Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

General manager Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey. Photo: Supplied.

Help for addicts as wait times slashed

Supporting drug and alcohol addicts to detox at home is slashing wait times for people desperate for help.

Marlborough patients were waiting almost two months as staff shortages slowed access to addiction services.

But a new detox nurse employed across the district is providing planned treatment faster than ever before.

Nelson Marlborough Health Addictions Service in Blenheim was struggling to keep up with demand, with 32 people waiting six weeks plus for help in April.

General manager Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey says the new appointment is already having a positive effect.

“Treatment can be provided more quickly because, with a detox nurse’s support, it can be provided in a person’s home and doesn’t rely on the availability of hospital beds, or beds in a residential service in another part of NZ,” she says.

The regional service has facilities in Blenheim, Nelson and Golden Bay and, among other tasks, helps with community detox, screening and intervention for patients admitted to Wairau Hospital.

Staff can also refer people for in patient care and assist with an opioid substitution treatment plan.

The wait list in Blenheim is currently longer than Nelson primarily due to staffing vacancies.

“We have been providing phone support from Nelson for people on the Wairau waitlist and we have recently recruited to a position in Wairau,”

“This is making a difference and we are starting to see a reduction in the waitlist time,” Jane says.

There are currently 13 people on the waitlist in Blenheim and can usually be seen within two weeks, on average.

Jane says finding staff for Marlborough vacancies can be difficult.

There is a current vacancy for one full-time nurse and a part time service coordinator.

“We still have vacancies in the team and while it can be challenging to recruit qualified staff like this to the Marlborough region, we are confident we will find the right people,” Jane says.

Addictions service clients may also have appointments and treatment plans with staff in other services.

There are 16.4 (full time equivalent) staff employed by the service in Nelson, which also covers Motueka and Golden Bay and 11.8 (full time equivalent) in Marlborough.

Smiths City in Blenheim may not be included in the sale agreement. File photo.

Anxious wait for Smith City staff as closures loom

Staff at one of Blenheim’s biggest stores face an anxious wait to find out if they still have jobs.

Smiths City bosses yesterday revealed they had negotiated a conditional $60 million sale.

But seven of the 29 stores nationwide will shut after being ditched from the sale agreement, with around 165 of the 465-strong workforce set to lose their jobs.

The fate of the Blenheim store is expected to be made public on Friday, with no official word on whether it was included in the buyout.

The store was open for business as usual over the weekend.

Founder of refrigerated logistics company Big Chill, Coiln Neal, has agreed the conditional sale under the banner of Polar Capital.

Smiths City Chair Alastair Kerr says the shock move will hopefully help the nationwide store stay afloat in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we signalled at the end of March and earlier this month, the Covid-19 pandemic has delivered a material and significant shock to the business,” he says.

The final number of stores to be sold is dependent on the lease transfers and new lease terms being agreed for those transferring stores, a spokesman says.

In addition to acquiring the stores Polar Capital has also committed to taking on some of company’s debt and liabilities.

The final amount expected to be received is $8 million.

Alastair says the move will help save some jobs.

“This shock has substantially shortened the time available for the turnaround programme that was the cornerstone of the company’s strategic plan.

“Faced with this shorter timeframe, it became clear that Smiths City needed to bring new capital into the business to drive the turnaround.

“However, it has now become clear that the transaction we have announced offers the greatest opportunity for Smiths City to endure for the long term.

“It also offers the greatest opportunity to protect the jobs of as many of our staff as we can in this uncertain time,” he says.

Polar Capital’s Colin Neal says the firm is a trusted brand and all commitments to customers will be honoured.

“If a customer has paid Smiths City for a product, they will get the product.

“I am looking forward to working with the Smiths City team to build on this proud legacy.

“I am also grateful for the resilience and continuing loyalty they and the broader community of partners, have shown as we worked through this period of uncertainty.”

Tamara Gillan. Photo: Supplied.

Covid patient pays tribute to healthcare team

Struggling to breathe as the virus attacked her lungs, Tamara Gillan tried not to panic.

Having arrived in Blenheim three days before lockdown she had fled the UK to be with her family in what she hoped would be a safer environment.

But in a cruel twist of fate, she became one of 49 people across Nelson Marlborough District Health board to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

Now mainly recovered, the grateful business owner is paying tribute to the team of healthcare workers who cared for her and her mother – well known Marlburian Toni Gillan, who medics believe also had the virus.

“They were amazing. We were called every day and they went through our symptoms with us.

“It was quite psychologically draining and to hear their friendly voices was very reassuring,” Tamara says.

When her symptoms worsened and she laboured to breath, the knowledge that help was just a call away was calming, she says.

“I was so breathless; like someone was standing on my chest.

“I knew that if I needed to, I could go to the hospital. That was calming as in London there might not be ventilators or beds, but I knew here I would get really amazing care.”

Founder and chief at marketing agency Cherry London and of the WealthiHer network, entrepreneur Tamara opted to come to New Zealand to be with her parents.

She thought the air quality would be better in Marlborough and safer for her 5-year-old son who suffers from lung issues after he was born prematurely.

They arrived in Blenheim two weeks after Toni had visited them in London in early March.

But on Toni’s return to New Zealand, she got a call from the Ministry of Health’s tracing team.

A patient sitting in front of her on the flight back had tested positive for COVID-19.  While her test was negative, Toni’s case was treated as probable, especially when Tamara fell ill too.

“I’m not a good patient but I knew I had to treat it with the respect it deserves. It was like I was at the bottom of the ocean and couldn’t breathe.

“The Public Health team here have just been spectacular,” she says.

“This is just heart breaking for the whole world and I feel hugely privileged to be here as people are just not getting the same level of testing in the UK.

“They also checked with a paediatrician about my son and consulted an immunologist as well as finding things to help keep him amused.

“I’m so grateful.”

Tamara wants to especially acknowledge and thank Nelson Marlborough Health clinical director Stephen Bridgman, public health nurse Karen Aitken, medical officer of health Andrew Lindsay and health protection officer Evan McKenzie.

Designer Makai Cresswell has turned his passion for dinosaurs into a design business. Photo: Supplied.

Young designer’s dino passion goes global

A young boy’s talent for drawing dinosaurs has sparked a T-shirt business that’s gaining fans fast.

Eleven-year-old Makai Cresswell from Blenheim has launched an online clothing company, MC Designs.

And the entrepreneur’s dinosaur designs have proven so popular some are being sent overseas.

With help from mum Kalita and dad Greg, the Bohally Intermediate student started his fledgling company in February.

Makai says he is delighted to get the chance to share his creations.

“I have always loved to draw. I started when I was about 3yrs old.

“I like that there’s lots of different types of dinosaurs and I like their different spikes, scales, teeth, spines and the sounds they make.”

Taking his inspiration from movies like Jurassic World, each intricate design takes around one to two hours.

Years of practice means he knows how to get his ideas done.

“I can draw them quickly because I make the details random. I watch movies like Jurassic World and get scenes from them to inspire me.

“I have always drawn a lot, so I have had lots of practice,” he says.

When his not designing T-shirts and hoodies, the former Witherlea School student watches movies and enjoys board games with brother Cooper, 14, and sister Mali, 9.

But he is always drawn back to the design board and the favourable reaction he has been getting has been exciting, he says.

“It makes me feel happy and proud. People commenting on my Facebook/Instagram pages makes me feel inspired about drawing & and designing more.”

Makai’s designs are being sold across New Zealand with some heading to Australia and South Africa via Marlborough customers.

Mum Kalita says the family have been overwhelmed by the positive response.

“We have been completely blown away at the response & and interest from all over NZ.

“Thank you to everyone who has ordered and supported Makai’s dream of having his own little business doing something he’s passionate about, which is drawing dinosaurs.”

Essential workers from every department at Wairau Hospital have ensured patients get the care they need. Photo: Paula Hulburt

Thank you, essential workers

Essential workers across Marlborough have helped keep the region going through lockdown – and all their efforts are appreciated.

From Supermarket staff to medical personnel, through to emergency services, teachers, vets, rest home staff, pharmacists and others, people have pulled together across the region.

And as a region, we want to thank you all for the vital part you have all played in keeping us all safe throughout Alert Level 4.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett is today paying tribute to all essential workers.

He says the region’s close-knit ties are more important than ever before.

“Marlborough is a close-knit community, with generous spirited people who help each other.

“Our strong networks – families, workplaces, clubs, churches and schools – are going to be important as we enter the Level 3 lockdown period, which for many of us will be similar to the Level 4 restrictions.

“Thank you to all the essential workers who have kept Marlborough going through the lockdown – your work and achievements are well recognised and appreciated.”

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

Majority of Marlborough Covid cases recovered

Most people who caught Covid-19 in Marlborough have now recovered.

Latest figures from Nelson Marlborough District Health Board show that as of today, 43 people across both regions have recovered from the virus.

For the eleventh day in a row, there have been no new or suspected cases of the illness.

The total number of new and probable cases in New Zealand today is nine taking the tally to 1440.

The Ministry of Health defines a recovered case as someone who has been symptom free for at least 10 days since they first started showing signs of infection.

Over the weekend 54 people were triaged at a Community Based Assessment Centre in Blenheim and swabs were taken from 49 people.

The Government is expected to announce a decision over whether New Zealand drops to Alert Level 3 at 4pm today.

MP Stuart Smith has launched an online petition to help save Sounds Air. Photo: Supplied

Stricken airline’s online support as MP joins funding battle

Marlborough’s stricken regional airline is being backed by the community in a bid to help save it from receivership.

Sounds Air bosses are not eligible to any of the Government’s $600 million rescue package set aside for the aviation sector amid Covid-19 lockdown.

Now MP Stuart Smith has started an online petition calling for immediate financial help.

He says the company has a big role to play in helping the region recover after lockdown as well as playing a vital role in providing essential transport links.

“I was deeply concerned to hear that Sounds Air risks going into receivership because they have not received any financial support from the Government’s aviation sector support package.

“When restrictions are eased, we will need Sounds Air to ensure people living in regional New Zealand can get to where they need to go.

“I’m calling on the Government to immediately provide the financial support that this highly reputable business needs so we can save jobs and maintain our essential transport links,” Stuart says.

Money from the government’s $600m aviation support package has been spent on keeping freight and lifeline links running.

Sounds Air connects Wellington to Picton, Nelson and Blenheim, and flies other routes Air New Zealand pulled out of over the years but is not considered an essential service.

Managing director of Sounds Air Andrew Crawford says he is making every effort to keep his airline afloat but is being met with brick walls.

Eighty employees face losing their jobs if the company has to close.

Stuart says the business cannot be let go without a fight.

“Some businesses are just too important to let fail. Sounds Air will be an important player in the economic recovery of regional New Zealand and our aviation sector.”

The petition has already been signed by almost 2500 people.”

To sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-transport-save-sounds-air-make-the-government-provide-financial-support-to-an-essential-nz-airline?recruiter=1078209202&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

Higher than safe levels of toxins in shellfish have been found in Croisilles Harbour. Photo: Supplied.

Toxic shellfish warning

An alert over toxic shellfish in Croisilles Harbour in the Marlborough Sounds has been issued today.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has issued a public health warning people not to collect or eat shellfish which, in extreme cases, could kill.

And anyone looking to boost their lockdown menu runs the risk of becoming severley ill.

People should not risk harvesting or eating shellfish in the Croiselles Harbour area. Photo: Supplied.
People should not risk harvesting or eating shellfish in the Croiselles Harbour area. Photo: Supplied.

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins to be at dangerous levels.

Pāua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut.

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and hands and feet.

Difficulty breathing, dizziness, vomiting and respiratory failure can follow.

A spokesman says anyone becoming ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued needs urgent medical attention.

“Phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16 or seek medical attention immediately.

“You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.”

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

Lockdown rule breakers arrested

A dozen people caught breaking lockdown Level 4 rules have been arrested.

Marlborough police have issues formal warnings to those caught out and about without good reason.

And repeat offenders not taking the warning to heart have found themselves in court.

Senior community constable Russell Smith says the courts are taking these breaches seriously.

“You may have noticed that Covid-19 Level 4 requirements mean that there are fewer vehicles on the road and far fewer people out-and-about.

“Some people, however, don’t seem to have worked out that this means that if they are out there doing things they are not supposed to be doing, it’s a lot easier for police to find and deal with them,” he says.

Those that have appeared in court have been set stringent bail conditions, including 22-hour a day curfew.

Less traffic means police have also been charging drunk drivers who are easier to spot.

“Police in Marlborough have also been arresting and charging a steady stream of people who have been found driving while intoxicated and driving when they are disqualified or prohibited from driving.

“As previously mentioned, they are easier to spot and more obvious while fewer people are moving around as a result of the Level 4 restrictions,” says senior community constable Smith.

“Please follow the rules. The restrictions are all about saving lives.”

Police have also been getting reports of would-be thieves trying their luck during lockdown.

Residents in Blenheim’s De Castro subdivision have been targeted recently, with police receiving reports of daytime prowlers.

Senior community constable Smith is warning people to be on their guard after several homes were targeted.

“Some residents in the De Castro subdivision have been reporting that they have had prowlers trying to open external doors in daylight while the residents have been home during the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown in recent days.

“To date, there have been several residents report hearing their front or rear door handle being tried, and when they have investigated the prowler has already left the property.

“Police are encouraging anyone who experiences similar activity, or who believes they have a prowler on their property to call Police on 111.”

 

Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon organsiers Chris Shaw and Anna Polson have cancelled next year's event. Photo: Supplied.

Future of famous Marlborough marathon in jeopardy

Money woes have forced organisers behind one of Marlborough’s most famous races to pull the plug, with it’s long term future now uncertain.

The Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon has been cancelled for next year with promoters blaming the Covid-19 crisis for the change of heart.

Entrants will be refunded $30 from the average ticket of $99 as funds have already been spent preparing for this year’s race.

It has been an agonising decision to make, say co-ordinators Chris Shaw and Anna Polson who revealed refunding the entire fee would force the event into bankruptcy.

The pair have event insurance but pandemics are specified in the policy as non-payment events.

“We’ve put a lot of love and dedication into getting the race where it is today, and personally we’re devastated that our efforts have come to this. There have been some emails accusing us of being greedy and that makes me feel personally hurt.

“We’ve tried to be a generous member of the community and set out to give value back to the community. We haven’t just changed overnight.”

“We were hoping the event could take place in May 2021, but that’s not guaranteed by any means with the future of mass gatherings and events being so uncertain. We’re doing a good job at erradicating it [Covid-19] but,looking forward, we couldn’t say with any degree of certainty that we can hold it next year and to start preparing would be irresponsible, Chris says.

The event was originally postponed just days before lockdown officially begun.

All entries were transferred to a rescheduled race in May 2021 but that has now been shelved.

“We can’t be certain that the Vineyard Half planned for May 2021 will be able to go ahead either, so we will soon begin processing refunds to everyone who has entered this year’s event.

“We have agonised over the best process to refund and looked at the range of responses from other events.  We’re uncomfortable with the ‘refund nothing’ model, and ‘refund everything’ would simply bankrupt us; meaning you get nothing, and the Vineyard Half no longer exists,” Chris says.

All merchandise will be completely refunded, and organisers will donate any refunds not taken to race charity Bowel Cancer NZ.

The 14-year-old event has attracted thousands of people to the region and is a crucial way for Bowel Cancer NZ to raise funds.

Chris says he knows the lockdown has had an affect on the whole community.

“This has been an incredibly stressful and difficult time for us.

“We know everyone out there will be affected by this pandemic, so we hope you’ll understand how and why we’ve had to make this difficult decision.”