Guest Writer

Vineyard manager Kirsty Harkness has been using hemp to improve soil quality. Photo: Supplied.

Hemp heroine’s soil surprise

Emily Marten


A former nurse experimenting with hemp to boost vineyard soil quality has uncovered an unlikely bonus – skincare.

Marlborough vineyard manager and former nurse Kirsty Harkness was looking at ways to breathe new life into overworked soil.

Kirsty Harkness, Marlborough vineyard manager and former nurse co-founded cosmetic brand Hark & Zander after first planting hemp three years ago in a bid to revitalise overworked soil.

But what she didn’t expect was that it wouldn’t only be the soil that could reap the benefits of hemp:

It was an exciting discovery, she says.

“It wasn’t until I looked at hemp as not only a way of breathing life back into the soil but also as a potential secondary revenue source that I really got excited.

“Once we were confident the hemp wouldn’t take nutrients or moisture from the vines, we began looking at the potential benefits of hemp for the body as well,” she says.

Together with business partner Gabrielle Zander, an essential oil blending specialist, the duo founded cosmetics brand Hark & Zander.

The pair are combining hemp oil with a mix of their own essential oils.

Produced and made in New Zealand with the help of a team in Wanganui, the skincare range is sourced from local ingredients.

The fast-growing hemp industry could bring in a huge $2bn to New Zealand’s export economy.

But first hemp needs to ditch its negative associations with recreational cannabis, says Kirsty.

“Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species but it is grown for industrial uses and contains negligible amounts of the psychoactive compound THC.

“For New Zealand to take advantage of the billion-dollar export potential of hemp, we are going to need to grow mainstream acceptance of a product which was first used for industrial purposes thousands of years ago,” she says.

Dr Jean Simpson, Carrie Mozena, Leeson Bradley and Margaret Gibbs celebrate Warmer Healthier Homes’ 2000th insulation. Photo: Erin Bradnock.

Milestone for healthy homes

Erin Bradnock

A project dedicated to making the homes of those in the Top of the South warmer and healthier to live in has just celebrated its 2000th insulation.

Warmer Healthier Homes Nelson – Marlborough has been subsidising insulation projects in the region since 2014.

Project chairman Leeson Baldey says it’s an amazing achievement for the programme, which is administered by Absolute Energy.

“It’s 2000 families living in healthy homes.”

The project began in partnership between Rata Foundation, Nelson Tasman Housing Trust, Nelson City Council, and Nelson Marlborough DHB to address unhealthy homes in the region.

Insulating a home typically costs between $2,500 to $5000 in New Zealand.

Over 30 people gathered at the Boathouse last Thursday to celebrate the milestone.

Henry Nepia of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority says they don’t often get to celebrate the wins.

“And there’s been a lot of them over the years.”

Henry acknowledged the work still to be done, saying the authority is still getting up to a 1000 inquiries for insulations a week.

Project founder and former chairman Bill Dahlberg was instrumental in the project’s founding and success.

He says it was aimed at addressing vulnerable communities who frequented health care because of cold and damp homes.

Bill says meeting the families who receive the insulation is the best thing about the work.

“I remember I went back to one family six months later, who couldn’t believe the difference a dry house makes.”

Volunteer Marlborough chair Beth Barnes joined the Board of Trustees three years ago. Photo: Supplied.

Caring for the community

Since 2009 Volunteer Marlborough have been matching volunteers with local organisations that need help. Volunteers are urgently needed to help on numerous Boards of Trustees across the region. Here, chair Beth Barnes explains why taking up a volunteer post can be a win-win.

What does a Board of Trustees do and why are they important?

A Board of Trustees governs an organisation, we set the strategy and the direction, seeing the big picture; then the staff do the work to get us there. An analogy that is often used is that of a boat – the Board steers the boat and the staff row the boat, working together we make a difference.


What kind of people are you looking for to volunteer for these roles?

It is so important to have a diverse representation on a Board, the most important attribute we are looking for is a passion for volunteering in the community and an understanding of why it is important.


Is it a big time commitment?

We have a monthly meeting that takes about 1.5 hours, then there is the reading before that, about another hour, and any discussion that needs to be had between meetings. If we have something that needs doing by a Board member we ask who is able to do it and work around the other commitments we all have.


What would a potential volunteer need to know about being on a BoT?

You don’t need any experience (but it is always a benefit!), you can do some training online and other Board members have experience in governance, you just need to want to be able to help and be able to commit to the organisation and doing the best for it. Don’t be afraid to speak up and give your opinion, there usually isn’t a right or wrong answer, but it is important to be involved in the discussion. If you are interested in joining a Board, approach the organisation as many will be looking for new members and would love to hear from you.


Do the benefits work both ways?

I have found that I get a lot out of being on a Board, there are opportunities to learn and grow, to practice new skills and increase your knowledge as well as being able to bring your knowledge, experience and skills into the organisation, so it is a mutually beneficial relationship.


How long have you been Board Chair for Volunteer Marlborough and what does it mean to you to be part of that team?

I’ve been on the Volunteer Marlborough Board for 3 years and I took over being the Chair a year ago. VM is an important organisation in the not for profit community, providing support, training, and resources to other organisations. Volunteering is important to me and being part of an organisation that promotes that to everyone in our community is very satisfying.


Contact Volunteer Marlborough on 577 9388 or visit for further information.

Dr Nick Baker says there have been just seven cases of influenza. Photo: File.

Flu rates plummet amid Covid response

Flu rates have dropped dramatically as people take extra care to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Improved hygiene practices such as wearing masks and handwashing have helped keep flu at bay.

Increased immunisation levels mean no one has been hospitalised with flu since January across the Top of the South.

Nelson Marlborough Health chief medical officer Dr Nick Baker says there have been far fewer confirmed cases of influenza in 2020 than in 2019.

“People’s willingness to do simple things that protect them from catching and spreading Covid-19 has protected them from the flu, colds and other viruses such as gastro bugs,” he says.

In, 2019 there were 217 cases of hospital-related flu cases in the Top of the South compared to only 7 this year.

Nick says there have also been less instances of flu and flu-like illnesses in the community.

“GP-based influenza-like-illness surveillance and testing methods changed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 response.

“From the more limited amount of testing done, however, there have been no positive influenza results recorded by GPs.”

Immunisation started much earlier this year as part of the Government’s response to protect people from contracting both influenza and Covid-19.

“In the Nelson Marlborough region we also worked hard to increase immunisation uptake – especially for Māori and Pasifika, refugees, people aged 65 and older, people with existing health conditions and children with health conditions and their whānau members,” Nick says.

“We also had successful immunisation equity this year, Māori, Pasifika and refugees participated in higher-than-usual numbers.”

By July 3, more than 60,400 vaccines had been distributed for use in the Nelson Marlborough region.

This compares to 50,108 by the same time in 2019 and 46,699 by the same time in 2018.

Celtic skipper Jerrym Lamb. File photo.

Celtic claim T20 crown

After three seasons of heartbreak, Celtic has reclaimed the Marlborough T20 crown.

There were plenty of nervy moments for skipper Jerrym Lamb as his side scrapped home for a seven-run victory against Renwick on Friday night.

“The last few years we have been in each of those finals haven’t managed to win it, so it was good to get across the line.”

Josh Poole carried the innings for Celtic with a blistering half-century before claiming three crucial wickets.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Celtic compiled a handy total thanks in large part to its opening pair.

“The idea was to get runs on the board and then use that scoreboard pressure.”

Josh plundered seven boundaries and a six in his 43-ball 62 as he and opener Tom Turner put on 82 for the first wicket.

The innings somewhat stalled after Josh was dismissed but Celtic saw out its final overs with Jerrym contributing a brisk 17.

Jerrym says his side was quietly confident as they set about defending 146.

“Throughout the season we have had low scoring games, we felt we should have put few more on the board but knew we had a good crack.”

After early strikes, Renwick captain Prabodha Arthavidu and Akhil Pant came together.

The pair put on 50 and looked to have the match in control before Josh clean bowled Prabodha and one over later claimed Akhil’s wicket.

“It toed and froed a bit, but Josh picked up a couple of crucial wickets that really turned the tables on Renwick.”

After the stunting their run rate, Renwick were left needing 17 off the final six.

With Renwick scoring five off the first three deliveries followed by five byes, they were in with every chance of stealing an unlikely win.

However, Gandharv Sharma held his nerve to concede just one run from his final two balls as Celtic claimed a thrilling victory.

“It was pretty satisfying, we had real belief in the bowling effort and everyone carried out their role in the field.”

Jerrym says it had been a particularly close competition with all sides managing at least one win.

“It was good to see plenty of people on the park playing cricket.”

A Walrus amphibian biplane. Photo: Supplied.

Daredevil’s flight of fancy

Pilot, entrepreneur and risk taker, Jack Gould flew across the Cook Strait in an amphibious plane. Here, Marlborough Weekly reader and amateur historian Nigel Perry recounts some of Jack’s daring adventures.

John (Jack) Mervyn Gould was born near Wakefield in late 1927.

History has it that Jack was constantly getting up to mischief. Jack was obsessed with making money and was always on the look out for the next big thing.

Near the end of the Second World War, Jack changed his birth name from Goul to Gould. He told people he had been a fighter pilot in the Pacific and although he had been in the air force, he was ground based.

Jack was instrumental in setting up the Paraparaumu Flying School, with himself as the first pupil. He purchased a Tiger Moth and proudly painted it orange before embarking on a programme of buying surplus war aircraft, including more than a 100 Airspeed Oxfords, several Tiger Moths and two Walrus amphibian biplanes stored at Woodbourne.

The Oxfords cost him ten pounds ($20) each and he sold them on for 32 pounds and ten shillings ($65) each. Jack then talked air force bosses into restoring two of the Oxfords and painting them in the chosen livery colours of Gould Air Service, orange. He intended to use the two Oxfords for freight work and the Walrus amphibians for port work.

As sales of the Oxfords got underway, Jack became a familiar sight in and around Blenheim in his orange painted Ford Mercury car. He would also often visit in his Tiger Moth, loading it for the return flight with items for resale. He would sometimes arrive at Paraparaumu with less than he’d stashed in the rear cockpit as turbulence cost him some of his cargo.

To get Gould Air Services up and running, he needed to get his Walrus aircrafts to Paraparaumu. Both had stood in the open at Woodbourne since decommission in 1945. On 11 June 1947, Jack flew the unregistered plane across Cook Strait and landed on the beach. According to notes in the press at the time he was allegedly warned by the station commanding officer that the plane was not even to be taxied on the aerodrome, let alone flown.

But undaunted, Jack climbed into the cockpit, opened the throttle and sent the ponderous Walrus roaring across the runway for a good cross wind take-off.

To astonished witnesses, he appeared to have the aircraft fully under control. He landed at Paraparaumu Beach an hour later to be given a 20 pound ($40) and a stern rebuke from air department staff. He was warned not to fly the Walrus planes again until they were air worthy and registered for civilian use.

But later, again ignoring officials, he taxied from the Wairau Bar in July 1947, taking his wife on a seven-hour trip which she later recalled as being as much under the water as above it. The two Walrus aircraft never flew again.

Gould Air Services never amounted to very much. The final straw came when he offered a group of eight men a cheap flight to Christchurch from Wellington. Sitting on bench seats and made to link arms on take off and landing, the men faced an expensive return trip, forcing them to make their own way home after Jack was grounded.

His candle burned brightly but briefly: on 24 December 1947 he gave one of his friends a Christmas Eve surprise and went roaring over the house at low level before he struck a power pole and was killed after his plane burst into flames.

Q&A with councillor Mark Peters

Councillor Mark Peters is seeking a second term standing for the Blenheim Ward- he has a lot he still wants to achieve.

What prompted your decision to stand for council and was it a difficult decision to make?

I have a lot of unfinished work from having served just one term and believe I can make worthwhile contributions in a second term. It wasn’t difficult to decide to do so.

If successful, what matters the most to you in terms of what you would like to achieve for the community?

Really good financial governance is important to me. I cannot abide waste or unnecessary expenditure. I want to see a vibrant CBD in Blenheim, wise use of our precious resources, appropriate care for the environment, really good post-secondary options for our young people and economic growth to help all Marlborough people.

I want our rates to be fairly set with minimal rises and spent wisely for the best possible outcomes.

What areas do you feel council needs to refocus its energies on?

This past term has seen a well settled and committed Council. So, with a number of new faces to be welcomed in the next term it is important to continue an environment where everyone is able to say what they feel, debate issues strongly but accept collective responsibility for democratic conclusions reached.

We need to ensure completion of our programmes of capital works on budget and to make real inroads into mitigating factors in climate change. We must ensure we have great facilities and sustainable resource use to hand over to future generations.

What makes you proud to be a Marlburian?

Not only does Marlborough have outstanding natural beauty, great resources and some world class products, the people here are kind and inclusive. We tend to deal with things pragmatically, even if we have different views and we like to give everyone a fair go.

People have a lot of choice in who they vote for, why should they vote for you?

Because I care about this place and its people. I have many years of practical governance experience and hold a number of financial qualifications. I am totally committed to making Marlborough an even better place to live in and believe I can make a difference.


Rick Ireland. Photo: Supplied.

OPINION: Mayoral candidate Rick Ireland

Rick Ireland is pledging to curb rates if elected.

I’m standing for mayor because rates are increasing every year and are becoming unaffordable for those on fixed incomes, those on lower incomes, and young families just starting out.

Rates are being driven up by massive borrowing which must be paid by the ratepayer. Back in 2005, the Council debt was less than $2 million which wasn’t unreasonable. Now, according to the council, the debt is around $48 million.

In addition, the council has demanded dividends from mainly Port Marlborough, for which Port Marlborough has apparently had to borrow in order to pay. One way to look at this is that the council has been shifting its debt off its own balance sheet and onto other balance sheets.

The council asserts that it’s in good financial health, but then forecasts a total debt peaking in three years at an eye-watering $270 million. This will have to be paid for and the ratepayers will be on the hook. Just the interest, even in these economically benign times, will cost ratepayers about $1 million. Per month.

If the head winds come, and, as most of us know, the head winds will always come, it won’t matter who Marlborough elects to council. The rate increases will go out regardless. There won’t be any choice.

We may buy nice furniture for our homes but we’re all very careful about it because we know it must be paid for. And we’re all unimpressed with those who just stick it on the credit card and then sit at their nice new table wondering how it all went so wrong. The council should be no different.

The debt must not be increased but be reduced. If I’m elected, it will be. As a result, there’ll be no pressure to keep raising the rates. No more elderly people wondering if they should turn the heater off or spending a little less food because their rate demand has increased. No more young families spreading their finances ever thinner because the rates go up far faster than their income increases. No more “credit card spending”.

However, the council does need to spend money in the district. We should do it the old-fashioned way. Attract more people and businesses to Marlborough which will increase revenue, and then wait until we can afford it.

Changes are now in place to revolutionise the delivery of junior rugby across the top of the south. Photo: Shuttersport.

Rugby for all, not just elite young players

The Tasman Rugby Union recently announced there would be no representative teams at under-15 level and below this season. CEO Tony Lewis explains the underlying reasons for the change, and the research on which the decision was based.   

Our decision was made in response to concerns about elitism and high-performance rugby programmes at junior level, the negativity of non-selection, the coaching process and the declining participation from this age group.

It was based on a business case developed by TRU staff and a considerable body of research that suggests children’s sport is increasingly driven by adults’ ambitions.

Playing JAB and age grade rugby has clear social, physical and mental health benefits for children, but evidence illustrates that youth sports in NZ society have become increasingly controlled and regulated by adults, which takes out the fun for many children.

An in-depth study was undertaken with all stakeholders including, most importantly, the young playing group themselves, including those players who were or were not selected, in our representative teams.

We have received mainly positive feedback from our stakeholders, although the real proof will be the delivery of the new programmes. Some responses fell back on the argument that political correctness had gone mad, a common response that tends to close off any meaningful debate.

Tony Lewis. Photo: Supplied.
Tony Lewis. Photo: Supplied.

There were some people who believe that this decision will effectively close off a “career pathway”. Seriously, the only pathways kids should be on until well into their teens are footpaths. The idea that a 12-year-old is on the pathway to a professional sports career is ridiculous and speaks only to parental obsession, not reality.

This year the Mako Development camps, which replace the rep programmes, will start on Sunday, July 28, with all the Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup players involved in the delivery. In what I believe is a NZ rugby first, our camps will be for both male and female.

The TRU based its decision on research over the last three years that shows young people play rugby primarily to have fun and play with their mates; to receive good coaching and good refereeing; to play in a meaningful competition and for the sheer joy and exhilaration it provides.

What will surprise many is the fact that that winning hardly received a mention.

Adolescence is the time most associated with drop out from sport with a commonly-cited reason being that sport stops being “fun”.

In the US, researcher Amanda Visek found that “fun” for children meant up to 81 different things. “Getting compliments from coaches” was No 1, “Playing well during a game” was ranked second and “Winning” came in at No 30.

The TRU have implemented positive changes over the past couple of seasons following feedback from local players of various ages, genders, and experience levels on what they want out of the game – namely, meaningful competition, development (learning new skills) and enjoyment.

Bold changes by the TRU involve removing the structures that encourage a ‘win-at-all-cost’ mentality, while emphasising and expanding on the reasons kids play sport in the first instance.

Some of these changes include:

  • Eliminating big score blow outs (cricket scores) by implementing a win/loss points system, removing point differentials.
  • Encouraging meaningful competition by introducing a bylaw that allows team management to work together to create a competitively balanced, enjoyable game.
  • Introducing an exciting 3-4 week ‘TRU Cup’ to conclude the season, giving all teams the chance to win the grade.
  • Another positive initiative has involved Tasman Rugby rewarding fair play and sportsmanship with prizes.

These changes have had a positive effect on the delivery of teenage rugby in the region and is a step in the right direction to a greater understanding on how coaches, managers, and administrators can deliver rugby.

This was backed up by the following statistics – 60 percent of coaches and managers saw an improvement in sideline and player behaviour from 2017-2018 (Age Grade Survey), 80 percent of referees reported  an improvement in player and sideline behaviour (2018 Referee Report) and there was a 38 percent decrease in yellow and red cards issued due to improved player behaviour (2018 Card Tracker).

A key focus was to inform parents, coaches, teachers and volunteers through the clubs and schools that rugby are putting structures in place to ensure a quality sporting experience for a young person every time they play. Representative teams at early ages have often been associated with over-the-top adult behaviour and selection biases.

It is the belief of the TRU that there is a need for a culture change in rugby if we want to grow our game and make it a game for all in the Top of the South.

We should never forget that junior rugby is the children’s game, not ours.