Home' Greymouth Star : March 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, March 20, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1916 - Allies attack Zeebrugge Belgium.
1922 - USS Langley is commissioned, US
Navy's 1st aircraft carrier.
1930 - Clessie Cummins sets diesel engine
speed record of 129.39 kph.
1933 - Dachau, rst Nazi
concentration camp, completed
1934 - Rudolf Kuhnold
demonstrates radar in Kiel Germany.
1937 - Franco o ensive at
1942 - Gen MacArthur vows, "I
1944 - Mount Vesuvius, Italy, explodes.
1947 - 180 tonne blue whale (record) caught
in South Atlantic.
1957 - Britain accepts Nato o er to mediate in
Cyprus, but Greece rejects it.
1976 - Patricia Hearst convicted of armed
1980 - US appeals to International Court on
hostages in Iran.
1982 - Joan Jett and Blackhearts' I Love Rock
'n' Roll goes No 1 for seven weeks.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Fred Rogers, Latrobe PA, children's tv host
(1928); Hal Linden, actor (1931); David
Malouf, Australian author (1934); Lee 'Scratch'
Perry, Jamaican Reggae artist, (1936); Jerry
Reed, singer/actor (1937); Joe Rivers,
rocker (1939); Brian Mulroney, PM
of Canada (1939); Carl Palmer,
drummer (Asia) (1947); William
Hurt, actor (1950); Geo Brabham,
Australian racing driver (1952);
Spike Lee (1957); Holly Hunter,
American actress (1958); Sting,
American professional wrestler (1959); Sheree
Megan Higgins, NZ golfer (1968).
"If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live
in constant dread of it, is to die over and over
again." --- Abraham Lincoln.
" en the master said to the slave, 'Go out
into the roads and lanes, and compel people to
come in, so that my house may be lled. For I
tell you, none of those who were invited will
taste my dinner'." (Luke 14.23-24).
detectives were today
still trying to locate
the owners of about
£20 worth of articles discovered hidden in
bush at the top of Weenink Road, Karoro.
ey were found by a 16-year-old schoolboy
on Tuesday. e cache, which includes cutlery,
dress lengths, hardware and a miscellany of
other articles, was discovered in bush at the top
of the road, a detective said.
So far, the owners of the goods, which are in
perfect condition, have not been located but
inquiries are continuing. Detectives concerned
said the articles appear to be new and not
e questioning by police of 12 youths
allegedly drinking liquor in the vicinity of
dance halls and in public places on Saturday
night, has drawn quick reaction from police
here on the problem of minors being in
possession of liquor. is trend has recently
caused concern in Christchurch and other
Inspector E J Trappitt, relieving o cer in
charge of the Greymouth police district, said
today police were investigating allegations
that the liquor concerned in Saturday night's
episodes had been supplied by local hotels.
"We are investigating these allegations and
if there is su cient evidence to sustain a
prosecution, charges will follow," Inspector
Trappitt said. " e police take a serious view
of youths getting possession of liquor, and of
adults who supply them. It shows a degree of
irresponsibility, and if adults and hotelkeepers
are implicated as a result of our inquiries, we
will not be slow to take appropriate action," he
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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In February 2012, a group of
archaeologists, maritime historians
and other interested parties
descended on a site a little to the
south of Carters Beach to excavate
a piece of a shipwreck found there
in the 1970s.
e artefact --- a 5m x 5m section of
the hull of a large wooden ship, probably
from just behind the bow --- was exposed
and meticulously mapped. e hull of
the ship had clearly been sheathed with
metal (copper sheathing of ocean-going
ships was common in the 19th century),
and there was still patches of red paint in
evidence. Samples of wood, metal, paint
and coal were taken and then the whole
thing was buried again, to preserve it.
So what vessel might this be? Because
the timber showed no sign of having been
encrusted in marine growth, it cannot
have drifted any signi cant distance
before becoming stranded and buried. is
indicates that the vessel was wrecked in
the immediate vicinity. Scienti c analysis
of the samples taken is ongoing, and may
yield some answers.
Maritime researcher, the late Ian Church,
believed that the wreckage was most likely
to have been part of the Mountain Maid,
a wooden collier that was wrecked in the
Buller River mouth in 1867. A couple of
small fragments of coal found between the
planking may yet be matched to her cargo,
and Mr Church proved right.
But another vessel is known to have been
wrecked along this shoreline considerably
earlier than the Mountain Maid, and there
is a tantalising chance that the Carters
Beach fragment is part of that wreck and
the fascinating story that goes with it.
e rst European explorers to traverse
the West Coast from north to south,
omas Brunner and Charles Heaphy,
reported in contemporary newspapers in
1846 that they had found the wreckage
of a large vessel strewn along the beaches
from Granity southwards. According to
their Maori guides, the bulk of the wreck
was already sunken in the sand, but the
pair saw quantities of 'English and Baltic
timber, copper fastened', and supposed the
vessel to have been a three-masted ship or
e guides told them that the captain
and a number of crew had been landed
near Cape Foulwind to fetch water. When
a gale sprang up, the ship was forced to
try to beat her way o the coast, but being
short-handed, she was driven ashore and
wrecked. e sur vivors of the wreck and
the party that had already landed were
attacked by Maori, and all were killed,
apart from the captain and a companion.
is pair managed to evade their Maori
pursuers and walk as far as Totaranui
(near Charleston) before they encountered
a di erent group of Maori and were
killed. e local Maori apparently helped
themselves to quantities of metal pots,
pans and plates from the ship's cargo.
Given that this episode is supposed
to have happened when Brunner and
Heaphy's middle-aged guide was a boy,
this suggests the wreck occurred in the
rst decade of the 19th century. e
story was repeated in local newspapers
in 1862, whereupon a few extra details
were supplied. e ship was now supposed
to be around 400 tons (larger than the
Spirit of New Zealand), and baled wool
was supposed to have come ashore with
the wreck: there was no mention in this
version of events of the pots, pans etc. e
wreck was tentatively identi ed as the
Ri eman, a wool ship that was supposed
to have left Hobart in 1826 bound for
London, but which never arrived.
It is surprisingly easy to track the
movements of ships travelling to and
from Australia in the 19th century and
to identify casualties. So far, studies of
shipping records have failed to yield any
obvious candidates to have been Brunner
and Heaphy's shipwreck, although it is
possible to eliminate the Ri eman from
the inquiry. Evidence suggests that this
hapless vessel, which departed Hobart
in 1833 (not 1826), came to grief in the
Auckland Islands in April of that year.
Few European-built ships of the size and
type described by Brunner and Heaphy
had any business being on the West Coast
prior to 1840. ere were no European
settlements to trade with, so it is unlikely
a so-called 'tinker ship' --- vessels that
traded goods between Australia and
New Zealand --- would have chosen to
approach Cape Foulwind. e vessel seems
too big to have been a sealer, although
sealers did frequent the West Coast, and
e Steeples (Black Reef, to the north of
Cape Foulwind) was known to be both
a good sealing prospect and the only
remotely attractive anchorage on the entire
e fact that the ship's complement
came ashore seeking water suggests a
vessel at the end of a long passage, or at
least having endured a rough time of it
in a storm. So that indicates it may have
been a whaler making its way north from
the Southern Ocean whaling grounds,
or a vessel travelling outwards from the
United Kingdom that found itself unable
to make the east coast of Australia,
probably due to stress of weather.
British shipping records are
comprehensive, but vast, and while
research e orts have so far failed to
identify any likely candidates, an outward
bound United Kingdom vessel remains
a possibility. Records of the movements
of American and French whalers exist,
and are relatively comprehensive. So far,
searches of these, too, have drawn a blank.
Analysis of the samples taken from
the Carters Beach wreck may yet enable
us to say whether it is one and the
same as Brunner and Heaphy's wreck,
and may even shed light on the vessel's
origins. And meanwhile, other nds in
the vicinity --- more matching timbers,
along with a spar, and a 'clew iron' (a
rigging component) --- have excited
the team, with the prospect that more
wreckage may yet be discovered. Council
permission is already being sought to
examine the site where the spar was
recovered, in the hope that more artefacts
may be found and another chapter of the
rich and colourful history of the Coast
Two years ago, an archaeological dig just south of Westport stumbled upon an
enduring shipwreck mystery. One of those involved, Wellington writer and researcher
JOHN McCRYSTAL, examines the tantalising clues.
A three-masted sailing ship from the mid-19th century.
Healy s view
ere are places where history
wraps around us like a warm
blanket --- or a winding sheet.
Sometimes, like both at once. e
Mill House, located 25km south of
Oamaru on State highway 1, is one
Originally a our mill, it was
constructed in 1879 by a German-
born immigrant named Ernst
Diehl --- and it was built to last.
According to a contemporary
report in the North Otago Times:
" e foundation is laid on solid
rock, and is 9ft in depth, the walls
being 3ft 3in in thickness."
Alas for Herr Diehl, his mighty
structure had hardly been standing
a year when it was beset by
treachery and tragedy.
In the words of local historian,
Dorothy McKenzie: "A
considerable amount of money
was held in the mill safe over the
summer, so that farmers could be
paid out as they delivered their
bags of grain. At the height of
the rst season of operations,
the mill was burned out and as
the local story has it (Diehl's
business partner) Davidson had
disappeared, leaving an empty safe
e Mill may have been burned
out but it was not burned down.
Under the management of the
appropriately named Phoenix
Milling Co, the refurbished mill
continued to grind our for
another 60 years, nally closing its
doors in 1939.
Growing up in the neighbouring
village of Herbert in the 1950s
and 60s, I remember the mill as a
mysterious industrial ruin. Massive
and seemingly indestructible it
guarded the graceful span of the
Waianakarua stone bridge like
some misplaced medieval castle. Its
blank windows shedding less and
less light on a story that fewer and
fewer people could remember.
Now an "accommodation
---restaurant complex" the Mill
House wraps its 3ft 3in walls
around visitors from all over the
world. New stories are daily being
added to the old.
For me, also, this past week
has been a mixture of new and
old stories. One-hundred-and-
fty years ago, on March 15,
1864, the contemporaries of
Ernst Diehl founded Otepopo
(Herbert) School. Ageing adults,
who, when last I saw them were
children, came from as far away as
Sydney, to greet the geographic,
architectural and human
strongholds of their youth.
From them I learned how many
of the farms of the original settler
families had already passed --- or
were passing --- into the hands
of faceless foreign corporations.
"Bewley", the property my father
farmed, I was told, had gone with
e great forest that the State
had spread over the hills above
Herbert in the 1930s is now in
the hands of an American forestry
Herbert's beautiful Presbyterian
church, St John's, stands forlorn, its
future uncertain. Spiders' webs seal
its padlocked wooden doors.
is is not, of course, a tale
familiar to North Otago only.
All across New Zealand the solid
signposts of the past are being
dismantled. e family farm, which
for 150 years has given this nation
a foundation as solid as the Mill
House's, is rapidly fading away.
Only a handful of the children
I attended Otepopo School with
remained in the district. Most
were scattered, like gulls blown
on a boisterous wind, to Sydney,
London, the North Sea, Wyoming.
Or simply to places in New
Zealand with more to o er than a
sleepy North Otago township.
But those children did not leave
Herbert empty-handed. e
values imparted by the teachers of
Otepopo School and the ministers
of St John's Presbyterian Church
went with them.
And not just with them;
because the same values were also
imparted to successive generations
of New Zealand children by
thousands of equally caring rural
teachers and clergymen, farmers
and farriers; railwaymen and road
workers; shopkeepers and country
And now those New Zealanders,
rural no longer, are imparting to
their own o spring a core of values
not so very di erent from the ones
they learned in little places like
Herbert up and down the long
length of Aotearoa.
us does history wrap us warm
in its blanket, and bind us tight in
And thus did my thoughts run as
I looked down from a window set
in the Mill House's 3ft 3in walls.
Listening to the Waianakarua
River chuckling in its sun-dappled
bed, and the bell-birds tolling the
inking about where New
Zealand has come from --- and
where it is going.
Chris Trotter is an
independent left-wing political
Rapt in history
Moss that was frozen for 1500
years beneath an ice sheet in
Antarctica has been brought
back to life, marking the longest
life span for any known plant,
e study in Current Biology
describes the rst time moss has
been shown to survive for such an
extended period of time.
Previously, moss was known
to be revivable after 20 years.
Bacteria is the only other life form
that is known to sur vive after
thousands, even millions of years.
" is experiment shows that
multi-cellular organisms, plants
in this case, can survive over far
longer timescales than previously
thought," co-author Peter Convey,
from the British Antarctic Sur vey,
" ese mosses, a key part of
the ecosystem, could survive
century to millennial periods of
ice advance, such as the Little Ice
Age in Europe."
Researchers took samples from
deep in a frozen moss bank in the
ey sliced the moss cores and
placed them in an incubator,
under temperatures and light
levels that would stimulate growth
under typical conditions.
e moss began to grow after a
showed that the original plants
were at least 1530 years old.
"Although it would be a big
jump from the current nding,
this does raise the possibility of
complex life forms surviving even
longer periods once encased in
permafrost or ice," Convey said.
Moss returns to life after 1500 years
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