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Archive for December, 2013

The truth about the Fiordland link experience monorail…

I hope DOC gets the right advice on the monorail project.

English: Lake Te Anau taken at night, just out...

English: Lake Te Anau taken at night, just outside town of Te Anau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Snowden Forest - Fiordland Monorail

In Fiordland Advocate (28 NOV, page 6) was published article “Tourism potential for Te Anau” written by Mr Bob Robertson.

Mr Christoph Zink wrote a Letter to the editor (Fiordland Advocate, 5 DEC, page 6) as a personal reaction in response to this article written by Mr Robertson. Please read it!

Number crunching

I read, with interest, Mr Robertson’s latest attempt to sell us his monorail project. Some numbers made me ponder. Mr Robertson thinks he can make ends meet with 75,000 passengers. Assuming the whole project comes in at the often quoted $200 million, and a 10% return on this high risk investment is deemed reasonable, the finance cost would be $20 million. Guesstimating the running costs at a mere $5 million (after all Mr Robertson tells us that international tourism is a cut throat business, so most employees would not see much more than the minimum wage), that makes $25 million. Let’s divide this by 75,000 customers, and we arrive at a ticket price of $333.33. This, however, does not include the bus ride to Milford or Te Anau or any cruise!

You can’t believe the price? Me neither! The problem is that $200 million won’t be enough. Mr Robertson fails to mention that as yet, he did not manage to have the whole of the proposed monorail route surveyed (as highlighted in the engineers report submitted for consent approval). In other words, he doesn’t even know if his monorail will make it up those hills. The projected route is crossing known landslides and so far unknown ones are likely to be encountered, no provisions appear to have been made for this. Maximum flood levels of the rivers to be crossed have also not been established. If the NIWA report submitted by the applicant is anything to go by, we are in for a minimum of 6m high concrete pylons across the whole width of the valley floors. There is no mention of the depth of the river deposits within the valleys, so the only thing we know about them is that they are highly prove to liquefaction in case of an earthquake. With my background as an engineering geologist, I know all too well that construction costs quickly spiral out of control, once such problems are encountered.

A quick search on the Internet ( ) shows that Monorails are very expensive to build, even in countries where a day’s labour costs less than New Zealand’s hourly minimum wage, construction costs of monorails are still several times higher than anything that Mr Robertson proposes.

So if any proven track record of Mr Robertson springs to mind, it is one of pie in the sky developments ending in bankruptcy, the likes of Pegasus!
What the project would most certainly do is risk our area’s World Heritage status, as stated by UNESCO. How anyone can think that this will entice an extra 30,000 tourists to come and visit is beyond me.
 Christoph Zink
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Entertainer Lorde is a modest teen with her feet firmly planted on the ground…



Charles Howells
LORDE: ‘I’m a pop princess at heart.’

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“The phrase ‘teen hottie’ literally makes me want to throw up,” teen pop sensation Lorde has said in an interview with the New York Times.

Lorde, real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor, spoke to the newspaper about her image, the lyrics of her songs and about not being the typical pop princess.

“Teenagers are more complex than people think,” she said.

Lorde wrote all the lyrics for her debut album Pure Heroine. The lyrics talk of small town New Zealand suburban boredom, teenage life and not being part of a world of material extravagance.

Lorde told the paper that even her producer Joel Little didn’t understand some of the lyrics.

“I think that half of the album, he has no idea to this day what I’m talking about.”

She was also asked about her deliberate choice not to include any love songs on her debut album and said that it wasn’t for her, just yet.

“Some people love writing about that, and that’s fine. But I personally haven’t found a way to do it yet which is innovative and feels new to me.”

It doesn’t mean, though, she doesn’t like pop.

“I’m a pop princess at heart.”

As for her image, Lorde has crafted a persona based on being anything but a pop princess.

“I would like to think that my public persona comes naturally to me and isn’t that dissimilar to my real way of doing things,” she told the New York Times.

“The phrase ‘teen hottie’ literally makes me want to throw up.

“I’m trying to make something people my age will care about, trying to keep my peers feeling like I’m doing something for them or representing them in some way.”


Lorde (Photo credit: Jem Yoshioka)

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Mother’s claims over Hutt Valley TWA mental health patients…

Issues in Mental Health Nursing

Issues in Mental Health Nurs

Claims made concerning Hutt Valley’s TWA Unit…

The mother of a Wellington mental health patient says some patients were released from a secure unit over Christmas due to staff shortages, not because they were well enough to be free.

Lyn Copland’s son suffers from bipolar disorder and psychosis, and was admitted to the Hutt Hospital’s Acute Mental Health Unit under a compulsory treatment order a month ago.

She says he was sent home on Christmas day, despite continuing to be very unwell.

Ms Copland says the other patients in the secure ward were also either released or sent to the open ward over Christmas.

She also says that the under-staffing also means that some patients are able to access recreational drugs.

She says her son is supposed to be under constant supervision, but he was given cannabis, or synthetic cannabis, while unsupervised during a visit to the open ward.

Ms Copland says she understands use of synthetic cannabis has been widespread in the open mental health ward.

Hutt Valley District Health Board could not be reached for comment

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New Zealand’s tragic Tangiwai Rail Disaster on Christmas Eve in 1953…

Tangiwai disaster

Tangiwai disaster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Tangiwai Railway Disaster 1953

24 December, 1953, Tangiwai, Central North IslandTangiwai, Central North Island

What happened?

  • Christmas Eve 1953 was a fine night, after a day without rain. There was nothing to show that the Whangaehu River would be in flood when the Wellington-to-Auckland express was due to cross the rail bridge at Tangiwai.
  • When part of the wall holding the crater lake of Mount Ruapehu collapsed, a huge flood of water and silt, known as a lahar, flowed down the side of the mountain carrying uprooted trees, rocks and ice into the Whangaehu River.
  • A giant wave of water, mud and rocks 6 metres high hit and swept away one concrete support of the rail bridge at Tangiwai, almost 10 kilometres from Waiouru.
  • At 10:21 pm the express, consisting of one engine, nine carriages and two vans, and travelling at about 60 kilometres per hour, rocketed onto the weakened bridge.
  • As the express left the bank, the rest of the bridge collapsed and the engine nose-dived off the edge into the air, almost hitting the opposite side.
  • The first five carriages followed, catapulting upwards before plummeting into the floodwaters. Four of these carriages were broken up by the force of the river waters, with little hope for the passengers.
  • The sixth carriage teetered on the edge of the ruined bridge while Cyril Ellis, whose car had stopped at the submerged road bridge, and the train’s guard, William Inglis, climbed in to warn the passengers and move them to the carriage behind.
  • Almost at once the carriage broke free from the remaining carriages and fell into the river, where it rolled downstream before coming to rest.
  • Ellis, Inglis and a passenger, John Holman, managed to get all the passengers, except for one, out through the broken windows and onto the side of the carriage. As the level of the floodwaters dropped, the survivors were able to form a human chain and make their way to the bank.
  • Meanwhile passengers from the other carriages in the river struggled from the wreckage and made their way or were helped to the bank. Some freed themselves only to be swept further downstream before being able to crawl ashore.
  • Many were drowned or smothered by the thick silt in the river, and some were swept downriver and out to sea, their bodies never recovered.
  • On the opposite side of the river, Arthur Bell and his wife had stopped at the flooded road bridge and saw the express crash into the river. While Mrs Bell went for help, Arthur helped rescue survivors from the carriage which had landed on the river embankment.
  • Soldiers from the army camp at Waiouru joined forces with local volunteers, but rescue was difficult and dangerous. The water was full of debris – rocks, trees and wreckage from the train – and still flowing with enough force to knock people from their feet. Oil and silt covered passengers and rescuers alike.
  • The rescue operation soon became a body recovery operation. Of the 285 people on the train that night, 134 survived and 151 died, most drowned in the floodwaters.
  • The last three carriages had come to a halt before they reached the bridge. It was later discovered that the train had been able to brake before it hit the bridge, undoubtedly saving a number of lives.

How many died?

20 bodies were never recovered and were thought to have washed out to sea, 120 kilometres from the bridge.

Other events and outcomes

  • The noise of the disaster was loud enough to be heard 10 kilometres away at Waiouru. The name Tangiwai means Weeping Waters in Māori.
  • Because no newspapers were produced on Christmas Day, the first detailed news of what had happened was given in a radio broadcast by the Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, from Waiouru Camp.
  • Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were visiting New Zealand when the disaster at Tangiwai happened. Queen Elizabeth made her Christmas broadcast from Auckland, finishing with a message of sympathy to the people of New Zealand. Prince Philip attended a state funeral for many of the victims.
  • Cyril Ellis and John Holman were awarded the George Medal, for their bravery, and Arthur Bell and William Inglis were awarded the British Empire Medal.
  • A commission of enquiry found that a lahar or mudflow was responsible for the disaster. After the collapse of the crater wall the Mount Ruapehu crater lake level had dropped by 6-7 metres, meaning that approximately 2 million cubic metres of water had flooded into the river and hit the Tangiwai bridge with the force of a tidal wave.
  • The flooded river was at its highest point when the express crashed into it. A mixed goods train had crossed the river about three hours earlier when it was still daylight, and the river had appeared normal then.
  • Later investigation has suggested that the bridge had been weakened by an earlier lahar flow in 1925, and that warnings by amateur geologists about the state of the crater wall should not have been ignored by the authorities.
  • At the time, Tangiwai was the eighth biggest railway disaster the world had seen. It is still the fifth worst disaster in New Zealand’s recorded history.
  • On Christmas Eve each year the express train slows as it crosses the new bridge across the Whangaehu River, and the driver throws a bunch of flowers into the water. A card reads: “In memory of all who died at Tangiwai on Christmas Eve, 1953.”


More information   NZ-made television movie     View video

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Melbourne Storm: ‘I Don’t Quit’ Preseason Camp…


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Flavell savages Operation 8 Report…

English: Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell at c...

English: Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell at celebrations of New Zealand’s endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Māori Party

Māori Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Maori Party has slammed the Human Rights Commission’s report into Operation Eight as toothless, shameful and apologist.The commission was responding to 31 complaints about police actions during the October 2007 operation to arrest people on terrorism warrants arising from training camps in Te Urewera.

It concluded innocent people were exposed to unnecessary trauma and had their human rights negatively impacted.

The report was released last week, seven months after the Independent Police Conduct Authority report found that police acted unlawfully in establishing road blocks at Ruatoki and Taneatua and detaining and searching people during ‘Operation Eight’.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says the commission sidestepped important rights issues including institutional racism.

It also failed to outline steps to redress and right the human rights violations that occurred.

“My heart sank when I read the report. While it upheld the view that the human rights of the people of Ruatoki were trampled on, the analysis largely follows the IPCA report, the laws and policies of the police and does not at all reflect the experience, trauma and impact of the rights violations suffered by the children and adults of Ruatoki,” Mr Flavell says.

“People laid their complaints with the commission because they wanted justice and accountability for the trauma, terrorism and violations that took place. That was the whole point of the exercise, and the report failed to deliver on that.

“After five years of waiting, we get a report which glosses over issues such as institutional racism, such as how the police came to violate and terrorise an entire low socio-economic primarily Maori community; the violation of the rights of children, like when Police raided school buses, and homes where children were present; the human rights of indigenous people; the rights of collectives and more. It acknowledges that violations happened, but makes no further practical comment about how to move forward and how to remedy the situation.

“The report falls woefully short. It’s toothless, shameful, and apologist. It lacks any guts,” he says.

Mr Flavell called for a review into institutional racism in the justice sector, and into the Human Rights legislation and agencies.

Acknowledgements© 2013, UMA Broadcasting Ltd

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Merry Christmas to you all here…

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Akaroa Harbour in Banks Peninsula to become a marine reserve…

A marine reserve on Christchurch’s door-step…

Akaroa township, Canterbury, New Zealand - tak...

Akaroa township, Canterbury, New Zealand – taken from the end of wharf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Hectors dolphins at Akaroa Harbour.

Hectors dolphins at Akaroa Harbour.

Canterbury’s popular tourist spot Akaroa Harbour is set to become a marine reserve to recognise the marine environment as the “new frontier for conservation”.
Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today the new marine reserve will come into effect on World Oceans Day next June 8.
“This new reserve will ensure better conservation of its marine life and add value to Akaroa as a tourism destination,” he said.
The 475-hectare reserve covers the south east corner of Akaroa Harbour and includes the area surrounding the spectacular Dan Rogers Bluff.
An application was first lodged in 1996, and Dr Smith gave his approval in April.
“Akaroa is just one of a number of marine reserves I want to advance next year. Eighty per cent of the species unique to New Zealand are in the sea, yet we have far less of our ocean protected compared to land.”
Acknowledgements:  APNZ   The Green Planet blog

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John Tamihere suing RadioLive over his recent departure…

Radio Live logo

Radio Live logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Radio Live logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Controversial talk host John Tamihere says he is suing Mediaworks over his departure from Radio Live.
The former Labour MP and co-host Willie Jackson were stood down by the station last month amidst a public outcry over the way they interviewed Amy, a caller who identified herself as a friend of a victim of the Roast Busters rape club.
Mr Jackson is to return next year with a new co-host, Television New Zealand presenter Alison Mau, but Mr Tamihere’s contract was not renewed.
He told Radio Waatea this morning he won’t be going quietly”I’m telling you this morning I will be litigating again with Mediaworks very shortly so you can read all the salacious bits in the affidavits and in the emails but whenever I go anywhere I will go on my own terms, won’t go on anyone else’s terms. It’s interesting too at Mediaworks, it’s a sisterhood running it and I’m just writing up my affidavit now and reflecting on it, it’s amazing, it’s back to the future with Helen and co,” Mr Tamihere says.
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A stranger’s home offer a miracle for homeless man…

What a marvelous story so close to Christmas. Saints still exist. Read on…
James Barber

KINDNESS OF A STRANGER: James Barber no longer has need to fear homelessness as an anonymous Christchurch businessman has decided to buy him a house.

James Barber’s home goes up for auction today, but a “white knight” has rescued the 77-year-old from homelessness.

An anonymous Christchurch businessman was so taken by Barber’s plight that he is offering to buy him a house “to live out his days in peace”.

“I didn’t know there were people like this still about,” Barber said.

“Miracles do happen, there is no doubt about it.”

Barber is one of the last remaining residents of the Crossdale Courts retirement complex and his story was highlighted by The Press earlier this month.

The residents of the Upper Riccarton complex have been in legal battles since 2008 after the owner went bankrupt, fled to Australia and left the elderly folk at the hands of finance companies.

The mortgagees were not legally obligated to honour the residents’ contracts, for which they paid the bankrupt owner between $40,000 and $80,000 to occupy the units until death.

Over the past five years, some of the residents have died, some are now in palliative care and some were evicted.

Barber is one of the last of the original residents and the widower found out his unit was up for auction while lying in a hospital bed earlier this month.

His pleas to the mortgagee to delay the sale until he had recovered from spinal surgery were ignored.

Today his unit will be auctioned, but Barber no longer needs to fear homelessness.

His lawyer, Dean Palmer, has been approached by a local businessman who has offered to buy Barber a townhouse in a Sydenham retirement village.

The “white knight” did not want to be identified and “politely declined” to speak to The Press, Palmer said.

“He wants to buy him another property so he can live out his days there.” Through Palmer, the anonymous philanthropist said: “I was concerned for Jim, as were many others, and as I was in a position to be able to help him, I was very happy to do so.” Barber was “completely speechless” when he heard about the offer.

“I don’t know how to put it into words. I was overwhelmed. It was an absolutely tremendous, enormous thing to happen,” he said.

“Thank you to this gentleman is not enough. I wish there were more words in the English language, but I just don’t know them.” The businessman’s kindness has caused the retiree to “lose my cynicism”.

Barber is expected to view his prospective new home before the auction today.

An online fundraising page that was set up by a Press reader to help Barber has also collected more than $3000 and the organiser plans to transfer the funds into his account this week.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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