Home' Greymouth Star : March 14th 2014 Contents 3
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FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2014
Est. 1866 Phone 769 7900
Beach clean-up reaches
all corners of Coast
New walk opens as
Arthur's Pass turns 150
of the Westport News
Family treated for
A Blaketown family and a
neighbour were checked out for
smoke inhalation early this afternoon
after a blaze in a sleepout at a Doyle
Street property. e Greymouth
Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived just
before 12.30am to nd the sleepout
well ablaze, the heat causing minor
damage to the guttering and fascia
boards on the adjoining house.
Senior re o cer Jason Prendergast
said the homeowners were woken
when the smoke alarms inside the
house went o . " ey had their
windows open and the smoke from
the sleepout re had drifted inside,"
Mr Prendergast said.
e person who despoiled the
West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail
earlier this week by dumping a pile
of rubbish near the start point at
Blaketown, will pay $400 for the
'privilege'. Grey District Council
sta sifted through the refuse and
uncovered documents enabling them
to trace the owner. at person had
been contacted and issued with an
instant $400 ne. Last month a
woman was caught and ned $400
in similar circumstances, having
entrusted her son with taking bags of
rubbish to the McLeans Pit land ll,
but instead he took the easy option
of dumping it down the beach.
Two rush hour trains were
cancelled because health and
safety rules banned a pair of ticket
collectors from leaving their broken
down taxi and walking to a station
just yards away. London Midland
bosses left hundreds of commuters
stranded on Tuesday night when
they scrapped the busy trains from
Birmingham to Herefordshire after
the conductors failed to make it to
the station on time. e pair had
been making their way between
the city's Snow Hill and New
Street stations --- a half-mile walk
which takes less than 10 minutes.
Train bosses deemed the walk 'too
dangerous' for their two conductors
because they were carrying money.
--- Daily Mail
High cloud increasing
Greymouth Star On-line
Luminaries fans crowd Hokitika
Fans of Booker Prize-winning novel
e Luminaries, some from as far away
as Auckland, crammed into the Hokitika
Regent eatre last night to meet the
Eleanor Catton 'came home' to
Westland yesterday, the place that
sparked her imagination as a teenager
and has helped propel her life into
Ms Catton told her 460-strong
audience how as a teenager, a bike
safari to the West Coast with her
father spurred a creative struggle which
resulted in e Luminaries, set in 1866
Hokitika at the height of the goldrush.
"A lot of amazing things about the
South Island can only be enjoyed by
e ort, so you end up having a very
personal relationship ... there was that
seed quite early on, from that trip," she
told the audience last night.
e excitement around her novel was
tangible as fans jostled for autographs.
It has now sold over 100,000 copies in
New Zealand alone.
Ms Catton, who grew up in
Christchurch, said her introduction to
Westland as a 14-year-old was seminal.
Cycling through its tough environment
launched her self-discovery, eventually
emerging through her writing.
e Luminaries was not necessarily
correct in terms of historical 'fact'
although it obviously had a real setting
in early Hokitika, she said.
"I took many, many liberties with West
Much of the research she conducted,
particularly the archives of the West
Coast Times, coloured her vision as the
novel developed, she said.
After 50 years in Greymouth
and hundreds of thousands of
travellers taking up a bed for the
night, the YHA is preparing to
shut the door one last time.
e hostel currently operates
from the former Marist Brothers'
house opposite John Paul II High
School. It will have its nal night
on March 30, closing the doors
for good the next day.
e decision to close followed
unsuccessful attempts to sell the
business as a going concern to an
incoming operator trading under
the Youth Hostel Association
YHA chief executive Mark
Wells said it was disappointing
to have to close, but dropping
numbers had forced their hand.
"Unfortunately, the current
operation is simply not sustainable
and guest numbers have been
a ected by shifting visitor ows
and the loss of some scheduled
backpacker bus ser vices," Mr
ey would explore continued
representation of the YHA brand
with an independent operator, and
would look to sell the building
Mr Wells said the YHA
remained committed to
maintaining a strong presence on
the West Coast.
"We will explore the potential
to develop representation of our
brand through an independent
complement our owned hostel in
Franz Josef and our independent
operator partners in Hokitika,
Westport and Punakaiki, as well
as Arthur's Pass."
Hostel operations manager
Simon Cartwright said the
Greymouth site had operated as
a stopover for people getting o
the Tranz Alpine train, but more
backpackers were looking to head
directly to the glaciers nowadays.
Mr Cartwright said freedom
camping may have also played a
role in the dropping numbers.
"Logically you would say they
must have ... more people are
freedom camping so they're not
going to be spending a night in
Mr Wells said the decision to
sell the Greymouth hostel was
part of a review of the structure
of the YHA New Zealand
network through a more strategic
investment of capital.
e organisation was reducing
its own hostels to key destinations
and meeting its wider coverage
requirement through partnerships
with independent operators.
e original Greymouth YHA
opened in Cowper Street in
March 1964, moving to Alexander
Street in the early 1990s after
being ooded twice.
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
YHA Greymouth manager Nicola Fountain, left, and hostel assistant Joanne Jones will close the door to the hostel at the end of the month.
Stockton open-cast mine jobs are in
the ring line following a further fall in
the international spot price for coking
Solid Energy acting chief executive
Garry Diack said spot prices had
"tumbled o the cli " in the past few
days. If low prices were re ected in
Solid Energy's new export contracts,
jobs would go. Stockton --- Solid
Energy's main export earner --- would
bear the brunt of any cuts.
Solid Energy currently employs 561
at Stockton, 143 fewer than when
the company hit the skids almost
two years ago. In addition, hundreds
of contractors' jobs have gone at the
Mr Diack said Stockton's response
so far to Solid Energy's downturn
had been "phenomenal" and the mine
had broken even for the year-to-date.
However, the spot price for hard coking
coal had plummeted from $US119 a
week ago to $US109.50 yesterday.
"If the price stays at that level, and
we get contracts that re ect that, the
company's concern is that the ability of
Stockton to adjust its cost base to that
fall will be too great."
Solid Energy was earning between
$US120 and $US130 from its current
export contracts, he said. --- APNZ
More Stockton coal jobs on the line
Grey council weighs up 4% rates increase
Grey district residents will be looking
at a general rate rise of about 4% for the
Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said today
that councillors and sta had, over a
series of workshops, arrived at a general
rate rise of 3.86%, with the overall rate
take increasing by 4.3%.
It will soon publicly notify the draft
increase, which is 1.8% below the
amount agged in the long-term plan,
and call for public submissions.
Mr Kokshoorn said the increase
was necessary to pay for "catch up"
infrastructure projects, partly foisted
on the council by new government
regulations for sewerage and drinking-
water standards, and to contribute to
the debt-burdened Port of Greymouth.
e district rates would still be "well
below" the national average, he said.
e main points in the increase will
be a $50 a tonne increase for rubbish
dumped at the McLeans Pit land ll,
up from $225 to $275, which still
compares favourably with Westport
($380 a tonne) and Hokitika ($400 a
tonne), and a 4% contribution to the
It will be the rst time since 1996 that
ratepayers have subsidised the port, this
year to a total of $40,000.
e upgrade of the water standards
cost $3.2 million for new systems
in Greymouth, Taylorville-Dobson-
Kaiata and Runanga, and sewerage
upgrades throughout the district will
be completed this year to the tune of
$48 million but the large infrastructure
projects have doubled the council's debt
to $32 million.
e $10m Preston Road sewerage
plant and the various water upgrades
were the main contributors to the debt
but Mr Kokshoorn said the council was
actually in good stead, with $80m in
recent infrastructure investment and
cash reserves of $10m.
"When we have completed all these
projects --- which had been deferred
by councils of the past --- and got
the Miners' Recreation Centre up
and running we will be well placed to
change our focus to the rejuvenation of
the central business district," he said.
"However, that can only be in
partnership with the landowners and
property owners. e council will help
where it can but the other parties
will have to be prepared to also invest
before we can make real progress in
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