Home' Greymouth Star : January 10th 2018 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, January 10, 2018
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uLetters to the editor
1862 - Death of Samuel Colt, firearms
manufacturer who invented the revolver that
bears his name.
1912 - The first flying boat,
designed by Glenn Curtiss, makes
its maiden flight at New York.
1917 - Death of William
Frederick Cody, US army scout and
Indian fighter known as Buffalo
1956 - Elvis Presley records his first songs for
RCA, including Heartbreak Hotel.
1968 - John Gorton is sworn in as Australian
prime minister, following disappearance of
1971 - Death of French fashion designer
1989 - Australian Federal Police Assistant
Commissioner Colin Winchester is fatally shot
in the driveway of his Canberra home.
2016 - British singer David Bowie dies of
cancer in New York, aged 69.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Lazaro Spallanzani, Italian scientist (1729-
1799); John Dalberg Action, English historian
(1834-1902); Frank Sinatra Jr, US singer
(1944-2016); Jim Croce, American musician
(1943-1973); Rod Stewart, British pop singer
(1945-); Donald Fagen, US singer-
musician (1948-); George Foreman,
US heavyweight boxing champion
(1949-); Pat Benatar, US singer
(1953-); Fran Walsh, New Zealand
screenwriter (1959-); Jeremy Sims,
Australian actor and director
(1966-); Jemaine Clement, New
Zealand actor and comedian (1974-) .
“The force that rules the world is conduct,
whether it be moral or immoral.”
— Nicholas Murray Butler, American educator
“See, I will create new Heavens and a
new Earth. The former things will not be
remembered, nor will they come to mind.”
— (Isaiah 65:17)
Criticism of the
government ’s policy
towards the fishing
industry was expressed
today by the owner of Westport ’s largest
fishing and fish processing company, Mr J
Thompson who announced he is selling Ocean
Products Ltd. He is allowing a takeover by
National Mortgage and Agency Co as from
“I sold out because finance was impossible,”
he said. “ To develop this fishery the way I
want to would require a substantial amount of
capital, but this is just not available. ”
The New Zealand fishing industry had good
potential but the government was stifling
development. Loan finance was available only
at high interest rates. If the industry could get
the low rates available to farmers, much more
progress could be made.
Greymouth has a long-awaited third dentist.
He is Mr Len Lawrence who has recently
arrived from Dunedin. He was formerly a
“It might seem strange to welcome another
in the profession, but the town has been
desperately short of dentists,” one dental
surgeon remarked today. For years Greymouth
was ser ved by four dentists, but for some time
the burden of caring for the town’s teeth has
fallen to just two men.
Kumara-born and former Greymouth High
School pupil John Bain has been appointed
administration officer on the defence staff in
Washington. Lieutenant Bain, the son of Mrs
P Sinclair, of Kumara, graduated from the
Portsea Military College, Australia, after his
education at Kumara and Greymouth.
He will have a four year tour of duty in the
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
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3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
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03 769 7913
03 755 8422
he Kumara I grew up in
had its feet in the 20th
century but was still close
enough to its days as a
goldrush town for it to
retain a footprint from
its past. Kumara as I knew it then was a
testament to the ambition of its pioneers
to car ve a town out of the wilderness.
In the 1950s, 70 years after the rush for
gold, Kumara still thrived. Two schools, a
convent and a presbytery, three churches,
shops, hotels, a post office, a police station,
garages, a town hall. Kumara was a vibrant
community, bustling with activity. Picnics,
concerts, dances, tennis club, races, and
lots of children. The biggest employers
were the sawmills — Okuku, Malfroys,
Gilbert and Tomasi, Gordon Jack’s.
Bridging time were descendants of
the pioneers. My Auntie, Sr Theophane
(Annie McGrath), was the eldest of the
14 children of Thomas McGrath and
Maryann McGlone. She told me that she
remembered running along the fluming at
Dillmanstown. Many of us children. were
fortunate enough to have living links to
Kumara’s goldrush days.
Time changed Kumara, as it does
everything and everyone. People grew
old and died, the mills shut down, the
shops closed, families moved away, cities
beckoned the young in search of education
and adventure. Slowly the town became a
ghost of itself.
Inevitably, though, time brought change
to Kumara again. The ghost began to stir.
It heard that the West Coast Wilderness
Trail was coming, a trail to be 139km of a
New Zealand Cycle Trail project. To have
a stage finish at Kumara. The ghost of
Kumara woke up. The Theatre Royal Hotel
reopened. Excitement and optimism were
in the air once again.
It was not too long before the ghost
became a juggernaut. It began its search
for the new gold — tourism. The cycle
trail was not enough. Skullduggery
and subterfuge were no strangers to
the men back during the first goldrush.
Skullduggery and subterfuge are no
strangers to the men and women seeking
the new gold to be found not in the
ground this time, but in the pockets
of tourists. In pursuit of this new gold,
Kumara is a town divided.
The Kumara Residents’ Trust presents
a public persona of sweetness and light.
It claims to be a small volunteer group
just doing its best to improve Kumara.
Yet, its mission to build a $500,000
memorial to Chinese miners is hardly the
ambition of a small, volunteer group. To
achieve its mission
it seeks to crush any
Kumara has a
history, from the
Kapitia Dam down
the races and
pipelines, to the
acres of tailings
which though they
lie buried under
scrub remain as a
to the will of the
miners. To the old
to Dick Seddon,
to sawmilling. It
has no history of
this side of the
embarked on this
with the intention
of ‘mining’ the
tourist gold. How
did this project ever
gain traction? The
answer lies buried
deep in a tale of
subterfuge. It began
with the sale of the
land by the
Council back in
with the way the
money from the sale
was extracted from
fund in 2014 and
Like all tales of
subterfuge, truth is
hidden from view
behind a barricade
of complicity, in this case complicity
between the Westland District Council
and the Kumara Residents’ Trust.
Some of those behind the trust
have become so puffed up with self-
importance that they now believe their
own rhetoric. Their ambition is not
tempered by any memories of the past, as
their roots were not planted in Kumara’s
soil. That does not excuse their ignorance.
How different things could have been if
all their time and energy had gone into
creating a true memorial to Kumara’s
history. An enduring link between
Kumara’s past and Kumara’s present. A
town united in a common cause.
Would such a memorial have delivered
the much sought after tourist gold? I
believe so. At the very least it would have
been a memorial of which we could all
be proud. Of course, pride does not put
gold in the pocket. And therein lies the
Ambitious plans to plant a Chinese garden to the memory of early gold diggers, at
the entrance to Kumara township, have left the town divided and scarred, as leading
opponent JOAN McGRATH wrote on her departure for Wellington.
1080 and Coast MP
They are coming back to our area again.
These people who spread death and
disharmony in our community. 1080 is to
be spread from Hokitika to Fox Glacier
this winter by people who use the most
feeble excuse that there may be the odd
animal with Tb in our forest.
We will fight them with every legal
means we have, but when it comes to
dealing with the Government and its
agencies the rules are all stacked in
their favour. There are very few rules to
protect the people. Yet the people need
Last time an operation of this size
took place in this area 13 people became
sick from the dust and still suffer health
It is my belief the Indian family in
Tokoroa was also poisoned recently with
1080, which nearly cost them their lives.
Their whole story has been one big cover-
up by the authorities.
The two women in Reefton who
had 1080 dropped on them are still
suffering and trying to get help from the
Government who poisoned them.
But wait, we can write to our Member
of Parliment for help to protect the
people ... Damien O’Connor is now
sitting on the Government benches in
his new role as the Minister of Primary
Industries. I think, though, of the irony
of this whole situation, that after all
these years sitting in opposition, now
that Damien is in a position to help the
people of the West Coast he has also
become one of the two ministers who
are the shareholders of the factory in
Whanganui that produces 1080 poison.
Kea killings with
I have seen several reports of kea being
found dead from lead poisoning, from
eating the lead off lead-headed nails
which were used in roofing material for
In many years as a professional hunter
for the Forest Ser vice, I can not recall
ever finding a single dead kea anywhere,
for any reason.
We were fully aware that the kea had
an interest in lead-head nails; we used to
find the odd nail which had lead scraped
by beaks into a coil/curl which remained
on the nail, but we found very little lead
It was quite obvious to the most casual
obser ver that eating lead-head nails was
never a contributing factor to mortality
rates in kea.
It is quite bizarre that the number
of kea being killed by lead-head nails
seems to be massively increasing, while
the use of lead-head nails has massively
Some short time ago, while working on
the Arthur’s Pass roadway, a family of five
kea — mum, dad and their three chicks
— were regular visitors on the lookout
for food. D uring this period, there was a
large 1080 drop in the area, and all five of
those birds disappeared.
I approached DOC at the Arthur’s Pass
office with concerns that 1080 had been
responsible, and the DOC person I spoke
to said he was also concerned because he
thought people were stealing kea.
That particular explanation is about as
believable as kea eating lead-head nails,
chocolate poisoning, flying into walls etc.
The only thing they will not admit is
that 1080 is killing them.
I had a visit by Elena Hofman from
Paroa. She brought me the Greymouth
Star (Thursday, December 28) and said to
me ‘look in the paper’. It was about me!
I was totally blown away to see my story
again from 30 years ago (December 23,
1987) and happy to be alive at nearly 69
The story was about my icing model of
Hokitika’s St Mary’s Catholic Church.
Wow, what a Christmas present from
the Greymouth Star — thank you. I will
now add a little story to it.
I loved the look of the front of the
church, so after about 40 hours’ work on
building it I decided to donate it to the
church. So I went to the priest first and
he said to come on Sunday to Mass. I
said I had my mother over from Holland
and he said to bring her along.
That icing church weighed about 20kg
on a wooden board. My mother opened
the door and well the church was full of
people. So mum and I walked, with me
carrying this heavy structure towards
the priest up the front where there was
a small table to place it on. Mum and I
turned around and then everybody stood
up and gave me a standing ovation. I was
blown away and got emotional shivers
after wards. My mother said it was the
proudest moment of her life.
A couple of years later, the first Lonely
Planet guide for New Zealand wrote that
I made some of the best pizzas in
The Lord works in mysterious ways. I
am Catholic by birth and I got married in
the Church. That is about it. Greymouth
Star, you are part of the package, so have
a safe and happy 2018.
PS: I saw the Hokitika St Mary’s
Church whitewashed on a sunny day.
Brilliant. Three weeks later I was in town
again and it was painted over in a grey
colour. It looked new, but grey? Well,
the rain in Hokitika was something else.
On sunny days, it is great to be a West
Richard van Leeuwen
Looking after locals
I absolutely believe we should embrace
the tourist dollar and we should welcome
them with open arms.
At the same time we also need to look
after the locals, whose rates and taxes
subsidise a lot of the infrastructure
required to provide facilities for the
The fact a lot of our land is locked up in
conservation, for which no rates are paid
to help shoulder that burden, is another
issue. Nor do we get paid levies from the
raw products that go to other regions or
I know many people working in tourism
who are on call or work split shifts for the
minimum wage, not the ‘living wage’.
My hope is that some of this good
fortune coming in with the tourist dollars
will make its way to even more locals.
It is hoped that we will see the trickle
down theory at work so the entire
community becomes more prosperous.
When I hear of a born and bred West
Coast couple working full-time in the
tourism industry struggling to pay their
mortgage and rates, then needing food
parcels, that really does worry me.
We need to look after not only
the tourists but our own people and
community, from the cradle to the grave.
Let us not forget it is the pensioners of
today who helped make the Coast what
it is now and many of them want us to
do better than they did rather than go
backwards in some cases.
Moving Franz Josef
Moving Franz Josef township to an area
which does not flood may solve
the flooding issues but it will still be
at the mercy of a future earthquake
which could occur any time without
One solution would be for the town
to shift to Whataroa, Fox Glacier, or
even Okarito and even then, there is no
guarantee that whatever they decide to do
mother nature will not affect them in one
way or another. I can see no reason why
one or two of the tourist-related activities
can not be relocated to a larger town
such as Greymouth, where they will get
more business from a much larger local
Whatever is decided, the Government
should not just throw good money after
bad by propping up so-called tourist hot
spots that employ mainly travellers on
work visas, as is the case in Franz Josef.
The simple solution to the problem of
tourist numbers putting a strain on small
tourist villages would be to provide an
incentive for visitors to spend more time
in the regions which do not get their
share of tourists.
R A Stewart
PICTURE: Les Cleveland Collection
The Kumara Races in the 1950s.
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