Kat Pickford

Family bucks digital book trend

Whether she’s in the car, at the dinner table, or in bed, Kate Wilkes almost always has her nose in a book.

The 11 year-old bookworm’s family is one of Marlborough’s most prolific book borrowers.

Over the past six months Kate estimates she has read a whopping 780 books.  Her twin sister Molly has read 120, brother Jack, aged 14, has read 96, and her mother and father Nicola Poswillo and Steve Wilkes have read six each.

Totalling more than 1000 mostly real books in six months, it is safe to say the family of five are bucking a trend towards reading via digital formats.

“I love reading so much, my favourites are anything to do with animals and books starring girls,” Kate says.

“I get lost reading, people will be talking to me, and I won’t even hear them.”

Molly who enjoys “real-life fiction”, non-fiction and recipe books prefers physical books to reading on her iPad.

“A book never goes flat,” she says.

Over the past four years, Marlborough District Libraries manager Glenn Webster has seen a shift away from withdrawals of physical books in favour of the library’s e-resources.

There were 481,912 physical issues In 2014-2015 and 466,037 issues in 2017-2018 showing a decrease of 15,875 issues over four years.

Issues of e-books and audiobooks increased from 7,445 to 18,498, an increase of 11,053, over the same period.

“As our world has become more digitised, we’ve seen a corresponding shift in people moving towards digital reading resources,” Glenn says.

The library’s two apps BorrowBox and Libby have become a popular way for people to browse and borrow e-books and audio books without having to visit the library.

Nicola, an early childhood and primary school teacher, says she started reading to her three children before they were born.

Giving children access to a wide variety of books and and not pushing them to read books they are not interested in is a great way to instill a lifelong love of reading in children, Nicola says.

“As soon as babies learn to crawl, they will pick up a book and leaf through it if they are accessible.

“Discovering the wonder of books and being able to tell a story by looking at the pictures, rather than reading a story is more important than learning to read. They’ll soon pick reading up when they go to school.”


Molly and Kate’s favourite writers:

  • Belinda Murrell (Aus)
  • Anna Branford (Aus)
  • My New Zealand Story series (various authors)
  • Des Hunt (NZ)
  • Jacqueline Wilson (UK)
  • Chrissie Perry (Aus)
  • Michael Morpugo (UK)


Jack’s favourite writers:

  • Chris Bradford (UK)
  • Bear Grylls (UK)

Hike turns to horror as friend paralysed in freak accident.

Experienced tramper and LandSAR member Anthony Oakly walked 20kms and crossed 5 rivers in the dark to call for help. Photo: Anthony Oakly.

A tramper hiked through the night to get help for his paralysed friend after a day’s walking turned into a dramatic rescue bid.

Experienced trampers Anthony Oakly and brother-in-law Ian Hunt were in Marlborough’s rugged and remote back country earlier this year.

Ian fainted during the middle of the night at Severn Hut in the Molesworth, damaging his spinal cord and paralysing himself from the neck down.

But the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Anthony usually carried with him was at home with a dead battery.

“There was no way I could move him myself, luckily I’d done some first aid courses which covered spinal injuries,” Anthony says.

The pair knew their only hope was for Anthony to leave and find help.

“It was a hell of a call to make, to leave my mate there like that, but the hut book showed hardly anyone visited, so there was no point sitting there waiting for someone to turn up,” Anthony says.

“I made him as comfortable as I could … and set off towards some farm sheds, where I hoped to find help.”

Using a map by the light of the moon, Anthony says he had to cross five rapidly flowing rivers before he came across some farm sheds around four hours after setting off.

But, he says, to his horror, they were empty.

“That’s when it really hit me, I had no idea whether Ian was alive or dead at that stage, I had to keep going.”

About 5kms later Anthony made it to the Molesworth Station Road, empty and stretching out for miles in either direction.

As he was trying to decide which way to turn, he saw a cloud of dust kicked up by an approaching 4WD.

“It was a bit of a miracle, no one is usually on the road at that time. I flagged him down and convinced him to drive me to the closest Department of Conservation hut.”

The ranger at the hut contacted Molesworth Station, who called the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter.

At 11am that morning in January, Anthony heard his mate was being choppered to Christchurch Hospital.

“I was so relieved, because I knew then that he’d be ok,” Anthony says.

“Then I threw up. I think I must have had some delayed shock.

“Mountain bikers, trampers, anyone who heads out of mobile phone range, you should take your PLB with you.  You just never know what could happen.”

Ian, who lay in “unbearable pain” for seven hours before the helicopter arrived, said it felt like an eternity.

“ … I was in constant pain, it was never ending,” Ian says.

“I thought it was mid-afternoon when the chopper arrived, but it was only 9.30am.  It was awesome to see them.”

Ian spent time in Christchurch Hospital then Burwood Spinal Unit. He hopes to be back tramping again soon.

“I can’t wait to go tramping, it’s been a big part of my life for the last few years, I’ve still got to have it,” he says.



Marina’s multi-million dollar boost for Marlborough

The Waikawa Marina extension is expected to inject almost $20 million into Marlborough during its 18 month construction phase.

The 252-berth extension of Waikawa Marina was given the go-ahead by the Port Marlborough board last month.

Port Marlborough CEO Rhys Welbourn says the $20 million project would be put out to tender soon, with construction due to start mid-year.

Port Marlborough commissioned an economic impact report of the project as part of the resource consent process for the extension.

“The study found up to $19.5 million could be injected into the local community during the 18 month construction phase, through jobs and demand for services such as hospitality and accommodation,” he says.

“And the ongoing economic impact of the marina expansion is estimated to bring an annual additional expenditure of $2.4m in the Marlborough region, through boat repair and maintenance and hospitality.”

Depending on how much of the marina componentry and civil works were sourced locally, the report estimated that 40 to 90%, or $6.4m and $14.4m, of construction costs for the marina expansion would be spent in Marlborough.

The main industry groups to benefit locally would be quarries, transport providers, trades people, engineering consultants, landscapers, marine service providers, construction material suppliers and accommodation and hospitality providers.

Oddies Marine owner and keen sailor Aaron Blackmore says the marina extension was great for boaties and businesses alike.

“Absolutely it’s great, the extension will make the marina about 25% larger, which means more boats, more people and more work for all businesses involved in the marine industry.

“But it’s not just the marine industry to benefit, all these extra visitors to the region have to eat and sleep somewhere, they’re shopping and having other experiences around town while they are here too.”

Vining Marine owner Ian Michel says the Waikawa marina was a focal point for the boating community and it was renown around the world for being world class.

“There is no shortage of boats that want to be here, we’ve got all the amenities here, it’s a beautiful location, it absolutely makes sense to open it up for more people to enjoy.”

The extra marina space would help make the existing businesses servicing the area more sustainable, he says.

“I take on people in spring and summer but we’re not currently busy enough to keep them all year round.

“With another 250 boats in the marina hopefully I can employ staff all year round – they’re all generally local, so it’s a big boost for the community.”

Baby cuddlers needed

They come in all ages and sizes and have one thing in common – they all need cuddles.

A weekly support group for mothers with postnatal depression and anxiety urgently needs volunteers to help look after the group’s babies and toddlers.

Postpartum Rallying facilitator Tatiana Ceban, a counsellor who specialises in reproductive and perinatal mental health, says this is the first time in four years running the course she has had a shortage of childminders.

The success of the course relies on volunteers to care for the children, giving mothers a chance to get well, Tatiana says.

“It is extremely important to give mums time away from baby, otherwise mum cannot focus and cannot get well.

“Childminders are crucial for this group, because many of the women have no family, friends or trusted babysitter in Marlborough.”

Isolation is one of the main causes of postnatal depression and anxiety, Tatiana says.

In China the mother’s family moves in for 40 days to help cook, clean and take care of them, giving the mother a chance to recover and really bond with her new baby.

“Only in western society do we expect mothers to look after a baby all alone, many woman in the group have no one and this is their first opportunity to meet other mums and share their experience,” Tatiana says.

“Many of the women continue to stay in touch after the course, and have gone on to develop great relationships.”

On the flipside, childminders are often retired women who may be feeling a bit lonely or isolated themselves, Tatiana says.

“We have a big retired population in Marlborough, and as people get older they’re often not as engaged in society and their family may be living elsewhere.

“Intergenerational engagement is so important in society, it is known to prevent isolation and loneliness in adults – who doesn’t smile when they see a baby!”

Baby cuddle experts are needed from 9.30-11.30am every Wednesday.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer childminder, please contact Tatiana via email: [email protected] or phone: 0279019807.

Anyone with postnatal depression or anxiety can register for the free course.

Participants can self-refer or get referrals from their GP, midwife, Plunket, Maataa Waka, Te Piki Oranga or any other public health nurse.

Bee App good for buzz-iness

An end-to-end beekeeping app designed and incubated by Marlborough beekeepers, is set to create a buzz in the global apiculture industry.

BeeApp co-founder Dale DeLuca moved to Marlborough in 2011 to start Putake Honey with his wife Renee DeLuca.

With his background in analytical data and technology consulting, it wasn’t long before the self-taught apiarist started looking for ways to use technology to solve some of the everyday problems beekeepers have.

“After looking up apps for beekeepers, I quickly found there wasn’t anything decent around that was going to help me understand how my hives were performing, or keep track of the health of my bees, or beekeep sustainably,” Dale says.

“As a beekeeper I understand what beekeepers need and having the technology skills I thought why not have a go at developing something that we can take to the world.”

So Dale and his friends Erik Bast and Christian Stresing got straight to work developing BeeApp under their apicultural consultation company Bee Intelligence.

The Putake beekeeping team replaced paper and pencil with the app, and their feedback and insights have been key to further developing and simplifying the platform.

What started as a simple beekeeping app, has grown into a platform with a suite of functions to support virtually everyone in the apiculture industry.

Erik says BeeApp helps with everything from honey queen bee breeding, to beekeeping, sustainable apiculture, honey extraction, honey trading, inventory management and sales.

“It’s simple to use, integrates with smart hive sensors and other software to collect data from various sources and turn it into information with actionable insights,” Erik says. “These help companies manage costs, track assets and optimise their businesses,” Erik says.

BeeApp has already generated a lot of buzz in New Zealand, with a dozen commercial bee and honey companies using the platform.

The real opportunity lies in international markets, and the team will be showcasing BeeApp at industry events, including the world’s largest apiculture trade show in Montreal later this year.

Multi-million-dollar retirement village to be biggest in Blenheim

A new $100 million retirement village and dementia unit is set to be built on the site of a former strawberry farm.

National retirement village operators Summerset have bought the six hectares of land that was once Jones Berry Fruits on Old Renwick Rd in Blenheim.

The new village will include secure one-bedroom apartments for people with dementia and more than 200 independent living homes.

Summerset CEO Julian Cook says the new development would employ more than 300 people during the build and provide 40 permanent jobs once built,” he says.

“A lot of the new Blenheim village will be independent living… but extra support is on hand if they want or need it.”

Homes will be divided into two or three bedroom villas, serviced apartments. Statistics show Blenheim’s population aged 75-years and over would increase by 26 per cent over the next four years.

Marlborough Grey Power president Brain McNamara says the move will help ease pressure on Marlborough’s housing stock.

“Marlborough is one of the top retirement destinations in New Zealand. “Any help solving our housing shortage is clearly welcome”, he says.

Alzheimers Marlborough manager Anne Tolley also welcomed the development. “ … the proposed increase in the number of specialist beds is a positive move for the wellbeing of people living with dementia …”, she says.

A timeframe for development and opening date has not yet been confirmed because the land purchase is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval.

Summerset would not say how much it had paid for the property, citing confidentiality reasons, but according to the Marlborough District Council it had a capital value of $1.885 million.

New retirement village and dementia care unit welcomed

Photo cap: A representation of the communal areas planned in the new Summerset retirement village to be built in Springlands. Photo: Supplied

By Kat Pickford

Retirement village developer Summerset has purchased the former Jones Berry Fruits property in Springlands, with the intentions of building Marlborough’s largest retirement village.

Summerset CEO Julian Cook says the development of the six hectare property in Old Renwick Road would exceed $100 million and employ more than 300 people during the building phase.

Up to 40 further permanent jobs will be created when the village opens, Julian says.

A timeframe for development and opening date has not yet been confirmed because the land purchase is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval.

Summerset would not say how much it had paid for the property, citing confidentiality reasons, but according to the Marlborough District Council it had a capital value of $1.885 million.

Once built, the retirement village will include 200 independent living homes, including two and three-bedroom villas, serviced apartments, rest home and hospital level care, and a memory care centre for people living with dementia.

With Blenheim’s 75+ population expected to increase by 26% over the next four years, Summerset had been looking for a suitable property in Blenheim for a number of years, Julian says.

“We know people will be really interested in the high quality homes and recreational amenities we offer in our retirement villages.

“A lot of the new Blenheim village will be “independent living”, meaning residents have their own house, but extra support is on hand if they want or need it,” he says.

Marlborough Grey Power president Brian McNamara says the new retirement village will help ease pressure on the region’s housing stock.

“Any help in solving our housing shortage is clearly welcome, I’m told there is still a shortage of flats to rent and buy in Marlborough,” says Brian.

“Marlborough is one of the top retirement destinations in New Zealand, and as our proportion of over-65s continues to increase, we will need suitable housing and amenities for them, as well as a workforce to service them, who will also need homes to live in.”

The new village will also include a number of secure, high quality one bedroom apartments for dementia patients.

Alzheimers Marlborough manager Anne Tolley welcomed the news of the specialist dementia care unit.

“Given an expected rise in the number of people being diagnosed with dementia, the proposed increase in the number of specialist beds is a positive move for the wellbeing of people living with dementia in the long term,” Anne says.

“Any resulting increase in the number of specialist respite beds would be welcomed by care partners who want greater flexibility than current respite care options provide.”

Development plans extend beyond the village itself to help improve access for its residents, Julian says.

Aerial view showing proximity of new retirement village to Westwood Business Park.

“Summerset has been in initial discussions with the Marlborough District Council to talk about footpaths in the area.

“We are expecting to install a new pedestrian footpath from the existing footpath at the corner of Murphys Road and Old Renwick Road to the site as part of the village construction.”

With its close proximity to the Westwood Business Park, Summerset would also be talking to its neighbours about the possibility of creating a direct route to the shopping complex from the village, Julian says.

“Nothing is guaranteed, but we would like to facilitate this if possible.”

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett welcomed the news.

“I’d like to thank Summerset, councillors and Council staff who have worked cooperatively together to make this happen,” he said.

The property is zoned as Urban Residential two – greenfields, which allows for residential development.

Once the Overseas Investment Office approves the purchase of the property, Summerset will need to obtain resource and building consent from the council before development can begin.

According to Summerset’s 2018 annual report, the company was the largest builder of retirement villages in New Zealand last year, reporting a profit of $98.6 million, up 21% on 2017.

It has 25 villages completed or in development across the country, housing 5000 residents and 1400 staff.