Issue #7

28 July 2020

Inspiring stories, real news and the hard questions

Well it has been a week in politics, that’s for sure.

Our parliament has been on the front pages for all the wrong reasons. The standard of behaviour of a couple of our politicians – now former politicians – has certainly let the country down.

And at a time when we need to being made aware of, not salacious gossip, but new and revised party policies as we gear up for an important election.

Then there has been the self-righteous stand made by Kiwi Bank against producers of coal, oil and gas and the opposition of the Green party to the local hydro scheme planned for Griffith Creek. If we keep going down this route, the Coast will soon be paying for the very air that it breathes, coal dust and all!

On a positive note though the student army from Canterbury University arrived in Hokitika last week and undertook gardening work on nine sites around the town. A great effort for which we are most appreciative.

And the new Te Nikau, Grey Hospital and Health Centre, has opened and I’ll be posting interviews over the next eleven days at lunch time covering various aspects of this $121 million development for the Coast.

Have a listen here as I outline a little more about this week’s happenings. And as always, let’s celebrate the positives and work hard to overturn the negatives!

This week our Coaster’s Pass takes you to Reefton. You can check out the deal in this edition of Coaster’s Weekly and you can purchase your Coaster’s Pass here.

If you are not already a subscriber to Coaster’s Weekly, you can do so here.

Thanks again for your on-going support. If you have story you think should be told in Coaster’s Weekly, or you know of a couple of characters we really ought to talk to, please let us know.

Bruce Smith

Inspiring stories, real news and the hard questions

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.

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

Elite Mining – working modern-day Stafford

Bruce Smith spent a morning on the Elite mining site at Stafford to have a look at another successful Coast alluvial gold mining operation.

There are currently eight mining operations in the area in 2020.

First up he talks with JD, manager of Elite Mining’s Stafford operations.


Next, Bruce takes a look at one of the mining sites to check out the remedial work that is carried out to restore the site, once mining has been concluded.

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

Take a tour of Elite Mining’s working plants

Here we have a look at two land-based plants in work mode:


Elite Mining are a substantial West Coast employer:


An explanation of the alluvial mining process:

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

And speaking of gold

Reefton is poised for another hard rock gold investment boom.

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals granted Tasman Mining a Mining Permit for the high-grade Blackwater gold deposit near Reefton. This approval grants the right to mine gold and silver from the site for a 20 year period.

Six decades after gold mining ceased in the area, Tasman Mining aims to set up an underground mine at the site of the historic Blackwater mine with a small surface footprint, an access point and infrastructure located on private land several kilometres away from the historic mine site. Tailings from the operation would be stored underground within the mine.

Exploratory drilling has shown the Blackwater deposit goes down at least 650m from the last workings. The rate of 23gms of gold per ton of excavation is world class. It seems good things are on the way for Reefton.

Mark Le Messurier gave this presentation at last year’s mineral forum in Dunedin:

Off the beaten track

Reefton will light up your life

The small town of Reefton is a place for everyone to enjoy – be it for a day or two, a week or a place to call home.

Reefton’s gold rush in the 1860s helped to establish a rich heritage. As well as being the first to have a public supply of electricity, the town was the first to switch on an electric street lighting system in the Southern Hemisphere.

Reefton is the West Coast’s only inland town located among the spectacular Paparoa and Victoria ranges. The town lies alongside the wild Inangahua River and is surrounded by the Victoria Conservation Park, which at 180,000ha, is New Zealand’s largest park.

Many of the heritage buildings have been restored and offer an insight into the past, as well as providing a range of accommodation, places to eat and shop. Teamed with all the charm and character that Reefton has to offer, you will find a range of unique activities and attractions that help to make Reefton an iconic destination.

A look back at the 28th Maori Battalion celebrations in Reefton in 2018:

Reefton will light up your life

Visit Reefton and stay at Dawson’s Hotel

Coaster’s Pass this week, offers you an invitation to come and stay in Reefton, the Coast’s only inland town.

The Coaster’s Pass consists of:

  • Two nights accommodation for two at Dawson’s Hotel.
  • Breakfast and the evening meal for two on both days of your stay.

The cost of this week’s Coasters Pass at Dawson’s Hotel is $390 and this covers both of you.

Purchase your Pass here.

  • The Coasters Pass is only available over a 24 hour period between 5.00pm each Tuesday through to 5.00pm on Wednesday.
  • There are a limited number of passes on offer each week so it is first come, first served.
  • The Coasters Pass can be used at any time within 90 days of purchase. It’s an individual transferable pass.
  • Once the booking dates for accommodation, attractions and restaurants are confirmed they can’t be changed

Making the most of your stay in Reefton

Coaster’s Weekly catches up with Angela Williams from Dawson’s Hotel to give you a sneak preview of your accommodation:


And of course there is no place like Reefton to unleash the four wheel drive adrenalin. The area is a four wheel drive paradise:


It may be too late to catch this year’s Reefton Classic Car Gathering 2020 but have a look here away at the talent on show earlier this month:

The sky-high view of the Coast is magnificent

Have a look with the Greymouth, Hokitika and Westport Aero Clubs.

The Aero Clubs on the Coast got together to show us how easy it is to take to the air, how much a flight costs and how we go about booking a flight.  It’s a lot cheaper and easier than it was in the seventies and the brilliant winter weather offers clear skies and views that will take your breath away. No time like the present to get up, up and away!

The Aero Clubs of Greymouth, Hokitika and Westport have combined to promote light sport aviation and Coaster’s Weekly went out to the Greymouth Airfield to find out what it is all about.

Check out the the promotion the Aero Clubs are offering by viewing our series of four video clips:

The sky-high view of the Coast is magnificent

FEATURE: Aratuna Freighters Ltd

From the Coast to the South Island and beyond

Andrew Havill and his wife Monique, part-owners of Aratuna Freighters, have plenty to celebrate in this 34th year of the company’s operation.

Andrew and Monique Havill hold the reins these days while Durham and Lorraine, who founded the company in 1985 along with son Andrew, remain committed to the company.

Today, Aratuna’s trucks can be seen all over the South Island and even in the North Island.

Employment opportunity: Are you a truck driver mechanic or engineer looking for employment. Contact Aratuna Freighters by phoning 03-7684029 for more details.

Today we talk to Bill Millar, the Bulk cartage manager for Aratuna Freighters:

Coast Characters

Meet Roger Morrison, a Coaster

Roger turned 91 on the 30th of May 2020 so we thought a catch up would be good.

Roger is a coaster who, as he puts it, has done everything he wanted to do throughout his life. Farmer, shopkeeper, hunter, pioneer in the venison industry, father, grandfather and husband. Here he is:

Coast characters

Meet Arthur Dawson, another Coaster!

Arthur was born in Greymouth, lived in Cobden then moved out to Te Kinga where growing up was a delight.

He went to High School in Greymouth and then started work at the pipe works as a sheet metal worker. Arthur got head hunted by Jack Cooper at Cameron’s in 1957 and still works a full day every day there today.

Capturing the heart of the love of his life, Helen, was his best achievement! Together they raised three children – still his number one priority.

He discovered rugby and played for Blaketown then the Coast and moved on to coach both Blaketown and the Coast team. His love of horses led to an enjoyable involvement with the trotting club.

Check out the interview below – there’s a whole lot more to be told and the tales will bring a smile to your face. A very wise man is how best we can describe Arthur. Have a listen to him here:

Many thanks Arthur and Roger – it was a pleasure to chat with you both.

FEATURE: Williams Hotel

It’s snowing in Wanaka!

So grab your snowboard and skis and head south!

A welcome awaits you at the Oakridge Resort in Wanaka (a Williams Group Resort). There you will find a special rate on offer just for Coasters.

And for those Coasters coming home, the Coaster’s special rate applies also to the Ashley Hotel in Greymouth and the Rocks Tourist Resort at Punakaiki. Call them, you will be very surprised at the deal we have negotiated for you.

In the meantime, check out a couple of recent snow reports:

Of words and the arts

Delivering the Thursday poem

Introducing Mark Raffills

We kick off this new series covering arts, culture and entertainment on the Coast by introducing Mark Raffills, a poet. Mark works in online communication, community engagement, graphics and marketing as his day job. But on Thursdays, he sits down and delivers a weekly poem online. These offer insights to the world as he sees it and often strike a chord that hits close to home and resonates with many.

Have a listen to his weekly poem here:

The Thursday Poem9 July 2020Three-and-one-half milesSometimes we find ourselves drowning in the sea of our own misadventure and folly. Sometimes we struggle to do the right thing when it would be easier to throw in the towel. Sometimes we find it hard to believe sufficiently in ourselves to swim against the prevailing tide. Sometimes it is difficult to be a little humble and take the hand-up that is offered us. Dr Jeff Obadiah Simmonds made the video. Anatori made the waves. Words below.Three-and-one-half milesMy struggle is in the white mountains of the long, raging seas,three-and-one-half milesfrom off the shore,half way between the horizonand the distant eternity.The waves pound so cruelly,smash my heart againstthe bones of my ribs and Ibleed internally, oh if all that I know should be buried here,then all that I know will be lost.The sun is too far away, its beams bent and twisted by the wind, it’s light so thin, unfeeling, how could it be the diamond in that crown, when little it comprehends of need and healing.I fear that I shall be ship wreckedon this wayward, western coast, no safe haven offers itself,no yellow line breaks the darknessof the black, suffocating sea; it is lack of breath I fear the most.And he comes, deafened by the windand the lion-roar of the waves,walking on the water, not keeping score;I saw him, asked him what he was doing here, just three-and-one-half milesfrom off the shore.Mark Raffills

Posted by Mark Raffills on Thursday, July 9, 2020

Delivering the Thursday poem

Coast industry

Laurie Forestry

Forestry is an important industry on the West Coast.

Many Coasters have Pinus trees planted as shelter and a long-term investment. Laurie Forestry have operations throughout Canterbury, Otago and Westland and also four states in Australia. They provide consultancy, management and marketing services to forest owners, farmers, sawmills and manufacturers.

As the largest regional operator of privately-owned forests and woodlot harvests in New Zealand, Laurie Forestry draw on a wealth of experience and knowledge. This is applied to all aspects of their clients’ projects as well as to the marketing of logs nationally and internationally.

Included in their role in the industry on the Coast, the company updates Coasters each week on how the local market is going and discusses offshore markets like China.

Have a listen to Bruce Smith talking with Allan Laurie here:

Laurie Forestry

Chat around the Fire

Election Time

What’s on offer for the Coast?

Bruce Smith of Coaster’s Weekly will be talking over the next few weeks with all the political parties involved in September’s election. Each political party will be asked their position on a number of matters that impact the Coast.

The first question to be asked is: What is your parties’ position on Stewardship Land for mining and production and what is the time frame for its evaluation as proposed in 1987?

Shane Jones of NZ First tackles the question here:

Election Time

What’s happening on the Coast

Greymouth Motorcycle Street Race
Sunday 25 October 2020
Click here for all information and registrations.

Agfest 2020
Friday 13 November 2020
Click here for all information and registrations.

Ride the Wilderness
Saturday 14 November 2020
Click here for all information and registrations.

Buller Marathon, Half Marathon and Walk
Saturday 13 February 2021
Click here for all information and registrations.

Hokitika Wild Foods Festival
Saturday 13 March 2021
Click here for all information and tickets


For inclusion on these pages please submit your information here:

What’s happening on the Coast