Home' Greymouth Star : July 16th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, July 16, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1557 - Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of
King Henry VIII, dies.
1867 - Reinforced concrete is patented by
Joseph Monier of Paris.
1882 - Mary Todd Lincoln, the
widow of US President Abraham
Lincoln, dies of a stroke.
1918 - Nicholas II, the last
Russian tsar, is murdered together
with his family and entourage.
1935 - The world’s first parking
meters are installed in Oklahoma city.
1940 - Hitler gives orders to prepare the
invasion of Britain.
1945 - First atomic bomb is detonated over
US desert in New Mexico. It heralds the start
of the atomic age.
1951 - US novelist J D Salinger publishes
The Catcher In The Rye.
1986 - Twelve miners die when an explosion
and cave-in trap them in Q ueensland’s Moura
1999 - A plane piloted by John F Kennedy
Jr, son of the late president, disappears over the
sea north of Long Island, New York.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir Joshua Reynolds, English artist (1723-
1792); Camille Corot, French painter
(1796-1875); Roald Amundsen, Nor wegian
explorer (1872-1928); Barbara
Stanwyck, US actress (1907-1990);
Ginger Rogers, US actress (1911-
1995); Corin Redgrave, British
actress (1939-2010); Margaret
Court, Australian tennis champion
(1942-); Stewart Copeland, US
musician (1952-); Will Ferrell,
US actor (1967-); Corey Feldman,
US actor (1971-); Wendell Sailor, former
Australian rugby union player (1974-); Adam
Scott, Australian golfer (1980-).
“He who tells the truth must have one foot in
the stirrup.” — Armenian proverb.
“As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man
called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and
He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he got up
and followed Him.” — (Matthew 9:9).
When lights for
night trotting were
installed at Victoria
Park, neither the
Greymouth Trotting Club nor the West Coast
Industires Fair Association realised what
it would mean to the annual fair. This was
explained at last night’s annual meeting of the
fair association by the re-elected secretary Mr
J P Guerin.
Mr Guerin was answering the query of Mr C
Fisher who remarked on the “shocking lighting
bill” that contributed to the association’s first-
ever loss. He said that in fairness to everyone
he must point out that it was a very complex
situation. “Neither the club nor ourselves
realised what the new lighting would mean,”
said Mr Guerin.
A net loss of £111 was revealed in the
statement of accounts at last night’s meeting.
This loss is, however, more than accounted for
by the rise in the cost for the use of lights at
Victoria Park Raceway. Last year the electricity
account showed expenditure of £285 — this
year it is up to £596.
A ban on all cigarette advertising was
suggested in Parliament last night by Mr P
Blanchfield, the Member for Westland. He
made the suggestion on two grounds: First
the health reasons, second its value in helping
people to save more.
Mr Blanchfield said he wondered if the
Government would curtail cigarette advertising
rather than follow the American lead and make
it necessary for each packet of cigarettes and
every advertisement to carry a warning label on
But he added: “Mind you, there would
be terrific reaction from the cinemas and
uFood for thought
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histor y lesson 1
On reading the article headed ‘Haast-
Hollyford road driven’ (Greymouth Star,
July 12) I think some explanation of the
article is needed.
Firstly, the sur veyor who Mr Havill
claims determined in 1976 that a legal
road runs from Haast to Hollyford, in
fact he did not prove that at all. A report
on this sur vey states that in 1977 the
Westland County Council arranged to
have the road line sur veyed down the
Cascade River and south as far as Barn
Bay (not Big Bay as said in the paper) in
a failed attempt to legalise that section of
In 1891, Charles Douglas spent four
weeks cutting a track south from the
Cascade to Barn Bay. Government relief
workers then worked on this track and
by 1898 the track was described as a
four-foot metalled track 60 chains long.
In June 1973, Fergusons Earthmoving
Company of Greymouth partly followed
this formation on their way to Big Bay in
an attempt to open up asbestos fields in
the Red Hills range. These would be the
bulldozer tracks that Mr Amor and his
sur vey party used later in 1973.
In September 1936, work was started
on the Jackson River to Hollyford inland
route using unemployed workers. This
formation went up the Cascade River and
then climbed out to the headwaters of
the Gorge River. When war broke out the
roadworks were abandoned at this point.
The single line showing the proposed
route for the rest of the road, down the
Gorge River, over the Pyke Saddle and
down the Pyke River to the Hollyford, is
clearly marked on a 1965 geological map
as a sur vey line only. This is the proposed
route Haast-Hollyford Highway Ltd
hopes to use.
To me, this is not a legal road and I hope
it never will be.
histor y lesson 2
With regard to the controversial
Cascade-Hollyford road, a Mr Owen
Amor, chief sur veyor for the Department
of Lands and Sur vey at Hokitika in the
early 1970s, has stated that, “his ability to
drive his Holden (stationwagon) along a
bulldozed track as far as Big Bay in 1973
was part of the proof the road existed.
He believed the road was formed by
whitebaiters wanting access to stands in
the Big Bay area”.
Firstly, the rough track that Mr Amor
claims to have driven was made in 1973
by Ferguson Brothers of Greymouth in
order to get a large bulldozer down to the
Red Hills area to work for an overseas’
mining company investigating the asbestos
deposits. From Barn Bay below Cascade,
the track followed the coastline and had
no relevance whatsoever with the old
proposed bridle-track/road to Hollyford,
which inland climbed on to the Hope
Blue River Range in the upper Cascade,
across the Gorge Plateau to the Pyke
Saddle in the upper Pyke and thus down
to the Hollyford.
Secondly, the coastal track was certainly
nothing to do with whitebaiters as the
fishermen at the Awarua were already well
established by sea transportation of hut
materials and easy access by air to the tidal
Thirdly, by no stretch of the imagination
could a standard car or even a
sophisticated 4x4 navigate the Fergusons
bulldozer track. It was built for rapid
transit of tracked and massive, cleated
tyred tractors with high ground clearance.
Perhaps an ex-army, gun-towing Ford
three-tonner 4x4 quad may have made it
but certainly not any conventional cross-
country vehicle and in this, Brian Piner,
a shift boss and bulldozer driver on the
The approaches and surface of Sandrock
Bluff, the deep Gorge River and the loose
gravels of the Hacket River beaches and
the crevassed basement around Crayfish
Point are but few of the serious obstacles
I was crayfishing at Big Bay at the time
Fergusons were inching south and could
see their progress when I flew to Haast
every week. I got to know their route
intimately, so this obser vation, backed by
Brian Piner, is not lightly made. Time has
a habit of distorting facts.
With regard the 10-day reprieve for the
Runanga Miners’ Hall (Greymouth Star,
The council went to the people, they
have spoken loud and clear. Mayor
Kokshoorn’s generous personal donation
of $5000 was never taken up by those
wanting to save the hall, when it could
have done some real good. Not taking up
that offer was inexcusable.
I feel the council should not test
the water again having just done that.
The message of the recent poll was
unambiguous. End of story.
On behalf of the Westland District
Council, I would like to express our
sincere thanks to all those willing helpers
and communities who assisted in the
clean-up after Cyclone Ita at Easter
It is great to see people helping one
another out in times of distress and
emergency and shows the true spirit of
Community development adviser
Westland District Council
Bring back the moa
— save the kea
Open letter to Trevor Mallard. We
commend you on your thoughts of DNA
to bring back the moa, and we are sure,
with your enthusiasm, this can be done.
The kea is on the endangered list and
along with other native birds, more are
killed with each indiscriminate aerial
dropping of 1080 poison, and to make
matters worse this has been increased. As
spokesman for animal rights, we hope you
will speak out against 1080 poison.
Hopefully, the Hon John Key will take
you seriously and put some money into
your campaign, as along with the cheeky
kea there will be other extinct species
needing your DNA help.
Why is it taking so long for the business
case for the new hospital to be released?
I presume there was never a plan for a
properly staffed hospital, so it takes time.
It is difficult to know exactly how long
the plans for downgrading of West Coast
health ser vices started but probably
several governments ago. I recall in 2008
Dr Judy Forbes raised safety concerns
with the media. David Cunliffe was the
Minister of Health and Damien O’Connor
was the Associate Minister at the time.
They promised an investigation, but the
Many of the victims of the experiment of
health ‘care’ without expertise, like Geoff
Mehrtens, do not get investigated properly.
It is difficult to name specific cases that
have not already appeared in the media
for privacy or safety reasons. I do recall
a case from 2006 which was referred to
the coroner. The patient lived between
Greymouth and Reefton. He was brought
to hospital by his family in a critical state
when the seriousness of the illness was
missed by the health professional providing
primary care without relevant medical
training. The family reported the case to
the coroner and I provided a statement
to the internal investigation. I was never
asked to sign off the statement provided to
the coroner so still do not know about the
contents of the statement provided to the
I am sure cases such as Jo Partridge will
show evidence of other ‘missing’ statements.
not a Scotsman
The late Bill Hargreaves was not a
Scotsman — he was born in England and
was known to his friends as ‘Billy the Pom’.
He was not a founding member of the
Suburbs Rugby League Football Club; his
first year of playing for Suburbs was 1969.
I first met Bill Hargreaves I think
around 1965 when he was courting my
close neighbour Miss Alison Whitfield, of
Dobson. At this time he had never played
rugby league, having been brought up
playing with a round ball. I recruited Bill
into the ranks of the Brunner Bulls Rugby
League Club and over the next few years he
became one of Brunner’s leading players.
Bill’s younger brother, Ernie, also trialled
with us at Brunner. He was a big lad and
faster than his older brother. Regretfully,
the grass in Canterbury proved to be
greener and he moved on.
As is the case now, hard times struck
the coalmining industry in 1968 with the
closure of the Dobson State colliery. After
the dust had settled we were left with
seven or eight players. A meeting with
Bull Williams, president of West Coast
Rugby League, decided to allow Brunner
players to transfer to Suburbs, who at the
time were being coached by Neville Tiller,
ex-Kiwi, in 1965. Suburbs at that time were
very inexperienced and were regularly being
beaten by large scores.
Players to transfer included: Bill
Hargreaves, Robert Brown, Graeme
Peters, Len Mason, Gary Moore. I did not
play in 1969 and turned out for Suburbs
from 1970, along with Gary Cowan who
returned from Christchurch.
I was a good friend of Bill Hargreaves and
enjoyed his company both on the paddock
and off it.
I agree with Wayne Stanton that to name
the park at Karoro Hargreaves Park would
be an honour well earned by Bill who was
the backbone of the Suburbs forward pack
for many years.
Where have the Countdown and New
World pamphlets gone? I live in Fitzgerald
Street, Cobden, it is now Tuesday and still
no circulars in the mailbox.
pamphlet at the supermarkets so I would
not miss out on weekly specials and
compare prices for my weekly shop. How
many other people in the community did
not receive their circulars?
When the Hunt family of Cobden did
the New World, Warehouse and Messenger
circulars they were always on time, early,
efficient, reliable, trustworthy, honest and
went out in all weather conditions facing
erriday is one of those places
that exists in its own unique,
timeless universe. It’s a small
town with faded clapboard
houses and a couple of
general stores, right next to
the Mississippi border but miles from
the nearest city. A town that people pass
through while heading to cities in the
north or south, but not a town to stop in.
There is not really a whole lot to stop for.
But on this day we were heading
there anyway. It is a few hours north of
Baton Rouge, a drive past dark green
fields and towering forests, through tiny,
indistinguishable towns and over muddy
It is an oppressively cold and grey day
when we set out, with low-lying cloud
and a constant drizzle accompanying us
along the two-hour drive.
A few miles out of Ferriday, as we
were crossing a bridge, a huge, white,
Mississippi steamboat looms out of the
mist to our right. It is visible for a few
seconds before slipping away again.
Suddenly, the notion of an old, weird
south does not feel quite so remote.
Aside from its delta blues museum,
Ferriday has one main claim to fame.
It is the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll pioneer
Jerry Lee Lewis, a stupendously talented,
hell-raising pianist nicknamed
Myself and my photographer friend,
Brian, headed to his childhood home
which, presided over by his sister, Frankie
Jean, has been turned into a museum in
It has been like that for years now,
although it is not quite as easy to get
access to as it used to be. Visits are by
appointment only, and the number on the
museum’s website does not work.
Later, Frankie Jean says she could not
deal with the constant barrage of phone
calls from rock ’n’ roll fans all over the
“The last one was a man from Sweden,”
she says as we walk through the house.
“He was, oh, very lovely. But he called at
three in the morning.”
The house is near the centre of
town which, admittedly, is pretty
indistinguishable from the outskirts.
Frankie Jean knows we are coming.
“Oh, how wonderful. I can’t wait to
meet you,” she’d drawled on the phone
earlier, but she was not ready when we
turn up. Instead, were led inside by her
partner, a burly, big chested man in a pair
of tattered blue overalls.
We wander through a cluttered kitchen
into a large room with a fireplace in
the corner and a small tv beside it. He
did not know we were coming, but the
awkwardness soon dissolves as we sit and
watch a game of college football. He used
to play football, he tells us, although he
had to stop because of injury.
“Mah knees are totally shot,” he says in
a thick Louisiana accent.
“But it ain’t from football. It’s from
workin’ all mah life.”
After 20 minutes Frankie Jean, a petite
woman with curly brown hair, appears
and ushers us up a small flight of stairs
to The Killer’s home. She opens the door
and we step into a place frozen in time.
It is a small house — a lounge, a kitchen
and three bedrooms crammed in close
proximity to each together — that looks
as if it was sealed off sometime around
1963. A fluffy tortoiseshell carpet flows
throughout the house, which is lit by
a series of ancient looking lamps that
throw out a dim light.
It is less a museum than a shrine.
Although it’s technically the Lewis
Family Museum, the walls are covered
with framed photos of Jerry Lee, while
the piano he learned to play on sits
forlornly in a room out the back.
The rooms are as they were when he
lived in the house which, it is easy to
forget, was well over 50 years ago.
The bed in which he was born stands
in the centre of his old room, and the
closet at its foot is filled with his old
One particularly sparkling outfit — that
turns out to be from his high school
days — hangs beside the bed as if he had
gently placed it there that morning.
Frankie Jean leads us from room to
room, followed by two yappy Yorkshire
terriers. The star of the show has not
come through for a year and a half, but
his absence does not bother her.
“Oh, he’s a wonderful man,” she says.
“God has really blessed him. He has
been blessed. He worked very hard to
make a name for himself and we’re all
very proud of him.”
The Jerry Lee Lewis of the Lewis
museum is God-fearing and kind-
hearted, the one who smiles for the
camera — albeit with the constant hint of
a sneer — and preaches the Gospel. Not,
certainly, the one who shot his bass player
or married his 13-year-old cousin.
We wander about for an hour, peering
through doors and listening to Frankie
Jean spin her tales. She wanders over to
her favourite picture of her brother, an
ancient black and white matinee idol
portrait that he gave her back in 1957.
“People used to come through here all
the time,” she says.
“ You know, it used to be wild. I’d be
stopped on the street and people would
always say, ‘You’re Jerry’s sister Frankie,
She often has a faraway look when
talking about her brother, particularly the
older days when he was still around. She
does not talk to him too much any more,
even though he lives just up the road, but
she spends her time surrounded by him.
Looking at his photos. Taking calls about
him. Writing letters to his fans.
Jerry Lee Lewis, nearly 50 years after
he left home and slowly faded from her
orbit, remains Frankie’s life.
“This old house has a lot of memories,”
she says as she looks around.
“As long as this house stands, the
memories will live.”
Instead of the house, she could easily
have been talking about herself.
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURES: New Zealand Herald
Jerry Lee Lewis played the piano with fierce energy.
In the 1950s Jerry Lee Lewis shook our nerves and rattled our brains. JACK BARLOW visits
the Louisiana museum devoted to his legend.
Killing time in Ferriday
Jerry Lee Lewis’ sister, Frankie Jean, in the musuem dedicated to her brother.
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