May 2011: Triumph and tragedy

By John Cousins


The month of May was a mixed bag of triumph and tragedy as America killed off the man behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Bay continued its battle against Psa.

Global kiwifruit marketer Zespri International is prepared to spend millions of dollars to conquer the bacterial disease Psa, which has crippled the gold vines and threatens the more resilient green varieties.

The airborne bacterium has infected hundreds of orchards in the Bay and was spreading around the country to other major growing areas.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager announced a research and development programme that aims to control or even eradicate the disease.

Mr Jager was in no doubt about the job facing researchers and scientists from around the world. "It is an enormous challenge. Like the common cold, no one has found a cure for it."

A task arguably even tougher than defeating Psa was achieved by America's intelligence services when they tracked down Osama bin Laden.

Elite Navy Seals moved with ruthless efficiency on a walled compound in the Pakistan town of Abbottabad, where the head of the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda had been living for years.

His death was trumpeted in Western countries which had watched in horror as al-Qaeda operatives nearly 10 years earlier slammed commercial jet liners into New York's World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Bin Laden's bullet riddled body was given a rapid sea burial to avoid his grave becoming a rallying point for militants.

Parents who share their beds with babies have been likened to practising a type of child abuse by Rotorua Coroner Wallace Bain. The comment was made in his findings into the deaths of four Bay babies, who he said all died because of unsafe sleeping practices.

"Although loving their babies dearly and thinking they are doing the very best by them, they are in fact unwittingly killing them."

Two of the babies were from Tauranga and died after being placed between their parents.

Changing times caught up with nudists who have spent 40 years enjoying a stretch of beach between Sunrise Ave and Pacific View Rd.

Papamoa policeman Mark Pakes said Papamoa was no longer a sleepy hollow and the beach was "slap bang" in the middle of suburbia.

The threatened clampdown followed a jogger telling police he saw two men engaged in sexual behaviour in the dunes.

Complaints that the Mount Hot Pools were too cold saw regular users resort to smuggling in thermometers to prove their point.

The issue which had bubbled away for years roared into life with a series of public meetings - one called by pool management and the other by regular pool user Kevin Akroyd.

After a lot of argy bargy, the council spent $1.7 million on an emergency upgrade focused on replacing the underground piping and installing new plant.

Tauranga's popular Blues, Brews & BBQs festival was cancelled for this summer following a "challenging" two years for organisers, in which authorities were accused of scrutinising "almost every aspect of the event".

Round Table president Warren Bigwood said they needed time to regroup after declining festival attendances and the event being criticised by police.

History does repeat itself, particularly when it is along the erosion-prone end of Omokoroa Peninsula. Twenty-five years after spectacular slips took out a row of valuable properties, Bramley Drive was again hit after heavy rain on May 11. The rain triggered the collapse of a property further along from the original slips, sending about 1ha sliding into the estuary, threatening a home that sat a few metres from a yawning cliff. It forced the family renting the house to seek somewhere else to live.

Dozens of Bay motorists risk fines of $1000 after cashing in on a registration loophole in which they saved up to $351 by registering their vehicles as ambulances. The scam was uncovered when authorities compared the 15 genuine ambulances with the Western Bay of Plenty's 103 registered ambulances.

Health Minister Tony Ryall cut the ribbon to open Tauranga Hospital's new intensive care, coronary care and medical day-stay unit. The completion of the building was the final stage in the hospital's $157 million redevelopment.

A patient of the intensive care unit who sadly did not live was 79-year-old Bethlehem resident Ron Lambert, who was hit by a car as he walked against the lights across the pedestrian crossing at the Bethlehem Shopping Centre. He succumbed to his injuries six days after the May 3 accident.

A fortnight later, another elderly Tauranga man, 77-year-old Ronald Hartwell, died after a collision between his car and a truck and trailer unit on State Highway 36 near Pyes Pa.

Courageous Te Puke cop Senior Sergeant Deirdre Lack was back on the job less than five months after a head-on crash that left her with 15 broken bones and fighting for her life.

More good news for the police came a few days later when detectives busted a major Western Bay crime ring, arresting 25 people and seizing a large quantity of drugs, cash and guns, including a semi-automatic military style assault rifle.

A public outcry succeeded in lifting the threat of a 3ha park in Brookfield being sold off for housing. The Tauranga City Council decided to continue managing the land in Millers Rd, next to Brookfield Primary School.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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