Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

The 93-year-old former nurses’ home at Wairau Hospital is being demolished. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Nurses’ home gutted as demolition begins

Demolition work has begun on one of Blenheim’s oldest heritage buildings, spelling the end of an era for the local landmark.

Workers moved in on the derelict Wairau nurses’ home last week to start stripping out the interior.

Specialists will then be called in to remove a significant amount of potentially dangerous asbestos discovered inside the 93-year-old building.

The red-bricked facility in the grounds of Wairau Hospital has lain empty for almost six years, costing health bosses around $30,000 to keep the building fenced off.

Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair says work is expected to be finished by March next year.

The building has sat vacant for several years. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
The building has sat vacant for several years. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Around $1million has been earmarked to pay for the work.

“Demotion of the Nurses Home at Wairau will take place over the next few months.

“Initially a soft demolition will occur – which is the removal of things like carpets, doors, toilets, pipes and roofing iron. After that the bigger machines come to site to deconstruct the larger elements,” he says.

Concerns over asbestos and seismic rating issues meant the former home would cost too much to address accessibility and fire safety problems.

Nelson Marlborough District Board staff decided demolition was ultimately a better use of public health funds.

Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair. Photo: Supplied.
Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair. Photo: Supplied.

The building’s foundation stone will be kept and installed with other historic foundation stones.

There is nothing else nothing else considered salvageable, Eric says.

“There are no other features considered worth saving on the house as the building was utilitarian in its original design.

“From it’s opening in 1926 the building provided a significant home and workplace for many staff who hold fond memories and interesting stories.”

There are several options being considered for the site when it is cleared.

The land could potentially be used for expansion in the future.

“A number of options are being considered but there is no urgency to determine future use.

“It is important to note that the location of the old nurses’ home was determined as the zone where any future expansion of Wairau Hospital would occur when the site master planning work was completed prior to the rebuild of the Wairau hospital 10 years ago.

“So, any use of the location will need to be cognisant of this master planning,” Eric says.

TJ’s Roofing staff stepped in at the last minute to help Pine Valley Outdoor Centre. Photo: Supplied.

‘Shining knights’ raise the roof and save the day

A Marlborough company has stepped in at the last minute to help a stricken charity looking to raise the roof – literally.

Dubbed ‘Knights in shining Coloursteel’ by a grateful Pine Valley Outdoors Centre Committee, staff at TJ’s Roofing quickly responded to a plea for help on social media.

The kind-hearted team turned up to put a new roof on the house destined for the popular outdoor centre after a contractor suddenly pulled out of the project.

Nicknamed Good Bones, the bungalow is set to become the new facilitator’s house.

Trust member Talia Burton-Walker says the team were left in a “bit of a bind”.

“Unfortunately, another Marlborough roofing contractor who had offered to install the roof had to pull out unexpectedly at the last minute, so, with all other aspects of the project ready to go to meet our timeline, we were in a bit of a bind.

“We put the word out on social media and TJ’s Roofing responded to our plight almost immediately.

We are incredibly grateful to them,” she says.

The relocated house, currently based at Coffey House Removals in Blenheim, will be transported to the Pine Valley Outdoor Centre next year.

Once there, it will become the home of Pine Valley camp facilitators and administrators, a position being created as part of an overall project to revitalise and future-proof the attraction.

The Pine Valley Outdoor Centre has been looked after by Pine Valley farmers Lloyd and Val Mapp for the past 35 years, who are now retiring.

“This building, and a facilitator on-site, means we can continue to keep the camp open and build on the wonderful facilities already there.

“Without this building we would have to consider closing the centre,” says Talia.

TJ’s Roofing owners Tim and Samiie Pine say they were, “very happy to help and to do something to support our community”.

Talia says the Marlborough community has been incredibly supportive of the house refurbishment, with offers of free or heavily discounted products, time and expertise.

“Roofline Marlborough supplied the roof, Marlborough Pre-Cut Ltd supplied the purlins and, Daveron Scaffolding the scaffolding.

“The team from G.K. Fyfe Painting Contractors have also generously donated 36 hours of paint prep to get the building ready for the painters.”

“This really is a project for the community, made by the community.”

To donate or assist with the refurbishment of Good Bones, email [email protected] or visit the Pine Valley Outdoor Centre Facebook page.

Hospice Marlborough’s volunteer coordinator Moerea Mustard is helping spread festive cheer for a good cause in partnership with Farmers. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Individually boxed baubles are for sale at Farmers in Blenheim for $10 each, with the option of adding a donation to Hospice Marlborough at the checkout.

This year’s design is the work of NZ artist Spencer Bellas. The ngaru, Māori for wave, represents the journey through life and the way waves moving together as whanau.

All proceeds from baubles bought at the Blenheim Farmers store go directly to Hospice Marlborough.

Robbie Parkes with his family dog has a secured a diabetic alert dog to from Australia. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Alert dog from across the ditch makes dream come true

The family of a young diabetic boy saving to buy an alert dog from Australia have secured their special pooch.

Four-year old Robbie Parkes from Linkwater and his family have been fundraising for the $20,000 dog after the youngster fell seriously ill earlier this year.

Diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, Robbie needs the new furry friend to alert his family to any major changes in his insulin levels.

The dogs are not available in New Zealand.

After three months of frantic fundraising the relieved family have raised enough to buy the dog.

Now they have turned their attentions to getting Robbie over the ditch to train with is new canine companion.

Mum Diane Parkes says she is very grateful for the community’s support.

“There are some very special people out there who have been so supportive.

“In just over three months months, we’ve raised $20,000 for the dog which is now ordered.

“We were lucky to have so many items donated for auction we had too much, so we are having this second fundraiser.

“The funds will go towards getting Robbie to Australia at the end of training and to pay insurance for dog etc,” she says.

A quiz and auction night will be held at the Woodbourne Tavern on 29 November at 7pm.

Tickets are $20 each for tables of eight people and are available from All About You lingerie shop on Maxwell Road in Blenheim or through Diane on: 021 525 630.

Author Deborah Walton-Derry has been delving into the history of Broadbridge Transport. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Transporting readers back in time

One of Marlborough’s oldest transport businesses is set to grace the pages of a new history book, after a chance encounter in a pub.

When writer and historian Deborah Walton-Derry met Weir Broadbridge in the Cork & Keg pub in Renwick, he mentioned his interest in producing a record of his family business.

Although she wasn’t there often, Deborah says she kept seeing Weir and the plan for her new book was hatched and Highways, Byways and Detours was born.

The former copy writer’s fifth book will be published on Thursday, 28 November.

‘People say to me they’ve lived an ordinary life but no on has. People tackle things in extraordinary, life affirming ways.

“The brief was to stick to key things, the nuts and bolts of the business. In books such as these, it’s important that everyone maintains their dignity and respect all the way through and I’m very mindful of that,” she says.

The book took Deborah three years to write.

As with most of her writing work, she says she had to eventually “just let it go.”

“I know if I keep playing with it and changing sentences, it may never get done.

“I start at the beginning, with my research, and work through. This book’s not just about trucks, it’s about adventure, things that have gone wrong and what went right,” she says.

When she’s not writing, Deborah, who lives near Renwick manages and works on two vineyards.

Writing in the office can be difficult as she likes to devote at least a couple of hours at a time.

“I wait until I have a decent chunk of time and go to the office and know that I’ve got a couple of hours up my sleeve to do it justice,” she says.

‘It can be a bit of a juggling act.”

The livestock and log haulage business has a rich history that spans more than six decades.

In her book, Deborah takes an in depth look at its humble beginnings and impressive expansion, focusing on the people who were instrumental in its success.

She writes: “Cyril Broadbridge was a character. He loved boat racing – and he had a good ear for tuning engines even though he was not a trained mechanic.

“Cyril’s wife Hazel was a warm, kind-hearted woman who worked hard and combined helping run a transport business with bringing up seven children in challenging circumstances.”

Deborah’s book will be available to buy at Paperplus in Blenheim from Thursday following a launch at 5.30pm on Wednesday.

Chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo says the aim is to make the best mussel powder “in the world.” Photo: Supplied.

Seafood firm flexes mussels with multimillion-dollar venture

A seafood company has announced plans to invest $20 million dollars in a new Greenshell Mussels extract centre in Blenheim.

Sanford Ltd bosses revealed last week they would build a new Marine Extracts centre to boost their mussel powder power.

The move will create more jobs in the area and plans are already been drawn up for the centre which is set to open early in 2021.

It will focus on the discovery and production of high value nutrition products from New Zealand seafood.

Sanford already makes Greenshell mussel powder from a small facility in Blenheim and its success has convinced the company to go several steps further.

Chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo says the aim is to make the best mussel powder “in the world.”

Greenshell mussel powder. Photo: Supplied.
Greenshell mussel powder. Photo: Supplied.

“We want to make the best mussel powder in the world and more. The demand for marine extracts is huge and it’s only going to grow,” he says.

Greenshell mussel powder can help athletes combat inflammation issues and staff plan to start moving into the benefits of mussel oil.

“The plan is to move into mussel oil and look at extracts from marine species other than mussels.

“There is so much to unlock and we are incredibly excited about the potential,” says Andre.

More than 40 people will be employed in a wide range of roles from scientific research through to production.

Sanford’s current extracts business general manager of innovation, Andrew Stanley says Blenheim the “perfect” place for the new hub.

“It’s a great location. We already have all the natural ingredients just down the road growing in the Marlborough Sounds so it was an ideal location for us to choose.

“Blenheim is also an attractive place to live and that’s a very good thing given the number of highly talented people we will need to attract.

“The lifestyle here is amazing. I recently moved here from Auckland myself and I can vouch for the combination of open spaces, wine country and being near the sea,” he says.

Andrew says science at the new centre will be world leading.

“This is a fantastic new chapter and we’re stoked to be able to share it with the world.”

NZTA has proposed a change to the speed limit between Blenheim and Nelson. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Petition against lower speeds parliament bound

More than 17,000 people have signed their name to a petition against plans to slash the speed limit between Blenheim and Nelson.

Plans by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to lower the speed limit on SH6 to 80 kmh or less have angered many motorists.

And yesterday, a petition calling for the plans to be ditched was handed in to National MPs Chris Bishop and Dr Nick Smith to be presented at parliament.

Earlier this year, New Zealand Road Transport Agency revealed plans to look at lowering speed restrictions to help prevent fatalities and injuries on the region’s roads.

New restrictions could see State Highway 6 restricted to 60kmh in some places.

Nelson woman Stephanie Drewery started a petition on social media which quickly gathered support.

National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says the petition shows that any changes needed to be evidence based.

“The answer to better road safety between Nelson and Blenheim is not these blanket speed reductions.

“It is increased investment in road improvements, including more passing lanes.

“National is not opposed to speed limit changes that are evidence-based and focused on the most dangerous stretches of road,” he says.

Between 2009 and 2018, 20 people died and 92 were seriously injured in crashes on State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson.

Nineteen of these deaths were on 100km/h stretches of SH6 and 87 people were seriously injured were on the open road/ 100km/ hour sections of SH6.

Havelock Marina is set to benefit from a new recycling hub. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Grant helps keep recycling shipshape at Havelock Marina

A new recycling hub in Havelock is helping keep the marina shipshape.

The new dedicated centre has been put in place by Port Marlborough bosses.

Thirty-five wheelie bins will now be ditched in favour of the hub which includes a custom-built container, access control and CCTV surveillance.

A $10,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum helped make the recycling centre a reality by covering the cost of the special container.

The grant, of $10,000, is in addition to investments already made by Port Marlborough.

Havelock's new recycling hub. Photo: Supplied.
Havelock’s new recycling hub. Photo: Supplied.

Port Marlborough’s Commercial and Marinas Manager Anouk Euzeby says the marina provided rubbish facilities in the form of 35 wheelie bins at the end of the jetties and launching ramp.

Recycling was limited to waste oil and aluminium cans.

“We operate three marinas in Marlborough: Picton, Waikawa and Havelock, and are progressively extending our recycling capabilities in each marina.

“In December, we introduced our first glass recycling skip bin in Picton Marina. We have now established this comprehensive recycling facility in Havelock.

“There are additional costs for us to provide these facilities but ultimately it is about doing the right thing for our environment, and furthering our efforts towards becoming a sustainable port, Anouk says

The new recycling container can accept glass bottles and jars, plastic, cans, and paper and cardboard.

“It’s the same kind of container which has been successfully used by the Marlborough District Council in its Rural Community Recycling programme,” Anouk says.

The Havelock Marina is the second largest in the region, providing 370 berths and storage for 175 trailer boats as well as providing berth, wharf and land-side facilities to service the aquaculture, tourism, forestry and barging operations in the Pelorus Sound.

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says funding projects which will result in new glass – which would not have otherwise been diverted from landfill – being recycled is a primary function of the Forum.

“Funding for grants like these come from the Forum’s Government-accredited product stewardship scheme.

“The Forum has more than 100 member brands which contribute a voluntary levy based on the glass they put into market, which is used to fund projects which improve glass recycling in New Zealand,” he says.

Fire in New South Wales has destroyed almost 500 homes. Photo: Andrew Purchase/Supplied.

Firefighters help tackle Australia’s deadly blaze

Local firefighters have joined fatigued crews in Australia battling multiple blazes which have claimed the lives of four people.

Deputy principal rural fire officer Chris Hayles, Rarangi fire fighter Alister Neal and Northbank fire fighter Roland Mapp have flown into New South Wales.

The brave trio will join thousands of fire crew deployed to the area as the state continues to be plagued by tinder dry conditions.

FENZ Marlborough principal rural fire officer John Foley says the move comes as Australia-based fire crew put the call out for help.

“They’re not going over to put fires out but to give others a break. There are some who will have lost houses and not even know it yet.

“They need a break to go back home to family and if we can do that then we’re doing our job,” he says.

Chris has done several overseas deployments already.

He will help head-air attack which means flying at higher altitudes in a helicopter above the fire to direct others to key locations.

“He’ll spend the day in the air attack platform above it [the fire] and direct where others need to go.  It’s a pretty high stress job, got to keep everyone safe and look after himself,” says John.

Horrific bushfires have plagued the area since September with the death toll rising to four.


The New Zealand contingent of six four-person crews, one task force leader and a liaison officer (25 men and one woman) arrived in Sydney on Sunday evening, before being deployed to fires around the state.

These crews are in addition to the 25 New Zealand Fire and Emergency personnel already in Australia assisting with air attack, heavy machinery, safety and deployment coordination.

The burnt area statewide now covers more than 1,650,000 hectares – more than during the past three bushfire seasons combined.

NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said 476 homes had been destroyed, with firefighters on Sunday tackling 56 fires, 27 of which were uncontained.

A state of fire emergency has been called.

Nearly 500 homes have been lost in New South Wales in this bushfire season to date, the Rural Fire Service has confirmed yesterday.

“Fighting fires of this magnitude is a hugely demanding task and we’re happy to continue to support our Australian colleagues when called upon,” says National Manager Response Capability, Fire and Emergency New Zealand Paul Turner.

“They’re tough firefighting conditions over there at the moment. The hot, very dry and windy conditions are causing extreme wildfire behaviour.”

But John says the firefighters did not hesitate to volunteer where their skills were most needed.

He says he expects more requests to come through as the fires could burn for weeks as the ground is dry and dead trees fuel the blaze.

“Your heart goes out to them. They’ve been really smacked by this and there is little rainfall on the way.

“It is stressful for their families as crew are potentially in harm’s way.”

A New Zealand liasion person there who sends out a daily bulletin.

But as summer approaches he warned conditions in New Zealand may mean staff have to concentrate their efforts at home.

“New Zealand has started to dry out and it will get to a point where we need to think of conditions here; Marlborough dries out very quickly.

“Of course, we want to offer our country’s support where we can.”

Children at the Awatere Early Childhood Centre urgently need a new building in case Seddon is struck by another big quake. Photo: Summa MacDonald.

Childcare hub dream coming true in Seddon

Three years after 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated communities, Seddon residents are edging closer to seeing their dream of a childcare hub come true. Paula Hulburt reports.

Its white walls bear fresh cracks, jagged lines fan out across the old church walls.

Recent earthquakes in Seddon have been small in scale but continue to make their mark, especially at the Awatere Early Childhood Centre.

It is still safe for the children to be there, but as the community plans a new purpose-built childcare hub, the fear of another big quake isn’t far away.

The $2.1 million dollar building would help allay fears and return early childhood services back to the township.

The Awatere Early Childhood centre leases a room at the picturesque former church.

Neither the Anglican Diocese who own the church or the centres using it can afford the on-going repair costs.

For Seddon mum of three Olivia Doonan, who is spearheading the massive fundraising initiative, the hub would be a dream come true.

“A big earthquake will come along one day without question. It’s always in the back of mind.

“We had some 4.2 earthquakes a couple of months ago and there are more cracks at the centre, and they’re not just hairline.

“The church is beautiful and has stained glass windows and a lovely ambience for the children to be in, but it definitely needs some work,” she says.

The Shaking Change for Good Fundraiser was launched in December 2018.

Almost a year on and the Awatere ECE Hub Trust charity is asking schools across New Zealand to help raise $700,000 with a special mufti day.

This will allow the trust to access grants to see the project become a reality.

It will see the Awatere Flaxbourne Plunket, the Awatere Early Childhood Centre and the Awatere Playcentre housed in the same facility.

The move will be of huge benefit to the community, its children and families, Olivia says.

Awatere Playcentre is currently next to Seddon School and the new hub will be situated in its grounds.

It will strengthen the bonds the two already share, Olivia says.

“At morning and afternoon tea the kids come over and talk to the littlies and throw oranges over the fence for them to eat.

“Children who were at the playcentre come and say hello and they can also come back and see mum if she’s there with a younger sibling.”

Community fundraising has raised $200,000, with applications in for more grants.

“We’re well on our way but still need a lot of help.

“The community has been very responsive,” Olivia says

Building work on the 550 square metre hub is hopefully set to start in March.

For further information visit or