Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

Jessica Boyce’s disappearance is being treated as a homicide by police. Photo: Supplied.

Family share victim’s photo to shame killer

The family of missing woman Jessica Boyce want people to share her photo on social media to help shame her killer into coming forward.

Jessica’s cousin Aaron Goodwin has posted a new profile pic of the smiling Renwick woman, who disappeared on March 19.

He urged people to share the photo in the hope it would prick someone’s conscience.

In the post he says how he hopes the post would propel people to come forward.

“Beautiful Jess. Keeping her as my profile photo in solidarity with investigators and everyone else trying to get justice for Jess.

“Hopefully seeing Jess everywhere might break the conscience of whoever is involved and propel them to come forward.

“Anything’s worth a shot, eh? If anyone else wants to do this, even just for 48hrs it would be really cool to her smiling face everywhere,” he wrote.

Possible forensic evidence relating to the homicide investigation has been seized by police from a Blenheim home.

Police working on the disappearance of Renwick woman Jessica Boyce, 27, searched a house on Warwick Street and another on Henderson Street last week.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan says the occupant of the Warwick Street address was spoken to by police on Thursday, but no arrests have been made.

“A second warrant was executed at a Henderson Street address and samples of potential forensic value were seized.

“The investigation continues to receive information from the public and investigators are steadily working through inquiries that have been generated from that information,” he says.

Forensic scientists from crime scene specialist firm ESR assisted police at both addresses.

Jessica was last seen in a red Holden Rodeo ute in Renwick.

The ute was found three days later at the Lake Chalice car park in the Mount Richmond Forest Park but police bosses think it was left there deliberately to hinder the investigation.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sloan says enquiries are ongoing.

Puro cultivation director Tom Forrest believes Marlborough’s microclimate makes it ideal for growing medical cannabis. Photo: Supplied.

Marijuana moguls top half a million dollar mark

A bid to turn Marlborough into New Zealand’s largest medical cannabis producer has topped half a million dollars in just a few days.

Puro launched a fundraising campaign on Wednesday, selling shares in the fledgling company for $1each.

Less than four days later 168 people had pledged $610, 293.

Company bosses say the business is on track to become the first company to grow medical cannabis and hemp in Marlborough.

Puro director Sank Macfarlane says the company intended to grow medicinal cannabis in greenhouses in the Waihopai Valley and high-CBD (cannabidiol) hemp in Kekerengu, on the coast between Blenheim and Kaikōura.

“The feedback we’ve had so far has been incredibly positive – there’s a real mood out there that it’s medical cannabis’ time.

“But we’re not there yet – while we’ve raised enough capital to get started, we need more investment if we’re going to achieve what we’ve set out to do,” he  says.

Puro is looking to raise $2 to $4 million through crowdfunding and an additional $2 million through wholesale investors.

A minimum of $500 dollars is being asked for by investors.

The unique microclimates are ideal for growing high end cannabis says the company’s cultivation director Tom Forrest.

“Marlborough is ideal for growing cannabis on a large commercial scale.

“We believe the local climate, summer daylight hours, intensity and quality of light spectrum will provide a perfect location for healthy, high potency, flavourful cannabis.

“Combined with the existing farming expertise from the wine sector and local agricultural resources, Marlborough will make as fantastic location for commercial cannabis cultivation,” he says.

Puro secured a licence from the Ministry of Health for medicinal cannabis at the Waihopai Valley site.

The licence would be for research purposes only until the medical cannabis scheme is rubber-stamped.

The Ministry of Health will need Cabinet approval on the regulatory proposals which could see the proposed Medicinal Cannabis Scheme up and running by April next year.

“Cannabis is one of the oldest used medicines in history, says Thomas.

“Written evidence dates back thousands of years showing proven medical efficacy and usage for a vast range of serious ailments, alongside safe recreational use in many different cultures worldwide.

“Legal cannabis provides a valuable commodity for farmers and wide range of economic opportunities.

“Legalisation helps with socioeconomic challenges and is shown to decrease societal harms from hard drug use.”

Coralanne Child. Photo: Supplied.

Support for sex scandal school in wake of guilty pleas

Education bosses have pledged their ongoing support to a school stricken by an underage sex scandal.

Students at a Blenheim high school are a “top priority” say Ministry of Education staff after a former member of staff pleaded guilty to having sex with minors.

In the wake of her guilty pleas, acting deputy secretary, sector enablement and support Coralanne Child says support to those affected is ongoing.

“The safety and wellbeing of students is a top priority for us, as it is for boards of trustees, parents and whānau.

“In this case, we continue to offer our support to the school and its board as it moves past this challenging event,” she says.

The woman, who cannot be named, admitted seven counts of having sex with minors, and two of sending sexual images and video to minors, at the Blenheim District Court last week.

She was convicted and bailed for sentencing.

Her registration with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand has been cancelled though she may be eligible to apply again.

A spokeswoman from the council says no formal hearing will be held though the former teacher will be told officially that she has been struck from the register.

“A person with a cancelled teacher registration is able to apply for registration again.

“However, if they have been convicted of a specified offence, they must first be granted an exemption by the Ministry of Social Development.

“Then the person may apply to the Teaching Council for registration and we review and consider if the person meets our registration requirements,” she says.

The school’s Board of Trustees welcomed the woman’s guilty pleas, saying it “ensures justice” for all those caught up in the case.

In a letter to parents, the chairman of the Board of Trustees says he hopes the move will “provide closure.”

“Her actions breached the trust of so many and it is appropriate that she has taken sole responsibility by pleading guilty,” he says.

He added that he hoped sentencing at the end of the year would allow people to move forward.

“I am very thankful that this matter will be concluded before the end of the year for the sake of our community, staff, parents and boys.“I would like to thank the police and all of the other agencies involved in this case for their diligence and their care during this very difficult time … and ensuring that this did not impact on the wider student body of our college,” he says.

But not everyone has been happy with the handling of the case, with one worried parent branding it “disgusting”.

The woman, who asked not to be named, says the scandal was felt by the wider community.

She says the guilty woman seemingly showed no remorse for her actions and was spotted at several public events, including junior rugby games.

“Talk about allowing her access to a smorgasbord of underage boys.

“I’m not comfortable with her being allowed to watch my boy play rugby and I know other parents feel the same.

“If this was a male teacher who was accused of having sex with underage girls- I highly doubt he would be allowed down the netball courts.

“Those poor boys and their families being made to look like fools by our justice system.”

The woman will appear for sentencing at Blenheim District Court on 17 December.

Max the cat was reported missing when someone tried to drown him. Photo: Supplied.

Blind cat saved from watery death

An elderly, blind cat has been reunited with his owner after being rescued just moments before being drowned.

Marlborough SPCA staff were tipped off by the public that someone was trying to drown 15-year-old tabby cat, Max.

His distraught owner had been searching for his beloved pet for a month and was reunited after staff at the Renwick centre swooped in to save him.

An SPCA spokeswoman says they took Max into their Foxes Island centre to care for him.

“Earlier this month, SPCA Renwick were called out to reports of a member of the public trying to drown a cat.

“SPCA took the cat in but were concerned about his overall health due to old age.

“A few days after the rescue, an SPCA employee noticed that the cat looked very much like one he had seen on a missing poster and on Facebook.

“Max is now back in his loving home, getting the care and attention he needs,” she says.

Centre staff now hope people will help raise money for other animals in need.

“Without the help of the public, a story like Max’s may not have ended so well.

“The SPCA rely on Kiwis for their donations to continue carrying out the fantastic work they do every day, in this case, it included rescuing Max, nursing him back to good health and reuniting him with his owner,” the spokeswoman says.

The SPCA’s latest fundraiser, the Great NZ Paws Walk takes place on 9 November and the Foxes Island centre urgently needs more people and pups on board.

Staff will be hosting a walk from 10am. Sign up via www.spca.nz/centre/renwick-centre.

Pic Cap, from left, Mark Rawson (EDNZ), Adi James (MDC) Alistair Schorn (MDC) Neil Henry (MDC) Trevor Hook (former councillor of MDC), Mark Wheeler (MDC), Pam Ford (EDNZ Chair) and Mayor John Leggett. Photo: Colin McDiarmid.

Council connections

Encouraging wellbeing and prosperity in the community has seen Marlborough District Council staff honoured for their efforts.

The Marlborough Smart+Connected Economic and Community Development Programme team has been recognised for their contribution to the region.

At an economic conference in Blenheim on Thursday, the Wellbeing and Prosperity Awards were revealed in front of former Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark.

Economic Development New Zealand chair Pam Ford says Marlborough’s programme puts it at the “forefront” of growth.

“The impressive line-up of speakers covered a wide range of issues impacting on New Zealand’s wellbeing and quality of life,”

“One theme that came through strongly was the importance of investing in workforce training to improve productivity, rather than the traditional thinking of viewing staff development as a cost,” she says.

Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) is a not-for-profit group which champions organisations and individuals who stimulate economic wellbeing and inclusive growth.

Jane Kinsey oversees Mental Health Addiction and Disability Support Services. Photo: Supplied.

Mental health service under pressure from meth

The pressure is piling on mental health services as methamphetamine addicts seek crisis help.

Mental health services are coming under extra pressure as the number of people becoming addicted to the dangerous drug increases.

Health bosses hope to unroll a new, intensive outpatient treatment initiative before Christmas to help tackle the growing issue.

A report to members of Nelson Marlborough Health Board revealed use of the drug is a “significant cause or concern” for a service already feeling the squeeze.

Nelson Marlborough Health chief executive Peter Bramley revealed mental health services have experienced a high demand.

In a report to the district health board last week, he wrote: “The service welcomed our new psychiatrist to the CAT (mental health community assessment team) team.

“This is the first time the team has had a dedicated medical support which we trust will make a huge difference…

“We still have four vacancies in our teams … this unfortunately means we are heavily reliant on medical locums to give service coverage.”

General manager Mental Health Addiction and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey says she has noticed more people needing their help.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug available in pill, powder, crystal or liquid forms and has serious social, economic and even environmental consequences.

“We are certainly noticing more people seeking help and that’s good but there is a definite upward trend.

“As meth becomes become more embedded in the community it’s become more chronic –  and it’s harmful effects.

“Our referrals are increasing because of the demand. We want to be able to respond as quickly as we can,” she says.

A new drug treatment initiative based on a successful American outpatient initiative, the Matrix Model, will hopefully be rolled out in Nelson later this year.

Plans to expand the service to Marlborough next are in the pipeline.

Jane says the impact of the drug is making mental health issues worse in some cases.

“It makes any health issue worse, both physically and mentally. We hear some very sad stories.

“When people present with meth, we really want to respond before they change their minds.

“The ambition is to make contact and give them some ideas and strategies as soon as possible,” says Jane.

The first point of contact for anyone seeking help with methamphetamine addiction should be their GP.

The Blue Light camp at Lake Rotoiti was a resounding success. Photo: Supplied.

Blue Light camp shines light on students

Potential police recruits have been put through their paces as part of bid to help boost confidence and skill levels among school children.

Year 7 and 8 students from across the region joined police and volunteers at a Blue Light Alternative Strategies for Teenagers (BLAST) camp at Lake Rotoiti.

Blenheim senior constable Russ Smith says the camps are “carefully crafted” to encourage constructive fun.

“The programmed activities are designed to challenge youths to work beyond their comfort zones, understand the benefits of team-work, to become more confident and to demonstrate leadership skills,” he says.

Camps have been held in Marlborough since 2003 and have even inspired one past participant to join the police force.

“A number of grown-up participants have expressed how fondly they remember their camp experiences, how it positively changed their view of and relationship with police.

“One of our serving Blenheim Police members remembers their positive experiences at a Marlborough Blue Light camp, so who knows how many potential Police recruits have been inspired,” senior constable Smith says.

The small committee is made up of both Police members and members of the public with an interest in providing youth services for Marlborough.

Fees are deliberately low and heavily subsidised with just a $20 registration fee to pay.

The Pelorus Trust granted funding for most of this year’s camp, says senior constable Smith.

From being shot into the air via a harness for the ‘Flying Kiwi’ event to building their own set of wings and diving into Lake Rotoiti, students faced two days of challenges earlier this month.

The fun events are geared to challenge, senior constable Smith says.

“Some key learning took place almost immediately, with the whole group taking part in ‘chunking’

This is a set of separate dance moves taught over the course of the camp to teach the participants that big challenges can be managed if they are broken into smaller chunks.

“This group were dance-move experts by the end of the camp.

“At the end of the camp, a bunch of tired but happy youths summarised the things they loved about the camp, the things they learned, things that scared them and expressed how much fun they had.”

The Blenheim Community Patrol group. Photo: Supplied.

Patrol recruits ready to hit the streets

Picton will soon see community patrollers walking the beat as a bid to help police officers pays off.

Six new recruits have volunteered with the Blenheim Community Patrol to help keep Picton safe as the summer seasons gets underway.

And with a new car on its way, the newbies should be out on patrol before Christmas.

Patrol coordinator and volunteer Moira Conroy says the team currently make regular rounds in Picton every couple of weeks on a Friday night.

The boost in numbers means the coastal town will soon have its own dedicated team, she says.

“Four people are currently going through the process and another two will begin soon.

“We could always do with more though, especially as volunteers will be doing walking patrols to cover cruise ship season.”

An extra patrol car is set to arrive from the Palmerston North branch of Community Patrol New Zealand.

“It’s great as it’s already kitted out,” Moira says.

Since it began in 2017, the patrol has been proactive in the community and all volunteers

Earlier this year volunteers spent a morning visiting the Southern Police Communications Centre where all 111 calls are taken.

“We were shown through the call centre where all the 111 emergency calls are received by extremely competent call takers and then dispatched to the relevant local police units.

“It was fair to say that we were very impressed and inspired with what we were shown and are in awe of the ability and professionalism displayed by the comms call centre staff,” Moira says.

The community patrol group will be holding a crime prevention event at Bunnings on 16 November.

Blenheim Community Patrol are running the fundraiser refitting number plates with special “anti-theft screws” for just $5 a vehicle.

Members of the community anti-crime group will be in the carpark from 10am until 2pm fitting number plates with anti-theft screws for a gold coin donation.

Police will also be there to engrave work tools.

For further information about becoming a volunteer with Blenheim Community Patrol visit email: [email protected]

Neil Gibbs with wife Jessie. Photo: Supplied.

Call for Ukulele players to strike a chord with flotilla visitors

A ukulele player is calling for fellow musicians to pool their strumming talents to welcome a flotilla of guests to Picton.

Neil Gibbs from Picton is searching for players of all ages and abilities to join in a ukulele orchestra of around 100 people.

They are set to accompany children from schools across Marlborough who will sing to welcome the Tuia 250 Voyage Flotilla.

The Blenheim Ukulele Group (BUG) member says anyone can learn.

“There are a lot of people who have ukuleles stashed away or their grandkids might have them.

“It’s a lot easier than most people think, there are only four strings and you don’t have to have a musical background at all.

“I could teach someone how to be productive on the ukulele in an hour,” Neil says.

Accompanied by his singer wife Jessie, the pair join other members of the BUG group and play their ukuleles at rest homes around the region.

Two gigs a week keeps them “pretty busy”, Neil says.

The guitarist was inspired to start playing about 10 year ago after he watched a tribute concert to former Beatle George Harrison.

“There was a song by Joe Brown called See You in My Dreams and it was the highlight of the evening.

“I had played the guitar for years but hadn’t really devoted much time to it so went out and bought a $20 ukulele and played the song on that,” he says.

The flotilla is set to arrive in Picton on November 22 at 10am as part of the historic milestone marking 250 years since the first meetings between Māori and Pākeha during James Cook and the Endeavour’s 1769 voyage to Aotearoa New Zealand

Kapa haka and other community groups will join the mayor in greeting the crews from Tahiti, Aotearoa and Australia.

A 3D animation and light installation will take place that evening along the foreshore.

Neil hopes to hold three rehearsals ahead of the big day. To find out more, email Neil at [email protected]

Tyler Redmond is using his talents to help both bullies and their victims. Photo: Supplied.

Teen’s screen anti-bullying message

They once bullied him, now their victim has included his tormentors in a film to help stop others suffering the same fate.

Blenheim filmmaker and director Tyler Redmond, 16, has been bullied since he was 5 years old.

Making films helped take his mind off the trauma, now his latest film, Rise Up, is set to help others going through similar situations.

But it’s not been an easy path to follow, he says.

“Instead of helping just one person in a schoolyard, I’m trying to help others on a national level.”

The young director credits his dad, Christchurch motorsport driver Stan Redmond, 65, as the force behind his drive to succeed.

Stan died in 2013 following a crash at Invercargill’s Teretonga Park.

“I think I’m so driven because of him. I was nine years old when my dad passed away.

“He was very driven and knew what he wanted, what he wanted to achieve.

“My mum’s also been very supportive and has been with me every step of the way,” he says.

It includes two characters played by two boys who once bullied Tyler. He says while he was “hesitant” at first to include them, he made an unbiased decision.

“I’d put a call out for cast, and they showed up. I was a bit wary, a bit hesitant at first. They remembered me but didn’t realise I was making the film. They were a bit embarrassed.

“I got talking to one of them and he apologised for what he’d done.” Tyler says.

Bullying affects nearly one-half of primary-aged children in New Zealand schools and a third of secondary students.

Tyler hopes his film will help both bullies and victims.

“What makes me sick to the stomach is when you see on the news about young people who are taking their own lives.

“Social media and commenting can cause constant hurt and upset and I want people to know it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Rise-Up will premiere at the Clubs of Marlborough for free on 29 November at 6.30pm.