Home' Greymouth Star : May 17th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
West Coast features
Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 7
Seems like only
Twenty-five years ago this week, hundreds answered the call when the Greymouth Borough
Council called for sandbaggers, while “a transvestite with a large hooked nose” was believed
to be responsible for the theft of a Dutch backpacker’s belongings. New shopping malls and
sports grounds, which never got off the drawing board, were being mooted for Greymouth,
West Coast racing clubs were at loggerheads and the Okarito Youth Hostel was about to be
dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century. Read more from the yellowing pages of
the Greymouth Evening Star of May 1989.
May 8, 1989
Sandbag protection for
In true West Coast style,
Greymouth people rallied yesterday
to protect their town.
Hundreds of people, men, women,
and children, young and old, turned
out to build the temporary sandbag
wall along Mawhera Q uay.
By the end of the day, after eight
hours work, over 1700 sandbags had
been filled using over 1000 tonnes
of sand, and placed along the wharf
lining the river.
“As a citizen’s effort it is probably
unparalleled on the Coast,”
Greymouth Mayor, Dr Barry Dallas,
said this morning.
“Physically they moved an awful lot
“It was an absolutely terrific
response,” Greymouth borough works
manager, Mr Kevin Brown said.
“ We now have in place a wall that is
stronger, higher and longer than walls
put up in previous floods. ”
The 100 tonnes of sand was
donated as were the loaders,
excavators, forklifts and trucks used
to cart the sand.
Mr Brown said that there was a
good cross-section of the community
working on the wall.
One man, 84, was filling up bags
and a 73-year-old Christchurch
woman turned up with a fire shovel
There were parents who brought
along their children with plastic
shovels to help and a North Island
couple on holiday also pitched in.
The workers got through 400 pies
plus potatoes, scones, bread, sausages
and biscuits and cups of tea, while a
few beers were put on at the end of
May 9, 1989
Con catches backpacker
A Dutch backpacker had all his
belongings stolen in Westport last
night by a person that police believe
was a transvestite.
Michiel Michels, a 21-year-old
university student, lost $NZ1300
worth of traveller’s cheques, $500
cash, his passport, driver’s licence,
pack, sleeping bags and clothes.
He was playing pool and drinking
at the Criterion (hotel) late yesterday
afternoon when a woman, who
said her name was Cybil, started
talking to him. He found the woman
unusual, but said that he had met
strange people before in his travels.
Mr Michels and the woman went
to the Utopia Lodge where he was
staying and they talked until about
10pm when he said that he needed to
get some sleep as he wanted to hitch
to the glaciers the next day.
She said that she had nowhere to
stay, and asked whether she could
sleep in the same room since there
were four beds in it. He agreed
and woke at 3.30am to find all his
belongings, and the woman, gone.
The woman is described as in her
30s, 175cm tall, part Maori, having
shoulder length hair, pencilled
eyebrows, a large hooked nose and a
big well-set build.
May 10, 1989
The Greymouth Timber Company
floated a proposal for a two-storey,
covered mall on its Preston Road site.
It is seeking planning consent from
the Greymouth Borough Council
for a change of use for the 2.6ha site
from industrial to commercial.
This would allow construction of a
mall which would comprise 14 small
shops and a large store with office
A promotional area and lifts would
would be part of the design.
Ample parking would be available
on the site which currently houses a
Manager of Greymouth Timber,
Mr Peter Anisy, said the proposal
has been put for ward by the fir m’s
Christchurch based parent company
W W Keighleys. “At this point we
are endeavouring to change the
use of the site from industrial to
commercial,” Mr Anisy said.
“ When the change of use comes
through we will be contacting a
number of businesses both on and
off the West Coast to purchase the
shops. They will have to complement
one another but we have to get the
zoning right first.”
Greymouth mayor Dr Barry Dallas
welcomed the proposal.
“ It looks very desirable. We are very
thrilled and hopeful about it.”
May 10, 1989
Stakes dispute splits
Coast racing clubs
Delegates from the three smaller
West Coast racing clubs stormed
out of a district racing committee
meeting last night amid claims of
The row has split the region’s
racing fraternity down the middle
with the Greymouth and Westport
jockey clubs refusing to support the
Westland, Kumara and Reefton clubs
in their call for equal stakes subsidies.
Since having their gradings
removed by the New Zealand Racing
Authority about five years ago, the
three clubs racing on the Westland,
Kumara and Reefton tracks have
received only a fraction of the stakes
subsidies given to Greymouth and
A motion was put and defeated
at last night’s meeting of the West
Coast District Racing Committee
seeking an approach to the Racing
Authority to provide clubs racing on
graded and ungraded tracks with the
same basic stakes subsidies.
The presidents of the three
ungraded clubs today expressed
disgust at the decision, but have also
vowed to continue to fight against
May 12, 1989
Sports grounds move
Proposed sports fields at Marsden
Park received the thumbs up
at a meeting of sports clubs in
Greymouth last night.
The meeting was called by the
Grey County Council for those clubs
which use Nimmo Park because of
the damage the park received in last
year’s floods. Representatives of the
West Coast Men’s and Women’s
Hockey Associations, Cobden Rugby
Club, West Coast Rugby Union and
Westland Gun Dog Club attended.
Greymouth borough councillor
Mick O’Donnell, said that the
Marsden Park plan involved the
development of seven playing fields
at this stage.
The meeting decided to support
the park and ask that the Borough
Council apply for a Lotteries
Commission grant for the
The resolution also requested the
application include the installation of
two astro-turf grounds for multi-
purpose use as a necessary investment
for weather affected sports.
May 13, 1989
Renovations for ageing
Restoration begins shortly on
Okarito’s crude youth hostel, a
decrepit but important link with
the goldrush era. Built in the early
1890s as the local schoolhouse, it
has sur vived the last 40 years since
closure, as a shelter.
The accommodation might be
rough and tumble — candle power
and open fire cooking facilities — but
its old world charm still manages to
draw in campers.
The Okarito Community
Association is now combining with
the Youth Hostel Association and
Department of Conser vation to
restore the single-roomed building to
its original condition.
While retaining the building’s
character will be essential to the
restoration, it will be brought into
the 20th century with the comfort of
Lighting, however, will be concealed
to keep the cosy atmosphere inside.
The Okarito School closed and was
reopened as a hostel about 1948.
Les Stanton and Phillipa Deazley help sandbag along Mawhera Quay, 25 years ago this week.
nspired by Kevin Dash and
Trevor Johnston’s book Touch
the Wilderness, we set out in
early March to attempt a north-
south traverse of the Paparoa
As a keen tramper and geologist
working primarily between the Buller
and Grey rivers, these cloud covered
tops had often caught my eye, and my
curiosity grew in noting the conspicuous
absence of huts and tracks crossing
through the heart of the range — an
oddity in a country renowned for its
network of backcountry trails and
With the help of a youth expedition
Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, we
packed up our kit and embarked from
the Buckland Peak car park on March 9,
and finding the ridge to be tough going,
began what was essentially a long sidle
from Westport to Greymouth.
In fact, of the 20 or so named peaks
along the tops, we summited only two.
Instead of walking the ridge, our route
relied heavily on the alpine basins
and benches, alternating between and
linking up the less-steep slopes of the
east and west side of the range.
Forays below bush line also proved
challenging, and animal trails, when
found, were of great help in avoiding
obstacles, especially in low visibility.
Speaking of animals, we were not alone
on our walk. Each day we encountered
dozens of goats, whose stubborn
snorting made their presence known
even in thick cloud.
We also heard kiwi calls from several
of the lower and larger tarns we camped
alongside. Further south, there was also
the occasional crash of a startled stag.
The northern and southern halves
of the Paparoa Range proved to be
distinct in many ways. The north being
built of granitic and gneissic buttresses
and spires surrounding glacially car ved
cirques falling away to incised u-shaped
In contrast, the southern half is
composed of softer sandstone, coal, and
conglomerate, which form gentler ridges
regularly dipping below the bush line.
These more vegetated tops also show
hints of previous human travellers — a
few sawn limbs, a weather station, and a
handful of well-worn trig.
After nine days of walking, we
wandered out the Croesus Track, in
need of a good feed and couple new
pairs of shorts. My favourite part of that
day was the hitch back to Christchurch,
where a young man from Atarau picked
me up, and when I mentioned where
we had been, said he knew a couple
of fellows who had been up that way
- yup, one of the authors of Touch the
Wilderness used to drive his school bus.
We had a good chuckle while cruising
into the rain up and over the pass.
The gnarly peaks of the coastal Paparoa Range, between Westport and Greymouth, are a
sight to behold — and a tantalising challenge for footsure trampers. In March, Canterbury
University Tramping Club president NIC RIORDAN and fellow tramping club member
Matt Hanson completed the traverse — from north to south — in nine days, as Nic reports.
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