Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

There will be no public Anzac commemorations held in Marlborough in April. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Anzac Day public service axed

Anzac Day commemorations have been cancelled across the region as fears for public health grow.

Services around Marlborough have been cancelled and the annual Poppy Day Street Appeal postponed for the first time since 1922.

Marlborough RSA president Chris Bamber says the decision has been made to protect the health of veterans, members and the public.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce the cancellation of Anzac Day services.

“This is the right decision in light of the global pandemic situation.

“We get tremendous support from our Marlborough community and feel a great sense of sadness at not being able to share this special day with you all,” she says.

RSA national president B J Clark says this is the first time that public services to commemorate ANZAC Day have been cancelled and the Poppy Day Appeal postponed.

New Zealand is under attack and so the bonds of service, sacrifice and support that our community has demonstrated in times of war, adversity and natural disaster must once again come to the fore,” he says.

“COVID-19 is a powerful and dangerous for. RSA’s and the communities they are part of, all-over New Zealand must fight hard to protect our whanau and kaumatua from the transmission of this virus in keeping our proud memories of service and sacrifice.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented decisions to protect the health and safety of all New Zealanders, Clark says.

Chris says she hopes people will still be able to mark the moment on 25April.

“We can still honour and remember the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and servicewoman, both past and present, on Anzac Day but not just in the form of commemorative event.

“I hope people can still spare a few moments during the day to remember.

“Marlborough RSA will continue to ensure the wellbeing, health and safety of all our members and their families and urge all our community to be kind, respectful and think of each other.

“These are unprecedented times.”

Jessica Boyce’s disappearance is being treated as murder. Photo: Supplied.

Family’s heart-felt plea to killer

The family of murder victim Jessica Boyce have made an emotional plea to her killer to end their torment.

As the first anniversary of the day she disappeared approaches, Jessica’s cousin Aaron Goodwin has a message for her killer – hand yourself in.

And he is begging for the murderer to reveal where Jessica’s body can be found so she can finally be laid to rest.

In an open message to the killer, Aaron says he still hopes that Jessica’s killer will do the right thing.

“You have had a year to do the right thing. I still, perhaps naively, hold on to hope that your conscience will get the better of you – that any good values your family may have instilled in you when you were young will win out.

“You will make an attempt at redemption and you will either hand yourself in or at least find a way to communicate to us where we can find and retrieve Jess,” he says.

Jessica Boyce was 27 when she was last seen in Renwick on 19 March driving her mum’s red Holden Rodeo ute.

The vehicle was discovered at the Lake Chalice car park in the Richmond Ranges on Friday, March 22.

Jessica’s disappearance became a homicide investigation in October.

Posting on the Find Jess website last week, Aaron says the killer must be struggling with what they have done.

“How long can you live with yourself knowing what you’ve done?

“Replaying it over and over in your head like a movie, heart skipping a beat and morphing into a full-blown panic attack when the police release another statement or Jess’s face reappears in the media,” he says.

“Your own life is more-or-less over, the only way to regain your humanity and anything resembling peace of mind back now is to confess and to own your part in Jess’s homicide and the subsequent cover up.

“How long can you trust anyone else involved with Jess’s disappearance to keep their mouth shut? How do you know they aren’t already talking, laying as much of the blame at your feet as possible before you can even formulate a defence?

Described by Aaron as “innocently naïve,” Jessica is mourned every day by her distraught family and wide circle of friends.

“Where has the time gone? Weird how it can seem like each day waiting for a development seems to drag on forever, yet it seems like only yesterday we got the news that you were missing,” he says.

Robbing her of a future also “struck fear” into the community, says Aaron.

“You have struck fear into the heart of the peaceful Marlborough community. Your community.

“The rumours about the investigation must be driving you insane, and that’s only going to get worse. People should not have to worry that killers are walking among them on Marlborough streets.

“Not only have you taken away a person whose light and energy was responsible for so much happiness in the world, you have also forever changed in a negative way the lives of many family members and friends of Jess’s”.

Jessica’s brother George is now living with Aaron. Having him close by is a comfort, he says.

He will never give up on finding justice for Jessica, he says.

“The most offensive consequence of your actions is the fact that you have robbed Jess of any future she would have had, here with us, where she belongs.

Friend Theresa Mischeski described Jessica’ disappearance as a “nightmare.”

“She’s one of ours, The cop’s have been told so much by so many of us I can’t understand why no one is arrested?

“I don’t know what else to say but keep strong to her family and friends, I’m sure they will get the hideous subhumans whom are involved.”

New Zealand police have been approached for comment and say they plan on releasing a statement on 19 March.

Anyone with any information can contact Crimestoppers New Zealand anonymously on 0800 555 111. Visit for more ways to help.

Blenheim Police can be contacted on 578 5279.

The team at ZeroStone Investigations, from left, Matt MacDougall, German Shepherd Stone and Mike Lawson. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Drug dog sniffing out crime

There is a new face in town helping combat illegal drugs – and he comes with four paws and a great sense of smell.

German Shepherd Stone is being trained as the only drug detector dog in Marlborough and Tasman.

The nine-month-old dog joins the team at ZeroStone Investigations in Blenheim and will be able to sniff-out class A drugs.

Expert dog handler and former policeman Matt MacDougall says the latest addition will help businesses stay drug free.

“I did quite a bit of research before we got him, researching breeders, the dogs’ working lines and looking at videos.

“Stone’s granddad came from a working dog in the States.”

ZeroStone is the brainchild of former Blenheim detective Mike Lawson who set up the agency in 2016 after 24 years with the police force.

The company specialises in methamphetamine testing, employee drug testing, investigation and law enforcement consultation.

He says their services are in in demand across both Marlborough and Tasman.

“We do different things, from work for defence lawyers and investigating the other side to private cases where people are being prosecuted.

“Stone will be able to go into workplaces to help keep them drug free and hopefully act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about bringing drugs in.”

Mike’s time as a detective saw him target methamphetamine and drug dealing syndicates throughout Marlborough and Tasman.

He was involved in investigating some of the country’s most serious crimes.

Starting the agency was the next logical step, he says.

“It just felt like the right time. A lot of the guys I had worked with and respected were leaving.”

After a decade in the force, working in Christchurch as a dog handler, Matt returned to Blenheim.

He has been training Stone for the last six months.

“He’s a big baby at the moment. Some of the puppies start off as little rock stars but, for whatever reason, just don’t make good drug dogs.

“I started training Stone when he was eight weeks old by getting him used to odours and tracking them.

“We started with a tennis ball and once he found that we worked up slowly from there,” Matt says.

“He’s definitely turned out to be the pick of the bunch.”

ZeroStone Investigations are one of eight businesses talking about their work at the Chamber of Commerce’s free SME (Small Medium Enterprises) showcase on April 29 from 5-7pm at the Marlborough Convention Centre.

Other featured businesses are: Credit Recoveries Ltd, 3MLearning, Gift Sisters, NZME, Literacy Aotearoa, Bayleys and Fit4Work.

A question mark hangs over two large scale events in the region, including Feast Marlborough in May. File photo.

Pandemic threatens busy event season

The future of two major Marlborough events hangs in the balance amid coronavirus fears.

Organisers behind the popular Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon and Feast Marlborough are waiting for a government announcement on guidelines for large events.

No final decisions have been made as the number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand rises to eight.

The move comes just three days after the last-minute cancellation of the annual Framingham Harvest Concert amid fears over the spread of Covid-19.

In an online post, Saint Clair say they have had “a number of enquiries” from people worried the May event will be cancelled.

“At this stage, we are watching the situation closely and we expect a government announcement on events in the coming days.

“We will be following their guidance on this and will update our plans accordingly. We will keep our entrants fully informed as the situation evolves.

“We will follow standard practice regarding cancellation of events, should government advice be to cancel public events.”

Feast Marlborough staff say they are closely monitoring the situation “as a matter of urgency.”

The event is scheduled to take place in May.

Shipwrecks Kidsworld in Picton is temporarily ceasing operations, shitting its doors last week.

Only parties alre4day booked will be allowed to go ahead.

“The health and safety of our young customers is extremely important to us.

“We thank you for your support over the past few years and we look forward to being of service to you again in the future,” says a spokeswoman.

Nelson Marlborough Health say there are no confirmed cases of the illness in the region.

“There are no confirmed cases in the Nelson Marlborough region and the Ministry of Health emphasises that, with continued vigilance, the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.

People who have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should stay at home and seek medical advice from Healthline,” says a spokeswoman.

People with symptoms should call ahead before going to a GP clinic, pharmacy or hospital department.

New border measures are in place as of Monday. Most travellers arriving in New Zealand are now required to self-isolate for two weeks.

Phone the free Healthline number for specialised Coronavirus advice: 0800 358 5453 

Aaron Harvey was convicted at Blenheim High Court in 2008. File photo.

Murderer to be freed from prison

A Blenheim man who spent 11 years of a life sentence in prison for murder will be freed on Wednesday.

Aaron James Harvey, 44, was found guilty of murder in 2008 after killing Carl MacDonald in a gang related shooting in Blenheim.

The New Zealand Parole Board has agreed to release Harvey from Rolleston Prison in Christchurch, with staff noting “how well” he has done.

He is forbidden from returning to Blenheim and will be released to a Canterbury address.

In its written decision, the parole board says Harvey will have an initial three-month curfew in place.

“He is no longer an undue risk and may now be released.

“We have amended a number of the proposed special conditions. The curfew provision has been amended.

“It will be from 10pm to 6am and we will not require electronic monitoring of the curfew.

“We will require electronic monitoring of his whereabouts which prevents him from going to Blenheim.”

Harvey, a former member of the Lone Legion motorcycle gang, was sentenced to life, serving a minimum of ten years in prison, after a jury found him guilty at a High Court trial in Blenheim.

Three other men on trial for the murder along with Harvey were acquitted and he later lost an appeal against his conviction.

On his release, he is forbidden from communicating or associating with co-offenders Corey William Mackle, Peter Christopher Tait and Jason David Warren.

Carl Edward MacDonald, 39, died at Wairau Hospital after he was shot with a sawn-off .22 rifle following a fight.

An argument outside the Lone Legion Motorcycle headquarters on Gascoigne Street in Blenheim was sparked after Harvey threw a brick at MacDonald’s car.

Harvey has impressed the parole board with his efforts to rehabilitate and has been on Release to Work since February 2019

It also noted that a psychologist described Harvey as “having a moderate risk of reoffending”

The report says Harvey has now had an offer of full-time post-release employment from an employer he has worked with while on release.

“He has had a number of guided releases to where he might live and to other places in the community.

“He has an extensive support network, including [withheld] and other family members.”

Sharlese with son Luka-Paul Cunniffe-Tait. Photo: Supplied.

Community rallies for Sharlese

A young mum battling bowel cancer has been told the deadly disease has spread even further.

Sharlese Turnbull-Tait, 34, from Blenheim has stage 4 bowel cancer which spread to her lungs.

Now doctors have discovered a new tumour and Sharlese faces further radiation treatment to ease the pain.

Her family hoped to raise enough money for an alternative treatment but now need funds to help with medical bills and costs.

They have organised a rally in a bid to raise money and hope people will support them.

“She cannot accept alternative treatment because she has a very unique type of mutated metastatic cancer.

“A tumour has returned in her surgery site which is causing her pain but she’s heading down to Christchurch to get some radiation treatment for 10 days so she can be a bit more comfortable.

“The Rally to raise some money to pay for her medical bills, prescriptions and hopefully a holiday,” Kelsie says.

Mainly confined to her bed, Sharlese is being cared for at home by her family who are also looking after her children, Luka-Paul Cunniffe-Tait,10, and Ellazae Cunniffe-Tait, 3.

“The family have all cut work hours to help with the kids and caring for her.

“Mum will be her primary caregiver but unfortunately she has to work also during that time which is pretty tough on her emotionally and definitely financially,” Kelsie says.

Rally for Hope will be held on 4 April taking drivers from Blenheim to Lake Rotoiti.  A car and bike show will be held first at Waterlea Racecourse.

The show will be open to the public between 9 and 11am. There will be a cash raffle too.

To register a vehicle for the display or rally text 0212581213 with your full name and licence plate number or visit the Rally for Hope Facebook page.

Donations can be made by searching the Givealittle website and searching ‘Sharlese’.

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency management officer Gary Spence. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Mayor tipped over the edge

Marlborough’s Emergency Response Team tipped the region’s mayor over the edge last week – but all for a good cause.

Strapped into a stretcher, mayor Leggett was lowered from a height of 4.1metres as he was rescued from the fire station training tower in Blenheim.

Playing the part of a casualty, mayor Leggett joked he had checked his will.

“I did think about checking whether it was up to date,” he says

Members of Marlborough Emergency Response Team train regularly to prepare for possible disaster.

Mayor John Leggett was in safe hands as he was lowered to the ground. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
Mayor John Leggett was in safe hands as he was lowered to the ground. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Part of their training includes ground-based rescue, structural search, flood response and casualty recovery.

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency management officer Gary Spence was on hand to talk the audience through the stages of a rescue.

Fire, ambulance and police personnel watched on in interest.

“It’s about keeping the team safe and getting the casualty out of there, he says.

Mayor Leggett agreed to play the part of a casualty with possible neck or spinal injuries.

Crews carefully transferred him into the stretcher by sliding it underneath while he was moved in a blanket.

“I felt very safe, very secure,” he says.

The Marlborough team make up part of 750 emergency personnel throughout the country.

Gary says the 24-strong team are unique in that they don’t just undertake rescues but help support Fire and Emergency New Zealand setting up mobile civil defence centres.

“Other responsibilities include performing evacuations; they are qualified to do cordons and roadblocks so it’s a team that can really fit lots of different areas and different roles.

“The reason that we’re interested in showcasing what we’re doing tonight is that rescue is one of half a dozen things that we do, so that some of the other emergency services can see that this perhaps can be a resource they can look into.”

SPCA centre manager Donna Sollogar with kitten Duffy. Photo: Paula Hulburt

Going the extra mile

Brother and sister Jack and Jill have been at the SPCA centre since December last year. Photo: Paula Hulburt

An animal charity has taken delivery of some new arrivals sent to Marlborough in a bid to find new homes.

The SPCA centre in Renwick has welcomed in seven kittens and cats from the Christchurch rescue hub which is swamped with strays.

Centre manager Donna Sollogar says she hopes people will come out to Foxes Island to meet the new arrivals for themselves.

“We’ve taken some in to help with the backlog. They help us out when we’re really busy so it’s only right to return the favour,” she says.

Staff are also looking for permanent homes for some of the centre’s longer term residents.

“Some have been born here and just get overlooked as new kittens arrive.

“Many have been at foster homes and are well handled and used to children.

“They’re really friendly and mainly very confident,” Donna says.

Siblings Jack and Jill have been at the SPCA since December and the pair have been in one of the centre’s two kitten units the longest.

Both are desexed and ready for adoption.

“They’re both really sweet and while Jack’s a bit more reserved he’s very affectionate,” says Donna.

Another sibling pair looking for home are Lemon and Lime. White-furred Lemon (white) is partially blind and relies on her sister Lime for support.

The pair share a close bond and need a quiet home where they can live as inside cats.

“People are welome to call in to see us during opening hours or give us a call.

“We’d love to see all these lovely animals find a new home,” Donna says.

The SPCA is at 31 Foxes Island Road and is open Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm and from 10am until 2pm on a Sunday.

Save Kōwhai Pā event organiser Keelan Walker says the land is of great importance. Photo: Supplied.

Hui to help protect heritage site

Worried iwi have gathered to debate the best way to protect one of New Zealand’s most important heritage sites.

Iwi want to see development work at Kōwhai Pā stopped pending an official investigation.

The significant site belongs to Rangitāne, Ngāti Toarangatira and Ngāti Rārua. It is close to the Wairau Bar and is one of the first places humans settled in the country 800 years ago.

Grapegrowers in Marlborough are accused of disturbing the ancient Māori burial sites with new vines.

Work should cease, say iwi, until an investigation by New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (HNZPT) in completed.

On Saturday, supporters gathered at a hui to discuss the best way forward.

Save Kōwhai Pā event organiser Keelan Walker says the land is of great importance.

“Our wahi tapu, our urupa, our burial grounds are all out there.

“It’s about bringing people out here to introduce them to the history and significance of this area,” he says.

Much of Kōwhai Pā is owned by grapegrowers Montford Corporation.

Director Haysley MacDonald is also an elected trustee at Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne o Wairau, and director of te Pā Wines.

The company does not have permission to use parts of the land commercially without permission from HNZTP.

“If I’m found to be wrong, nothing’s damaged. If he [Hasley MacDonald] is found to be wrong he’s just destroyed our heritage,” says Keelan.

In a statement released on Friday, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua urge their relationship with the ancestral lands be recognised.

“We have also engaged with the other iwi associated with this site, and we welcome the opportunity for further dialogue,” it says.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua says it acknowledges that investigations are ongoing.

But all activities that could be harmful need to stop now, it says.

“We urge that HNZPT to take this statement into consideration with urgency, to recognise the relationship with the ancestral lands, wāhi tapu, and other taonga, as presented by Ngati Rarua to the Waitangi Tribunal. “

David Bendell with wife Vicki at the Melbourne Cup in 2017. Photo: Supplied.

‘A legacy no one will forget’

A much-loved husband and dad, who played a key part in shaping New Zealand’s hairdressing industry, has died.

David Bendell, 70, died at home near Picton on 19 February surrounded by his family.

The popular business owner and author leaves behind his wife Vicki and children Sophia, Lucy, Hunter and Amber.

Paying tribute to her husband, Vicki says he had lived his life to the full.

“David left a legacy which no one will forget.

“He doted on the children and was there for them every single day; enjoying in summer the water sports, fishing and going out for picnics on the boat.

“He had wonderful passions in life, adored his children and was so proud of them, Sophia, Lucy and Amber with their international dancing competitions and Hunter with his harrier running and mountain biking.

The keen runner had recently celebrated 50 consecutive years with the Wellington and Marlborough Harriers Club.

Originally from England, David was chosen by a talent scout looking for qualified hairdressers to teach in New Zealand and moved to Wellington.

He taught thousands of students over the next three decades and is credited with developing the syllabus and trade certificates for would-be hairdressers.

David spent his later years living in the Marlborough Sounds running the Waterfront Bed and Breakfast in Little Ngakuta Bay.

“David and I enjoyed hosting guests at our boutique bed and breakfast and David would take great delight cooking up a full English breakfast.

“He was a great chef and cooked all the family meals every day, he loved creating different meals and had a few signature dishes while sipping on a glass of wine or a cold beer,” she says.

Her husband loved living his life on or near the water and his love for anything maritime was evident in his life, says Vicki.

“David would never crave a more urban or suburban existence, loving our slice of paradise, with its watery front lawn and ever-changing view.

“He also said “Some people have a lot of land, and we have a lot of sea”, “We have everything from superyachts to fishing boats on our front lawn”.

A keen adventurer who enjoyed travel, David skied every year in Queenstown and achieved 40 solo sky diving jumps.

He will be missed by many, says Vicki.

“We commend you David on a very full life, a life so well lived.”