Home' Greymouth Star : April 23rd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
303 - Death of St George, the patron saint of
1014 - High King of Ireland Brian Boru is
killed repelling Viking invaders.
1616 - Death of Spanish novelist Miguel de
Cervantes Saavedra, whose works included
1661 - Charles II is crowned King
1850 - Death of William
Wordsworth, British poet, aged 80.
1915 - Rupert Brooke, British
World War One poet, dies of blood
poisoning o Skiros, Greece.
1969 - Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death
for the assassination of US Senator Robert F
Kennedy, later reduced to life imprisonment.
1975 - South Vietnam's cabinet resigns as
panic grips Saigon and US President Gerald
Ford declares the Vietnam War is over.
1983 - Death of Larry "Buster" Crabbe, US
lm actor famous for his portrayal of Flash
Gordon and Buck Rogers.
1998 - Death of James Earl Ray, who
confessed to assassinating the Rev Martin
Luther King Jr in 1968 and then insisted he
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
William Shakespeare, English poet-playwright
(1564-1616); William Turner, English painter
(1775-1851); Janet Blair, US actress
(1921-2007); Shirley Temple Black,
US diplomat and movie star (1928-
2014); Lee Majors, US actor (1939-);
Sandra Dee, US actress (1942-2005);
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, Irish
activist (1947-); Blair Brown, US
actress (1948-); Michael Moore, US
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born
great, some achieve greatness, and some have
greatness thrust upon them." --- From Twelfth
Night, by William Shakespeare (1564-1616).
" e Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And
let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is
thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let
him take the free gift of the Water of Life."
--- (Revelation 22:17)
It is 100 years ago
this month since
the rst West Coast
gold strike was made.
April,1864 was the month in which Albert
Hunt, often described as the "stormy petrel
of Westland", became the rst European to
discover gold in payable quantities at Maori
Point, three miles up the Greenstone Creek
in the Taramakau region. But none of the
reference books sets the exact day on which
he made the discovery which was to end
Westland's days as an uninhabited wilderness
and to earn many millions of pounds to nance
New Zealand's early development.
Hunt's discovery showed gold in su cient
quantity for him to receive £200 of a £1000
reward o ered by the Canterbury Provincial
Government for the discovery of a payable
gold eld in Canterbury (of which West Coast
was then a part) to counteract the exodus
to the Otago goldrush. e o er was made
in 1861 and after many futile claims Hunt
was the rst person to succeed in receiving a
portion of the reward.
e reunion of former pupils of the Ngahere
School to be held towards the end of this year
will mark not only the 75th anniversary of the
rst school in the district, but also the opening
of the new two-classroom school currently
under construction adjacent to the Ngahere
e original school was founded in 1889 and
it was situated in the gold-digging town of
Red Jacks on Red Jacks Creek, adjacent to the
present Ngahere twonship. With the decline of
goldmining in the area, the school was shifted
to its present site about the turn of the century.
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
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West Coast Anzac feature
After the big storm it was great to see
the community all helping and supporting
each other --- neighbours, family, friends
and strangers working together.
I live in Fitzgerald Street, Cobden, a
close-knit, friendly and caring community
of neighbours helping one another,
checking on each other in true West Coast
It was the same all over --- Greymouth,
Cobden, Blaketown. I am so proud to be
a West Coaster and thankful to be living
in an area full of such good-hearted, kind
warm people. anks also to the Haupiri
Christian Community for giving their
time to help repair roofs. I was one of the
lucky ones with only minor damage to x.
Other were not so fortunate.
Spirit of the Coast
I would like to thank all the workers who
gave up their Good Friday holiday to help
all the residents who had damage to their
homes. e remen, Westroads workers,
council sta , linesmen, all the builders and
other tradesmen who have done a great
job over the past couple of days.
It was great to see the great West Coast
community spirit alive and well. All those
helpers out there over the past couple of
days need a big pat on the back.
' ank you.'
I would like to have the opportunity
through your column to thank the
Electonet guys and their families for
giving up their weekend and working
tirelessly to restore the power in our area.
It is very much appreciated and we are
very grateful for them restoring the power.
' ank you' very much.
e Stewart family
Health ser vice
On Sunday, April 13, I had the
misfortune of requiring the services of
the Reefton ambulance service, and the
NZCC West Coast Rescue Helicopter,
and on return to Grey Base Hospital,
being in the care of the West Coast
District Health Board for the following
I would just like to say a huge 'thank
you' from the bottom of my heart for
the prompt, expert and amazing care I
received due to my injuries, by everyone
who looked after me.
Time and again we hear of the shortfalls
of our health system. However, I must
say that I was truly humbled and blessed
to have such fantastic care from the
time of my accident, to the wonderful
care I received at Barclay Ward from the
nurses who work tirelessly to ensure their
patients' comfort is paramount.
' ank you' to all involved. It seems such
a small and inconsequential word, but I
truly will not forget their care and service.
ey are a wonderful team who deserve
more recognition for the wonderful job
Saving the Runanga
e Runanga Miners' Hall has good
reasons why it should be restored.
It represents the past underground
coalminers who went to work each day
in conditions that would not be tolerated
with today's health and safety laws, many
of them paying the ultimate sacri ce to
support New Zealand industries and in
recent times massive overseas exports
to the wealth of New Zealand. e
monument on the Grey River waterfront
is testament to this.
It also must be remembered the
coalminers' pay packets built and
supported the main business district in
downtown Greymouth, for those of your
readers who remember the bustling Friday
night shopping where miners spent their
hard-earned wages in the department
stores of the day that lined the main
streets of Greymouth.
e Runanga Miners' Hall must be
preserved as a place for people to visit
to fully understand the wealth that was
provided to New Zealand and Greymouth
by the underground working class people
who are owed so much more than the
token cost of preserving this hall.
Before travelling to New Zealand I had
a pretty good idea about the kind of places
I would be getting to see in this fairytale
piece of land. Never could I have imagined
the quality of people I would have met.
And yes, such amazing people were living
on the West Coast. ese people were met
on the way from Hokitika to Charleston,
also in places like Kumara, Barrytown, Nine
Mile and Punakaiki.
e trip through the West Coast was
supposed to last no more than a week,
but ended up being a month due to the
hospitality of these crazy good-hearted
people who opened the doors of their
homes to a couple of foreigners, treating
them as family and giving them food and
accommodation in exchange for a few
hours of work.
Without doubt, in this more bohemian
way of life, one experiences that
comradeship and giving a hand to the other
is something embedded in the culture and
is an everyday thing, and not just between
locals, but also towards foreigners.
By living among these people you get the
feeling of a brotherhood going on and you
can get to see something really sublime
that is so necessary in these days, altruism
--- helping someone without looking to
get something back, simply being kind and
One could say that there is certain
innocence in opening the doors to
foreigners in such a way, but trying to look
at it from above, that could just be the point
of view of someone used to living in more
corrupted and fearful places.
To sum up, allow me to say that this West
Coast way of being and living is a good
example of a more healthy and stressless
way to live your life.
With much gratitude to Lisa, Kate, Reda,
Ross, Roger (king of the West Coast!),
Pierce, Jeanette and many others in your
West Coast paradise. Paco.
West Coast Hotel
Was interested to read in the Greymouth
Star on-line about the West Coast Hotel
in North Queensland (April 15).
You may be interested to know that a
good number of Coast diggers went there
to try their luck. I read about this when
researching Stewart Monteith.
I recall reading that many of those who
took part in the rush to Palmer's River
succumbed to 'yellow fever' (as per what
happened later to workers on the Panama
Canal, I guess).
For all that, it was a rich gold eld --- and
who should be among the lucky diggers
was none but Stewart Monteith?
Monteith returned back to Reefton
and worked (again?) at Pizzey's Phoenix
Brewery. When Pizzeys put the brewery
up for auction, Monteith and his partner,
Edwards, made a successful bid of Â£500,
I seem to recall --- a large sum and
therefore possibly some of his winnings
from the Palmer.
It would be interesting to nd out
if Monteith had anything to do ---
apart from being a customer --- with
Cookstown's West Coast Hotel. Perhaps a
local historian up there might know?
ere has been a deal of discussion
lately concerning inequality in society, and
particularly pay inequality between the
Pay inequality is di erent than equal pay.
We do have equal pay in New Zealand,
or at least we are meant to have. ere is
meant to be no distinction in law between
two people in the same job --- they are
meant to receive the same wage, all else
If we were to allow situations to occur
where a person received more money than
another in the same role simply because
of their gender, their skin colour, or their
political belief there would be an uproar,
with voices from the left leading the charge.
ere seems to be a di erent rule, though,
when we make a distinction based on union
a liation. A union member in a State
service job gets paid more than a person
doing the job that is not a member of the
Strangely enough, in spite of this injustice
there is a deafening silence from the left.
To paraphrase Orwell, all workers are equal,
but it seems that some are more equal than
The remains of the
Unknown Warrior ---
just one of the 18,166
New Zealand casualties
of World War One
--- were exhumed on
October 10, 2004 from the Caterpillar
Valley Cemetery, near where the New
Zealand Division fought in 1916.
Greymouth cabinetmaker Bob Jones
was working at Westland Funeral
Services at the time and he was given
the job of building the co ns to hold
the remains back in New Zealand.
"Mark Pattinson was managing the
business back then and it was a real
honour for us to be selected," Mr
Jones said. "He came and asked if I
could build them. A lot of thought
was put into the construction and
from where the wood was sourced so
as to have a West Coast war history
presence and input.
"Mark and I designed the co ns
to give them a real pro le, shortened
them, raised the height and increased
the width, which gave them a
presence. First, we had to draw out a
template made of plywood and send
to Wellington so as they had the exact
dimensions for the tomb, which was
to be set in marble."
Mr Jones set to work making the
caskets, with the outside casket
being made of kauri crafted from the
Mitchell's old woolshed at Ross, and
a tree washed up on the nearby beach.
"My uncle gave me the kauri from
Mitchell's woolshed --- Sam Mitchell
had received the Victoria Cross at
Gate Pa. e kauri washed up ended
on the land of the next generation of a
Boer War vet."
e inner casket was made of totara
milled from the Grey Valley and
donated by Ray omas.
" e totara is signi cant as in the
First World War timber from the
Grey Valley was used as props for
reinforcing the trenches, and what
is also signi cant is the Maori made
their canoes from totara. Local man
Keith Honey put the copper around
and lined the inside of the smaller
casket," Mr Jones said.
On November 6, 2004 the remains
of the Unknown Warrior, in the
copper-lined co n, were sealed
and placed in the rimu co n and
were handed over from the care of
the Commonwealth War Graves
Commission to a New Zealand
delegation during a ceremony at
Longueval, Somme, in France.
New Zealand Defence Force chief,
Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson, who had
the task of repatriating the soldier's
remains, said of the occasion: "I told
him (the soldier) we're taking him
home and that those who are taking
him home are soldiers, sailors and
airmen, past and present. I asked
the warrior to be the guardian of all
military personnel who had died on
active service. I then promised that
we, the people of New Zealand, will
be his guardian."
e Unknown Warrior arrived back
in New Zealand on November 10,
" e caskets were made over a four-
week period," Mr Jones said. "Some of
the kauri also came from the Hokitika
wharf, where some people had ser ved
alongside Charles Upham in the
Second World War. I myself served
in Borneo, Vietnam and Malaya so I
suppose my input covers the boys in
e tomb was sealed with a bronze
mantel bearing the words:
"An Unknown New Zealand Warrior
--- He Toa Matangaro No Aotearoa."
He is one of more than 1500 New
Zealanders killed at the Somme. Most
of them, 1272, remained unidenti ed
and are buried in unmarked graves or
remembered on memorial walls. e
remains are believed to include an
almost complete skeleton, and other
belongings that established beyond
doubt the soldier's nationality.
e Unknown Warrior was awarded
the 1914-15 Star for service between
August 1914 and December 1915;
British War Medal for ser vice during
World War One up to 1920; Victory
Medal 1939-45 Star for service
during World War Two; New Zealand
Operational Ser vice Medal.
e Royal New Zealand Returned
and Services Association also awarded
its Badge in Gold, the rst time it has
been awarded posthumously.
Immediate national past-president
David Cox, a World War Two veteran,
made the presentation: " e Badge in
Gold is a tting tribute because the
Unknown Warrior paid the ultimate
price for his service and now he is
nally returned. You are now one of
us --- welcome home."
One of the West Coast-crafted caskets made for the Unknown Warrior
In late 2003 the Government asked the New Zealand Funeral Directors Association to donate two
specially crafted caskets to hold the remains of the Unknown Warrior --- and it was Greymouth's
Westland Funeral Services that was commissioned to supply it, as PAUL McBRIDE reports.
Unknown Warrior --- Coast link
PICTURE: Paul McBride
Greymouth cabinetmaker Bob Jones at work.
e plaques on the top of the caskets.
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