Home' Greymouth Star : December 24th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
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uLetters to the editor
1515 - King Henry VIII appoints omas
Wolsey as chancellor of England.
1524 - Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama,
who discovered a sea route around Africa to
India, dies in Cochin, India.
1814 - United States and Britain
sign Treaty of Ghent in Belgium,
ending the War of 1812.
1865 - Several veterans of the US
Confederate Army form a private
social club in Pulaski, Tennessee,
calling themselves the Ku Klux
1943 - US President Franklin D Roosevelt
appoints General Dwight D Eisenhower
supreme commander of Allied forces.
1953 - Train crashes into river at Tangiwai,
New Zealand, killing 151 people.
1968 - US Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the
moon, read passages from the Old Testament
Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve
1979 - Soviet soldiers invade Afghanistan.
1989 - General Manuel Antonio Noriega
takes refuge in the Vatican diplomatic mission
in Panama City.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Lackland, king of England, (1167-
1216); Kit Carson, US folk hero (1809-1868);
Matthew Arnold, English author
(1822-1888); Howard Hughes,
US billionaire (1905-1976); Ava
Gardner, US actress (1922-1990);
Kevin Sheedy, AFL coach (1947-);
Kate Spade, US designer (1962-);
Ricky Martin, Puerto Rican pop
singer (1971-); Stephenie Meyer,
American author, (1973-).
"If Jesus Christ were to come today, people
would not crucify Him. ey would ask Him
to dinner, hear what He had to say, and make
fun of it." --- omas Carlyle, English historian
" erefore the Lord Himself will give you
a sign: e Virgin will be with Child and
will give birth to a Son, and will call Him
Immanuel." --- (Isaiah 7:14)
either taking a taxi or
going by private car
for people wanting
to attend church services in Greymouth
tomorrow. After 40 years of operating the runs,
the local rm of Kennedy Bros has decided to
abandon its Christmas Day bus services.
e services were run in the morning
covering the Greymouth and Karoro areas.
ey were provided to take people to and
from services. "Lack of patronage," replied a
principal in the rm, Mr Jim Kennedy, when
asked the reason for the suspension.
Carving knives will send thousands of slices
of that popular Christmas and summer food,
ham, dropping onto platters for consumption
in Greymouth this festive season. District
butchers today con rmed that there has been
a popular and big demand for the meat this
year. Although some said that the quota sold
was normal for the period and stocks were still
available, others indicated an increased ham
patronage and held supplies were close to being
"We're just about out," said Mr C F
Trowbridge, manager of the Mawhera Meat
Company, which cures its own hams.
Turkey, the traditional Christmas fare in the
Old Country, is catching on fast in Greymouth,
too. Mrs J Dekkers, wife of a Boddytown
turkey farm operator, said this morning that
the demand had been "terri c", although actual
orders were on a par with last year.
"We have had about 150 orders locally and
they are still coming in today," she told the
Evening Star. And what are the Dekkers
having for Christmas dinner? ..."well, turkey of
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (o ce)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
Sports Editor Tui Bro mley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
What do pukeko,
blue cod or
to do with what
weather is on its
While modern state-of-the-art high-
resolution forecasting models, like those
run by Niwa's super computer, have
demonstrated signi cant accuracy and
continue to improve each year, mother
nature can tell us even more about the
weather ahead --- just by observing
patterns and sequences.
Using environmental indicators to
anticipate local weather and climate
outcomes is common practice among
many indigenous people around the world,
By obser ving patterns and sequences in
natural events --- such as the behaviour
of birds, the blooming of certain trees
and owers, and the movements of the
stars, Maori have long used environmental
indicators to forecast local weather and
climate --- helping to manage daily and
Traditional indicators to forecast weather
and climate vary from place to place
because of georaphy, di erent landscapes
and seascapes, and between iwi or hapu.
For example --- central North Island
iwi Ngai Tuhoe use the sun to predict
approaching storms. When a vivid halo
encircles the sun, the expected outcome is
a storm approaching. A pale and dim halo
encircling the sun suggests a storm is far
When pukeko are observed heading for
higher ground, Northland iwi Ngati Wai
will expect a storm and possible ooding.
South Island iwi Ngai Tahu predict that
a long, hot summer will follow when the
ti kouka (cabbage tree) owers early and
Often more than one indicator is used
to forecast weather or climate in the days,
months and seasons ahead. Where there
are discrepancies among the indicators, a
consensus-based approach is usually taken.
If the majority of indicators point
in a given direction then a forecast is
most often made in that direction --- in
a similar way to probabilistic seasonal
forecasting methods that rely on consensus
amongst di erent computer models to
forecast changes in climate.
Niwa environmental scientist Darren
King has been studying traditional Maori
methods for predicting weather and
seasonal conditions with kaumatua (elders)
from across Aotearoa, and says modern
and traditional forecasting systems can
complement each other.
"Using Maori knowledge to forecast
local weather and climate re ects the
Maori worldview that all things are
connected by whakapapa (genealogy)
and that subtle natural linkages in the
environment can reveal much about
atmospheric conditions," Mr King said.
"Climate has always been important to
Maori. It in uences which plants, trees
and birds are found in various parts of the
country and it a ects winds, waves and
" is knowledge has not only been vital
to sur vival --- by helping whanau to prepare
and plan for weather hazards and climate
variability, but also in uences decisions
about when to plant, harvest or sh.
"Learning more about the Maori
knowledge system can contribute to
better understanding of local weather
and climate changes as well as promote
awareness of the inherent linkages
between people and the natural world.
"Lessons such as these are critical for
informing adaptation strategies for the
Environmental indicators are still used
by many indigenous peoples around the
world in the same way --- for example,
indigenous groups in northern India
predict the onset of the monsoon in June
or July using environmental indicators
such as the blooming of the golden
shower tree and the direction of the local
Farmers in Peru use the mid-year
appearance of the Pleiades star cluster
to forecast the timing and quantity of
precipitation in the wet season, months
Accuracy of the seasonal forecasts is
around 65% --- exceeding the accuracy of
modern scienti c forecasts with similar
outlook periods by 5-10%. Similar studies
are taking place in Australia and Samoa.
Forecasting the weather, the traditional
Sun (Ra): When a vivid halo encircles
the sun, a storm is approaching. If a pale
and dim halo encircles the sun, a storm is
far away (Ngai Tuhoe, north east central
Milky Way (Mangaroa): When Milky
Way is curved, bad weather is likely.
When Mangaroa is straight, ne weather
is expected. (Kai Tahu, eastern South
Blue Cod (Rawaru): When stones are
in the belly of the sh, bad weather is
coming (Ngati Koata, northern South
Waves (Nga ngaru): When there
is a deep sound of breaking waves up
the valley, rainfall or poor weather is
approaching (Te Roroa, north-western
Sea kelp (Pakake): When there is
furling or unfurling of hanging kelp,
rainfall or a storm is on the way (Ngati
Wai, north-east North Island)
Pukeko: When pukeko head for higher
ground, an imminent storm or ooding
is coming. (Ngati Wai, north-east North
Kaka: When kaka begin acting up,
twisting and squawking above the forest, a
storm is on the way. (Ngati Pare, north-
east North Island)
Ruru (Morepork): When the shrill
cries of more than one ruru can be heard
calling to each other at night, rain or poor
weather is coming. (Ngati Pare, north-east
Cabbage tree (Ti kouka): If there is
early or profuse owering, a long hot
summer follows. (Kai Tahu, eastern South
Pohutukawa: If owering starts on
the upper branches and progresses
downwards, a cold and winter-like season
will follow. But if owering starts on the
lower branches and progresses upwards, a
warm and pleasant season lies ahead. (Te
Arawa, northern central North Island)
Godwit (Kuaka): e arrival of the
kuaka means the season of warming
begins. (Ngai Tuhoe, north-eastern central
Moon (Marama): If the moon is lying
on its back in the rst ve nights of the
lunar month, a month or rainfall is ahead.
(Te Whanau a Apanui, eastern North
Matariki (Pleiades): If the stars of
Matariki appear wide apart, warmer
seasonal temperatures are expected.
e stars appear closer together, cooler
temperatures are expected. (Ngai Tuhoe,
north-eastern central North Island).
--- New Zealand Herald
How pukeko behaviour can indicate the weather ahead
NZ weather signs
Christmas for Douglas Brett was always
a joyous time, lled with sunshine, games
with his cousins and many presents from
Yet, for Mr Brett's family, Christmas
was tinged with sadness, as his father
remembered his part in New Zealand's
worst rail disaster --- and the loss of his
two best mates.
Masterton man Richard 'Ted' Brett was
one of the lucky few who lived through
the Tangiwai rail disaster of Christmas
Eve, 1953 --- 60 years ago today.
Ted's childhood friends and future
brothers-in-law, John and Douglas
Cockburn --- the brothers of Breadcraft
founder Bob Cockburn --- perished in the
Mr Brett, whose mother is John and
Douglas's elder sister, said his father and
grandparents were "devastated" by the
tragedy --- but, despite their grief, always
created magical Christmases for the
"My grandparents put so much into
Christmas," he said. " ey wanted to
make it special --- they loved having us
grandkids to spoil. But Christmas must
have hurt so much for them, and my dad.
"We grew up with this great joy that dad
had survived, but also this incredible grief
and sorrow that he'd lost his mates."
At 10.21pm that day, a Wellington to
Auckland night express train careened
from a lahar-damaged bridge, plunging
into the ooded Whangaehu River at
Tangiwai, near Waiouru.
e accident, one of the nation's
deadliest peacetime disasters, claimed 151
Ted Brett, 17 at the time, was in one of
the carriages that went into the river, and
he was able to smash through the carriage
window and ght through miles of silt,
mud and fuel oil (the locomotive was an
oil-burner) to safety.
His father's sur vival was a family legend
--- but Mr Brett said Ted (who died in
2008) --- seldom spoke of his ordeal.
" e Tangiwai disaster was always just
there, but it was never a general topic of
conversation," he said.
"Dad was like the guys who went o
to war, who came back and never talked
about it. ( e disaster) came back to
haunt him for years. Mum said he had
"If people tried to broach it, he'd change
the subject. He just wanted to shut it out."
Later in life, Mr Brett found out more
of the story.
He learned that John and Douglas
Cockburn were travelling to Auckland to
spend Christmas with their grandfather
and Ted, "the best mate", had been invited
to tag along.
When the train approached the
Whangaehu bridge at 10.21pm, Ted
was the only one in his carriage awake,
which may have improved his chances
of survival. "He'd stayed up to take some
pictures of Mount Ruapehu by moonlight.
"He was obsessed with cameras and
lm --- he had one of those old 8mm
After the accident, Ted shared his
story with the Wairarapa Times-Age
and described what happened when his
carriage hit the water.
" e rst thing I knew was that the
carriage was full of water and oil --- I
went under and got two mouthfuls,"
the young man said. "When I surfaced
again, my head struck a window. I
made up my mind then that I was
going to get out. I smashed the
window with my st."
Ted was "thrown clean out of the
window" by the current, and was
He found himself "halfway up a
tree", holding a three-year-old boy
who he sang to while they waited to be
e force of the water had torn the
clothes from his body, leaving him with
only his wristwatch, his belt and his back
trouser pocket, containing a 10-shilling
Later, 12-year-old Douglas's body was
recovered, but 17-year-old John was never
" ey found his wallet under the engine
tender," Mr Brett said. "Make of that
what you will."
Ted was "determined to get on with life"
after Tangiwai. He trained as a plumber
and gas tter, eventually starting a business
with his wife, Patricia, and continued
his favourite pursuits, such as hiking and
rabbiting. But the crash had done its
"Dad was allergic to diesel fuel for
the rest of his life," Mr Brett said. "(He
couldn't) explain to his friend's parents
and family why he lived and they didn't.
"I've seen pictures of my uncles, and they
were just happy-go-lucky boys, enjoying
the country life and making their own
fun. ey had a future and that was all cut
short on Christmas Eve.
"Dad never caught a train again after
Mr Brett --- who is named after the
uncles he never met --- remembers Ted
as a "man of few words"; a hard worker
who loved the outdoors and grew trophy-
"Dad never did anything by half
measures. He was a man of deeds, not
words. He lived life to the full."
He said he feels "bloody lucky" his dad
lived through this country's sixth most
"God only knows how he made it out of
that carriage. It was a Christmas miracle
that he lived." --- APNZ-Wairarapa
Tangiwai --- 60 years on
4 - Tuesday, December 24, 2013
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