MARCH

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• Furious Queenstown cabbie Chris Coppola claims long-time Arrowtown retailer Ewan Jones abused 11 Malaysian shoppers he was ferrying around. The party was “stunned” and “incredibly upset” after Jones allegedly told them his policy was to let in only four “Chinese” at once because he’d been ripped off by Chinese tour groups. Coppola complains to Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres who comments: “That it could happen in Arrowtown, which is a tourist destination, beggars belief.” The complaint is resolved by mediation.

• Southland District Health Board plans to turn Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital into an “integrated family healthcare centre”. In what appears to be an about-face, it admits some Wakatipu health services like outpatient clinics, aged care and district nursing are below par. But there’s no mention of increasing bed numbers. The Wakatipu Health Trust calls a public forum to discuss the proposals.

• Environment Court judge Jon Jackson slams Queenstown Lakes District Council for time-wasting and calls it obstinate and unhelpful. Jackson orders QLDC to pay developer Remarkables Park costs of $53,000, concluding an 11-year stoush over “financial contributions”. Asked who he blames, Remarkables Park’s Alastair Porter singles out recently departed QLDC boss Duncan Field and mayor Clive Geddes.

• One of Auckland’s biggest society weddings takes place in Arrowtown. Socialite Aja Rock, daughter of hotshot music producer Bob Rock, marries property developer David Southcombe at the tiny Anglican Church before heading to the reception at Amisfield Winery.

• Arrowtown’s The Lynch Mob stage the Southern Hemisphere’s highest gig. They blast Pink Floyd’s landmark album, The Dark Side of the Moon, a mile above sea level on Cecil Peak. About 115 fans, who pay $495 per ticket, are choppered up from Jack’s Point.

• A 79-year-old Belgian woman claims she was tested for AIDS and syphilis as Immigration New Zealand tries blocking an extension to her 19th summer visit to Queenstown. Luce Wilsens says her treatment “spoilt my holiday”. Immigration NZ later apologises for subjecting her to almost $2000 of medical tests and offers to refund her.

• The two-year waiting list at Arrowtown Community Preschool is expected to be slashed when a new Cotter Avenue early learning centre opens in May. The Ministry of Education initially refused a $700,000 grant but a determined group of local mums and dads helped ensure the money was approved in the next funding round.