A visit to a romantic ghost town gives one impression: a Google search quite a different picture. A few weeks back, the Nelson camera club organised a field trip to Reefton. Someone suggested we look at Waiuta, a historic mining town near Ikamatua. Wikipedia describes Waiuta as “one of New Zealand’s most popular ghost towns and a great tourist attraction” and the entry continues in rather romantic and nostalgic terms.
Waiuta grew up around a gold mine, starting in 1905 and continuing for almost 50 years. At its peak there were 600 people living there, but here’s the scene today:
Even when we think we know someone, we usually glimpse only a small part of their life. I was at a funeral this morning when that was brought home to me yet again. Danny Boulton, of French Pass, died on 23 June. He had survived for more than a decade after being operated on for prostate cancer.
This post was prompted by the news yesterday morning of yet another death in the forest industry, the ninth for this year and the second this week! New Zealand’s safety record in this sector is abysmal by international standards. But what was it like in the “good old days”? I found myself thinking of a very memorable day spent in the Kinleith Forest 35 years ago.
The New Zealand Institute of Forestry had announced a photographic competition. I felt that a candid shot of the people that work in the forest might make a change from the many beautiful landscapes that would be entered. So I arranged to take a day’s leave and tag along with a logging gang.
In the last couple of days there has been news of a number of people admitted to hospital in Tauranga with shellfish poisoning. There have been warnings out for some time now, advising people to avoid shellfish from the area after tests showed PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning) toxins were present. It might be coming from a microalgae called Alexandrium catanella.
On the radio the other day I heard a specialist in employment law talking about recent cases involving verbal abuse in the workplace. In one extreme example, someone had been awarded $19,000 because their boss had been repeatedly swearing at them.
My mind went back 40 years, to the paper mills at Kinleith and Kawerau where the environment was a bit different. Two incidents stick in my mind.
The first happened when I was working on one of the newsprint machines at Kawerau. We’d been having trouble with an online instrument that measured the weight and moisture content of the newsprint. During a major 8 hour maintenance shutdown, the instrument technicians had been trying to isolate the problem. They eventually came to me suggesting that a lead-in role was out of alignment. If they adjusted it, they thought this would eliminate the skewed profiles we’d been experiencing. The trouble was, a newsprint sheet travelling at 50 km/hour was not particularly strong and so was quite sensitive to the alignment of those rolls. “Will it be okay?” I asked Eric, the superintendent in charge of that machine. “We’ll see” was his response.