Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Deputy mayor Nadine Taylor being sworn in as Marlborough mayor John Leggett looks on. Photo: Matt Brown.

Deputy mayor sworn in

Marlborough’s new deputy mayor is officially ready to begin duties as second in command after being sworn in today.

Marlborough Sounds Ward Councillor Nadine Taylor was sworn into office by mayor John Leggett.

Wairau-Awatere Councillor Francis Maher was also sworn in and becomes Chair of the Regional Transport Committee.

It was an important moment for both, with the deputy mayor saying taking on the role was an honour and she was looking forward to working with a “great team.”

“For any of us to do our jobs, we have to be a part of a team. Looking around the table, I can see another great team already.

“We’re backed the most excellent staff.

“It was very easy for me to say yes to John when he asked if I would be his deputy mayor because I find him to be an excellent leader.

“I find myself to be surrounded by a great team – people in this building and at this table and I’m really looking forward to the next few years of working with you,” she says.

Nadine will also chair the Assets and Services Committee, overseeing the management of the Council’s big-budget assets and amenities infrastructure.

As the deputy mayoral chain was placed around her neck by Marlborough Mayor John Legget, Nadine says she welcomes the chance to fulfill her pledge to the district and its people.

“We live in a really special part of the world – our unique Marlborough Sounds and wild Cook Strait waterways, a very successful wine industry, and flourishing tourism, forestry and service industries.

“All of us fulfilling this pledge we made to this district and to our people.

“My background and experience gives me an appreciation of the importance of our primary producers, both land- and sea-based, who are key to the success of Marlborough. They are a big part of our history and the social fabric of our communities.”

“I will strive to be a connector between the Council and our communities, making sure people’s voices are heard in our decision-making, she says.

Originally from Awatere, Nadine went to Seddon School and then Marlborough Girls’ College.

For the last 21 years she has lived in Picton, and also for a time in Tory Channel, in the outer Marlborough Sounds. She has extensive business experience as an owner of a rock lobster fishing company.

She and her partner Graham have two adult sons.

It is family support that makes her role possible she says.

“Like any team, there’s always those that twirl away and don’t get seen and the offices and at home and I think on behalf of all of us I would like to acknowledge – my family’s sitting here and your families – because they are the ones that, as you race out the door, with everything streaming behind you, shut the door on the mess and the worries behind so that we can give service to the province.

It’s only right that we should acknowledge them as well.”

Mayor Leggett says he is confident in his choice for the deputy mayor role.

“Nadine has excelled in her role as a councillor over the last three years.

“We work well together and I’m confident she has the qualities to be outstanding in the role,” he says.

Council executives from left, Mike Porter, mayor John Legget, Mark Wheeler and Tony Quirk. Photo: Matt Brown

Modest pay rise for Marlborough councillors

Marlborough’s councillors are set to get more than $1.5 million in wages over the next three years.

Thirteen councillors got a small boost to their pay checks at an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday.

The elected officials had their base salary increased, from $38,610 to a flat $40,000 as the proposed changes were voted into effect.

And councillors who take on more responsibility will see more money in their bank accounts.

Money for local government officials is set as a lump sum by the Renumeration Authority, and “divvied up” to the elected positions.

The Marlborough region was allocated $583,467 for the year.

Marlborough District Council democratic services manager Mike Porter says council doesn’t have “a lot of say” about the amount of money available in the pool.

“It’s just how we’ve divvied it up,” he says.

Mike says now, sub-committee chairs are recognised for their hard work “slightly more than in the past”.

“It’s a lot more fair, but a lot more complicated,” he says.

“We’ve recognised all the jobs that councillors can do.”

The mayor, who is also chair of the environment committee, has a fixed salary set by the Remuneration Authority separate from the money pool.

He is paid around $135,000.

Only one councillor, Mark Peters, is a standing committee chair. The other two positions taken by deputy mayor Nadine Taylor and mayor John Leggett.

For taking on the deputy mayor position, Nadine Taylor is set to receive an extra $17,467 bringing her salary to $57,467.

“It flows down from there,” says Mike.

Eleven of thirteen councillors are on various committees.

Marlborough is at the bottom of all unitary councils – getting  $10,000 less than Nelson.

Councillor Gerald Hope says the Marlborough council has a “massive responsibility” over a much larger area.

“We are probably a discount council,” Gerald says.

Crossroads Marlborough office manager Lauren Dodson. Photo: Matt Brown.

Charity kitchen stirs up support

Volunteers will hang up their aprons and take to the streets in a bid to raise vital funds for a community kitchen.

Community kitchen Crossroads will have people rattling buckets around town looking for a much-needed cash boost.

Office manager Lauren Dodson says she is pushing for more entrepreneurial ways for the bustling Redwood Street kitchen to raise an income.

“We’re currently living off fundraising and grants,” she says.

Crossroads is a not-for-profit that helps ensure people of Blenheim “don’t wake up hungry, cold or alone”.

Lauren says all money raised will go towards operating the community space.

“It’s not cheap,” Lauren says. “It costs around $11,000 to $14,000 per month to run.”

She says money will go towards food costs, electricity and providing internet to their customers.

“If this goes well, we’re aiming to do this annually.”

Lauren says there can be “confusion” from members of the public about what service Crossroads provides to the service – so volunteers will also be handing pamphlets to give people a “better idea” about their core role.

The Blenheim Lions, Beavertown Lions and SBS bank staff have volunteered to collect funds from the public around the Blenheim CBD.

But Lauren says they are still looking for volunteers to help on Scott St.

“Two hours would be awesome, but an hour would be fine,” Lauren says.

The Crossroads Marlborough Community Centre street appeal will take place this Friday throughout the Blenheim CBD from 9am to 1pm.

Tracey Phillips says it’s a “matter of time” before someone is injured near Girls’ College. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Hundreds of school speeders stung in traffic operation

A recent speed sting has left Marlborough police “disappointed” with hundreds of drivers flouting road rules.

Almost 300 tickets were issued in four hours on Tuesday to motorists speeding past Marlborough Girls College on Nelson Street in Blenheim.

New Zealand Police Marlborough prevention manager senior sergeant Peter Payne says the result is “incredibly disappointing”.

“Even small increases in speed result in a much greater increase in your stopping distance,” Peter says.

“That can mean the difference between life and death for pedestrians, so it’s vital that drivers slow down around schools.”

Mother-of-two Tracey Phillips says it is “just a matter of time” before someone is seriously injured or killed outside the high school.

“I sit there every day waiting for my daughter and it makes me cringe how fast these vehicles go,” Tracey says.

“It’s a ridiculous, crazy situation and I don’t know why they can’t slow down; I think it’s getting worse too.”

Her concerns come as New Zealand Transport Authority reveal a planned pedestrian crossing controlled by traffic lights may be shelved.

NZTA Top of the South system manager Andrew James says the decision to combine both Marlborough Girls’ and Boys’ Colleges on the same site has delayed the promised crossing.

“Our funding and design was based on specific location and traffic movements, so the move of Boys’ College onto the Girls’ site adds a new layer of complexity,” Andrew says.

The ‘road policing operation’ on Tuesday saw 288 infringement notices issued on Nelson Street.

Marlborough police say they will continue to monitor traffic throughout November and will focus on safe driving around schools.

“Motorists need to be driving at a speed and in a manner that enables them to respond safely to the unexpected,” Peter says.

Appointed liquidator Brenton Hunt revealed creditors were unlikely to see any money back from defunct building company Rose Built Homes. Photo: Matt Brown.

Rose Built Homes used as ‘cash cow’

The bungling former owners of a defunct building firm may face criminal charges for fraud.

Rose Built Homes, which folded in September, has left Marlborough businesses out of pocket to the tune of $1.6 million.

Appointed liquidator Brenton Hunt revealed creditors were unlikely to see any money back, branding the case “one of the worst” he has seen in 25-years.

Treating the company as a “personal cash cow” could see former directors Ryan Butler and Kyle Payne in court, he says.

And the former directors have turned on each other, with Kyle blaming some of their dodgy dealings on his colleagues “gambling problems”.

The revelation comes amid rumours that Kyle has fled the country.

Brenton says he can’t stop Kyle from leaving the country.

“I can’t stop him travelling until I actually have judgement against him, and even then, a border alert would require details of his actual flight,” he says.

“Regardless…he can still be bankrupted here in New Zealand.”

Local contractors and businesses have been left high and dry, with one secured creditor owed more than $500,000.

Investigations uncovered a raft of costly personal purchases bought using company funds.

Boats, motorcycles and cars bought on finance were being paid from company accounts but registered to the young company directors.

But Brenton says he doubts any money will be paid out to any class of creditor.

“There were very few assets to be collected. Some office equipment and limited tools were collected from the office.

“The majority of these were returned to Christchurch and sold by Mainland Auctions, limited amount were sold to interested parties in Blenheim.”

“A number of creditors have raised jet skis as another asset, but I have never managed to locate any,” he says.

In addition, Kyle Payne traded a company asset, a Ford Mustang, on an Audi he recorded as his personally.

“The Audi still has a significant amount of finance over and above the trade-in value.”

Tax payments are “well behind” with no annual accounts ever produced.

Brenton says Kyle tried to blame the lack of tax payments on the company’s accountant, however, it is the director’s responsibility to file returns.

PAYE had not been paid since December 2018.

Kyle, in an interview with the liquidator, says he was not aware that non-payment of PAYE was a criminal offence.

“A huge amount of personal expenditure was coded in the company records as business expenditure and GST attempted to be claimed,” Brenton says.

“I have been working in insolvency for ten years, and as an accountant for over twenty-five years.

“Rarely have I seen company records in such a bad state.

“It has been very hard to work out anything form the records kept so I have had to go back to bank transactions.

GST had not been filed since March 2019 or paid since May 2018.

Brenton says Kyle had appeared to have committed “several items” of fraud and a creditor has offered to assist in filing a criminal complaint to police for fraud.

“Insurance records have been altered to allow customers to make drawdowns, customers have been asked to pay into bank accounts which are not company bank accounts and various customers and creditors have been lied to repeatedly,” he says.

“After recoding a lot of the expenditure which Kyle Payne had recorded as business expenditure but was paid to his own bank accounts, I have made a demand for $335,739.

“I have had no response to this demand so are now commencing judgement against him for this debt.”

Kyle sold his house, on Howick Rd, in September.

Brenton says Ryan was cooperative during the liquidation.

“He is apologetic for where everything has ended up and claims he never knew just how bad everything was.

“Regardless of his regrets he was a director and personally guaranteed several of the debts.”

Brenton says Ryan is looking into bankruptcy.

“As there has been very limited recovery from the company, I am funding a lot of the continued work for the liquidation myself.

He says the only asset of the company is the money which the directors had withdrawn in various ways.

“The likelihood of recovery of this for creditors is fairly remote so it is not anticipated any distribution for any class of creditor will happen.

“Regardless of this I will continue with my action against the director and see what comes out of it.”

EcoWorld technician Margret Hall checking out the family of Little Blue Penguins before release. Photo: Supplied

Rescued penguin family go wild

A family of penguins are safely back in the wild after being released by rescuers.

The trio of Little Blue Penguins are finding their feet at Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary near Picton.

Nicknamed, Harry, Meghan and Archie by staff at EcoWorld Aquarium & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre staff, the family were found trapped in a drain in September.

But after a month of rehabilitation, the two adult penguins and their baby, have been given the all clear and freed on Thursday.

“It’s a real feel good story with a fantastic result,” says EcoWorld’s director John Reuhman.

“The Little Blues, affectionately named Harry, Meghan and Archie by one of our royalist visitors from the UK, have responded really well to our care.

“It’s been a privilege to watch them regain their health, especially mum and dad feeding their baby regurgitating up the King Salmon rehab. formula we fed them.

“The team has cared for them really well.  Now back in tip top condition and getting feistier every day we decided it was out the door and back into the wild for the trio.”

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing carparks on the main road through Renwick could sink their business. Photo: Matt Brown.

Battle lines drawn over parking plans

Angry Renwick business owners fear they could be left counting the cost of plans to replace parking spots with planter boxes.

A Marlborough District Council initiative to put concrete planter boxes on Renwick’s main street has local businesses up in arms.

At a charged meeting between several Renwick business owners and council staff on Wednesday, business leaders voiced fierce opposition to the idea.

The meeting followed a flyer drop by council staff detailing the plans to local businesses, but owners say they feel “ambushed”.

Initial plans saw the busy thoroughfare losing more about 14 car parks, but a revised option was presented to the nine Renwick business owners at the meeting, at the Renwick Roadhouse Café, where about four parks would be removed.

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing a single 10-minute carpark from the street could cost their business upward of $20,000 a year.

“The business is our livelihood,” Kristine says.

“We’ve been here nearly nine months and we only heard about it the other day.”

“The issue is, we need more carparks, not less.

“Boaties on the way to the Sounds – if they can’t get a park, they keep driving,” Kristine says.

Council bosses says the idea was to help cut speeding through the town.

Metal planters were placed along the busy street in the past year but were removed due to vehicles crashing into them.

Marlborough District Council community advisor – Marlborough townships Adi James says the plans were revealed at a Smart and Connected gathering about a month ago.

But the initial idea was first put forward a few years ago.

Originally, Adi says plans were to line the street with large trees, however, that plan “stalled”, she says.

The latest proposal would help save money by “piggy backing” on current works fixing pipes along High Street.

Kristine says business owners are “sick” of the ongoing work along the streets.

She says the roadworks are costing her about $2000 per week in lost sales.

Adi says there is still the option to not go ahead with the project, but it is an “opportunity worth exploring”.

“There were some benefits with piggybacking,” she says.

Liquid Action owner Matt Broughan says the changes could potentially cost his business up to $50,000 a year in lost sales.

“It’s got a huge effect on local businesses,” Matt says.

“We’re all a bit blown away with it.

“To rush it through to save $100,000 – it could cost us much more.”

Matt says once the concrete planters are in, there’s no going back.

“We need the car parks desperately.”

Matt says he loves working in

Renwick and being a part of the community, but the consultation process surrounding the
proposed plans in Renwick was lacking input.

His “bottom-line” at the meeting was “no loss of car parks”.

“I’ve had a kick up the arse,” he says.

“I should have listened, but I’m prepared to put a positive effort in.”

Children’s toys and household rubbish, along with what should be beloved family pets are being discarded along the Port Underwood Rd. Photo: Supplied.

Sounds locals appalled by ‘ghastly’ dumping

Cruel pet owners have been ditching animals at a remote dump site – creating an illegal pet cemetery.

A concerned Port Underwood resident has discovered a dead dog with a gunshot wound as well as a cage of abandoned guinea pigs.

The woman, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, says the area has an “ongoing” illegal dumping problem.

Alongside children’s toys and household rubbish, what should be beloved family pets are being discarded, she says.

“It’s quite ghastly.

“It’s obviously a bach owner – they’ve just done a house up.

“There’s gib and wood panelling, but also pig skins and carcasses.

“Green waste is no biggy, but appliances, the big stuff, it’s costing us an arm and a leg.”

The dog was discovered last week amongst gib and other debris down a cliff from a skid site along the windy Port Underwood Road.

This follows the finding of a cage of black guinea pigs, some dead and some alive, found nearby a week earlier.

Police and the council have been contacted but claim there is nothing they can do.

“Police say they can’t do anything without a registration number.

“Council say it’s out of their jurisdiction,” she says.

“The locals want it to stop.

“It’s tragic to see the amount of people affected by the rubbish.”

A council spokesman says “flytipping” is a problem in the Marlborough Sounds “from time to time”.

“The council sympathises with landowners who suffer from flytipping, but the onus is usually on them to remove any rubbish dumped on

their property,” the spokesman says.

“The Council operates seven transfer stations throughout Marlborough and people are encouraged to take their waste there.”

The spokesman says council is trialling free tip days at transfer stations in an effort to reduce illegal dumping across the district.

“We will follow up with this landowner and see if we can assist,” he says.

The council spokesman says council have been trialling free dump days at the Picton Transfer Station and at Foxs Island in Renwick in a bid to clamp down on illegal dumping.

The free tipping excludes green waste and is limited to one vehicle load.

He says the trial will extend to the Blenheim Transfer Station before the end of the year.

Anyone with information about illegal dumping can call the council on 03 520 7400.

The spokesman says the council will prosecute offenders if they are caught.

Wing Commander Peter De Rungs and Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark. Wing Commander De Rung holds the Wigram Sword, which was presented to RNZAF Base Woodbourne upon the closure of RNZAF Base Wigram. It represents the high esteem in which the receiver is regarded by its presenter in taking up the honourable command position of Base Commander RNZAF Woodbourne. Photo: NZDF.

Woodbourne gets new head honcho

Marlborough’s air force base has had a change of command.

Wing Commander Peter De Rungs was officially welcomed onto Base Woodbourne as the new base commander at a ceremony on Wednesday.

Taking over the role from Wing Commander Berni Potha, Peter says the promotion is a “huge” honour.

“Up until a couple of months ago, I had never dreamed of being a base commander,” De Rungs says.

The base commander position is one o three such command positions in the country.

Established in 1939, Base Woodbourne’s primary function is training the air force’s newest officers and airmen as well as providing specialist trade training.

He says it was “quite a process” to achieve the position.

De Rungs, originally from Waiheke Island, joined the air force as an aircraft mechanic 29 years ago.

He completed basic training and spent the first five years of his career at Base Woodbourne.

Since then, De Rungs has been stationed all over New Zealand, most recently at the New Zealand Defence Force headquarters in Wellington.

“I joined up as an aircraftman, at the very bottom,” he says.

“There’s only three base commanders, and now, I’m one of them.”

De Rungs says the work is what drew him to the region but being in Marlborough closer to family was a big part of making the final decision.

“I love everything about Marlborough, it’s a beautiful part of the world,” he says.

De Rungs says he has secured the position at a time of great change within the air force.

He says there is currently work underway to “realign technical work and trades”.

“Logistics training is going to change,” he says.

Today, Woodbourne is the Air Force’s only support base and has no operational squadrons based there.

“I am excited and privileged at the prospect of being part of a team that welcomes and trains our future ground trade technicians and the future leaders of our Air Force,” he says.

One of De Rungs’ goals as the new base commander is to enhance the air force’s connection with the local community.

He says the air force brings people from around the country to Marlborough.

“We need to be mindful of the community and our impact on it,” he says.

“I want a real connection and visibility with the community, because we all came from the community.

“And once we finish in the air force, we all go back to the community.”

The Porse building in central Blenheim. Photo: Matt Brown.

High rise apartment plan in jeopardy

Plans to tackle Blenheim’s growing number of empty shops by building town centre apartments have met with mounting opposition.

Consents to turn the second and fourth levels of the Porse building, on Market St North, into eight residential apartments are being considered by council.

But stiff opposition from surrounding businesses means the plans may be scrapped before the project even gets started.

A bevy of Market St businesses expressed their opposition to the inner-city apartments at a hearing at council yesterday.

Concerns of ‘reverse sensitivity’, increased traffic and the removal of car parking and loading zones were put forward by former deputy mayor and owner of the Biddy Kate’s Irish Bar Terry Sloan.

Several other businesses have joined Terry’s official objection, causing the consenting process to grind to a halt while a hearing in front of the council’s resource hearings commissioner was held.

Bikefit, Lighting Plus, Caci Clinic and Community Law added their voice to Terry’s, citing fears of increased traffic and parking problems.

In his initial submission, Terry says he was worried the normal operating noise of the bar and cafe could prompt complaints.

A bar has been operating in the Criterion building for more than 100 years.

It currently has a license to operate until 3am seven days a week.

The apartments at the Porse building, ranging in floor area from 62 square metres to 110 square metres, have been in the pipeline for building owners TH Barnes & Co since late last year.

Consents show vacant shop frontage on the street could be converted to a car parking garage and storage for each of the units.

The car parking garage entrance would require the loading zone on the street to be moved or removed.

Originally built for the Inland Revenue Department in 1987, the government agency downsized and quit the region shortly after completion.

Since then, the building has been largely vacant.

In evidence submitted to council, TH Barnes & Co Ltd director Jason Barnes says they had to reconsider the best way to utilise the building.

“Development of large format retail centres outside of the Central Business District such as the Westwood development in Springlands and a Mitre 10 store in Redwoodtown, has resulted in empty shop space in the town centre,” Jason says.

“Shop space in our building has suffered particularly badly due to its location on the periphery of the Central Business District.”

He says apartment living has traditionally been more of the domain of the larger cities.

“However, with a range of pressures on accommodation, changes in lifestyles and changes in perceptions and attitudes, apartment living is becoming an accepted, convenient and affordable living option for some people in smaller town centres.”

Council documents show TH Barnes & Co engaged a lawyer to draft a ‘Noise and Nuisance’ agreement that could be signed by both parties ahead of the development.

The documents were not signed by Terry, it says.

Plans for the apartment include double glazed windows to minimise sound intrusion and an acoustic engineer’s report found the apartments comply with the noise rule for residential activity within the CBD.

“Our proposed development will help revitalise a town that has suffered from loss of government and corporate offices to larger centres and to loss of retail shops in the town centre,” Jason says.