Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Daffodil Day Vehicle Display organisers Bob O’Malley and Kelly Landon-Lane. Photo: Matt Brown.

Classic cars for cancer

Organisers behind a successful charity car show hope to beat their previous record when it comes to raising vital funds.

Now in its third year, the Daffodil Day Vehicle Display raised nearly $10,000 for the local Cancer Society branch at each of the last two events, and this year organisers hope to raise more.

Last year, the show displayed 248 vintage, classic and new cars and trucks and close to 30 vintage motorcycles.

Organiser Kelly Landon-Lane, whose first job was as a “grease-monkey” at Mayfield Motors, says the support they’ve received for the show has been quite humbling.

“The selling point of the whole thing is all the money stays local,” Kelly says.

“Raised local, stays local.”

Last year, close to 30 vintage motorcycles were displayed at the Brayshaw Park vehicle display. Photo: Matt Brown.
Last year, close to 30 vintage motorcycles were displayed at the Brayshaw Park vehicle display. Photo: Matt Brown.

Organiser Bob O’Malley says the display was coined from a national Vintage Car Club push to fundraise money for the Cancer Society.

Initially, the national branch intended to organise a rally, but the Marlborough branch had a better idea.

“There’s a lot of work for a rally and hardly any return,” Bob says.

Blenheim’s Brayshaw Park, the home of the Vintage Car Club clubrooms, will this year open more of its displays during the show.

“We’re doing it with the whole park,” Bob says.

“Dealers give us a good donation and bring their new cars,” Kelly says.

“New Zealanders have a fascination with cars, I’ve been hooked from a young age.”

Bob says the classic cars take him back to his youth.

“The first car I ever had was a Model A, and I have a couple of them now,” Bob says.

Members of the public can display their vehicle on the day for $5.

A gold coin donation on entry is appreciated.

The vehicle display is from 9am to 4pm on 25 August.

Kelly says the display is a “bloody good day”.

Signs to educate the public are clearly seen at Cape Campbell peninsula. Photo: Matt Brown.

Beach access threatens cape

Vehicles are being blamed for the destruction of a pristine Marlborough beach by residents who want to see tighter controls.

The 2016 Kaikoura earthquake uplifted land around the Cape Campbell peninsula and the beach became a popular destination for four-wheel drive vehicles.

But Cape Campbell Experience manager Thomas Peter says the hike in numbers is putting the area at risk.

He says while people have been driving along the beach for years, since the earthquake it’s gone from “casual usage” to upwards of 50 vehicles on a busy day.

“With the Kaikoura quake, the area has had a real spotlight on it,” Thomas says.

The cape, well known for its lighthouse that guided ships around the dangerous reefs since 1870, is the native habitat for several native species including the banded dotterel.

Vehicles driving along the beach leave deep furrows and prevent the ecosystem from regenerating. Photo: Supplied.
Vehicles driving along the beach leave deep furrows and prevent the ecosystem from regenerating. Photo: Supplied.

“Being a peninsula, it’s a nesting site for quite a few birds and it has a seal colony on it,” Thomas says.

“You can see the tyre tracks going right through the middle of where the seals are.

“I know down the Kaikoura coast if a vehicle is within 20 metres, it must be stationary with seals.”

Thomas says to protect the area; the answer is to look nationally – to other councils around New Zealand.

“They’ve effectively put a lot of bans and controls over timing and allowances of vehicles and speeds,” he says.

“Look to Wellington, they’ve put bans over huge proportions of the beach now.

“Auckland, even 90-mile beach now, I understand you can’t drive on it like you once could.

But Marlborough 4WD Club captain Tony Ashworth says no area should be closed off to Kiwis.

“The locals are trying to get everything banned down there,” Tony says.

He says the beach has always been driveable and claims landowners have only started complaining about access since they haven’t been able to charge.

“We do everything with a tread lightly mindset. You can use the area without destroying things.

“I know there are people that go out on their own, but we don’t condone that.”

The club has organised an annual Cape Campbell 4WD trip for about 27 years, Tony says.

“The older members of the club always talk about it.”

A community group formed to protect and enhance biodiversity of the area wants to work with the community to find a solution.

Marlborough East Coast Protection Group secretary Heather Davies says they are working closely with DOC and MDC to educate the public.

Information signs and temporary fencing to protect particularly sensitive areas are in place.

“People are going further along and disturbing native birds and the formation of dunes,” Heather says.

She wants the region’s residents to share a sense of responsibility.

“That what they are doing, they have an impact. That people understand that these are Marlborough’s unique species.

“Those animals live there,” she says.

A council spokeswoman says the council is aware of the broad nature of ecological, economic, and social values that are central to the community that require a balanced approach to management.

Kea Energy's Naomi and Campbell McMath. Photo: Supplied.

Solar farm project powers-up

A Christchurch company is making the most of Marlborough’s sunny reputation with plans to install a two-megawatt solar farm.

The family-owned power generation company Kea Energy is currently in talks with local energy distributor Marlborough Lines to deliver renewable electricity.

Consents have been granted by Marlborough District Council for the solar farm up the Wairau Valley.

Kea Energy managing director Campbell McMath says the solar farm project is slowly coming together.

“We’ve done the initial application [with Marlborough Lines] and they’ve requested some information about the effects that the solar will have on the system”.

The proposed plan for the two megawatt solar farm. Photo: Supplied.
The proposed plan for the two megawatt solar farm. Photo: Supplied.

An engineering company is analysing the effects on the power network with a report due within the fortnight, Campbell says.

“We’re trying for two megawatts but it’s all negotiated with Marlborough Lines.”

“If the power lines can’t handle that, we’ll have to reduce it or find clever ways to store it or send it out at non-peak generation time.”

Campbell says two mega-watts is enough energy to power up to 500 homes.

“During the peak times, it would be powering the Wairau Valley.

“Wairau Valley would be fed from solar,” he says.

Kea Energy own and operate hydro and solar plants in Christchurch, generating around 2.2GWH of electricity every year – close to 30 per cent of Christchurch’s locally generated energy.

Wairau Valley would be fed from solar if the proposed solar generation plant goes ahead. Photo: Supplied.
Wairau Valley would be fed from solar if the proposed plant goes ahead. Photo: Supplied.

“If it was a dirty energy, we wouldn’t be doing it,” Campbell says.

“It’s economical and green which attracts us to it.”

He says Kea Energy take control of all aspects of the production of the powerplant, which allows them to build the solar farm for cheaper.

“We do all the importing of the panels, the importing of all the equipment, we do all the installation ourselves and we do all the engineering ourselves,” Campbell says.

“Once this goes ahead, we’re going to do some analysis and if that’s all promising we’re going to start looking at a much larger one.

“We’re still determining the area, whether it would be in Tasman or Marlborough or up in the Hawkes Bay area.”

Lee Griggs after pogoing up Mount Fyffe in Kaikoura. Photo: Supplied.

Adventures abound for mental health advocate

Staying silent about mental health is one of New Zealand’s biggest problems, says 31-year-old father of three, Lee Griggs.

But rocking the pram holding his sleeping son, Lee defys that trope; choosing instead to speak candidly about how mental illness impacted his life, and how he is fighting back.

Originally from Suffolk in the south east of England, Lee says how has struggled with mental illness his entire life.

Highs and lows, anxiety and depression have ebbed and flowed throughout his life at different times, he says.

“I was a very shy child,” Lee says.

“That sort of progressed into not being able to make friends.”

Lee with wife Ally and his three sons, Harry, Isaac and George. Photo: Supplied.
Lee with wife Ally and his three sons, Harry, Isaac and George. Photo: Supplied.

Now a vineyard machinery operator in the Awatere Valley, Lee says he has always felt uncomfortable and awkward in social situations.

“I isolated myself, away from people and social interactions, all the way through high school,” he says.

Only in the last few years at his UK high school did Lee manage to build a group of friends, and then, his family moved to New Zealand.

Aged 19, in a new country with no friends Lee once again found himself isolated.

“When I left high-school, I had quite good mental health and a hold on that social anxiety. I had confidence in myself,” he says.

“Coming here, you leave all that support network, all those friends you’ve built up, all your family and just the familiarity of day to day life.

“You start again at square one and it set if back off, basically.”

But Lee discovered hope and while by no means does he consider himself ‘cured’, he is proud of how far he has come.

Lee's Guinness World Record for the greatest vertical distance ascended on a pogo stick in 24 hours - 1,602 metres. Photo: Supplied.
Lee’s Guinness World Record for the greatest vertical distance ascended on a pogo stick in 24 hours – 1,602 metres. Photo: Supplied.

As he talks about how defeated the illness, his passion is clear in his voice.

“I always think the most important thing with mental health is getting people opening up and talking about they’re everyday feelings.

“Stopping people at the top of the cliff rather than being the ambulance at the bottom.

“We’re a developed country, we’ve got a lot of intelligent people but for some reason we’ve got the highest suicide rate in the OECD.

“It’s sort of that toughen up, give yourself a concrete pill mentality.

“Whereas it actually needs to be a reverse of that,” Lee says.

Lee says getting people to talk about their everyday problems, as they happen, rather than bottling them up is key.

“If people are more willing to open up when they’re having a bad day, and us as humans were a little bit more skilled in how to help people in their lives, if we could do that as a nation, the culture in New Zealand could be a lot different.

He says his social anxiety, the fear of being around people and knowing what to say and how to interact, caused him to isolate himself.

“If you’re not around people, you’re not scared of it…But then you’re alone.

“And it’s a pretty lonely world, and that brings on depression.

“Luckily, I did have my family.

“They were my support network and I ended up coming out the other side of it.”

Lee says a decision to travel was the turning point in his illness.

“It was pure escapism really.

“As soon as I lifted that and said bugger it, I’m going travel, the whole thing lifted off me.”

But Lee never went travelling.

While saving for his trip, Lee met his wife, Ally and stayed in Marlborough.

“I just wanted to run away from it all, be on the road where I could have fleeting conversations with people.

“I think that was what initially lifted the focus on the social anxiety which enabled me to go out and focus on moving,” he says.

Lee says he never took medication or attended counselling for his mental illness.

“That makes me think it probably wasn’t that bad… but it felt bad enough,” he says.

“That gave me the empathy to go, if I felt that bad, how do other people feel that have gone further, getting medication or even worse, taking their own life?”

Then, in 2016, the 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake rocked the rural town of Seddon.

“It made me realise it wasn’t just me,” Lee says.

“I saw quite a lot of people, especially the children, have anxiety issues as well.

“There’s a lot of people out there that suffer, and it needed to be spoken about.

Lee decided then he wanted to do something to raise awareness for mental health issues.

With a background in competitive road cycling and a passion for running, he knew he had the ability to do a physical challenge to raise funds and awareness.

Lee's family are his biggest supporters. Here they are pictured at the top of Mount Fyffe, in Kaikoura, after Lee's pogo ascent in March. Photo: Supplied.
Lee’s family are his biggest supporters. Here they are pictured at the top of Mount Fyffe, in Kaikoura, after Lee’s pogo ascent in March. Photo: Supplied.

But with a newborn baby, Lee didn’t have time to run the length of New Zealand or cycle to the moon, he knew he would have to do something completely off the wall to get attention for his chosen cause.

“I was driving tractors up and down the rows bored out of my mind and I was looking up the valley and I thought the Molesworth would be a really neat place to ride a bike through,” Lee says.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, but I knew that it wasn’t long enough or out there enough just by riding the bike.”

In a flash of inspiration, a unicycle popped into Lee’s head. “I thought if I can learn to ride it 20 metres up the road, then I should be able to ride it through the Molesworth.”

After 9 months of planning and training, Lee completed the one-wheeled 182km journey through New Zealand’s largest farm.

“That was the first fundraiser and awareness thing that we did.

“It just sparks that conversation.”

While training for the Molesworth trip, Lee learnt about the five ways to wellbeing – exercise, learn, connect, give and take notice.

“Although there wasn’t anything specific that got me through my depression and social anxiety, since I’ve been doing these challenges, I’ve learnt more about myself and how to deal with my mental health than I ever did.”

Earlier this year, Lee bounced his way up Mt Fyffe, in Kaikoura, on a pogo stick.

He completed the 1600 metre ascent in just under 24 hours, earning a Guiness World Record for most uphill distance covered on a pogo stick in a 24-hour period.

“Every challenge that I now take on I have to learn something new,” he says.

And Lee has dedicated the next decade to completing “seemingly impossible” challenges.

“The message with the Mental Adventure Series, the tagline, is a decade of seemingly impossible adventures to promote positive mental wellbeing.

“To do that through physical illustrations of our mental struggles we see in life and how we cope.

“It’s drawing a parallel that when you’re depressed, even the most simple things can seem impossible.

“Getting out of that depression can seem quite impossible, seeing that light at the end of the tunnel.

Lee’s next challenge will be taking things backwards, to the basics of riding a bicycle

The idea, “if you’re going to keep moving forward, you’re going to stay balanced.”

Keep up with Lee’s Mental Adventure series on Facebook and Instagram.

Marlborough Netball development officer Raramai Nicklin has chocolate rewards for positive supporters at Saturday netball. Photo: Matt Brown.

Sweet deal for netball supporters

An effort to cut bad side-line behaviour has seen Marlborough Netball sweeten the deal for supporters.

To encourage positivity on court, chocolate bars will be handed out to well-behaved sports-fans with the hope the sugary treats will encourage others to mimic their good behaviour.

Marlborough Netball development officer Raramai Nicklin says the reward programme is a bid to support umpires and deal with sideline misconduct.

“You tend to only hear the bad stuff, which is unfortunate”.

Signs at the netball court remind parents and supporters to not take the games too seriously. Photo: Matt Brown.
Signs at the netball court remind parents and supporters to not take the games too seriously. Photo: Matt Brown.

She says bad behaviour is rare, but when it happens it is something that affects both players and umpires.

“It might just be an overzealous parent getting carried away supporting, but it can be aggressive or off-putting to the other players.

“It could just be people criticizing the refs, not necessarily meaning to offend or hurt them, but it’s about educating them too.

“It’s an incentive, an idea, I guess,” she says.

Signs reminding parents and supporters of the fun and relaxed nature of the game can already be seen along the court’s chain link fences.

But Raramai says they want to do more to encourage positive behaviour.

A netball supporter showing the right attitude is rewarded with a block of chocolate. Photo: Matt Brown.
A netball supporter showing the right attitude is rewarded with a block of chocolate. Photo: Matt Brown.

“You can go on and be grumpy about it, focus on the negative side of it, but we want to focus on the positive side and get people to encourage each other.

“It’s actually not that common, but you do hear about it every now and then.

“Every time you hear about it, it’s no less disappointing,” she says.

“Sometimes umpires get a bit of stick, sometimes players get a bit of stick.

“Some people don’t know the rules and think they do.

“People need to realise, especially with the umpires, they’re not perfect, they are all human, they are all volunteers, they are all doing it because it’s part of the game.

“Rather than going around and having to police anyone, we thought let’s really push the positive and get around and reward these people.

“Hopefully, it will pull people in line and reward the people that do the positive stuff every week that doesn’t get mentioned,” she says.

“It’s trying to develop that positive culture within the community.”

Hairdresser Courtney Stevenson has big plans to open a free community salon. Photo: Matt Brown.

Hairdresser’s cut price community dream

A hairdresser has set her heart on opening a community salon – offering beauty services at a snip of usual prices.

Kind-hearted Courtney Stevenson from Blenheim wants to help people who may be tight on funds spruce up their image.

The mum of two hopes the move will help boost flagging confidence levels.

And she’s also taking aim at nits, which she says are “rife” in the region.

“I’ve got pretty much everything I need for the salon, but I thought I would launch the Givealittle page and see what help the community could pop into it as well,” Courtney says.

Courtney has already organised space for a beautician, salon and barber, at Crossroads on Blenheim’s Main St.

“It’s based on look good, feel good, putting a pep in someone’s day,” she says.

“It’s a space where people can come and have their hair cut, women can have their eyebrows done.

“It’s a space to come and tidy up and feel good about yourself, really.”

After having an operation on her back, Courtney says she was “umming and ahhing” about returning to her job at a local salon.

A hairdresser for 17 years, she says the community salon isn’t going to be about making money.

“When it first launches, I’m going to offer a few hours in the mornings when my kids are at kindie,” she says.

“My kids are getting to school age and I’ve just noticed so many kids with overgrown hair.

“There’s loads and loads of kiddies whose parents just can’t afford to get them a haircut.”

She says nits are a problem that are getting “worse and worse” in classrooms.

“Salons don’t offer in salon treatment,” she says.

“Just speaking to mums and teachers, it is something the cost comes into.

“It’s so expensive for parents to be spending $30 or $40 every week on these reoccurring nits”.

Courtney estimates it will cost around $5000 to get her salon “set up and looking good”.

Trained as a barber and says she plans on doing men’s shaves too.

“The service is free, but also available to anyone.”

Courtney says a donation box will be available for those wanting to put something towards their new do.

“But ultimately, it is a free service,” she says.

“The women’s refuge has a lot of people they can refer, some place where they can feel good, have their nails painted and a bit of a pep really.”

She says a new haircut is a great confidence boost for upcoming job interviews.

“I think it’s really needed,” she says.

To donate, visit

Marlborough Singers, from left, Elaine Harmer, Ros Henry, Marie Dietrich, Bett Munn and, on the piano, Margaret Hastings. Photo: Matt Brown.

Choir’s key to success

Members of one of Marlborough’s oldest choirs hope to find help to pay the people they rely on to keep them in key.

The Marlborough Singers have been entertaining audiences across the region for almost 60 years.

And ahead of their latest concert on 28 July, they are appealing for possible sponsors to step forward and recognise the effort put in by their pianist and conductor.

Singer Margaret Hastings says while most concertgoers are grey-haired, the music they sing transcends age.

Margaret, who has been singing with the choir for close to 40 years, says their popular “lighter variety” concerts appeal to all.

“Like most people who sing, we sing because we love doing it,” she says.

“You always feel better when you’ve been singing.”

Their concert, the Best of Broadway, features music from popular shows such as Broadway, Les Misérables, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein.

But while the singers take centre stage, the group would like to see other members recognised for all their efforts.

“We’ve seen lots of conductors come and go, pianists come and go and singers come and go.

“Of course, everybody just sort of did there thing and volunteered.

“If we want a good quality production, we need a good quality conductor and we need to pay for them.

We’re also on the hunt, looking for sponsors to help us with this.

The conductor and pianist put in a lot of hours of practice and study and time, and they deserve a payment for their effort,” she says.

Margaret says the choir’s love of singing keep them focused.

“Like most people who sing, we sing because we love doing it. If you’re a bit down, there’s nothing like singing to cheer you up,” she says.

The community choir are taught by Blenheim-man Robert Tucker who sings with the New Zealand Opera Company.

He also teaches in Wellington and divides his time between the two regions.

“He’s very particular and we’re having to really come up to the mark for him.

We’re wanting it to the best we can be because it reflects on him,” Margaret says.

The concert will be at the Wesley Centre on Sunday afternoon at 4pm.

Tickets are $15 and available at the door.

Miss Malcolm the falcon has made a full recovery. Photo: Supplied.

A brush with death

A native falcon has been nursed back to health after a near-fatal fight with three magpies.

Marlborough woman Michelle Parkin was sitting inside, reading a book on a rainy day, when she witnessed a vicious magpie attack on a hill above her property.

“Usually, [the falcons] are able to handle that sort of stuff but it was raining, and her feathers had got waterlogged, she was not as agile as she normally would be,” Michelle says.

Michelle says the Kārearea, known to most as the bird on the $20 note, was rolling down the hill “screaming”.

Michelle rushed out to help the juvenile bird.

“We shot up the hill and wrapped her in a polar fleece sweatshirt, very gently,” Michelle says.

“We carefully bundled her up and put her in the vehicle and took her to see Diana at the Marlborough Falcon Trust.”

The Kārearea, named Malcolm by Michelle before they were told that she was a female, spent a week at the trust, “basically in hospital” on antibiotics.

“We called her Malcolm the falcon because it rhymes, but now we know she’s a girl, we call her Miss Malcolm.

Marlborough Falcon Trust falconer and aviculturist Diana Dobson looked after the wounded bird and delivered daily reports on her recovery.

“She’s an amazing lady,” Michelle says.

Michelle says Miss Malcolm didn’t look like she had any outward wounds but thought she had sustained a puncture wound to her chest.

“She wasn’t looking very good for a few days.

“There was a possibility she was going to have to go to the wildlife hospital at Wellington Zoo.”

On Thursday night, the “absolutely beautiful” falcon made a turn for the better.

A week later, Michelle picked her up and took her back to her home in a cat cage.

“She’s now returned to her life in her environment,” Michelle says.

“She’s flying around and looking happy.

Michelle says it’s special that the small falcon is “hanging around”.

“It’s totally her environment, we’re lucky to be sharing it with her.”

She says the native falcon, which is rarer than the kiwi, has quite a profile in the community.

“She makes herself known. We see her around and the community sees her.

“She’s pretty neat,” Michelle says.

The native longtailed bat could be at risk of local extinction due to an unprecedented number of rats this season. Photo: Supplied.

Rat plague threatens bats

A population of native bats are in danger of being wiped out by a plague of rats.

Experts are warning a record number of rats could have a “dire” effect on the population of bats in Pelorus.

Forest & Bird top of the south regional manager Debs Martin says they are tracking the highest number of rats ever recorded.

“It’s pretty gruesome out there,” she says.

Forest & Bird top of the south regional manager Debs Martin. Photo: Supplied.
Forest & Bird top of the south regional manager Debs Martin. Photo: Supplied.

“We could seriously lose our populations of bats at Pelorus through this mast year.

A mast season is where plants produce an abundance of fruit and seeds.

Deb says rats climb the trees the bats live in, corner them in their holes and eat them.

“The bats can’t get out.

During a previous mast year in Fiordland, bat colonies went locally extinct.

“They thought they had it covered, but they lost one of the colonies,” she says.

“It’s a real gnarly problem.”

Tracking this year has already seen the rats top 60 per cent of traps set.

Trapping can only go so far, aerial 1080 is necessary Forest & Bird top of the south regional manager Debs Martin says. Photo: Supplied.
Trapping can only go so far, aerial 1080 is necessary Forest & Bird top of the south regional manager Debs Martin says. Photo: Supplied.

“We’re tracking double what would be local extinctions,” she says.

Previously, the record high was 42 per cent in 2014.

“We had a really mild summer with a lot of really nice weather, and it was really warm.

“That triggered a whole lot of trees flowering and fruiting.

“We had a huge abundance of fruit and seeds, which is really good for our native birds because they breed up and have a really good year.

“But it’s like putting feed out for the rats,” Deb says.

The group uses tracking tunnels to get an indication of how many rats are in the area.

Debs says, in an ideal scenario, rats would be below five per cent.

“At around 30 per cent tracking, you’ll get some localised extinctions of some species.

“I was walking around Pelorus, and even the walking tracks would be covered in berries and fruit.

“That drives up the number of rats and mice.”

“Normally, when you go into winter rats will run out of food and their population numbers start crashing”.

Deb says rats stash the seed in dry hollows and rat nests and feed on it right through winter.

“Rather than starving through weeding and slowing down, they’re breeding up right through winter.

Debs says the only thing they know that will bring rat numbers down enough is aerial 1080

“Our area is not targeted for aerial 1080 so we’re just going to have to do as much as we can to try and suppress the numbers and take as many out as we can.

“Hopefully we can take a bit of the heat off it, enough to get our bats through.

For further information or to volunteer contact Forest & Bird at

Geoff Pybus and daughter, Ever, at the soon to be rebranded Cafe Home. Photo: Matt Brown.

Greek cafe to make itself at home

After 11 years of coffee and food, the owners of Café Home are preparing to call it a day.

Owners Geoff and Nicole Pybus have sold their business, and in it’s place a new owner has planned a Greek café, Eleni.

Nicknamed ‘Miss 100,000 Volts’, incoming owner Helene Marchant is champing at the bit to unleash her vision and unique
Mediterranean flavour on Marlborough.

Incoming owner Helene Marchant. Photo: Matt Brown.
Incoming owner Helene Marchant. Photo: Matt Brown.

Helene, who has lived in Renwick for the last 20 years, says she was sipping coffee at the café late in April when she was struck with inspiration.

“I asked Geoff if he would like to sell, he said to the right person,” she says.

“I said, would I be the right person? He said yes, so we did a deal.”

And Helene has been “firing on all cylinders” getting her ideas and plans for the new eatery out of her head and into reality.

“How beautiful would it be to have a Greek café in the middle of Blenheim,” she says.

Cafe Home owner Geoff Pybus says he isn’t sure what he will do next, but was looking forward to regular nine to five hours so he could spend more time with his children.

The cafe will be rebranded as Eleni. Photo: Matt Brown.
The cafe will be rebranded as Eleni. Photo: Matt Brown.

“[A Greek cafe] is different to what everyone else is doing, it’s going to be cool,” he says.

He hopes that the new restaurant would be open at night.

An accountant by profession, Helene moved to Renwick to work in the wine industry with her husband from Adelaide, South Australia 23 years ago.

Taking over a cafe is a “huge” change of tack, she says the only experience she has running a café is drinking “copious amounts” of coffee and eating fabulous food.

But Helene’s parents, who emigrated from Greece to Adelaide when they were young, had a background in hospitality.

“My aunties, uncles, my grandparents, it must be in the blood there somewhere,” Helene says.

“My mother’s family ran a whole lot of cafes and restaurants and bakeries.

“The food gets drummed into you from an early age, and I’m a great cook,” she says.

Helene says the change of ownership is a new beginning.

“I’m a businesswoman, I’m a resourceful woman and I’d like to think I have what it takes to make Eleni successful,” she says.

“I see an opportunity, and I just go for it.

“One thing I’m not going to do is change the food structure that they have at the moment, and the coffee.

“We have the most amazing coffee.

Helene plans to introduce Greek coffee and meals over time.

“I’m trying to get a liquor license at the moment because the Mediterranean diet is all about food and enjoying it with a glass of wine or beer.”

The cafe will close for renovations on 30 July.

Helene hopes they will open the doors to the new café by 5 August.

Helene says the outgoing owners, Geoff and Nicole leave big shoes to fill.

“And they obviously knew it was time to sell,” she says.

“They’re well respected within the area and I hope I can do as wonderful a job as they have.”