Matt Brown

Matt Brown

A Covid-19 sign at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Two new cases of Covid-19 in Marlborough

Two new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Marlborough.

A Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman says all cases are travel-related with no evidence of a community outbreak in the region.

The two new cases bring the Nelson Marlborough region’s total to 46, with 12 confirmed and 8 probable in Marlborough.

The number of new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand has decreased for the third day in a row, with 50 new and probable cases announced today, bringing the national total to 1210.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she remains cautiously optimistic that the country is “starting to turn a corner”.

“It’s all the more reason to stay the course of our self-isolation as a nation,” she says.

She says there are no plans to end the lockdown early.

Director General Ashley Bloomfield says four people are currently in intensive care across the country with Covid-19, two in a critical condition.

He says 282 people have recovered from the virus, 41 more people than yesterday.

More than 46,000 Covid-19 tests have been performed in the country to date with 4049 completed yesterday.

Warning people off travelling during Easter, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says police will be checking with motorists that their travel is essential.

ASB Bank in Blenheim. Photo: Matt Squire.

Bank shutdown forces new tech skills

Level 4 lockdown restrictions are forcing some senior citizens to get to grips with technology.

The closure of major banks amid Covid-19 has seen some pensioners struggling to pay bills and carry out every day banking tasks.

Half of Blenheim’s banks have shut their doors until the coronavirus crisis ends with the rest operating at reduced hours.

Marlborough District Council councillor Jenny Andrews says this is a concern for many.

“This will worry them,” Jenny says.

“But entering a bank would be potentially dangerous for a senior person.”

She says where possible, seniors should try and set up services online.

“It may take time but at present we have time,” Jenny says.

“Use a smart phone or tablet and be prepared to keep trying.”

Local technology tutor Wendy Reynolds says the old-fashioned way of writing a cheque isn’t going to work during the lockdown.

“If we have our brain and faculties it’s important we manage our own money,” she says.

Wendy has been offering computer tutoring for eight years and recently was awarded $10,000 by the AM Show and Chorus for her work teaching elderly the ins and outs of technology.

“If they want help, my answer is yes. Help is available.”

But she says the tech-challenged need to want to learn.

“They need to want to do it or else it’s a struggle,” she says.

The biggest challenge she says people face is complicated or unfit devices.

“Some will have to put their hand in their pocket and get a new device.

“Technology skills are something all elderly should have,” Wendy says.

BNZ communications consultant Sam Durbin says while they didn’t open last week, that doesn’t mean they won’t open in Marlborough in the coming weeks.

“In these unprecedented times we have a lot of factors to consider such as staff and resourcing, the busy times for an individual branch, and most important of all is how we can protect our customers and our staff and their wellbeing.”

BNZ opened 48 branches for four hours throughout the country on Thursday last week.

“If customers can, they should avoid going to the branch if possible and use other ways to bank,” he says.

To book training with Wendy, give her a call on 0212230160.

It costs $5 to join an online class or $20 per hour for one on one tutoring.

Bank opening hours:

ANZ – Wednesdays 9am-12pm

BNZ – Closed

ASB – Tuesday 10am-2pm.

SBS – Thursdays 10am-2pm

Rabobank – Closed

The Coop – Closed

Kiwibank – Wednesdays 10am-1pm

Westpac – Wednesdays 10am-1pm

Blenheim at the beginning of lockdown. Photo: Matt Brown.

What’s open in Marlborough?

There is still confusion around just what business classes as an essential service – so we made a list of businesses operating through the lockdown.

By no means extensive, the following list will hopefully prove useful.

If you know of or run a business that is operating through level 4 lockdown restrictions, and want to be added to this list, please email [email protected]


Postal services

Mail will continue to be delivered and couriers are delivering items, but many New Zealand-based online stores are not dispatching items during the lockdown period.



New World (Daily 9am – 8pm)

Pak’n’Save (Daily 8am – 9pm)


  • Town (Daily 9am – 8pm)
  • Redwoodtown (Daily 9am – 8pm)
  • Springlands (Daily 9am – 8pm)

Four Square – Spring Creek (Daily 7.30am – 7pm)

Williams Green Grocers (Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm)


Petrol Stations


  • Grove Road (24hrs)
  • Redwood (Daily 6am-10pm)
  • Springlands (Daily 6am-12am)
  • Picton (24hrs)

NPD (Daily 6am-10pm)

Caltex (24hrs)

Mobil (24hrs)

GAS Picton (6.30am – 10pm)



Wairau Pharmacy – 03-578 6022

Life Pharmacy – 03-578 5228

Community Care Pharmacy (in the Warehouse) – 03-579 1751

Poswillo’s Pharmacy – 03-578 9022

Unichem Springlands Pharmacy – 03-578 2271

Unichem Redwoodtown Pharmacy – 03-578 5748

Marlborough UFS Dispensary – 03-578 6099

Omaka Landing Pharmacy – 03-777 1056

Civic Health Pharmacy – 03-928 4354


Community services

Womens Refuge & Sexual Violence Support Centre Marlborough – 0800 REFUGE or 03-577 9939



Vets on Alabama – 03-578 6965

Springlands Veterinary Centre – 03-578 0661

The Vet Centre Marlborough – 03-577 9822



Redwoodtown Medical Centre – 03-578 0470

Omaka Medical Centre trading as Francis Street Medical – 03-578 5252

Civic Family Health Care – 03-578 0199

George Street Medical Centre – 03-577 8757

Springlands Health – 03-578 0979

Marlborough Urgent Care Centre – 03-520 6377

Wairau Hospital – 03-520 9999


Farming supplies

Farmlands – 03-579 3150

Kiwi Seed Co. – 03-578 0468

OsGro Seed Services – 0272639885 or 03 5778323

PGG Wrightson / Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim – 03-579 3733

Tasman Crop – 03-572 5164



Under a level 4 alert, only trades people undertaking work related to essential business or infrastructure are expected to be working outside of the self-isolation protocol. The exception to this may be where tradespeople are required to undertake emergency work where the need is immediate and required to maintain human health and safety.


Laser Plumbing Blenheim – 03-579 6001

Morgan Plumbing – 03-5782034


Cresswell Electrical – 03-578 7247

Callahan & Martella Electrical Ltd – 03-579 4445

Refrigeration and Heating

Martella Refrigeration & Air Conditioning – 03 578 0030


Community news

Marlborough App



Night ‘n Day (Daily 7am – 9pm)

High Street Dairy (Monday – Saturday 7.30am – 7pm, Sunday 8am – 7pm)

36 Nine Convenience Store (Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday 8am – 7pm, Sunday 9am – 6pm)


IT and Technology

BP Computers – 03-577 9498

Sam’s Computer Clinic – 03-572 9287

GCH UAV (drone operators) – or 021 267 2966


Instant Auto – 03-577 7492



Kiwibank – Wednesday 10am-1pm for urgent banking needs only.

ANZ – Wednesdays 9am-12pm for simple cash transactions only.

SBS Bank – Thursday 10am-2pm.

Westpac – Wednesday 10am-1pm.

ASB – Tuesday 10am-2pm.


Essential retail

Whiteware, heaters, blankets and devices are available for purchase during the lockdown through online or phone orders that can be delivered in a contactless way.

100% Herkt Appliances – 03-578 0700 or

Michael Fitzpatrick Applianceplus – 021333222



Four Square Picton (Daily 7.30am – 7.30pm)

Fresh Choice Picton (Daily 7am – 7.30pm)

Super 7 Picton (Daily 8am – 5pm)

Picton Health Care Pharmacy – 03-573 6420

Picton Medical Centre – 03-520 3222

Picton Veterinary Clinic – 03-573 8299

Z Petrol Station Picton (24hrs)

GAS Picton (6.30am – 10pm)



SuperValue Renwick (Daily 9am – 8pm)

Renwick Medical Centre – 03-572 8838

Renwick Healthcare (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm) – 03-572 8915. Scripts faxed are delivered on the same day if in before 11.15pm.Prescriptions should be faxed to Poswillo’s Pharmacy 03 5789794 or emailed to [email protected]

GAS Renwick (24hrs)



Seddon Supermarket (Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm, Saturday – Sunday 9am – 3pm)

Southfuels Seddon (24hrs)



Four Square Havelock (Daily 9am-5pm)

Havelock Healthcare (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm) – 03-574 1400. Scripts faxed are delivered on the same day if in before 12.30pm. Prescriptions should be faxed to Poswillo’s Pharmacy 03 5789794 or emailed to [email protected]

Havelock Medical Centre – 03-574 2233

Poswillo’s Pharmacy – 03-574 1400

Allied Petroleum (24hrs)

Elemental Distillers co-owner Ben Leggett. File photo.

Gin is the tonic

Usually, gin sanitises from the inside out – but one Marlborough distiller has turned that on its head.

Elemental Distillers have moved 100 per cent of their production from creating Marlborough Roots Dry Gin to sanitiser.

And co-owner Ben Leggett says the sanitiser, made to World Health Organisation guidelines, will be strictly limited to Marlburians.

“The big emphasis – it’s strictly limited to begin with,” he says.

Stocks of sanitiser have sold out across the country.

“We don’t 100% have it ready to sell but we wanted to get ahead of it,” he says.

Ben says he hopes it will be ready by the end of the week.

“We’ll be quite strict and limited on how it works.”

Low stocks of bottles, pumps and ingredients have made making large amounts of the sanitiser difficult.

“The World Health Organisation posted a recipe and we’re going to be making that exact recipe,” Ben says.

“But the ingredients for the recipe are selling out.

“The whole of New Zealand has sold out [of sanitiser] because of the demand.”

Ben says they will be selling the sanitiser as refill packs and encouraged customers to save their old pump containers.

Just over half of every distilling run doesn’t make it to the bottle, but the 80 per cent proof alcohol makes a perfect sanitiser, he says.

“When you distil gin, you separate it to cuts,” he says.

Called the heads, hearts and tails, distillers want the best part – the heart of the run.

“Every distiller decides at which point those pieces are.

“We will make a public announcement when product is available. There is no waiting list so please do not request pre orders.

“The situation is still very fluid and we are working hard to expand production nationally.

Ben says they will post regular updates via social media.

“We’ve got to get through it. Survive,” Ben says.

Elim Church childrens’ pastor Amber Watson and year 10 student Ella Yadav are doing a school fundraiser, but for another school. Photo: Matt Brown.

Sharing the warmth

In a bid to share their Christian values Richmond View School students are raising money to provide comfort and warmth for other children.

Elim Church childrens’ pastor Amber Watson says the high school students at the faith-based college are learning to “think outside themselves” – fundraising to provide warm clothing to those in need.

A movie fundraiser at the weekend, a “bouncy castle lunchtime” and a chocolate drive hoped to raise $2000 to provide another school with desperately-needed warm clothes before winter.

“We would have liked to give every kid a jumper but the costs are quite high,” Amber says.

“It’s biblical. It says in Matthew when you see someone hungry, feed them. If they’re cold, clothe them.”

Year 10 student Ella Yadav says she’s happy to help out wherever needed.

“It’s good to be doing something to bless another school,” she says.

Split into three teams, students were instrumental in organising and running the fundraising activities.

“It’s been very student led,” Amber says.

“It’s thinking outside your own square – need is everywhere.”

Amber says they’re investing in helping others.

“As the school grows, we have to develop as the students develop and give them more responsibility,” she says.

Mike King and Marlborough Boys’ College head boy George Glover. Photo: Matt Brown.

Tractor Trek treat

A 2000km ‘Tractor Trek’ lead by mental health advocate Mike King parked up in Marlborough last week.

The fleet of 16 tractors are making the drive in support of the Gumboot Friday initiative.

Marlborough Boys’ College head boy George Glover, who swam more than 200km late last year fundraising for I AM HOPE, joined the cruise in Christchurch and made the slow tractor journey to Blenheim.

George says the goal of the trek was to raise $5 million for children’s mental health counselling.

“At the moment, kids are only able to access the mental health service when diagnosed rather than accessing it to stay healthy,” George says.

He says seeing how Mike, who he met in person for the first time in Christchurch, and the crew worked and inspired people is “really cool”.

Mike had high praises for the 17-year-old.

“He’s the man. What he did is just insane. He’s the man,” Mike says.

Mike says organising the large crew is like “herding cats”.

“32 people, 16 tractors and five vehicles. It’s like herding cats.”

A dead possum in a tree at Liz Davidson Place. Photo: Matt Brown.

Young mum’s gruesome find

Dead animals hanging in trees in the Blenheim central business district proved a shocking sight for a young mother.

A dead rabbit holding a wine bottle and three dead possums adorned the trees at Liz Davidson Park on Queen St horrified a mother-of-one after visiting a pet shop.

Jesse Smith and her two-year-old son stumbled across the macabre scene on Wednesday.

“It was horrible,” Jesse says.

“It must have been done as a funny joke, but it’s not funny at all.

“Blenheim is a nice place and it’s not a nice thing to see.”

SPCA spokeswoman Sarah Hitchings says there were no complaints or evidence of an offence, but the scene was “unusual”.

“It is unusual and not something we see very often,” Sarah says.

“While the scene is distasteful, there is no evidence of an animal welfare offence.

“These animals were likely roadkill and have been staged to evoke a response from the public.

“However, if someone came forward with evidence these animals being killed inhumanely or in breach of the leghold trap provisions, then we could investigate the manner in which the animals died.”

The dead animals were cleaned up by Marlborough Roads, who manage the park.

Anastasia Brown and Caleb Mischeski finally have the keys to their new home. Photo: Matt Brown.

Fresh start for couple burnt by fraudsters

For a young Blenheim couple, it was a day they didn’t think they’d see.

Last year, Anastasia Brown and Caleb Mischeski fell foul of defunct building company Rose Built Homes.

Now the delighted pair have finally moved into their dream three-bedroom house.

Blenheim’s Peter Ray Homes took on the build at the last minute to “help Anastasia out”.

“We’re so excited to be finally in our own home,” Anastasia says.

“Peter Ray have been fabulous – we couldn’t have done it without them,” she says.

The pair, armed with their new-found knowledge of the building industry, are warning others looking to build to verify the company’s reputations.

“Ask people around town,” Anastasia says.

“There’s always talk around the town.”

Rose Built Homes folded in September leaving Marlborough businesses $1.6 million out of pocket.

Anastasia and Caleb paid a $101,000 deposit to Rose Built Homes. All they got for their money was the foundations and the house frame.

They’re down about $50,000, Anastasia says.

Appointed liquidator Brenton Hunt says the former owners, Ryan Butler and Kyle Payne were treating the company as a “personal cash cow”.

He branded the case “one of the worst” he has seen in 25-years, with creditors unlikely to see any money back.

Anastasia says the first sign of trouble at her build was when scaffolding was pulled down.

Then, overdue bills saw a skip on the building site emptied on where the couple’s front lawn would be.

“Every week I asked when the roof was coming on, and every week they would say Friday.

“I found out from the plumber, they just vanished, I got incredibly stressed about it, so my parents took over,” she says.

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.”