're the big themes that run
e irony is that the Hobbit
franchise has been accused of
avarice for its huge expansion of the
320-page novel. e trilogy already
stands at 343 minutes, with a third
lm to come next Christmas.
e Hobbit was always going to
struggle to match up to the Lord of
the Rings, but rather like its plucky
character, the prequel continues to
defy its detractors. Smaug slotted
easily into the top spot after it
was released in cinemas across the
United States, United Kingdom
and others last week.
Bilbo an accidental bystander
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