I Love This Place

DSC04318

By ‘this place’ I might be meaning Greymouth, or the West Coast, or my home. I think I probably mean ‘my home’ in this instance because each of these images was taken from the deck on the front of the house.morning greymouth1It is a very roomy addition and if I’m truthful it is one of the features that sold the place to my wife and I just under a decade ago. That it sits on the hills behind Greymouth and has a beautiful view westward is just icing on the cake.sunsetI’m so delighted that the trip from my chair to the deck takes all of 3 seconds and as one of my cameras is always nearby it takes little more than that time to be snapping awayDSC04161in response to great light in our lounge, or glorious colours sneakily viewed from my lounge-chair, or a comment from my wife something along the lines of “Oh! Look at THAT sunset- isn’t that gorgeous?”???????????????????????????????Whatever the motivation the ends pretty much speak for themselves.DSC04116Any and all seasons, mornings or evenings- I love this place.

The Coast

It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks weather-wise on The Coast and the settled, no-wind cloudless days have meant that the sea has settled down and is now the bluest it gets. There is little chance of discolouration as the silt-carrying rivers are also clear and low, and of course with little sea movement there’s no sea-floor sediment being stirred up.

For all those living on The Coast the views are wonderful. My immediate neighbours actually have a neat wee bach some way up The Coast- it’s at ’13 mile’ so that will give you a good idea of how far from Greymouth it is? And it is right on the coast having been built on a rock promontory between the road and the sea. In this photograph you can just about make it out in the patch of bush between the rocks and the road and in line with the base of the bluff in the far distance.WP_000188(Of course it would have been easier to spot were it not painted dark, dark grey but a shocking pink crib would be a bit out of place, really, now wouldn’t it!) As well as being in a fabulous site it also has a novel addition- there is a stream that flows from the range over the road, under the road to the sea just beside the bach. Its route to the sea has been halted, though, by the clever but very simple strategy of a concrete wall being built between the road and the sea. The result is a lovely fresh-water pool some 5 metres long and a few wide. A lovely place to loll in the heat of a summer’s day with a long cool something in hand.

You can clearly see the rocks that are the extension of that promontory and it is those rocks that enable the place to survive. Survive?

Indeed, because (contrary to common belief) the weather isn’t always as beautifully fine and settled as it has been for the last couple of weeks, and just occasionally the seas get up, driven hard at the shore by strong sea winds. It is on these occasions that the little bach at ’13 Mile’ comes into its own. Rough days are special here because one really gets the impression that the lounge (well certainly the front deck) are in dire danger of being swamped by the breakers crashing on the rocks below. You may think that sounds OK, but have a look at just how close those ‘rocks below’ truly are!!WP_000316Impressed? You should be. And these pics were taken on a reasonable unnotable day!WP_000318See that the front deck drops directly onto the rocks being beaten by the sea!

It’s a pretty common occurrence at ’13 Mile’ to have such views just outside your front door and clearly it’s not on those days that you will loll in the fresh-water pool, sun-bathe on the deck, or have a barbie. But what you can do is sit inside (with or without a tall something in your hand) and indulge in some quality witty repartee! And inside there is this lovely touch, a window (to no-where) that has been installed just beside the wonderful open fireplace that keeps the place cosey on the chilly winter’s nights.WP_000324Nice touch? I think so.

Beautiful Day A-Coming

morning greymouth1What a splendid morning to start the day in Greymouth. The eagle-eyed among you will say “But look at the cloud (on the right)!!!”

OK, it seems that way but this is one of the weather icons on The Coast- THE BARBER. It has little effect on anyone other than those who work or visit ‘down town’ and within a couple of hours it will be gone.

Full moon, no wind and the dawn colours just beautiful.

It’s often really worthwhile getting up a little early, huh!!

Arahura Marae

Some time ago I wrote about one of my most treasured possessions. The place this taonga (treasure) came from is a tiny settlement at the mouth of the Arahura River.The sub-tribe of the people who live in the area are Ngati Waewae who are providing cultural experiences for visitors to The Coast and, of course are marketing their major taonga, pounamu or New Zealand jade.

I heard that they were in the process of building a new marae on the hill overlooking their settlement and having a couple of minutes to spare on my trip from Greymouth to Hokitika recently I decided to go up and have a look.Wow!! Some development! This is an architect’s artwork of the project that is featured on the notice at the site’s entry. The dark building in the centre will be the whare nui (big house) which will be the focus for manuhiri (visitors) who will be welcomed after being called onto the marae atea (open courtyard in front of the meeting house) by the tangata whenua (local people).

The other buildings that will complete the complex will include ablutions, sleeping and very importantly, the whare kai (eating house).

I look forward to seeing this when it’s finished because it promises to be a spectacular addition to the West Coast.

Golf Challenge

If there are any golfers in New Zealand who read this, maybe we will meet up in March!

I am at the pointed end of the organising committee for a new golf tournament to be held on The West Coast in March of 2013- Tuesday 5th, Wednesday 6th, Thursday 7th and Friday 8th. Each day will feature 18 holes of stableford golf on one of the four main courses- Westport, Reefton, Hokitika and Greymouth in that order. These are four quite different golf courses and offer their own special wee challenges but at that time of the year they will be in their best shape and so whatever problems arise they will probably be self created.

We have already secured over $11500 worth of competition prizes but guarantee there will be much more on offer. I am determined to make this a promotional opportunity for ‘The Coast’ and as such we will be featuring artists and craftspeople from all over, and hope to send many of our golfing friends away with a memento of their enjoyable visit to ‘The Coast’.

If you are interested do visit the West Coast Golf Challenge website here and also visit our Facebook page here. (-don’t forget to ‘like’ the page and perhaps leave a friendly comment or two!)

You will find all the information you need about the tournament, things to do (other than golf) when you’re on ‘The Coast’, and a range of quality accommodation establishments choose from to stay in while you’re here.

I look forward to making your acquaintance in March!! Tight lies!

The BARBER

There is a local phenomenon in Greymouth that is possibly unique, but is certainly notable. The town of Greymouth is built on the banks of the Grey Riverwhich exits to the sea through a very narrow gap between two impressive uplifts,the Cobden Range to the north and the Omoto Range to the south, behind the town. The Southern Alps are around 50kms to the east and when the katabatic wind flows down from the south and east the alpine effect delivers fog and low cloud and very cold temperatures down the Grey Valley- and the effect is dramatic to say the least- impressive dense cloud rolls over the rangesand also funnels at pace through the gap.The cloud that funnels through the gap at ground level lowers the temperatures in the ‘CBD’ to little more than freezing before it continues merrily on to the harbour!The wonderful thing about the Barber is that the effect of it upon the rest of the township, that further away to the south is minimal, although it does offer some spectacular views!Brrrr!

Oh! And why ‘The Barber’? Opinions vary but the consensus seems to be that it is to do with the ability of the wind to cut through you like a knife, and we all know what barbers used to do, don’t we?

GREY BY NAME ONLY

A lot of New Zealanders have a perception of ‘Coasters’ that can only be said to be ‘wide of the mark’. One of our past Prime Minister is reported as uncharitably calling them a bunch of ‘feral in-breeds’. If you come from anywhere other than ‘The Coast’ you will doubtless have an opinion of the people who live there (and I am quite certain a decent chunk of these opinions are made without actually ever having met someone from The Coast, let alone having ever actually been there!)

By the way, it is one of my abiding loves that ‘Coasters’ have a term for anybody who doesn’t come from ‘The Coast’. Irrespective of whether you come from Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington, Auckland, Sydney, Moscow, Beijing or The Moon- if you have your origins anywhere that is ‘over the hill’, meaning the other side of the Southern Alps, ie. not that narrow strip of land that is known as ‘The Coast’, you are from AWAY. That is all.

…and another wee note about ‘The Coast’. That term only applies to this ‘The Coast’ when it is used by Coasters whether home or away or if you are actually on this ‘The Coast’ even though anybody living between Wairoa and East Cape refers to their territory as ‘The Coast’. Don’t be confused between the two!

…and the term ‘Coaster’ applies only to any person born on the West Coast. There is a fondly held belief that if you have come from ‘Away’ and live on The Coast for many, many MANY years you will be a Coaster. Nup! Won’t happen. The generous locals will make you feel like one of their own, they will include you in all things, they will never exclude by giving you a label to identify you as different in mixed company, BUT you won’t ever be a ‘Coaster’.

But to the purpose of this post. A few years ago a topic was (briefly) re-visited by our local Council in response to a few locals having a bit of a grizzle about the name of our town. GREYMOUTH! “Oh no! Grey! People from Away think it rains all the time here anyway and we have a town with boring colour grey in it!! We’re not achromatic or boring!! Re-name our town!!” Of course it’s not to the colour grey that the name refers but to Governor Grey, New Zealand’s first Governor but that did generate a WEE bit of discussion and I’m sure some crazy names were suggested.

However despite what general perceptions are of The Coast or the people who live on it, this article appeared in the papers the other day. Read it and believe it. The people on The Coast are among the most generous, the most honest, and the most welcoming I have met. When my wife and I decided to move here some nine years ago it was just one of a number of places I would have been happy spending my retirement in but was ‘somewhere new’. I had seen most of the South Island including The Coast but had never lived in Te Waipounamu (the South Island) and my wife had spent a couple of weekends down South- a family visit to Christchurch as a child and a wedding in Blenheim in the seventies. We decided that following our kids may not be all that clever as there were no guarantees they would be wherever for ever and it wasn’t all that far from The Coast to visit Wellington where they currently were anyway, so here we are.

The Coast has many issues that many might imagine would impact of the state of mind of people who call it home. Isolation, of course is something that has made Coasters what they are- resilient, hard-working, gregarious, helpful, generous and thus isn’t seen as being a negative but it DOES mean that much that Kiwis in other provincial centers take for granted such as retail and service options aren’t as good as they might be. Traditional industries on The Coast are being impacted by conservation imperatives- mining, milling, fishing have all been somewhat strangled and to establish new operations is more and more difficult, so work is harder to find and the economy is challenged. But dairying is alive and well, quality arts and crafts proliferate, tourism is a jewel in the crown given the natural beauty of The Coast is world renowned, and if only the government would make good on their promises about delivering top quality internet to the provinces The Coast could become a mecca for IT based innovation and development given that it is such a wonderful place to live.

So any reason for Coasters not to be happy? Not really. I know I am.

See also https://kutarere.wordpress.com/the-coast/
and https://kutarere.wordpress.com/shit-hot-places-in-new-zealand-aotearoa/

2 RESCUES IN 1 DAY

It was a very eventful Sunday that led to two rescues.

The track wasn’t a track in a number of places, sometimes crossing rock-falls, sometimes defaulting to ‘rock-hopping’ on the river bank, sometimes disappearing into the river and sometimes requiring scrambling over side-streams that tumbled through huge boulders and over flat stones. It was at two of these side-streams that the rescues were called for.

At one, as I made my way across the side-streamI almost stepped on this handsome fellow who was partly submerged in the clear water tumbling down to the Styx. Even though I had recently seen that dragonflies had a very short life expectancy after a particular activity I still felt this guy needed should have a chance so I eased him out and placed him on an exposed rock to recover. Job done.

Some way further on and another side-stream to negotiate, this happened and the rest is history!

But on the same day our national emergency air rescue services were called on for another winch recovery in the Wairoa Gorge (near Nelson) which involved a seriously injured tramper who had lost his footing and fallen a total of 10m to a rocky stream-bed. In this case, as with as ours the rescue helicopter crew carried out their job efficiently and another (I’m sure) grateful tramper was delivered quickly to base hospital services that could well have been life-saving.

New Zealand’s Rescue Helicopters have been seen for many years in New Zealand’s skies and people will have wondered, at least for a moment as they fly overhead,  “I wonder where they’re off to [this time]?” and possibly mused on a range of scenarios before getting on with their own lives and barely giving a second thought to the drama signaled by the passing chopper. There are, of course hundreds of people who know exactly where they were ‘off to’ and are thankful that the service was available to come to their assistance.

The joke that the policeman had with Monica on her arrival at the Greymouth Hospital on Sunday does touch on a very important issue, of course. How are these services funded? Because of the growth in ‘user pays’ as a philosophy in New Zealand many people would be of the view that if you use it you should pay for it. That’s probably fine until it actually involves one personally then this seems a terrible idea. It’s an idea that loses its flavour if anyone in your immediate family or circle of friends requires their help, too. I would imagine many take the view that it is a service that should be funded by the government but as many would probably feel this isn’t an appropriate use of their tax dollar because they don’t go tramping, or skiing, or similar out-of-doors activities that involve risk and comprise a decent chunk of the most public call-outs the rescue helicopters make. What does this leave? Donations and public fund-raising. Good idea but who’s going to man the raffle tables, who’s going to carry the buckets up and down our towns’ and cities’ streets- the aircrews? police who co-ordinate SAR operations? family members of and those who have been saved? All possibilities but truthfully these amounts would be peanuts and would hardly fund the uniforms let alone the hi-tech hardware and software that our ‘air-angels’ use (and this stuff is both VERY impressive and VERY costly.)

Fortunately the government DOES stump up with funding, but only in part. The other part is comprised of sponsorship and public funding (donations). The list of business sponsorships is long and doubtless with various tiers of funding and the roll-call of public donors is, I’m sure extensive but there is always a need for more. I know I’m going to stump up and add this service to the (short) list of charities I donate to- I hope that you might, too.

Again huge thanks to Diane, Stu and Angus. Job done.

GREYMOUTH- An Historical Directory

Not my work but a fascinating result from what was pretty much a labour of love by one of our hard working librarians.

It is fascinating to find out bits and pieces about your town or your district, and I cam across this document while trying to interest my students into getting a community project down at the library that would have them becoming involved with scanning and publishing information from a large collection of documents that the library holds in original form- newspapers, official print documents, personal recollections and so on. Sadly the task didn’t turn them on but luckily I got hold of this directory and decided to publish it here so a wider audience can learn about the history of my little town.

I hope you find it of interest, and I hope to add to it over time with a few photos of some of the streets mentioned, and maybe some biographical links to broaden what has been given.

Honest Sign!

It’s always refreshing to see honest advertising, isn’t it? This sign is at a petrol service station in Ikamatua, a tiny rural village about 50kms up the Grey River valley from Greymouth. Rather than showing the price per litre of petrol or diesel, it indicates it costs an “Arm and a Leg”. Love it!

(Greymouth is one of just three substantial towns on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. See “The Coast” or “Favourite Places In Aotearoa, New Zealand.” elsewhere in this blog.)