Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett gave Mike Tahere and his wife a lift from the airport. Photo: Supplied.

Uber Mayor steers couple in right direction

Marlborough’s mayor stepped into rescue a couple stranded at the airport – by turning taxi driver.

With no taxis available, retired senior constable Mike Tahere and his wife were delighted to be offered a lift by a kind-hearted stranger.

It was only when they got chatting that they realised it was Marlborough Mayor John Leggett who had helped them out.

The grateful visitors posted to Facebook to say thank you and to the people of Marlborough who made them so welcome.

“I just wanted to thank his worship the Mayor John Leggett that gave my wife and I a lift into Blenheim from the airport last Friday afternoon as there were no taxis available.

“It was a great start to our weekend in Marlborough.”

In town for a 60th birthday celebration, Mike and his wife were part of a group of 30 people from Paraparaumu.

John says he had been in Wellington for a local government meeting when he passed the couple by the empty taxi rank outside the terminal.

“I heard the word Uber so I explained we didn’t have that but asked where they were going, and I was going straight passed Chateau Marlborough so offered to take them.

“They were a genuinely, lovely, nice couple and we got chatting and had a few laughs along the way.

“They were here to have a great time and I’m delighted that they did,”

Mike was full of praise for the region, complimenting Chateau Marlborough where they stayed and the Clubs of Marlborough where the party was held.

“We enjoyed our stay at the Chateau Marlborough, great accommodation, service and meals.

“The ladies enjoyed shopping therapy on Saturday morning. In the afternoon we went on a wine tasting tour at Bladen winery.

“Thanks to the Marlborough people for your hospitality, we enjoyed ourselves and we will be back.”

Corey Hebberd. Photo: Supplied.

Rangitāne supports iwi business

Rangitāne o Wairau has launched a special fund to help support people and businesses suffering hardship in the wake of COVID-19.

After delivery more than 300 emergency food and hygiene packs during lockdown, iwi are now helping with the recovery process.

Rangitāne Investments Limited commercial property manager Corey Hebberd says times are tough for everyone.

“We know that doing business is tough right now.

“Our commercial arm, like all businesses, is feeling the effects of COVID-19.

“Now more than ever, we need to focus on supporting local – and, where we can, supporting our own whānau enterprises.”

New oranga fund Te Kura Ora has been set up to help support whānau who need one-off financial support.

Plans for a directory of whānau businesses have also been bought forward in a bid to help.

The Directory, Rārangi Pakihi o Rangitāne, was published on Thursday on the Rangitāne o Wairau website.

It’s about helping, says Corey.

“This message is about the next steps that we are taking to support whānau, particularly those who own a small business.

“Both the Iwi Trust and our Iwi Investment Company contract and employ services via small businesses in our community to deliver our work programme.

“Not only are we sharing details with our wider whānau and iwi on their services, but we’ll also be engaging and contracting them where we’re able to.”

Email [email protected] to register on the Rangitāne Business Directory.

If you need support contact the office on (03) 578 6180.

Photo: Richard Briggs/Marlborough District Council

Pou whenua unveiled

A special dawn ceremony unveiling a pou whenua at Picton Library and Service Centre Waitohi Whare Mātauranga took place on Friday.

It depicts Awanuiarangi and Ropoama Te One, Awanuiarangi the eponymous ancestor of the Te Ātiawa people and Ropoama Te One chief of the fortified settlement of Waitohi.

The whale depicts the region’s whaling history within Tory Channel. The carving was designed by master carver Pita Rua.

Author Gavin Kerr is using his book of poems to help raise money for Alzheimers Marlborough: Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Lockdown life poems a money-earner for Alzheimers

A Blenheim man whose wife died shortly before lockdown has written a book which will help raise money for those who made her last months brighter.

Gavin Kerr’s wife Elizabeth (known as Liz) suffered from Alzheimers and died on 17 March.

And his poetic bid to record life as he experienced it under lockdown level 4 is set to raise money for Alzheimers Marlborough.

The former school principal and academic says the support they had from staff at Alzheimers Marlborough was vital following Liz’s diagnosis.

On each day of lockdown, Gavin penned a poem which he has published into a book, Under Lockdown, with a proportion of the proceeds from the sale going to the local branch.

Gavin Kerr and wife Elizabeth were married for 62 years. Photo: Supplied.
Gavin Kerr and wife Elizabeth were married for 62 years. Photo: Supplied.

The first poem, dedicated to Liz, was written for her service sheet used at a private family farewell at Geoffery T Sowman Funeral Directors.

“I think that was what prompted me. It helped a great deal, there’s no doubt about that.

“Some days I had to sit down and think about what I was going to do but most were done while walking up the Wither Hills or along the Taylor River.

‘I’ve always been interested in writing but haven’t published any of my personal work before.”

Liz, a fellow academic who spoke fluent French, was diagnosed with Alzheimers early in 2019.

For the pair, who were married for 61 years, it was a devastating blow.

“Once that word, Alzheimers, comes up, you’ve crossed the Rubicon and can’t go back.” he says.

Following the diagnosis, Gavin got in contact with Alzheimers Marlborough.

The support and information they provided was critical through a difficult process, he says.

Liz was moved to Maxwell Lifecare rest home in Blenheim after congestive heart failure complications meant she could no longer be cared for at home.

Gavin too needed a break after months of broken sleep and stress.

“You try to put yourself in their shoes but that’s not easy to do,” he says.

The couple’s three children arrived just before travel restrictions were imposed to say goodbye.

“The staff [at Maxwell Lifecare] were fabulous, you couldn’t have asked for anything more; they’re like family.”

Writing the 34 poems proved to be very cathartic, Gavin says.

“It’s a good release. There is a mix of poems in there; some are amusing and others more serious.

“In some way, it’s a bit like watercolour painting; you do it, let it mature and go back to it.”

The $25 book is available to buy at Alzheimers Marlborough on 8 Wither Road in Blenheim or by emailing [email protected]

Braden Prideaux and John Kershaw are looking forward to the new cycleway. Photo: Supplied.

Cycle trail work begins

Construction of a new cycle trail along Jacksons Road has begun.

The two-metre-wide,1.3-kilometre trail is being built on road reserve running between Rapaura Road and Allan Scott winery and is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Walking and Cycling Coordinator Braden Prideaux says the trail is part of a wider vineyard cycling network that’s been developed in partnership with the Renwick Smart + Connected Bike Walk Group over previous years.

“The existing narrow road shoulder and the 100 km/h speed limit supported the proposal for an off-road trail, that will provide cyclists with an alternative when travelling this route,” he says.

Minimal disruption is expected during construction, however people travelling along Jacksons Road are asked to be mindful of the works.

Nine-year-old Anika Jones joined the Pasifika Production group after lockdown as she had heard it was great fun. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Picton’s Pasifika production pride

The door to Picton School hall is flung open amid a babble of excited chatter.

Wilting school bags are dragged across the floor behind excited children as they head to Pasifika Production practice, their smiles broad and voices high.

The bell has just rung to mark the end of the day and Susana Doris Evalu-Tyrell waits as she does every Friday and Wednesday for the students to arrive.

Originally from Samoa, Susana wanted to ensure her heritage remained part of their lives and with other Pacific Island families in the Picton community it seemed like a good fit.

The idea for the group was born and it proved so popular that soon children from all backgrounds were asking to join.

“I wanted it to be culturally inclusive,” she says.

The group has almost doubled in size and has around 40 members.

As the music begins, the children, aged from 5 to 10 years old, quickly take their places. Poised for action, small brows slightly furrowed in concentration, they begin to dance.

Faces light up and eyes cast quick glances around the room to reassure themselves they are keeping up. The smiles are infectious, and the sense of pride is palpable as they show-off their moves.

“Our children come from different backgrounds,” says Susana who is a regular volunteer at the school.

“I wanted to open the Pasifika Production group to everyone as there seemed to be a need for it, it is for everybody.

“It’s not just dance we do, next term the children are going to create designs from their imaginations of flowers or plants and print them on T-shirts.

“At the end of the project they will get to take their T-shirts home with them and be proud of what they have done,” she says.

The group has already performed in public and were captured on film as part of the Tuia 250 celebrations last year.

Picton School Principal Dave Sullivan says the school is lucky to have Susana, who also fundraises for the group and makes their costumes.

“The children are so excited about it.

“We are a culturally inclusive school and a lot of our children have dual heritage and it’s great that Susana does this.

‘This teaches them so much and the ability to perform in front of the public, their confidence has greatly improved.

Nine-year-old Anika Jones joined the group after lockdown as she had heard it was great fun.

“I really enjoy it the costumes and music are great and it’s something my crew and I can do together. It’s helped me feel more confident,” she says.

Friend Jayla Murrell, 10, says she wanted to be part of the group after watching them perform at the Picton Christmas parade last year.

“It looked like so much fun and it really is.”

For Susana, seeing the children smiling and having fun makes it all worthwhile.

“I want to thank Picton for their support because if it weren’t for them, I would not be able to come here and do this.”

Derek and Maureen Waller long to stay in New Zealand to be nearer to their family and friends. Photo: Matt Brown.

Rule change costs couple life in NZ

When Derek and Maureen Waller moved to New Zealand, they found happiness in the wake of tragedy.

The husband and wife, originally from England, were devastated when their only son died suddenly.

They made the move to Renwick to be closer to their daughter who had immigrated to New Zealand.

But now the couple may be forced to leave their family behind as they face deportation after five years of calling the community home.

It is a terrible blow say the stricken pair whose only grandchildren are in New Zealand.

‘We’re totally desperate about what to do next,” says Maureen. “We’re so well known in Renwick; it’s such a gorgeous community and people help each other out.

“It’s devastating and people keep asking us what we’ve done wrong.”

The couple lost their son David, 42, when he suffered a heart attack in 2011.

When their then son-in-law was headhunted for a job in Christchurch, they knew they had to leave the UK.

“We couldn’t lose both our children,” says Derek, a retired engineering teacher.”

Both had fallen in love with the country on previous holidays and were told by an independent immigration agent they would have no problem getting residency.

They arrived in New Zealand on a Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa and have spent $30,000 trying to get residency.

A change in rules after they arrived in the country meant they could only stay up to six months at a time, with a maximum total stay of 18 months in 3 years

Only a 1000 people a year can apply for residency under this scheme.

A last-ditch attempt to persuade immigration to let them stay failed and the pair have been told they have to leave in September.

“We fell in love with Marlborough, the climate and the people,” says Derek.

“Our 4-bedroom house means we have plenty of room for our daughter and grandchildren when they come and stay.

“We have private British pensions, have savings and pay for health care privately. We don’t rely on the government for anything.

“This has caused us both a lot of stress and worry.”

Both Derek, 76, and Maureen, 73, do volunteer work in Renwick, with Derek a committed member of the Men’s Shed.

“There are people who rely on us, people who are distraught for us,” says Maureen.

Under immigration rules, the couple must be sponsored to the tune of $160,000 a year.

After their daughter and son-in-law separated, the pair faced a shortfall in sponsorship.

But offers of additional financial sponsorship from friends have been turned down by immigration officials, says Derek.

“We’ve been told we’re out of options and will have to leave and go back to England in September.

“We have no idea how we will start again.”

Chairman of the Renwick Men’s Shed Rick Gleeson says Derek has been a valued member of the team since 2016.

“Derek has a lot of skills to contribute, is very passionate, loyal and always willing to help anybody or with anything that needs doing.

“It would be of great loss and sadness to myself, all of our MenzShed members and to the local community to lose Derek and his wife Maureen who also helps out a lot in our community, the Renwick School, one of the local Marae’s school and helping with our BBQ’s at Bunnings.”

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

Covid tests no longer a must for common cold symptoms

People with coughs and colds will no longer be automatically tested for Covid-19.

Ministry of Health staff have revealed new testing guidelines geared to focussing on higher risk patients.

The move comes in the wake of a spike in the number of people being tested in Marlborough as cold and flu season starts to strike.

Previous guidelines saw anybody with a runny nose, among other symptoms, automatically tested for the virus.

Other people with cold or flu symptoms can still be tested but it will not be a requirement.

The move is expected to put an end to the huge demand for tests in some areas over the past week as cold and flu season hit.

New guidelines mean efforts will now be focused on those who fall into high risk categories including, overseas travellers, direct contact or those working at an airport or isolation facility.

There are no new cases in Nelson Marlborough but community surveillance continues.

Tests are still be carried out at Urgent Care and on some emergency department patients at Wairau Hospital.

“Testing in the community will continue, and as part of our broader surveillance anyone with respiratory symptoms should contact Healthline or their general practice to get advice around getting a test,” a spokesperson says.

“The updated approach continues to rely on clinical judgement which has been an essential part of the testing approach since the outset and ensures that people who might be at higher risk are tested and managed appropriately.

“This is reflected in our high testing rates in the community, including 10,436 tests yesterday.”

Higher risk categories

* Had contact with an infected person

* Been overseas

* Had direct contact with someone who had been overseas

* Worked on an international aircraft of ship

* Worked at an airport or isolation facility

Anyone with respiratory symptoms should contact Healthline free on 0800 611 116 or their general practice to get advice around getting a test.

Health woes force resignation

Poor health has forced a long-serving Marlborough Trust committee member to resign.

Marlborough Electric Power Trust has revealed trustee Malcolm Aitken is standing down at the end of the month.

The former air force employee will be replaced by unsuccessful candidate, Cathie Bell, who was the highest-polling candidate not elected to the board.

Trust chairman Ian Martella says Malcolm’s contributed over the past few years has been valuable.

Marlborough Electric Power Trust has revealed trustee Malcolm Aitken is standing down at the end of the month. Photo: Supplied.

“Malcolm has been on the trust since September 2014, and we have really valued his input.

“He is a long-time Marlburian, moving here in 1960 with the air force, and then running a highly-successful restaurant business for 22 years, as well as being part of many community organisations.”

Malcolm Aitken was re-elected to the trust in the election held in February 2020.

Ian says Malcom had resigned because of health reasons and that the Trust wishes him all the best.

Cathie Bell is a communications specialist, having worked in journalism, public relations, and in local and central government roles.

She now owns her own communications business.

“Cathie has followed the trust’s work actively, attending all our public meetings and asking questions and we look forward to welcoming her to the team”.

The Marlborough Electric Power Trust holds all the shares of lines company Marlborough Lines and administers them on behalf of the power users of Marlborough.

Health board move to prevent measles outbreak

Hundreds of young people at risk of a potentially deadly disease are being given a second chance to protect themselves.

Nelson Marlborough District Health is set to launch a $200,000 Measles Catch Up campaign in a bid to cut the number of people not immunised.

And health bosses hope the move will reduce the risk of a community outbreak.

In the wake of a national outbreak last year, the government announced a $23 million bid to vaccinate those aged between 15 and 29 years old across New Zealand.

General manager strategy, primary and community, Nelson Marlborough Health Cathy O’Malley says the focus is on those who may have missed out.

Cathy O’Malley wants to see people who have missed out on their MMR to be vaccinated. Photo: Supplied.
Cathy O’Malley wants to see people who have missed out on their MMR to be vaccinated. Photo: Supplied.

“Ministry is now focusing on the immunity gap in adolescents and young adults aged between 15-and 30-years old, a cohort born before the National Immunisation Register (NIR) was established.

“This gap primarily affects Māori and Pasifika peoples in this age group who we want to reach by removing barriers to accessing immunisation and raising awareness,” she says.

The cost of the campaign includes two part-time fixed-term positions, advertising, public health nursing (school outreach), community immunisation clinics and outreach to Maori and Pasifika people in that age group.

General Practitioners will start contacting patients in the middle of next month as the campaign gets underway.

The move will help reduce the risk of future measles outbreaks, Cathy says.

Ministry of Health figures for the year up to 31 March 2020 show the number of eligible children who have had all their age appropriate immunisations is at 79.9 per cent across Nelson and Marlborough.

In Nelson Marlborough there were 1485 eligible babies, of which 1186 were vaccinated.

“MMR is the best protection against these serious diseases – measles, mumps and rubella.

“We can’t yet immunise against COVID-19, but we can protect against other serious diseases,” Cathy says.

Staff will try to determine whether a person is unvaccinated and eligible for other vaccines and administering them at the same time, with the person’s consent.

But anyone who is eligible need not wait, she says.

“We encourage any young person in this age group to get their free immunisation at any time – they don’t have to wait for the campaign to start.

“You can get immunised for free by your family doctor (GP), at an after-hours medical centre or at a participating pharmacy.

“Nationally as well as locally we need to encourage this group to get vaccinated in order to reduce the risk of future measles outbreaks.”