Issue #21 – Special Recap Edition

3 November 2020

Inspiring stories, real news and the hard questions

Hey Coasters, 20 issues under our belt and the response to Coaster’s Weekly, has been so encouraging. Thank you to all our readers for your support and your passion for all things ‘Coast”!

To mark the small milestone of 20 issues, we thought we would bring you a little celebratory edition with a reprint of some past stories and videos.

We have drawn together a selection of articles that illustrate the variety of people and places and events we have covered over the last 20 weeks. A little refresher, you might say.

Hope you enjoy it.

See you next issue.
Bruce Smith



About The Coaster’s Club

The Coaster’s Club is of course the vehicle by which we can all stay connected so I would encourage you to join up.

I know we can’t always agree on all things, but we can agree that we all want the best for the Coast and the people whose lives and history are intrinsically tied to this wonderful place.

Here’s how you can be part of the Coaster’s Club:

  • Follow us on Facebook: The Coaster’s Club
  • Follow us on Twitter: The_Coasters_Club
  • Subscribe to our You Tube channel and see dozens of videos that don’t get published anywhere else.
  • Receive our newsletter, The Coaster’s Weekly, like 33,500 others do and keep connected!

Go to and enter your email address in the panel on the home page. Subscribing to Coaster’s Weekly is as easy as that!

Hope to see you soon,
Bruce Smith

Life on the Coast

A Whitebaiting Story

Is this iconic West Coast pursuit under threat?

Whitebait and the West Coast are nearly synonymous. During the season you can’t drive far on the Coast without coming across road-side stalls, tea rooms, take-away bars and restaurants with a whitebait sandwich or a whitebait patty to sell.

And to partake of the delicacy is almost a rite of passage; a sure sign that you have touched on a true West Coast experience.

Whitebaiting has come under the official spotlight in recent times with talk that the fishery needs to be rested, protected and given a chance to recuperate; the premise being that it is in danger of being irreparably damaged under the current regulations. So the rules and regulations look likely to be changed and these changes will no doubt affect the livelihood of some. The catches on the Coast are legendry and questions as to the sustainability of the catch, are being asked.

Whatever the final outcome of these changes maybe, there will be an impact and we will have to adapt to the new rules.

In the meantime, Coaster’s Weekly brings you some video footage of this iconic West Coast pursuit. It captures the magnitude of this fishing spectacle and lets you see just how important the activity is to the economic and social well-being of the Coast. Our footage is mostly from the 2019 season.

South Westland Mecca

South Westland is the hunting and fishing mecca of the South Island. Other whitebaiters in the far corner of the Coast believe the whitebaiting is as good this year as most other years, despite what politicians say. Check out this fabulous mecca here:

A whitebaiting adventure

Six weeks whitebaiting on the West Coast with mates, sound like the perfect dream. But dreams do come true, as this clip from  2019 reveals:


And five days of wind and rain is not enough to deter keen enthusiasts from getting out with their nets in Haast. The weather is forgotten as soon as the whitebait become more cooperative:


When the call rings up and down the river and along the coast, “They are running, they are running,” you can be sure the pilgrimage to the Coast’s rivers takes on an almost religious fervor. When they run, they run, as this clip shows.

Williams Hotels Group Update

The Williams Family – Coast pioneers

There are people and families whose vision, determination and perseverance helped establish the West Coast and its indomitable character.

And in so doing, they provided a strong foundation on which the Coast has continued to be built by others who have been drawn to this wonderful place.

This week we chat with Mark Williams from the Williams Hotel Group about the history of this pioneering Coast family.

The Williams Family – Coast pioneers

Mining: the life blood of the West Coast’s economy

Birchfield mining – the art of land restoration

When Evan and Jane Birchfield say they will do something, that’s all you need Coasters.

You can be sure that if they say they will clean up after every mining operation, then that’s exactly what they will do.

Their work negates the argument leveled against the mining industry, that it destroys the land that is mined and leaves the environment worse for wear.

But that is not the case, as we found out when we visited the site of a former Birchfield mining operation, at the back of Ross. Mining on the West Coast is crucial to our economy; and equally important is the beauty of our land and environment. The care and attention Birchfield mining gives to ensuring the aftermath of a mining operation leaves the land in pristine condition, is second to none. And they comply strictly with all the permissions and resources consents they have to work to. It is a stringent process the company has to follow.

Have a look at the Ross restoration project in these two videos:


Birchfield Mining Ross Ltd.

We take a tour of the depot at Ross and learn of the on-going, massive investment the Birchfield family has made in Ross:


Birchfield Ross Mining leads the country in Jig technology – capturing fine gold. We take you through the process in these two clips:


Brilliant restoration of land at Clear Creek that was mined in the early 1900s. It was left in a bit of a state before Birchfield Ross Mining sorted it in recent times.

West Coast Fishing – An industry of opportunity

Westfleet – born out of a passion for fishing

In 1979, a group of some 25 hard working, forward thinking fisherman joined efforts and resources, starting the Westfleet Fishermans’ Cooperative Limited, by buying out what was at the time, Nelson Fisheries.

With an aim of securing a say in their own fishing future – faced with the ever expanding growth of large factories around New Zealand – the fisherman got to work, putting their vessels and their livelihoods out to sea on the Westcoast of New Zealand. With ownership of quota, wharf facilities, processing capacity and a distribution chain, Westfleet has supplied demanding markets with West Coast fish for many years.

Managing Director & CEO of Westfleet, Craig Boote, tells the story here:


“Having the best maintained inshore fleet with on board quality control and best practice fish handling, an efficient wharf facility and the new factory just ‘a forklift away,’ Westfleet is leading the way in Australasia when it comes to vertical integration.”

Craig Boote, Managing Director & CEO

Westfleet – born out of a passion for fishing

Aratuna Freighter’s Update

How Aratuna Freighters can help you

This week Coaster’s Weekly talks with Monique Havill, co-owner of Aratuna Freighters, about the services the company provides to local home owners and farmers throughout the Coast.

We learnt that is not just the large, bulk loads they cater for, they also provide small deliveries required by householders and small businesses.

Have a listen to Monique here:


Aratuna Freighters has a comprehensive freight and courier service that covers the whole of the South Island. Here’s what the service and schedule looks like:

General freight overnight to Christchurch – five days a week (Monday to Friday)

General freight to South Westland – four days a week service

Worldwide & Nationwide freight on-forwarding – being the West Coast Branch of Mainfreight we are able to offer this service

Courier Service – ARAMEX Courier Service 5 Days a week.

Bulk Fuel Distribution Service – our BP fuel distribution offers a reliable service of bulk fuel deliveries to farmers, miners and contractors throughout the West Coast including Westport and Karamea areas.

Home heating delivery service – a small truck home heating delivery service for Greymouth and Hokitika Areas.

Refrigerated and frozen freight service – Greymouth to Christchurch & South Westland with a Nationwide on forwarding service available.

Stock Transportation – our service offers reliable, humane cartage of stock to farms or meat works daily

Farming freight requirements – we offer South Island-wide cartage of hay, bulk fertilizer and timber for all farming requirements.

Container swing lifts and hiab services – a West Coast-wide service for all hiab and swing lift container requirements. We can arrange a nationwide forwarding service for containers also.

Wanted now!

Would you like a change ? Come and join the movement to the Coast.

Class five drivers and mechanics are needed to become part of the team at Aratuna Freighters. Call us 0800 756 666

Aratuna Freighters look forward to having the opportunity to quote for all Coast transportation needs. For a quote on freight, fuel or other services they provide, please call their toll-free number 0800 756 666. If you have a rural enquiry, please call the Hokitika team on 03 756 8012.

Mining: the life blood of the West Coast’s economy

Looking back at Stafford – a West Coast mining hamlet

Stafford is a mining hamlet situated on the Waimea Creek, and on the main West Coast road, eight miles from Hokitika.

It was once described as being in the Arahura riding of the county of Westland, and in the Electorate and Provincial District of Westland. The first “rush” to the area took place in 1865, and it is stated that in 1870 the township contained thirty-seven hotels and seventeen stores. It is estimated that at that time the population exceeded 5,000 people, amongst whom were a large proportion of Scandinavians. Stafford, in its palmiest days (which ended about 1875), was a payable field. It has contributed a fair quota of gold over its lifetime but the diggings are now nearly worked out, although a few good sluicing claims still remain; amongst them the “Wheel of Fortune.”

Caption: View of Stafford, Westland, West Coast, across a stream. Photographed circa 1910 by William Archer Price. Stafford Cemetery. 1971. Group portrait of pioneers of Stafford, photographed in 1911 by an unidentified photographer.

Stafford 1901: The nearest railway station is three miles and a-half distant, on the Greymouth-Hokitika line. There are four churches in the settlement; namely, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic, and the clergymen in connection with all come from Kumara, ten miles distant. The Government buildings are represented by the local Magistrate’s Court and Police Station, and the business of the Post Office is conducted at one of the local stores. There are also two hotels, a blacksmith’s smithy, and a bootmaker’s shop. Stafford has a public library, a reading room, an Oddfellows’ Lodge, and a local public school. At the census of 1901 the population numbered 116.

Looking back at Stafford – a West Coast mining hamlet

Breaking News

Stewardship land on the Coast is our single biggest issue

We look back on the issue in this clip by Bruce Smith.

For the Coast the issue is that we believe rates should be paid on stewardship land by DOC.

If DOC paid rates on Stewardship Land, the rates burden on Coast ratepayers would be lessened.

Currently only 16% of Coast land is rated. And opening stewardship land on the Coast to mining and other industrial pursuits will provide access to resources which have the potential to save this country, economically speaking. Stewardship land has been ‘locked up’ for 32 years now. It is time to independently evaluate this situation and determine what portion of stewardship land should be given over to production and what portion should be added to the National Park estate.


Shane Jones offers his support to the stewardship land debate.

Shane Jones helps highlight the issue and brings the debate to the forefront. He offers his, and NZ First’s, views to Coasters in clip.


Prime Minister changing her view on Stewardship land?

It seems the Prime Minister’s position has now changed from her original “no more mining on conservation estate” to suggesting that stewardship land should be classified differently to normal DOC managed land. Click the photo below to link to the article where she speaks to the issue here along with Resources Minister, Megan Woods.

This issue won’t go away and Forest and Bird and other extreme greens are singing the “we want it all again’, song. They need to go. Whatever Government we get after 17 October, the matter of stewardship land will not go away until its reclassified by an independent body.

Coast Property: Making a home on the Coast

You don’t need to be a maths wizard to see the advantages of moving from Auckland to the South Island’s West Coast.

Auckland’s median house price is $850,000 compared to the Coast’s $200,000 — but those sums don’t touch on the other advantages the region has to offer.

No traffic or parking problems, plenty of space (around 23,000sq km with awe-inspiring landscapes and outdoor adventure activities), a record low unemployment rate (3.8 per cent), and a thriving tourism sector. Best of all those features don’t come at the expense of Big City must-haves such as fast broadband, an innovative business community, a thriving cafe culture, and a safe caring environment to live in.

Hokitika, Westport and Greymouth have excellent high schools and Greymouth-based Tai Poutini Polytech offers a wide range of technical study options. “We’re getting a lot of interest from Aucklanders to move to the West Coast,” says Kevin O’Donnell of Harcourts West Coast.  “You can sell a house worth millions in Auckland, and buy a better quality home here for a fraction of that price, with the added bonus of the superior quality lifestyle the Coast offers.

To get an overview of Coast property, Bruce Smith catches up with Rob Maskill and asks how the property market is going in Greymouth, checks out why so many ex Coasters are heading home, how available are rental properties and a whole lot more.

Coast Property: Making a home on the Coast

Coast Characters

Andy Lyes and Sonya Mathews – Coasters

We get the chance to chat with Coasters Andy Lyes (Dave’s brother) and Sonya Mathews about their life and the decision they made to became the owners of Hokitika’s iconic takeaway shop, Porkies Takeaways.

Coast Characters

Bill Henderson – a quiet gentleman

Bill is a young 86-year-old who has had the most amazing life so far. He still lives at Arahura on the West Coast in the family home.

A miner, greenstone hunter, deer hunter and a whitebaiting legend, Bill joined the Navy in his younger days and served in both Korea and Malaysia. Later, he left the Navy and went back mining, got bored and joined the Army.

He married Miriam, the love of his life and ran the Greyhound Hotel. His pounamu and gold chasing days are largely over now and Bill is content with his life in Arahura surrounded by family. But you can still find him on a Friday at the RSA in Hokitika.

Bill Henderson has friendships that go back decades and lots of them; they are the mark of this quiet gentleman:

Delivering the Thursday Poem
, with Mark Raffills

Grace and favour

It’s all ever need to get by. Grace and favour. These twin blessings will take us down the highway and teach us a thing or two about gratitude along the way; they ride above rhyme or reason and open doors and windows as required.

Win a Rimu cheeseboard & knife

Go in the draw to win a rimu cheese board and knife from The Wilderness Gallery in Hokitika.

Just write the name of the article you enjoyed most in this celebratory issue and click on ’Submit’
All those who selected the article with the most votes will go in the draw.
Draw closes Friday 6 November 2020. Winners notified over the weekend via email. Please ensure you enter your email address below.



A chat around the fire

Creating employment on the Coast is not a difficult task. In fact, we have a number of projects in the mining industry that are private funded and ready to go. Not only will they give a much-needed boost to our local economy but they will also be of benefit to the whole country.

With the change in the economic climate and Covid-19, I believe these employment opportunities cannot be overlooked.  Our Country and its regions need income and opportunities for our people.  We have many miners working abroad who are now away from their families. We could have them working back here. But instead, many of them are considering moving permanently with their families overseas. We do not want to export our people!

We want our people to have options, not government funded work schemes that provide no long term solutions. We do not need these. The projects we have ready to go will provide high paying jobs that will contribute to our region and society to make us more resilient.

Our mining industry on the Coast has the best practices for regeneration and renewal of the land. We can mine our minerals ethically with minimal threat to our environment.

Have a listen here to my thoughts on creating employment for the Coast and reviving our people and our economy.

Tania Gibson
Grey District Mayor

Watch and listen here:

A chat around the fire

What’s happening on the Coast?

WAI presents Anthonie Tonnon – Rail Land
Wednesday 11 November, 2020, 7.30pm.
Old Lodge Theatre, $20.
Book tickets at Hokitika’s Regent Theatre or online here

AgFest 2020
Friday 13 and Saturday 14 November, 2020
Follow the link for all information and registrations.

Ride the Wilderness
Saturday 14 November 2020
Follow the link for all information and registrations.

Horse racing
Westport Trots
Saturday 26 and Monday 28 December 2020
Reefton Trots
Wednesday 30 December 2020
Kumara Races
Saturday 9 January 2021
Follow the link for all information.

Buller Marathon, Half Marathon and Walk
Saturday 13 February 2021
Follow the link for all information and registrations.

Hokitika Wild Foods Festival
Saturday 13 March 2021
Follow the link for all information and tickets.

South Island Ute Muster
Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 July 2021
For information on the 2021 South Island Ute Muster email

For inclusion on these pages please email details of your event and website link to:

What’s happening on the Coast?