Paula Hulburt

The iconic festival attracts wine makers from across the region. File photo.

Wine and food fest falls foul of Covid fears

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival has been cancelled for the first time in its 36-year history.

Festival bosses have today announced the iconic festival will not go ahead as planned to help protect the 2021 harvest from the threat of Covid-19.

Marlborough Winegrowers Board Chair Tom Trolove says the decision has been a difficult one.

“It’s been a really tough decision, and we realise this will impact businesses in our community.

“But the board was clear that in these unprecedented times, it had to prioritise the safety of the harvest.

“The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival celebrates our industry on the cusp of our harvest, and that’s a risk,” he says.

A report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research found that the wine industry made up 19 per cent of Marlborough’s GDP.

The industry employs 4,850 people in Marlborough and could not be put at risk Tom says.

“This industry is absolutely vital to Marlborough’s economic health.

“So, no matter how much we love our iconic wine festival, with all its camaraderie and celebration, we cannot let it jeopardise our industry, or indeed our community.”

“Deciding early to cancel the festival was important for event partners, festival organiser Wine Marlborough, and also the event audience, many of whom travel from other parts of the country to attend,” he says.

Around 8000 people celebrate at the annual festival each year at Brancott Estate.

But worries about Covid-19 means organisers have had to pull the plug.

“The past month has been a reminder that the world is in a time of uncertainty, and New Zealand’s situation can change at any time.

“What is certain to us is that we have to do all we can to protect the health of our people, and the economic lifeblood of this region,” Tom says.

Marlborough’s wine industry makes up 77.7 per cent of the national grape harvest, and accounts for at least 80 per cent of all exports, which are currently worth $1.923 billion a year.

General admission tickets were due to go on sale on October 1, which also made an early decision important.

“It may not be a good time for 8000 people to gather on a vineyard site to celebrate together with over 40 wineries, but it’s a fantastic time to visit Marlborough’s cellar doors and get an extraordinary insight into what makes this region’s wines amazing,” Tom says.

Super Early Bird ticket holders will be offered a 100 per cent refund.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says the cancellation would be a blow to Marlborough’s events calendar,

“But there’s no doubt that the wine industry’s main objective is to harvest its grapes in optimal condition and make the wine that helps put Marlborough on the global stage”.

Festival Committee Chair Tracy Johnston says the committee was disappointed the event was not going ahead but believed it is the right decision.

“The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival will return as a proud and iconic event for Marlborough when it can be delivered without putting our industry and community at risk.”

Wine Marlborough General Manager Marcus Pickens says the committee and organising team put their heart and soul into the event every year.

“It’s gutting that we can’t do that for February 2021, but we fully support the board’s decision.”

“Wine Marlborough’s top priority is protecting the reputation of our extraordinary wine region, and right now that means doing all we can to help reduce the risk of holding a large event like this before harvest.”

Brendon Adams raises money for mental health groups. Photo: Supplied.

A driving force for health

Mental Health Awareness Week is on until 25 September Here mental health advocate Brendon Adams from Blenheim highlights his journey and why he wants to help.

 

What inspires you to help raise awareness for mental health? 

Up until 2010, I had very little appreciation or knowledge of what mental wellbeing was.  You could say I experienced an awakening.  From that moment I got to meet and talk to a wide variety of people working within our current mental health system.  From high-level psychiatrists, the many branches of social services, and the many people living with a vast array of mental health matters.  I have no doubt my 10-year experience has been my driving force and inspiration to continue to help raise awareness for mental health.

 

What have been your goals to raise awareness for wellbeing? 

I was 37 years old when I first learned anything about the topic.  I felt I could have been better equipped with some form of prior knowledge.  That’s not to say that the information wasn’t around, more so to speak to the fact that the subject was seldom spoken about.  Almost considered Taboo.  Making it ok to talk about mental health and wellbeing and being comfortable doing so would be one of my main goals.  It’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to talk about it.   To help others will always be my primary goal.

 

What are some of the main concerns our mental health systems faces? 

I guess the most obvious concern to me would be the apparent lack of resources available to cope with the demand for our mental health system.  It seems to be the poor cousin of our general health system.  It is often very hard to convince people to seek help for themselves or loved ones especially when they’ve tried and have been turned away because the problem doesn’t appear to be big enough.  This will often lead to a problem exacerbating.   Then the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff type scenario plays out and the help is often too little too late.  This seems to be prevalent with men in particular.  Men generally struggle to talk about their feelings and what’s going on for them.  They tend to bottle things up or their situation is played down.

 

What are key signs that a person may be suffering from mental health, both what to look out for in ourselves and in others? 

Signs may include the following.  Don’t want to see their friends or no longer enjoy spending time with their friends and family.  Stop doing things they used to love or don’t seem to be enjoying themselves.  Can’t remember things, concentrate, or pay attention.  Feel bad about themselves – guilty, worthless, or ashamed.  Have a big change in eating patterns or appetite.  Have extreme mood swings.  Feel hopeless or really sad, or cry a lot.  Feel anxious, stressed, nervous, or scared a lot and can’t seem to relax.  Are not happy unless they’re using drugs or alcohol.  Don’t take care of their appearance or personal hygiene.  Have physical signs of injury or that they are hurting themselves.  Have panic attacks – rapid heartbeat, unable to breathe, feeling dizzy, and extremely scared or anxious all at once.  Unsettled sleeping patterns.

 

What do you think can help people be resilient in times of adversity, including strategies for coping? 

By being mindful of the four basic cornerstones to good health, you can help yourself and others in many ways.  To start with you would want to 1. get a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours a night).  2. Eat well and frequently, drink plenty of water.  3. Get plenty of exercise throughout the day.  4. Talk to someone about what’s going on.   Too often we see the signs of suffering get worse if any one of these cornerstones is compromised.

 

How can people support loved ones who suffer from mental health? 

I often have people ask me where to start when trying to get help either for themselves or for their loved ones.  The answer is never simple as everyone’s situation is different.  The good news is the increase of awareness we are now seeing as our culture shifts from this being a topic once kept in the dark to a topic bought into the light.  There seems to be more understanding and acceptance nowadays than there used to be.  Although we still have a long way to go.  Encourage an open and casual conversation with someone you think may be suffering and be prepared to listen without judgment.  Encourage belief and self-worth in someone that they can help themselves and get the monkey off their back.  Sometimes that’s all it takes and that is a good start.  Be kind and caring.

Mark Lovelock was the overall winner. Photo: Supplied.

Trio build bright future in construction

A trio of talented apprentices have taken out three top spots in a prestigious competition.

The Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year, in partnership with CARTERS, is the leading apprentice competition for the building and construction sector.

And at a regional awards ceremony in Renwick on Friday night, three Marlborough carpentry apprentices won first second and third place at the Upper South Island regional competition.

Cameron Palmer-McGruer impressed judges to be awarded second place. Photo: Supplied.
Cameron Palmer-McGruer impressed judges to be awarded second place. Photo: Supplied.

Mark Lovelock of Timbercraft Construction, Cameron Palmer-McGruer from Brent Woodward Builder and Daniel Small from Scott Construction Marlborough Limited impressed judges.

At the Upper South Island regional competition the apprentices were judged on a two-hour practical challenge, and their initial entry submission.

The top 10 in the region progressed to an interview with the judging panel, which was followed by an onsite visit where contestants discussed their project.

Making their selection, judges praised Mark’s organisation and his ability to be involved in all aspects of the build.

Daniel Small was third at the regional awards. Photo: Supplied.
Daniel Small was third at the regional awards. Photo: Supplied.

“The site visit showed us why in-depth planning was so necessary. The site’s isolation meant everything was helicoptered onto the site.

“We were impressed with how Mark has been involved in all aspects of the build. This includes planning, set out, groundworks, prefabrication and the delivery and installation.

“The judges look forward to seeing where Mark takes his career,” they said.

Mark will now go on to compete against the 10 regional winners from across the country at the national CARTERS Apprentice of the Year 2020 competition in Auckland this November.

People left photos and lit candles in memory of those they have lost to mark World Suicide Awareness Day. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Shining a light on Suicide Awareness Day

Clutching photos of loved ones lost, friends and family gathered last night to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

The clock tower and fountain in Seymour Square in Blenheim were lit up in yellow for a candlelight vigil to mark the day and those affected by suicide.

About 50 people joined together and marked a minute of silence before some took the opportunity to talk briefly about their loss and honour those they have lost through suicide.

World Suicide Prevention Day is held on this day each year to highlight the devastating effects of suicide, and the need to work together to support each other.

Organiser Bary Neal urged those struggling to seek help, saying loved ones left behind in the wake of such devastating loss deserved the chance to live their best lives.

“They wouldn’t want us to suffer forever,” he says.

National helplines

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Staff at Blenheim's Re-Use shop helped raise money for E Tū Tāngata as part of Metallic Sweepings bid to give back to the community. Photo: Paula Hulburt

Re-use centre’s labour of love

Keeping unwanted goods out of landfill helped raise vital funds for a charity supporting Marlborough school students.

The Re-Use Centre at Blenheim’s Resource Recovery Centre in Wither Road receives thousands of unwanted items every year.

Operators Metallic Sweeping have pledged to donate part of the revenue they raise by selling on donated goods to charity.

Metallic Sweeping director Clive Peter today handed a cheque for $22,000 dollars to 24-7 YouthWork E Tū Tāngata Founder Jay Gerald.

He says the company, who are waste contractors for Marlborough District Council, are proud to help support the community

“When we look at the issues that face our communities, especially the issues that our youth and young people face and when I look at the work that 24-7 do, it pulled at our heartstrings.

“These are the value that we inspire to embrace, and we decided we wanted to support them and keep funding their work.”

24-7 YouthWork is New Zealand’s leading school-based youth work provider and recently celebrated 21 years of work in communities across the country.

In 2011, 24-7 YouthWork began working in Redwoodtown School, which was followed by Marlborough Girls’ College in 2016.

Jay says the latest initiative, E Tū Tāngata, is about instilling sense of confidence, in young people especially, and creating a climate where everyone can flourish.

From camera chargers and books to glass wear and toys, all sorts of items can be found at the popular Re-Use Centre.

Situated next to the recycling centre off Wither Road, the shop is a treasure trove of goods.

Rather than being dumped items are made available for someone else to use.

They are checked, cleaned and sometimes re-worked before being made available for sale to the public at low prices, to cover costs.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says the work the centre does is of great benefit to the whole community.

“Back in the 1970s I worked on the rubbish cart and there was no recycling then.

‘Times are changing and we’re all up for that; young people especially are up for that and are the drive behind change.”

Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alex McNeil says the Re-Use Centre has an important role to play.

“It’s come along way from 2011. There are a lot of social challenges that fly under the radar because we have a vibrant economy and the council are looking at that.

“As Covid-19 and unemployment kick in people in will need cheaper furniture.”

Fire and Emergency representatives meeting with the Marlborough Local Advisory Committee. Photo: Supplied.

Emergency planning

A new way of tackling fire and emergency planning is underway across the region.

Members of the Fire and Emergency Marlborough Local Advisory Committee have met up in person for the first time.

Local Advisory Committees (LACs) are responsible for providing independent advice from a local perspective to the Fire and Emergency Board to inform local emergency planning.

Marlborough LAC chair Trevor Hook says the committee’s first face-to-face meeting last week was a tangible step forward for the committees and for Fire and Emergency.

“It was a valuable opportunity to come together as a committee and to meet with members of Fire and Emergency’s regional leadership team.

The Committee is looking forward to contributing to the strategic direction of Fire and Emergency, with a focus on the needs of the local community,” he says.

Fire and Emergency Area Manager for Tasman-Marlborough Grant Haywood says it was great to be part of the first meeting.

“One of Fire and Emergency’s main strategic priorities is building resilient communities.

“To do this, we must have a deep understanding of communities’ needs so we can ensure our services remain effective

“This first meeting is a big step forward in ensuring that our local and national planning reflects our community’s voice.”

Staff have been using their talents to keep residents entertained. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Beating the Covid-boredom blues

Rest home residents have been turning to technology to help keep boredom at bay during lockdown.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, residents have spent almost 15 (non-consecutive) weeks unable to leave under alert level 4.

Ashwood Park Retirement Village in Blenheim has been using Zoom to hook residents up with other rest homes to take part in shared activities.

Manager and New Zealand Aged Care Association spokesman Ross Bisset says staff have worked hard to keep residents entertained.

“The last seven months has been a real team effort and as I have said to the group ‘I’ve always been proud to lead them’ – but even more so over this period.

“Everyone has contributed to helping out and it’s been amazing to find some team members hidden abilities.

“There has been a lot of music, cooking, inter village activities via zoom and we even had a traveling professional organist on a truck play,” he says.

Alongside other Blenheim rest homes and retirement villages, Ashwood Park has been limiting visitor numbers to help lower infection risk.

Under Ministry of Health guidelines, residents can leave at level 2 and only need to be isolated on return if they display symptoms.

But keeping residents safe means curtailing outside visits until Alert Level 1.

Not being able to go out in the community has quickly become the new normal, Ross says.

Older age and underlying conditions are two big factors that make catching Covid-19 even more dangerous,

“Our residents know it’s important to do everything possible to stay safe.

“Right from the initial March lockdown, the residents have been incredibly resilient and quickly acknowledged the serious position everyone was in.”

“They have been extremely supportive and understand the realities of keeping the whole group safe, which at times has meant not going out into the community.”

Bohally Intermediate School acting principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Warning over online abuse

A Marlborough principal is warning parents to be on their guard when it comes to social media as staff grapple with increasing fallout.

Bohally Intermediate School staff have sent out an email to parents highlighting the harm social media can cause.

Acting principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn says she has seen a rise in the number of social media related issues students are dealing with.

Nicky says her personal advice is for no students to use social media platforms until they are 14 years old.

“It’s much more of an issue now than ever before and it’s only going to get worse.

“My personal advice would be for no students to use social media platforms at this age but ultimately it is up to parents to decide that for their own child.”

Using social media outside of school is having a flow on effect at school, says Nicky.

All mobile phones must be handed in to the school office at the start of the school day.

The school also uses blocking devices to help keep pupils safe.

But what they are accessing at home is spilling over at school, Nicky warns.

“They come into school and are emotionally upset, have anxiety and do not feel valued.

“Using these platforms to destroy others and spread rumours is inappropriate and they’re too young to understand the ramifications and reflect on what they’ve done.”

The school also sent out a link to parents to go to for advice.

But social media savvy children are going to great lengths to keep their online activities off the parental radar.

“We know that students often have numerous accounts yet may only show one to their parents which looks okay,” Nicky says.

Monitoring social media use is key to ensuring it is only used positively, she says.

The minimum signup age for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube is 13.

Net safe NZ say a child’s social and emotional capability is still developing and they will find it difficult to identify and deal with challenges.

“If your child is under 13 and keen to use social media, consider their capability to manage potential online challenges before setting up a profile.

For more advice about staying safe online visit  https://www.netsafe.org.nz/

  • A third of New Zealand teens (33%) spend 4 or more hours online in an average day.
  • 4 in 10 currently use 5 or more social media platforms. • 1 in 4 would be devastated if they had no access to digital technologies for a month.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 agree “there are a lot of things on the internet that are good for people my age”.
  • There are gender differences in teens’ use of digital devices, the activities they carry out online, and their preferences for specific social media platforms.
  • Teens regard themselves as confident technology users. Over 4 in 10 rarely or never seek support regarding an online or technical problem
  • Overall, teens highly rate their knowledge of online safety, but over 1 in 10 (13%) do not know much about it.
  • Just over half (56%) agree it is helpful to set age restrictions and block access to content.
Nurses, receptionists and administration staff picketed in Blenheim. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Health staff warn over pay gap consequences

Disgruntled medical staff are warning doctors’ surgeries could lose seasoned staff over an ongoing pay battle.

Primary Health Care Nurses (PHC) across Marlborough joined colleagues across the country in strike action on Thursday.

Staff warn the problem is set to get worse and recruitment will become a problem if pay disparity problems are not solved soon.

Gathering at Seymour Square to picket for equal pay in line with District Health Board nurses, staff say they are being paid 10.6 per cent less.

Civic Family Health practice nurse Allison Griggs says while she has the support of practice bosses, their hands are tied.

“We’re losing good nurses with lots of experience because of it.

“They’d rather work for the DHB where they get paid more.”

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says failed mediation meant the strike was inevitable.

NZNO issued a strike notice covering about 3200 Primary Health Care (PHC) nurses and receptionist/administration staff across more than 500 practices and accident/medical centres nationwide on 19 August.

NZNO union representative Daniel Marshall was at the strike.

He covers the whole of the Top of the South and says the pay gap is set to widen even further.

“There have been long standing issues over pay disparity and it’s about to be amplified as the government considers another pay rise for DHB nurses.

“It’s becoming harder to retain experienced staff and to attract new staff as the gap widens.”

Lister Court Medical reception lead Jo Ball says she had never walked off the job before.

She says she chose to strike as staff were not being fairly recognised for the work they do, especially during the pandemic.

“When we hear about front line services, reception staff are being forgotten about.

“People don’t see us as health care workers, as a nurse or a doctor, but we deal with the fallout from Covid every day.

“We want to feel valued as front line workers,” she says.

NZNO Industrial Advisor Chris Wilson says staff are not being shown how valuable their efforts are, especially during the pandemic.

“We have had enough of constantly hearing how valuable they are when absolutely no effort is being made to show that value in any tangible way.

“We need the Government to urgently do the right thing for the people who help save lives during the perilous time of a pandemic.

“That would be in the interests of everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand right now.”

Marlborough is one of the driest places in New Zealand. Photo: File.

Water shortages loom as rainfall levels disappoint

Water shortages are looming as latest rainfall totals are revealed with not much respite in sight.

August will fall short of normal rainfall totals it was revealed today, making Marlborough one of the driest regions in the country

Speaking to Marlborough District Council’s Environment Committee on Thursday, environmental scientist – Hydrology Val Wadsworth says soil moisture levels are suffering.

“Marlborough is one of the driest regions in New Zealand – we are only ever six to eight dry weeks away from water shortage issues.”

It’s a big difference from just two months ago, she says.

“Only two months in 2020 – May and June – recorded above average rainfall across the district.

“Annual totals for the year to date are generally about 60 percent to 75 per cent for most of Marlborough.

“A few sites in the Sounds and Te Hoiere/Pelorus areas are up to 90 per cent of the year-to-date (YTD) total.”

Val says in some areas the July and August totals are less than half of the normal rate.

Eastern and Southern Marlborough are sitting at between 45 per cent and 65 percent with Northern and Western Marlborough coming in at between 65 per cent to 75 per cent.

“NIWA is predicting the next two months rainfall to be about normal. There is still time for some good spring rainfall and nature does sometimes tend to balance itself out, but it is not a given.”

“The rainfall over the last few days will be very beneficial for early spring pasture growth,” says Val.

“Despite this, more rainfall is needed in spring to further replenish soil moisture and river base flows for the coming summer.”

The steadily declining Wairau Aquifer will get a much needed boost from the snowfall earlier in the week.

Snow cover in the Marlborough high country is a significant contributor to summer flows, Val says.

“Good Wairau River flows are a key part of the recharge mechanism for the steadily declining Wairau aquifer.

“Pastoral farmers will be the first to feel the pinch if moisture levels don’t produce sufficient spring growth to carry into summer. Irrigators will also be affected if river flows fall to below cut-off levels early or for prolonged periods,” she says.

The Wairau River is flowing below average for this time of year, with flows at between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of normal and the Awatere is at 75 per cent.