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West Coast features
6 - Saturday, May 3, 2014
Seems like only
April 24, 1989
Hopes completion of wall
will boost confidence
West Coast MP Kerry Burke today
voiced confidence the hope that the
speedy completion of the Greymouth
flood protection wall would see a return
of confidence in the town from outside
interests and insurance companies in
Mr Burke, who took time to inspect
the works with Greymouth Borough
Council and Westland Catchment
Board representatives, said he was most
impressed with the positive articles that
had emerged as a result of a recent media
publicity day organised by the Catchment
He had also had discussions with New
Zealand Insurance Council executive, Mr
Trevor Roberts, who said a consultant
would prepare a report on the protection
wall which would be made available to all
“ While there is no national policy as
far as insurance cover goes, companies
working to prevailing market forces, the
indications that I have is that they will
return once the wall is complete,” Mr
April 26, 1989
Anzac Day on Coast
War veterans stood in silence at Kumara
yesterday to remember comrades who fell
in combat. The Kumara ceremony was one
of several throughout the region yesterday
to mark Anzac Day.
Kumara sub-branch president, Bill
Tacon, officiated at the ser vice which was
attended by about 70 people, 20 of them
“It was one of the best we have had in
several years,” Mr Tacon said. “ There was
a good turnout, particularly of younger
Mr Tacon went on to the Hokitika
ceremony where he was awarded a
merit badge for his ser vices to the RSA
by RSA executive member for Nelson,
Marlborough and the West Coast, Jim
Hokitika RSA president, Mr Kelly
Wilson, was awarded the Gold Star for
ser vices to the RSA and community
and Mr Percy Hurren of Hokitika also
received a merit badge.
April 27, 1989
Hokitika Bridge project
delay irks Pierson
Hokitika mayor, Mr Henry Pierson, is
concerned tender delays could jeopardise
the Hokitika River bridge project,
The National Roads Board (NRB) has
discovered that the cost of the bridge was
under-estimated because of a design fault
and will now cost more that the
$7.8 million already approved.
Extra funding has to be sought from the
NRB which next meets on May 15, in the
meantime the board has withheld calling
tenders for the work.
Mr Pierson said this morning that
he had no inkling anything was wrong
with the bridge design, which apparently
needed amending to take account of a
100-year flood event.
Mr Pierson said his biggest concern now
was that the inflated cost of the project
did not further lower the cost benefit ratio
which was already marginal.
“ I only hope this does not shift it further
into the grey area.
“ I suppose that we can only keep our
fingers crossed and hope for the best,” he
April 28, 1989
Limelight again on
Cascade Road link
The momentum is gathering for a
Cascade-Hollyford road link with the
Minister of Tourism to fly over the
proposed route this weekend.
The case for the southern road is
expected to feature high on the agenda at
the South Island Promotion Association’s
annual conference in Wanaka tonight
which is being attended by the Minister,
Mr Jonathon Hunt.
West Coast MP Mr Kerry Burke, is
also attending the conference in support
of the proposal and has arranged the
aerial inspection to give the minister a
first-hand look at the easy terrain of the
“Johnathon Hunt at this stage is a
critical figure because it is his department
that Cabinet has asked to initiate the
feasibility study into the road,” Mr Burke
“This is more than a dream now. It has
come off the wish list into something
that it being looked at from a practical
feasibility point of view.”
The road received its biggest boost yet
when the influential Pacific and Asia
Travel Association recommended earlier
this year that the Government make an
immediate start on the route.
April 29, 1989
Counsellor urges change in
Coast social attitudes
Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
is costing the West Coast community
greatly in physical, emotional and social
cost, according to Rata Clinic director
Mr Groot, who headed the West
Coast Area Health Board’s chemical
misuse ser vice over three years, says
West Coasters have been “too lax about
drinking for too long”.
He said the 50 new outpatients who
have sought help from the clinic in the
first three months of this year range from
as young as 14 years with the majority in
the 15-39 year range.
Thirty were males and 20 females.
Eighteen used alcohol only, 14 used
alcohol and prescribed drugs, six used
illegal substances only (street drugs),
three used a mixture of all three, two
used prescribed drugs only and one used
alcohol and prescribed drugs.
“ It is said that unemployment is the
cause of much of the drinking and
drug taking but only 18 of the 50 were
unemployed,” Mr Groot said.
Statistics revealed that West Coasters
drank more than twice the amount of
beer per capita as other New Zealanders.
In 1980 beer consumption for New
Zealand was 115 litres, for the West
Coast it was 272 litres per capita.
By late April work was progressing so well on the Greymouth floodwall that insurance companies were warming to the idea
of restoring cover to flood-prone businesses. Kumara’s Anzac Day service attendance was the best for years, Hokitika’s mayor
was worried that the proposed new bridge might be put on the backburner, the proposed Haast-Hollyford track was gathering
momentum, and a counsellor was slamming the West Coast ’s booze culture. Read more from the yellowing pages of the
Greymouth Evening Star of April 1989.
The renaming of the Civic Centre in 1994: Peter Moreton, Brian O’Malley, Ron Hibbs, Mary Sturgeon, Neil Ellery and
he Dreams Lie Deeper
concert at the Michael
Fowler Centre, in
Wellington, next week,
where Dave Dobbyn
will release a commissioned work
in tribute to the 29 Pike River
Mine men who lost their lives on
November 19, 2010, follows a long
line of the mining disaster tribute
genre of music.
Dobbyn will be joined by the
150-strong Orpheus Choir and the
concert will also feature the award-
winning Wellington Brass Band and
Wellington Young Voices.
Mining disasters have pulled at
the heartstrings of communities and
nations for generations.
Inevitably, each new disaster
dominoes into the long history
of underground tragedies, and for
Greymouth, Pike River connected to
the 400 previous mining deaths and
their families in the region over 140
years, especially as the Pike 29 remain
underground, like two miners from
the 19 killed at the Strongman Mine
Music has long been a salve for
the mining communities in New
Zealand who developed brass bands
and choral groups linked to the style
of their United Kingdom immigrant
Denniston, Blackball and Runanga
had groups that won national
competitions featuring previous UK
instrument champions who had
For Dobbyn, the competition is
already fierce for his eagerly awaited
composition. Greymouth musician
Paul McBride, wrote and sang his
tribute, Brothers 29, at the national
memorial ser vice in Greymouth in
December 2010, and it has since
been used as the theme song for an
Australian mining safety
Perhaps the best known mining
disaster song is the Bee Gees’ 1967
hit, New York Mining Disaster 1941.
Barry and Robin Gibb wrote the
song when they were sitting on a
darkened staircase at Polydor Records
in London following a power cut.
The echo of the passing lift got
them to imagine that they were
trapped in a mine.
The song recounts the story of a
miner trapped in a cave-in.
He is sharing a photo of his wife
with a colleague ‘Mr Jones’, while
they hopelessly wait to be rescued.
According to the liner notes for
their 1990 box-set, the Bee Gees say
this song was inspired by the 1966
Aberfan mining disaster in Wales,
where 116 children and 28 adults
were killed. Robin Gibb says there
had also been a mining disaster near
New York in 1939, but not in 1941.
In sourcing inspiration for his new
composition, Dobbyn has visited the
families on the West Coast and the
Pike River Mine, which is located on
the fringe of the Paparoa National
Park surrounded by lush rainforest
with centuries-old native trees and
abundant vocal native birdlife.
Dobbyn’s bona fides for a West
Coast song are strong. Like many
Coasters, he grew up with the
influence of his father and his Irish
songs. Dobbyn was educated at
Sacred Heart College, in Auckland,
where the Marist Brothers from there
were rotated to Greymouth’s Marist
High School to fulfil their ‘country
ser vice’ criteria for their teaching
The Marist schools nationwide had
strong music departments, primarily
focused on religious songs.
Locals are predicting Dobbyn’s new
Pike River release will be in the vein
of his classic 1984 hit, the violin-
Dobbyn also has a West Coast-like
indifference to authority.
He successfully defended a 1980s
charge by the police for allegedly
inciting a riot from on-stage in
Queen Street in Auckland, and
later had Ahmed Zaoui on stage in
2005, when Zaoui was facing serious
security issues with the government.
commissioned work on Saturday
night will be 17 Days, a choral piece
by British composer James McCarthy,
dedicated to the 33 Chilean
goldminers rescued in 2010.
A second world premiere will be
performed inspired by the 1912
Waihi miners’ strike, If Blood be the
Price, composed by Ross Harris and
set to a poem by Vincent O’Sullivan.
Mining-themed concerts are fondly
remembered by now retired national
mining inspector, Harry Bell, of
At a war effort gig in the Runanga
Miners’ Hall in the 1940s, where
Bell was playing the cornet,
Scottish miner Abie Airns, not an
accomplished vocalist, had dragged
the audience painfully through a few
Celtic ballads and then announced
proudly, “I will now sing, On the
Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”.
To the shock of grizzled union
chief, Walter Pattinson, this was
too much. He jumped to his feet
immediately and called out to Abie,
“Thank God for that, I thought
you were going to sing here”.
Abie forlornly exited stage left,
accompanied by raucous
Like what the Gibb brothers sang
in 1967, Wellington’s concert patrons
will “... keep straining our ears to hear
a sound, maybe someone is digging
Gerry Morris is a former
coalmining journalist and three
members of his family worked at
the Pike River Mine. He is a life
member of the Denniston Miners’
PICTURE: Lisa Rangi
Dave Dobbyn sings for some of the Pike River families at the Trinity Centre in Greymouth recently.
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