Renwick winger Mesake Bula dives in at the corner to score a try during Saturday’s Awarua Park Rugby 7s tournament. Photo: Peter Jones.

Sevens action proves popular

Although visiting teams picked up the main titles at the inaugural Awarua Park 7s tournament on Saturday, the event was hailed as a “fantastic day of sevens action”.

Laurie McGlone, a member of the Moutere Rugby Club’s organising committee, said they “were really happy with how it went”.

“The number of teams that supported the event was fantastic … we have had plenty of positive comments about how it was run and we plan to make it an annual fixture.

“The standard of footy across all divisions was excellent and it was great to see some players stand out who would otherwise not have been given the opportunity.”

Eighteen teams were involved – six in division one, eight in division two and four in the women’s grade, with Laurie suggesting there is room for more in 2021.

The men’s division one title was won by the slick combination from Marist, who were unbeaten in pool play, beat local side Renwick 29-10 in the semifinal, then downed Kahurangi 24-19 in a thrilling final. Kahurangi beat home team Moutere 33-0 in the other semi.

The other Marlborough-based side involved, Waitohi, downed Wanderers 39-7 in pool play but narrowly missed a place in the semis.

The women’s title was taken out by Waimea, who also won three-from-three in round robin play. They accounted for Riwaka 34-19 in the final.

In men’s division two, Stoke ran away with the title, downing Marist 33-0 in the decider. In the semis Marist beat Valley Stags 27-26 while Stoke downed local team Old Boys 21-7. Two other local sides, Awatere and Moutere, competed in this division but were unable to pick up a win.

Harrison Somerville, left, and Jordan Gasson in their prized red coats. Photo: Sarah Brown.

Rowers bow out in style

A couple of contrasting awards ceremonies provided appropriate stages to salute the careers of two of Marlborough’s hardest-working rowers last week.

On Sunday, Harrison Somerville and Jordan Gasson, premier champions at the 2020 NZ champs, were presented with much-coveted red coats during the Wairau Rowing Club’s prizegiving at the Royal Hotel.

The following day they stepped onto the Convention Centre stage at the Marlborough Sports Awards, wearing their prized red coats, and came away with the Team of the Year award.

The duo earned their Sports Awards nomination during the national rowing champs at Lake Karapiro. Harrison (26) and Jordan (22) joined forces with American brothers Sebastian (23) and Rhys Krappe (19) to create their own slice of rowing history.

The talented quartet claimed the New Zealand men’s premier quadruple sculls title with a superb row in the decider. It has been 17 years since the Wairau Rowing Club last won a premier title and 32 years since they last won the men’s quad.

Harrison, who had missed a place in the NZ summer squad and RPC intake this season, said his 2020 rowing plans were up in the air until a chance meeting with the Krappe brothers.

“I ran into the American boys for a beer, got yarning and decided, ‘you know what, maybe a club season wouldn’t be a bad idea – just to finish it off’.

“And it definitely worked out better than expected.”

Although there were no RPC crews in the premier final at nationals this year, the Wairau crew were up against some highly-talented opposition.

“Karl Manson was in the Waikato boat, along with three other former NZ or RPC rowers, and they had been dominant through the club season in the North Island, so they weren’t a crew to sneeze at.”

Harrison and Jordan are products of the highly-successful Marlborough Boys’ College and Blenheim Rowing Club development system. Both showed huge potential at Maadi Cup level, then went on to gain national recognition.

Harrison, a lightweight sculler, represented New Zealand at under-21, under-23 and University level, before graduating to elite selection in 2019.

Jordan, also a lightweight, wore the silver fern at under-21 level.

Now both young men have decided to call time on their rowing careers, recognising that it would be an appropriate moment to move on from a sport that they have put so much into over many seasons, and which has given them plenty in return.

“You can’t see into the future, but for now I’m content [to step away from competitive rowing],” said Harrison. “I’ve had a decent run and it’s time to start looking down other avenues. I’m excited to see what comes next.”

Jordan, who is studying law in Hamilton, has a similar mindset.

“I was seeing this as my last season of rowing and [a shot at a national title] certainly wasn’t on the radar to begin with, but we saw a chance open up and we just went for it.

“It’s really great to end my career on such a high note.”

Although he has pulled down the curtain on his rowing career for now, Jordan could not rule out a return somewhere down the line.

“Rowing is one of those things that you can come back to at any time, assuming your fitness hasn’t dropped off to much, so [getting back in the boat] is always an option,” he added.

5Tapped owner Haydn Mearns is the inaugural winner of a national cider brewing competition. Photo: Matt Brown.

‘Cider the road’ takes top spot

A Marlborough publican and hobbyist cider maker has taken the top award in the inaugural NZ Cider Festival amateur competition.

Owner of 5Tapped Haydn Mearns walked away with the 2020 Amateur Cider Maker trophy – ‘Cider the Road’, beating eight other competitors from the cider capital, Nelson.

“The judges reckon the top three were close but judging by their reactions they were pretty impressed,” Haydn says.

“When you think of Nelson, and all the fruit over there, I thought there would be some tough competition.

Haydn, with his partner and brewing sidekick Nikky, made the mad dash to the Nelson cider festival earlier this month after completing a half marathon in the Marlborough Sounds.

“Nikky had run a half marathon, the Lochmara half, that morning,” he says.

“We water-taxi’d back to Picton then rushed over to Nelson.

“The festival was cool; they had a big range of cider, top notch food stalls and entertainment.”

His winning cider, which he made about 50 litres of, is made using foraged and donated fruit.

“It’s gone from surplus fruit on my property to foraging fruit from all over Marlborough.”

He says fruit is still abundant in Marlborough, and he just uses what’s available.

“There are no rules as far as I’m concerned.

“It’s a creative way of using surplus fruit.”

The wild-fermented apple-based cider took about four months of “tweaking” before Haydn was happy with the result.

“I don’t even know what type of apples I’m using,” he laughs.

“I just chuck anything in there – it is what it is.

“Often, I’m tweaking and adjusting as I go – adding sugar or back-sweetening.

“It had a few faults that I was able to fix.

“Because we’re getting good results, and now this award, I’m considering doing 100 or 200 litres a year.”

He says there are hundred of breweries making amazing beers, but New Zealand brewers aren’t putting the same effort into cider.

“If you look at cider in the supermarket, there’s only half a dozen brands and a whole aisle of beer.

Haydn says he was “quietly confident” about doing well at the festival.

“I had no idea how I would do – although I had a feeling we had a pretty good brew this year.

“I was quietly confident.

“I’m very much still learning.”

Dolphins batsman Rikki Bovey walks off as the WTTU fielders celebrate another wicket a t Horton Park on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Tough start for local TPL sides

Marlborough’s two Tasman Premier League cricket sides made inauspicious starts to the new season on Saturday.

Both the Falcons and Dolphins bowled first against Nelson rivals ACOB and WTTU respectively, with contrasting success.

While the Dolphins were excellent in the field, restricting their rivals to 146, the Falcons allowed ACOB to amass 274 and were never in the hunt as both local sides struggled to make inroads with the bat.

Ultimately, the Falcons were beaten by a hefty 221 runs, while the Dolphins lost by 20 runs.

ACOB’s total was built around a superb 99 from opener Thomas Zohrab, along with 75 from No 9 batsman Felix Murray.

Tarin Mason, with 4-56 from his 10 overs while Bailey Andrews-Kennedy, helped by three late wickets also claimed four scalps, including that of Zohrab, one short of his century.

The home side’s reply was underwhelming, being bowled out for just 53 in the 21st over.

On Horton one, the Dolphins performed admirably in the field to restrict a handy WTTU line-up to 146, bowling them out in the 47th over.

When Will Smith removed both openers and Akhil Pant claimed the key wicket of Mason Thelin, the visitors were struggling at 35-3 and never really recovered their momentum.

Sam Baxendine, batting six, steadied the ship with a patient 48 from 84 balls and No 10 Billy Powick hung around for 24 from 44 deliveries, their 44-run partnership for the 10th wicket the best of the innings.

Dolphins bowled accurately, conceding just eight wides, and kept the pressure on their rivals. Three bowlers picked up three wickets each, Joel Pannell and Tom Sutherland bagging 3-18 while Smith claimed 3-23, all proving difficult to score readily from.

The home side’s run chase began disastrously, five wickets falling for just the addition of 28 runs as openers Baxendine and Josh Newport made big inroads with the new ball.

However, Dolphins began to resurrect matters when Corey Bovey and Tom Leonard got together, the pair adding 55 runs and bringing the home side back into the match before Bovey departed.

After that wickets fell regularly, leaving Leonard fighting a lone rearguard action. He was last man out, in the 38th over, for a splendid 64 from 80 balls with nine fours, a game-high score.

Newport, with 3-29 from 10 overs and Baxendine, 2-16 from eight, led the WTTU attack well, with help from Jon Routhan, 2-30.

Whānau at Waikawa Marae are helping find solutions to stop violence. Photo: Keelan Walker.

Breakthrough pledge to stop violence

A community have pledged to stand united in a bid to stop violence from wrecking local lives.

Whānau at Waikawa Marae have banded together to make a stance against destructive behaviour.

Supporters gathered at the Marae on Sunday to sign a special Charter of Commitment, signalling the start of a new era.

The charter reinforces that Waikawa Marae is a safe and secure environment.

Chair of Tū Pono Te Mana Kaha o te Whānau Shane Graham says the idea is to develop long term solutions and a zero tolerance to violence.

“We acknowledge the work that needs to be done to prevent whānau harm and the strength that comes from a collaborative effort.

“The goal is for whānau to take ownership and responsibility for their actions and to develop solutions to address whānau harm”.

Making sure people feel safe in body, spirit and mind is the key message of the new charter.

It will take determination, courage and strength to see it through, says Shane.

“Our service model is based on the Mangopare which represents strength, leadership, agility, tenacity, unrelenting determination, courage, and wealth.”

Speaking on behalf of Waikawa Marae, Chair Rita Powick says they came up with their own solutions by working with the South Island Whānau Ora Agency.

“Through strong leadership and whānau input our plans are now coming to fruition,” she says.

Shane says there is no one answer to the problem and breaking the cycle of violence must come from action across marae, iwi, hapū and homes.

All people who belong to or visit Waikawa Marae come knowing it is a Tū Pono (Stand True) space.

“Through Tū Pono, whānau are being empowered to help promote a zero tolerance to whānau harm which is a more powerful message when we’re in it together than through agencies”, says Shane.

“We believe we are all responsible for ‘Standing Strong Together’ to build each other up and provide paths that can be transformational for whānau who truly want to break the cycle of violence and harm.

“We can’t stand by and watch.”

Brothers Finn, left, and Billy Sloan slice through a block. Photo: Peter Jones.

Chips fly as axemen show their chops

The Blenheim Axemen’s Club are an adaptable bunch.

With the Marlborough A and P Show cancelled, they decided to relocate their annual wood cutting event from A and P Park to the Hocquard property in Riverlands.

On Saturday, competitors came from far afield to take part in a series of events, all contested in a relaxed, rural atmosphere.

The day’s premier event was the Geoff Hocquard Memorial Standing Championship contested by the top four back markers on the highest handicaps. The event was won by Joe Cox from Timaru, from Andrew Cox, also from Timaru, with Ray Biggs of Nelson third and Christchurch’s John Aitken fourth.

Championship races have all the competitors starting on a count of three seconds.  The Open and Restricted races see all the competitors starting on their marks from the woodchopping handicap system.

The four Open woodchopping events, consisting of small and large Underhand and Standing Chops, had two heats with placegetters meeting in the final.

The 300mm underhand was won by Kyle Hedley, with Chris Heath second, Steve Foster third and Marlborough chopper Finn Sloan fourth.

Hedley and Foster tied for first in the 325mm underhand, with Ross Birchfield third and Sloan fourth.

Foster won the 275mm standing from Hedley, with Picton’s Tim Abel third and Peter McEwen fourth.

Abel claimed the 3000mm standing title, Dave McEwen finishing second, Hedley third and Andrew Cox fourth.

Nelson chopper Hedley, with 15.5 points, claimed the overall points trophy from Steve Foster (Greymouth) on 12.5 pts.

The single and double sawing events had reduced numbers this year, especially with local sawyers Geoffrey Hocquard and Willie Abel unavailable to compete.

The single saw was won by John Aitken, with Andrew Cox second, local sawyer Robbie Brownlee third his grandson Finn Sloan fourth.

The double saw title was claimed by Andrew and Joe Cox, from Brownlee and John Aitken, then Finn and Billy Sloan, followed by Charlie Morgan and Martin Mason.

The three restricted underhand chops were contested by the newcomers, juniors and ladies also competing under the handicap system.

The No 1 restricted was won by Justin Carter, from Ashleigh Radford, Alex Gregg and Toby Godsiff.

The No 2 restricted was taken out by Louie Gregg, with Emma Riddell second, Justin Carter third and Alex Gregg fourth.

Carter claimed the No 3 restricted title, from Louie Gregg, Alex Gregg and Ashleigh Radford respectively.

Carter scored the most points in the restricted chops, with Louie Gregg second.

Local competitors were Tim Abel, Robbie Brownlee and his grandsons Finn Sloan, Billy Sloan, Alex Gregg and Louie Gregg.

Everyone competing at the Blenheim Axemen’s Club event also had a second day of competition with the Nelson Axemen’s Club meeting at the Wakefield Hotel on Sunday.

Tennis leaders win another close encounter

Renwick CPR continue to show the way in the Wine Brokers NZ premier tennis competition, notching up another narrow win on Wednesday.

The leaders managed a countback victory over Rapaura Wairau River Noir while Rapaura Wairau River Blanc also claimed a win on countback, beating Marlborough Forrest Wines.

Renwick CPR lead after four rounds, sitting on 42 points, with Rapaura Blanc second on 38 and Marlborough tied with Rapaura Noir on 19.

Despite their relative positions on the standings, the Renwick v Noir tie turned into a battle royal. The doubles were shared, Hamish McRae and Jared Bell giving Rapaura an early boost by recovering from a first set reversal to win the top double, 0-6, 6-2, 10-4 over brothers Oscar and Joseph Sandford-Jury.

The Renwick duo of Daniel Riordan and Mieko Kimura levelled the scores with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Blair Harvey and Ella Sowman.

The singles were also shared, both Sandford-Jury teens winning their matches, then Bell and Sowman replying for Rapaura.  On countback Renwick won seven sets to Rapaura’s six.

The other match was also extremely tight.

Hamish Morrow and Stephen Dempster best Ant Walkenhorst and Glen Cameron 7-6, 7-6 in the top double to allow Marlborough a strong start, but Hugh Robinson and Donna Clark’s 6-1, 6-1 win over Jay Geris and Amber Lyons levelled the tie.

The key match in the singles was between Geris and Robinson. Although the former prevailed, the fact it went to three sets worked in Rapaura’s favour when the tie was decided on countback.

Morrow also won his single, beating Walkenhorst 6-4, 6-2, while Cameron and Clark replied with for Rapaura, leaving the tie locked up 3-3, Rapaura getting home 7-6 on set countback.

In division two, the Marlborough Nga Hau Wha team continued on their winning way, beating Marlborough Next Gen 5-1, while Rapaura Wairau River Rose downed Renwick Rallycats by the same score.

After four rounds Nga Hau Wha sit on top of the table with 46 points, from Next Gen (31), Rapaura (27) and Renwick (17).

Eden Kavanagh is looking forward to a brighter future. Photo: Sarah Brown.

Singer hits high note

A Marlborough singer who won a legion of fans across the world with a TV audition is set to end the year on a high note.

Blenheim girl Eden Kavanagh,26, wowed audiences with her blind audition on smash-hit British show The Voice but judges were less impressed.

Now the songstress is performing full time and has been booked as part of the New Year’s Eve line up at Picton’s popular New Year’s Eve party.

She will also be one of the supporting acts performing at the Summer Sounds Music festival with Bic Runga at the Queen Charlotte Tavern in Linkwater.

Being able to perform again is a big relief, says Eden, who gave up singing for a while after appearing on the hit talent quest.

“I was heartbroken. I’d put my heart and soul into it. I just wanted my mum and to come home and here felt like home,” she explains.

“I didn’t even want to sing for a while afterwards. I couldn’t.”

Born in Rangiora, Eden has divided her time between Ireland and New Zealand.

Back in Blenheim for 18 months, her confidence has returned and requests for bookings have been keeping her busy.

She has been lucky enough to pursue her singing dream full time after giving up her day job in the hospitality industry last month, she says.

“I’m rapt to be home and delighted to be doing New Year’s Eve in Picton. I remember being on the foreshore one year in the crowds; the vibe was great, and I knew I wanted to be the one singing one day.

The self-confessed ‘super perfectionist’ reveals that after lockdown people started looking to enjoy themselves.

“People are looking to have some fun now. I knew that after level one people were going to want to go out, have a good time and be entertained,” she says.

For the Whiteria graduate who has a BA in Performing Arts, it is the realisation of a lot of hard work.

Without the support of her family and friends she knows it would have been much harder.

“They have been amazing,” she says.

“I was a little hustler from a young age and when I was a kid, I used to create whole performances and, without telling my parents, gave tickets to the neighbours and charged 50 pence at the door.

“I don’t get nervous performing, it’s kind of like I have an alter ego and can literally walk out in front of 100,000 people no problem.

“It’s crazy as I’m so comfortable. I find it calming and think that comes from being well-rehearsed.”

For bookings contact [email protected] or @edenkavanaghmusic on social.

Ben Burridge celebrates taking out first prize in Marlborough Weekly’s popular Shop & Win competition. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Shopping local pays off

It was a lucky day for Blenheim man Ben Burridge when his wife decided she needed new plants –it won him $5000 cash.

Marlborough Weekly’s popular Shop & Win competition received thousands of entries from people keen to support local businesses.

And it was Ben’s visit to Marlborough’s Mitre 10 mega store that scooped him the top cash prize.

The delighted Wither Hills vineyard manager says he had looked after the couple’s son, Luca, 4, while wife Amelia went to look at the store’s huge outdoor plant centre.

“Luca loves the helicopter in the play area. I stayed with him. We had a coffee after that and then filled in the shop & Win form, never really thinking we’d win.”

After getting an email from Marlborough Weekly asking him to call. Ben says he didn’t dare hope he had won anything.

“Amelia mentioned that maybe it was the Shop & Win and we joked about it, not really thinking we had.”

Thirty-three businesses from across Marlborough signed-up to take part in this year’s draw.

Receiving the good news on Friday, Ben revealed it had been a great day all round for him and some of his colleagues at the vineyard.

“I’m not sure what we’ll spend it on yet, I’m sure there’ll be a bit of a debate about that.”

Second place winner Gail Woolacott from Linkwater won $750 after shopping at Fabric Creations in Blenheim.

A regular customer at the store, she says she will use the money when she goes on holiday.

“I’m going on a holiday soon so it will go towards that. I’d forgotten all about it; it was a lovely surprise.”

Motor Kanix co-owner Monique McKechie scooped the third prize of $250 after Senior Community Constable Russ Smith pulled her name out of the pile of entries.

She planned to use the cash, which she won from shopping at Unichem Springlands Pharmacy, at this weekend’s garden fete in Pollard Park.

“It’ll be great to use the money to put towards some Christmas gifts.

“I never win anything, so this is a wonderful surprise.”

Now in it’s third year, the Shop & Win competition has gone from strength to strength.

Marlborough Weekly owner Summa Donald says the response is heartening, especially as people are finding their feet after lockdown.

“Locals supporting locals are what this is all about and it’s more important than ever before to support our community.

“A huge thank you to all the businesses who backed the initiative, we couldn’t have done this without you.”

About 140 people attended Salsa Groove Marlborough’s successful SBK Back to the Roots festival. Photo: Shelani De Jager.

Salsa festival finds its rhythm

A local dance group has been making all the right moves, scooping a national nomination for their contribution to salsa.

Latin dance group Salsa Groove Marlborough has been nominated in the Cultural Manager/Promoter category at this year’s New Zealand Latin Awards 2020.

The announcement comes in the wake of their successful salsa festival, SBK Back to the Roots held in Blenheim last month.

The very first of its kind in New Zealand, the festival showcased the essence of Afro, Latin and Caribbean rhythms and the dance styles that evolved.

Events Coordinator Karen Knofflock says the group are delighted to be nominated.

Salsa Groove are thrilled and honoured to be nominated for our service and contribution to the Latin dance community.

“With the huge success of the festival, we continue to improve and enhance the scene, focusing on current trends and ideas for future events,” she says.

The New Zealand Latin Awards recognise and celebrate Latin Americans and their work here in Aotearoa.

Launched three years ago in Christchurch, nominations are voted by the public and cover five categories: Art and Culture, Sports, Entertainment, Business and Latin Attitude.

Salsa Grove run weekly group classes and social dance nights, as well as hosting dance weekends.

To vote for the team at Salsa Groove Marlborough visit