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Upper Hutt Leader : May 18th 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY SINCE 1939 Letters 10 Real Estate 21-38 Arts 29-31 Motoring 39 Classifieds 40-44 Sport 45-48 UPPER HUTT'S COSTLY CORNER Showing up in crash stats 3 HOTROD HEAVEN New event for racecourse 5 MAIDSTONE PAIN Another game slips away 48 Faith unit is under threat By JIMMY NESS Prison contract up in the air Rimutaka Prison's faith-based unit is under the spotlight and risks being closed down. The Department of Corrections is in con- tractual negotiations with the unit after a recent study revealed it did not help to pre- vent inmates from reoffending. Volunteers from the group aim to spread a Christian message to offenders and work with them after their release. Prison Fellowship New Zealand (PFNZ) national director Robin Gunson says there isalotofworktobedone. He says Prison Fellowship has to satisfy the department and there are a lot of hoops to jump through''. Within the past 18 months, the depart- ment have shifted their focus to include other rehabilitative and reintegration services. It needs to have elements of rehabilitation.'' The group was formed in 2003 and is the only faith-based unit in Australasia. Corrections rehabilitation and reinte- gration services manager Alison Thom says a recent evaluation shows the unit would benefit from changes. We reconfirmed with PFNZ our need to have programmes and interventions in place that can demonstrate a contribution to reducing offending. The contract with PFNZ for the faith- based unit has expired and we are cur- rently trying to renegotiate a new contract.'' Mr Gunson says only a small number of inmates complete their nine-month class because many of the other services clash. That's one of the major things we need to sort out. Most of them happen during the end of the sentence. When we have a man in the unit we need to see how we can best fit all the right sort of programmes without having to move him around.'' Mr Gunson could not comment on whether the unit would permanently shut down and talks are likely to continue for at least three months. We have got to satisfy the department and there are a lot of hoops to jump through. It's going to go on for some time. This is something we have to adjust to fit in with that new approach.'' Make way for Upper Hutt's King Next in line: Upper Hutt's George Seconi who was runner-up. The winner: Steve Fitter, with the popular pink Cadillac at Lower Hutt's Cadillac Diner restaurant, is this year's Elvis Down Under. Photos: ROSEMARY McLENNAN By ROSEMARY McLENNAN A first-time entrant from Cambridge is this year's Elvis Down Under winner. Steve Fitter took the top place from 16 others in the annual event at the Upper Hutt Cossie Club. Music has always interested the engin- eer, who works in Hamilton, but it was not until 2004 that he bought a guitar and tuition book and learnt to play. When friends asked him to help with a Christmas function at his work he ended up singing a few Elvis numbers. His wife, Tracey, heard him singing in the shower and encouraged him to enter a Stars in their Eyes-type competition in Cambridge last year. He won the contest and has been singing as Elvis for about a year. He performed at a concert in the Bombays where he met Upper Hutt's Elvis Down Under organiser Cathy Finau who invited him to take part. On Saturday night he donned black leathers for his first number If I Can Dream to qualify for the finals where, in a white jumpsuit, he sang Kentucky Rain and Polk Salad Annie. If I Can Dream is the Elvis hit he enjoys singing most because it contains a real message and was written for Elvis after Martin Luther King died. Fitter, in his early 50s, enjoys jamming with his middle son, Daniel, who is study- ing music at Auckland University. Ms Finau is hoping Fitter will be able to enter the Wintersun competition next month in Port Macquarie. Second place went to Upper Hutt's Gor- don Seconi with John Lancaster of Tawa third. Seconi has made the finals several times and decided to enter about a week before the event. He qualified for the final with Suspicious Minds and sang You gave me a Mountain and Proud Mary in the final. Australian guest judge Paul Fenech said he and fellow judges Karl Johnstone, Lynne Cowley and Brian Childs saw Fitter as the clear winner. Fitter produced an award-winning per- formance combining vocals, movement and costume and stood out for his ability to get the audience excited with his Elvis act, Fenech said. The Upper Hutt event was a grassroots Elvis competition, attracting a mix of ama- teur and semi-professional impersonators, he said. This is where Elvis tribute artists are born. Some go on to make a living from it. I love coming here, they are a decent bunch of people . . . it's brilliant.'' Another entrant, Auckland's Johnny Angel, competed despite nursing a broken leg. He broke it playing rugby league and had surgery the Sunday before the compe- tition. He had already booked his flight to Wellington and spent his time in hospital learning his lyrics. Clad in a red shirt, black jacket and pants and a sock covering his plaster, he perched on a stool to sing His Latest Flame. While he did not make the final judge Brian Childs said he had good vocals but was disadvantaged by his restricted movement. He plans to enter another Elvis competition, either in Auckland or next year's Upper Hutt event. The Cossie Club's function room was decorated by Kris Gething and her team. Special touches included Elvis-themed table decorations and place mats. The weekend's events attracted about 20 people from Auckland, most members of Elvis Fan Club New Zealand. Events included Thursday dinner and Sunday brunch at Lower Hutt's Cadillac Diner, a concert by Fenech and Childs at the Cossie Club on Friday evening, a meet and greet on Saturday afternoon and Saturday dinner before the show. Locals Cameron Wakefield and Leslie Bowman sang on the Saturday night. Wakefield, who has performed as Elvis at the competition several times, will be old enough to enter next year. Winners of the Elvis colouring competition were: 5-9 years, Tayien Rapira 1, Toby Van Beek 2, Max Martin 3; 10-14, Adriana Randel 1, Emma Brown 2, Francey Hayes 3.
May 11th 2011
May 25th 2011