Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Lockdown has made it easier for police officers to spot people breaking the law, says senior community constable Russell Smith. Photo: File

Police thwart cannabis op

Police have uncovered a sophisticated cannabis growing operation following a search of two Marlborough properties.

Officers executed two search warrants last week that netted a significant quantity of cannabis that was being grown in commercial quantities.

A firearm was also seized at one of the homes and investigations are still underway.

Senior community constable Russ Smith says 124 plants were found in a series of indoor grow rooms at a rural property in Queen Charlotte Drive.

“A total of 124 mostly mature cannabis plants were in a series of indoor grow rooms with sophisticated filtration and lighting systems.

“A firearm was also seized.  Police are still investigating but are considering laying charges against two individuals occupying the property,” he says.

Thirty-eight mature cannabis plants and 139 grams of dried plant were seized at another rural property west of Havelock.

Police know that those who grow cannabis commercially do business with organised crime groups, says Russ.

“The sale of their crops contributes to crime by helping to fund criminal activity.

“As a consequence, police will act whenever there is evidence of illicit activity relating to cannabis and any other illegal drug possession, cultivation, dealing, manufacture or use.

“If you are aware of cannabis or any other drug activity, please contact the police so that we can do something about it.”

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111, call the Police non-emergency number 105, or speak to any police officer.

Witherlea School deputy principal Kirsty Stone. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Goodbye Witherlea

After 20 years of teaching, a much-loved Witherlea School staff member is bidding farewell to staff and students.

Deputy principal Kirsty Stone will move on from the Witherlea school, thankful for the relationships she built with children and families over her two decades.

“I will miss my family here very much,” she says.

“But it’s always good to have a change and I’m excited about that too.”

Kirsty vividly remembers the fire that tore through the Wither Hills in 2001, it was her introduction to the region.

Moving to Marlborough to look after her sick father, she fell in love with the school and put down deep roots.

A teacher for 34 years, first in Wellington then the UK, she says she is passionate not only about teaching, but learning too.

“I taught right from the word go,” she says.

“We’re lucky at Witherlea, we have dedicated, passionate people.

“It’s such an amazing school.

While she isn’t leaving the industry, Kirsty says she believes teaching is becoming more challenging.

“There’s a lot of pressure on teachers,” she says.

“You have to really love teaching, otherwise you do something else.”

She says she will miss the strong connections with the kids and the local community at the 400-pupil strong school.

One of her proudest achievements is growing the school’s flourishing Kapa Haka group.

“Kapa Haka went from my class and one other eight years ago, about 40 students, to just under 200 today.

“That would be one of my proud moments.

Kirsty has also been a force for pastoral care in the community.

“We identify children that might be at risk, from grief, trauma or abuse, and put in small systems and mentoring,” she says.

“Wellbeing has become a special focus at our school.

“To the community, I would like to say a special, personal thank you for the privilege, and it is a privilege, of teaching their children.”

Whitney Street School principal Cheryl Wadworth with students, from left, Rylan Nicholson, Alex Wood, Alia-Rose Mackel and Celia Spencer.

Students feel the squeeze

Students at a Blenheim school have been feeling the squeeze as overloaded classrooms struggled to cope with demand.

Staff and pupils at Whitney Street School in Blenheim have faced a three year wait for the Ministry of Education to act.

Now education bosses have pledged funds for two new classrooms in the space-stricken school.

Students will no longer have to use the school’s library as a classroom, says Whitney Street School principal Cheryl Wadworth.

“We’ve had to wait and be innovative with the space we have,” she says.

A new building housing two new classrooms is hoped to be completed by the end of the year.

Zoned at the end of 2016, the Eltham Road school caters for pupils living in central Blenheim up to the new Omaka subdivision in the south.

It’s last ERO report in 2017 noted the school was undergoing “significant roll growth.”

But after zoning the 67-year-old school, the Ministry of Education realised there were not enough classrooms to cope.

Cheryl says she doesn’t expect the 366-pupil school roll to increase much more.

“We anticipate we should not be getting any bigger,” she says.

“We want to maintain current numbers.”

Ministry of Education deputy sector enablement and support Katrina Casey says the ministry will monitor roll trends and may consider an enrolment scheme review.

Using other school spaces as classrooms is only ever meant to be a temporary fix.

“Spaces such as libraries, halls and multi-purpose rooms are sometimes used to temporarily accommodate students during building projects, periods of high roll numbers or to allow for flexible teaching arrangements.

“As communities change, so too do the schooling needs of their children and young people,” Katrina says.

“Our job is to manage school infrastructure by planning for growth and population shifts both in the short–term and much further out as well.

“To do this, we consider population projections, local council information enrolment data and how well schools are utilised.

“We regularly monitor the capacity and projected growth of the school network,” she says.

Two additional classrooms were built at the school in 2017 but rezoning put the space under pressure.

“The ministry looks at the roll numbers and prioritise from there” Cheryl says.

“Now, we’re at capacity.”

“We’ll be extremely happy to have the new learning environments.”

Classic car hope for hospice

The Classic Motoring Society of Marlborough is revved up to celebrate the 2020 Marlborough Hospice Vehicle Display.

And while it may not seem so long ago to some, classic Japanese vehicles from three decades ago will make up the main display.

Organiser Pat Pascoe says some of the once popular models are now being forgotten.

“Mitsubishi Sigmas, Mirages, they’re all disappearing now,” he says.

“There’s a lot of stuff that people forget were around.

“Some people are still driving them and don’t realise how old they are.”

The term ‘classic’ is loosely accepted as a car at least 20 to 30 years old.

Nearly 500 vehicles are usually on display at the popular show held annually at Waterlea Racecourse.

Classic boats, heavy vehicles and cars, from vintage to brand new will appear at the display, now in its sixth year.

“It’s a day out – a picnic day – at Waterlea Racecourse under the trees,” Pat says.

He encourages car-fans to bring a picnic lunch and their cameras.

The half-dozen or so organisers have raised more than $30,000 for Marlborough Hospice.

Pat says the show opens to the public, at Waterlea Racecourse, from 11am to 3pm.

“Display people come at 9.30 – although some always come earlier,” he says.

There is no need for registration, just show up on the day.

It costs $5 to display a car and a gold coin donation for spectators at the gate.

 

——

Pat Pascoe

We’re trying to gather the old Japanese cars together.

Pre 90’s – it’s 30 years ago.

We’ve had Fords, Jags, now it’s something different.

That’s the theme of the day, but we want all types to attend.

Mitsubishi Sigmas, Mirages, they’re all disappearing now.

There’s a lot of stuff that people forget were around.

Some people still use them and don’t realise how old they are.

They’ll be down the front.

Normally around 450 vehicles.

Classic boats as well and heavy trucks.

Marlborough Car Club support us.

It’s a day out – a picnic day – at Waterlea Racecourse under the trees.

Sixth year.

We’ve raised over $30,000.

It’s a half dozen of us that get together and run it.

Marlborough Car Club at Waterlea Racecourse.

Public invited from 11am to 3pm.

Display people come at 9.30 – although some come earlier.

Just turn up on the day.

$5 per car and a gold coin donation for spectators at the gate.

Holden was the theme last year.

IT’s a real shock to a lot of people, especially dealers.

It’s quite sad really.

You can still bring your Holdens.

Havelock artist Tony Matthews. Photo: Matt Brown.

Truck off trophy

A chance meeting with a wine-loving artist has upped the stakes in an inaugural food truck battle.

The Battle of the Whangamoas, will see Nelson and Marlborough battle it out in a food truck feud.

And the trophy, designed and donated by Havelock artist Tony Matthews, is ready and waiting for the first winner.

“We had gone into the Wine Station months ago now.

We were going for a drink; we were just checking it out on one of our regular trips to Blenheim,” Tony says.

“We got talking about the copper bar in there and I told her I sculpted copper.”

Wine Station manager Michelle Osgood says she asked Tony if he would design a trophy for the inter-regional event.

“I wanted a sphere with a food truck in it.

With a few revisions from Tony, mainly so the trophy would be able to sit on a counter, the sculpture was complete.

A wooden base supports a half sphere made from copper, black tinted glass and on top, a model of a food truck.

Around the bottom shields will display the triumphant mobile kitchen’s name.

“We love it, it’s awesome.”

“We can’t wait to see the competitors’ faces,” Michelle says.

Lifelong artist, Tony turned his hand to sculpting with copper after moving to Havelock 11 years ago.

After moving to the mussel capital, he says he wanted to create something special and unique to the town.

He began making sculptures of mussels out of copper.

The food truck trophy was a good fit.

Entry to the February 29 event will cost $10, with funds raised going to the Blenheim Rotary Club.

Running from 12pm and 7pm, it is hoped the event will appeal to both lunch and dinner time crowds, Michelle says.

“It’s really cool. I’m pretty excited, and I’m overwhelmed at how excited other people are,” Michelle says.

The Liu family on holiday in China are in self-imposed quarantine after returning home. Photo: Supplied.

Coronavirus caution for chippy family

A Blenheim family has placed itself in self-imposed quarantine after returning from China amid coronavirus fears.

Main St Fish and Chips owner Andrew Liu says he took his family to Guangzhou to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Even though the family were forced to stay indoors for most of their visit, they have chosen to take extra precautions to protect the public, just in case.

“Most people were worried about it,” Andrew says of their visit where people are on high alert for the potentially fatal virus.

“We were told to stay home; the whole country is worried about it.”

Andrew, his wife Winnie and their three children, will stay in quarantine for the recommended 14 days.

The family arrived back in New Zealand on 31 January.

New Zealand Immigration has placed temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China to help stop the virus from spreading.

The restrictions do not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family.

Andrew’s popular Main Street takeaway shop, which temporarily closed before they left on holiday, will remain shut until the quarantine period ends.

The couple’s three children will not be attending school.

“No one is feeling sick,” Andrew says.

“It’s because we notice that when we came back, we should have self-imposed quarantine for 14 days.”

All travellers arriving in New Zealand out of mainland China, or any travellers who have had exposure to a confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China or were exposed to novel coronavirus.

A Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) incident management team is on stand-by but not yet active. NMH has a pandemic plan and a health emergency plan in place.

People will not be allowed to smoke at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival. Photo: Supplied.

Winefest goes smoke free

The popular summer Wine and Food festival is giving fags the flick.

Land-owners Pernod-Ricard has banned smoking at the long-standing event and are asking smokers to leave their cigarettes at home.

And even vapes have come on the chopping block – with the entire site right to the road flagged as smoke free.

Wine Marlborough event coordinator Loren Coffey praised the initiative, saying New Zealand had been heading in this direction for a while.

“None of their [Pernod Ricard] workers can smoke on their site – so it’s fair to extend it to events,” she says.

In recent years, smoking was confined to a designated area. But this year those areas have been canned. “If anyone’s smoking on site they will be politely told to put it out,” Loren says.

The policy, part of Pernod Ricard’s 2020 sustainability plan, was shared with wineries attending the festival at a briefing last Thursday.

Loren says stallholders were supportive of the initiative.

Suzanne O’Docherty with her pet, Sparky the part-Maine Coon cat. Photo: Supplied.

Cat death prompts warning

The owner of a cat thought to have been viciously mauled by a dog wants other pet owners to be on their guard.

Suzanne O’Docherty, from Blenheim, popped out to the supermarket on Wednesday night, leaving her husband, Brian, watching the news.

But when she returned, 45 minutes later, she came back to the lifeless body of her beloved pet part-Maine Coon, Sparky, in their garden.

She is warning other pet owners to be on their guard

“It looked like he had been shaken and had his neck broken,” Suzanne says.

Suzanne says she thinks a dog that has been chased off their property before is responsible.

Husband Brian had already scared off the dog earlier that evening.

She doesn’t want to reveal the breed of the dog, as she believes the fault lies with the owners.

Now, Suzanne, who works at the SPCA opshop, says she’s afraid to adopt another pet, in case it happens again.

“This is the first time in my life that I haven’t had an animal,” she says.

Suzanne says dog control have been excellent, combing the streets for the offending canine.

After moving from a rental near the railway line, Suzanne says she loved the new quiet Redwoodtown neighbourhood.

“We loved this place, we thought Sparky would be safe.

“He was in his own yard; he hadn’t done anything.

“He wasn’t a wanderer.”

Suzanne says she has seen the dog around the neighbourhood several times.

“The dog is innocent,” she says.

“The fault falls on the owners, not the dog.

“The owners have a lot to answer for.

“There have been a few people in Blenheim who have had their pets attacked by dogs.”

The three-year-old tom cat originally belonged to Suzanne’s granddaughter.

“He was the most affectionate, loving animal we’ve ever had.”

“Sparky was a bit too trusting, but I’m worried it might happen again,” she says.

Ivan Miller has walked more than 4000 kilometres around New Zealand so far. Photo: Supplied.

Steps in the right direction

A year ago, Ivan Miller started walking and 4000 kilometres later shows no signs of stopping.

In a bid to raise awareness about mental health, and to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation, Ivan Miller left his Kerikeri home last February with the goal to traverse New Zealand by foot.

And the mental health advocate returned to Marlborough on Sunday as he completed his circumnavigation of the South Island.
So far, he’s travelled 4063 kilometres.

“It’s a huge adventure,” Ivan says.

“Every day is extraordinary.”

The ups and downs of the winding roads through the countryside reflect the ups and downs Ivan has had through his own life.

His own experience with mental health inspired him to reach out to others.

“Everyone has a story,” Ivan says. “It’s touched everybody.

“I think mental health is something people haven’t talked about enough and it’s made me realise how big the issue is.”

Ivan says he suffered with mental health issues for most of his life, and at 31 while working on a vineyard in Marlborough suffered a mental breakdown.

After a stint at the Mental Health Unit at Nelson Hospital, Ivan credits his recovery to a friend who encouraged him to study the arts at NMIT in Nelson.

In 2018 he was made redundant from the Kerikeri orchard where he works and, with his 50th birthday looking, he opted to take the chance to do “something memorable”.

“It’s definitely been a memorable year,” he says.

With no experience of long-distance walking, Ivan set out from Cape Reinga on 9 February 2019 with just his backpack and a new pair of walking shoes.

“I got a really rude shock on the first day – I was gasping for breath.”

But with no cellphone reception along most of 90-mile beach, Ivan had no choice but to tough it out.

“It only took three or four weeks to build up that fitness,” he says.

“Now when I’m walking, it can be tough, but I don’t think about what my legs are doing anymore.”

Ivan says his hope is to share his highs and lows along the way, walk with others, and basically allow others to follow his personal journey.

He says he will have a few days rest catching up with mates in Marlborough and Wellington before turning his sights on the longest leg yet of his journey – the east coast of the North Island.

“I’m only about two-thirds of the way through,” Ivan says.

He says there’s about 2000 kilometres to go before the finish line, back where he began at Cape Reinga.

“I’ve been helped and supported by a lot of people,” he says.

“It’s been an amazing experience.”

To support Ivan raise money for the Mental Health Foundation, donate at events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/ivanmiller/Ivan–s-Walk and follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pg/Walking-for-Life-1247548552058877

A car was fished out of the Wairau River last week. Photo: Supplied.

Sinking car sparks police call out

A partially submerged car was pulled out of the Wairau River after shocked bystanders alerted police.

The blue Holden Barina was discovered in the water about 4pm on Thursday near Hillocks Road north of Spring Creek.

Police attended the scene and the car was carefully hoisted out.

A police spokeswoman says the incident was not reported as an accident.

“Typically, in instances such as this, the local council would be notified to have the vehicle removed,” she says.