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WEST COAST FEATURE
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SATURDAY, JULY 12, 2014
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The Greymouth Star special
supplement published for the
opening of the West Coast
Wilderness Trail was named
runner-up in the best advertising
feature category at the New Zealand
Community Newspaper Association
Awards, presented in Wellington
recently. The supplement was
delivered to 14,000 homes together
with the West Coast Messenger.
Colin to visit
Colin Craig, the founder and
leader of the Conser vative Party,
will visit the West Coast later this
month. Some polls have had the
party at 1.5%, more than double
the support of the Act Party. Mr
Craig is a millionaire businessman
who owns companies that manage
high-rise buildings. He is targeting
the party vote this election, with
the theme ‘Stand for Something,’
and will also stand in East Coast
Bays, a safe National seat held by
cabinet minister Murray McCully.
Mr Craig will speak in Hokitika
and Greymouth on July 23, and
Westport the next day. All meetings
will be open to the public.
A Spanish town is using a novel
way to tackle the problem of dog
mess on its streets — by installing
a public toilet for pets. The metal
contraption was donated to El
Vendrell by its creator Enric Girona
to make it quick and painless to
clean up after a dog. But people
in the north-eastern province of
Tarragona, Catalonia, say it simply
does not work. One of the dog
owners said: “It’s useless. Animals
are not toys. They defecate, urinate
and return home. ” — Daily Mail
Rain, heavy falls, easing later
GREYMOUTH – HOKITIKA
SATURDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2013
DHB to begin recording all Coast suicides
The group charged with preventing
suicides on the West Coast is
developing a suicide register because
currently no one keeps a tally of the
number of suicides in the region.
In the past year, two suicides
occurred within a short time of
discharge from the mental health in-
patient unit at Grey Base Hospital.
Three young women also died
suddenly in South Westland, and
earlier this year a Greymouth man
took his own life.
However, other suicides were not
recorded in the one place.
A recent meeting of the West Coast
District Health Board revealed plans
to develop a suicide register.
Chief medical officer of health
Carol Atmore said suicide figures
were held by several different
agencies including the coroner, police
and mental health ser vices.
The coroner made the final
determination about whether or not
a death was a suicide, so final figures
were not available until after an
inquest had been held.
The figures were “currently not
available in a collated form for the
West Coast,” Dr Atmore said.
“ It is our intention to collate
information on suicides over the past
20 years on the West Coast, to enable
trends to be identified.”
She said the DHB had established
suicide prevention governance
and action groups to develop
and implement a district suicide
A West Coast culture of boozing —
described as the worst in New Zealand
— is being played out in the Greymouth
District Court list, which is increasingly
dominated by alcohol-fuelled crime.
Lawyer Eymard Bradley said the trend
was alarming, and without alcohol and
drug offending he would probably be out
“The tolerance we have for excessive
drinking is the problem ... when you
inquire as to how much they drink, it ’s
often pretty appalling. Most people who
drink that much wouldn’t be able to
remember it,” Mr Bradley said.
He said young people in particular
drank too much. Government changes
to licensing hours had caused “mayhem”
on the Coast, and the number of assaults
which had resulted from it were “quite
At each court sitting he was seeing the
serious and negative effects of alcohol
across family, youth and criminal courts,
as well as in civil disputes.
In 2010, Judge David Saunders told
the Greymouth District Court that the
West Coast was a community with an
While dressing down a drink-driver he
said that aside from the drink-drivers,
most of the assaults and disorderly or
offensive behaviour charges before the
Greymouth court were alcohol-related.
He said the West Coast community was
“ besotted by alcohol”.
More recently, Judge Noel Walsh
expressed his amazement that only one
drink-driver had appeared during a day ’s
court session at Greymouth, saying that
was a ‘first ’ for him on the Coast court
Greymouth GP and West Coast
District Health Board chief medical
officer Dr Carol Atmore said that as a
country, New Zealand had a problem
with drinking, but there was a “higher
level of problems” on the West Coast
There was also more of a drinking
culture in the region than elsewhere, and
binge drinking among young people was
a big issue, Dr Atmore said.
In a submission to the Grey District
Council for its draft local alcohol policy,
West Coast medical officer of health
at Community and Public Health,
Dr Cheryl Brunton, said all three
districts on the Coast had higher rates
of alcohol-related deaths, with the rate
for Greymouth being twice the national
Greymouth also had a higher
than average rate of alcohol-related
hospitalisations, and at least one in
five West Coast residents also met the
criteria for binge drinking, Dr Brunton
Mr Bradley also said he felt that
generally people on the Coast drank
too much, certainly more than those in
Porirua, where he had worked previously.
He had also encountered a perception
among many people that their drinking
was not an issue in their crimes.
“ You get quite a few alcoholics who
know they can’t drink, but most people
don’t regard drinking as serious when
there are all sort of indicators that public
health would give them. ”
Mining school to continue as industry wanes
The Department of Conser vation
says the April 17 storm that blew
over whole blocks of trees the length
of the West Coast, had not dented
the need for a big 1080 poison drop
to control an expected plague of rats
DOC announced its $10 million
‘Battle for the Birds’ earlier this
year in response to a heavy fruiting
of native trees, that it expected
would lead to an explosion of rodent
numbers later this year.
That would double the amount of
conser vation land subject to aerial
There is anecdotal evidence that a
lot of the fruit, or seeds, had blown
off the trees in the fierce windstorm,
including in the expected ‘mast ’
beech forests of northern Buller and
deep South Westland.
Graeme Elliott, of Nelson, told the
Greymouth Star he did not believe
the storm had reduced the impact of
the upcoming mast.
He said most of the seed had
ripened and was starting to fall
before the winds arrived.
“The storm will have knocked late
seed out of trees but this would have
happened naturally anyway,” Mr
He believed the windstorm would
have had “little impact ” on the overall
amount of seed available on the forest
floor for rodents this winter.
Tests over recent months — before
the storm — had confirmed heavy
seed setting, and the windstorm had
simply hastened seed fall by a couple
of weeks in affected areas, he said.
Farmers Against Ten Eighty
spokeswoman Mary Molloy, a Hari
Hari dairy farmer, said as well as
the windstorm, she had not seen the
hills for weeks over winter due to the
The rain would have had a
significant impact on the birdlife and
their food. Whether the seeds had
dropped early or rotted from the rain,
it would have an effect, and Cyclone
Ita would have compounded the
impact, Mrs Molloy claimed.
The beech mast was inconsistent
throughout the West Coast, she said.
Wind fails to stop poison drops
Despite significant job losses in
the West Coast mining sector, Tai
Poutini Polytechnic says it will
continue running courses at its
virtual mining school, the only one
of its kind in New Zealand.
On June 6, Solid Energy
announced it was shedding 137
jobs from its Stockton open-cast
mine near Westport, on top of
hundreds of losses at the mine last
year. Oceana Gold’s Globe Progress
mine workforce will also drop from
240 to six when the mine is put into
care and maintenance in the middle
of next year.
Last year, 49 people graduated
from the polytechnic School
of Mines courses in managers
A and B certificates, equipping
them to manage either a mine above
ground or a quarry.
Chief executive Alan Sargison
confirmed that despite the
continuing downturn in the
mining industry, it would continue
running the courses as the
programmes at the school covered
quarrying and the extractives
industry more widely than just
The mining school was established
in 2013 to provide entry level
to degree level training on the
West Coast and throughout New
Zealand. At the time, polytechnic
board chairman Graeme McNally
said the school was a response to a
severe shortage of homegrown staff
trained to work in the industry.
Meanwhile, the polytechnic’s 2013
annual report shows the West Coast
faculty bucked the general trend of
falling enrolments at polytechnics
around New Zealand. The 4000
enrolments was up 800 on last year
and 30% ahead of target.
Mr Sargison said the increase in
enrolments was in general, rather
than one or two specific course areas.
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Greymouth Scout section leader Mason Cooksley stands outside the guide and scout hall at its new location, beside the Karoro rugby league
ground. The hall was recently moved from High Street, where it stood for 38 years, to allow room for more car parks for the Westland Recreation
Centre, which is to be built alongside the aquatic centre. Now on its new site, the back of the hall is being converted to become the new front,
together with a new storeroom and deck. “It ’s been a long road and we are getting quite close to the end now,” Mr Cooksley said. Scouts were
meeting at the Grey United Tennis Club pavilion in the interim, and expected to be back in their own premises in about six weeks. He said the new
site was only a stone’s throw from where one of the original scout houses once stood near the Karoro Domain.
Old hall finds new home
“The tolerance we have for
excessive drinking is the problem.”
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