Paula Hulburt

John and Florrie Donnelly celebrated 60 years of marriage. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

From dance hall meeting to diamond anniversary

The couple were married on 20 August 1960 in Motueka. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

The music jollied around them as the pair danced together, happy and slightly nervous in each other’s arms for the first time.

Sixty years on and Blenheim couple John and Florrie Donnelly were all smiles, celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

They were surrounded by family and friends on Saturday as they marked the special occasion with a party at home.

The pair met on Christmas Eve 1956 at a dance in Motueka. Three years later they were married.

“I was 17 years old when we met and wanted to join the Merchant Navy, but dad wouldn’t let me until I was 21 years old.

“I met John so am glad I didn’t go,” Florrie says.

While they were dating, every Sunday, John would pick up Florrie in a Hudson Super 6 and the pair would go for a drive.

After three years of courtship, John says he plucked up the courage to ask Florrie’s dad for her hand in marriage.

“He was out working in the paddock and I had to track him down.

“I wanted to do it properly and ask permission,” he says.

John says he wasn’t sure what she would say.

“I really had no idea, I just hoped she would say yes.”

“I knew straight away I would say yes,” says Florrie.

In a light pink wedding dress she made herself and a veil adorned with handstitched flowers, Florrie waited for her groom at the alter of a church in Motueka.

With her sister Elsie as bridesmaid, the wedding on 20 August was small but wonderful,” says Florrie.

“The minister had a donkey that was peering in the window while we got married. Not many people would have a donkey at their wedding,” she says.

With three children, Alison, John and Martin, John and Florrie have six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

While Alert Level 2 meant some family couldn’t make it to the anniversary party from Auckland, plenty of guests were there to congratulate the couple.

They also received a card of congratulations from Her Majesty the Queen.

“We just get on well,” says Florrie. “There’s no secret, we’re good friends and enjoy being together.”

Counting their blessings as milestone marked for new library. Photo: Supplied.

Counting their blessings as milestone marked for new library

At dawn on Wednesday morning, Marlborough’s new district library and art gallery site was ceremonially blessed with the laying of a mauri stone by iwi representatives.

Rain failed to dampen spirits as an appreciative group of more than 50 guests gathered to mark the historic moment.

Speakers included Shane Graham (Ngāti Rarua), Marlborough Mayor John Leggett and Millennium Art Gallery Trust chairman Rick Wilson.

Hularii Mckenzie and daughter Bailey are asking Marlborough businesses to be aware of accessibility issues during Covid-19 alert levels. Photo: File.

Covid causes access issues for wheelchair users

The family of a young wheelchair user are calling for businesses to help keep vulnerable people safe during the pandemic.

Blenheim parents Hularii and Amber McKenzie are calling for local companies to be more mindful when it comes to protecting disabled customers.

The pair, whose 10-year-old daughter Bailey uses a wheelchair, say hand sanitisers and QR codes for tracking apps are often too high to reach.

“Some can’t see onto countertops or reach high up, for those wheelchair users still needing to access shops and the community a QR code lower can really help.

“This also applies to sanitiser as well, having it lower helps, if it’s high they can’t reach it or it can squirt in their face,” Amber says.

Under Alert Level 2, all shops and business are required to post QR tracking codes to be used with mobile phones or keep a written record of visitors.

But the family of seven, who are currently self-isolating as Bailey has just had surgery, believe more care needs to be taken where posters and sign-in registers are placed.

Bailey, who has a range of conditions, including spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy, uses a wheelchair.

The youngster underwent double bilateral ankle surgery in Wellington earlier this month and is recovering well.

Hularii says he highlights the issue to businesses when he sees a problem.

“There was just a few I’d seen and mentioned it to the place, both here and in Wellington when we were there for surgery.

“All the places approached took it on board really well including making sure sanitiser was at a good height for wheelchair users.

“My understanding is on the back of the QR code sheet are recommendations, so they are at a height wheelchairs users can reach,” Hularii says.

The government recommendation is that the QR code sheets be placed no higher than 130cm.

Hularii says some people are displaying more than one QR code at different height levels to help.

But others people just aren’t aware of the problem,” he says.

“It doesn’t surprise me that some people aren’t aware of it.

“I always say if accessibility is not something you deal with day to day it’s easy to forget to account for because it’s not there, obvious in your face.

“Once people know they are usually very accommodating.

“Though it can be annoying for some, the disabled community can see issues and make others aware of the challenges we face.

“People don’t know what they don’t know.”

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

Keyboard error sparks virus fears

Accidently hitting the wrong key on a computer sparked fears Covid-19 had returned to the region.

A Covid-19 test was accidently recorded as positive after a manual entry error.

Community Based Assessment Centre staff in Blenheim were alerted after the positive result was lodged at a laboratory in Nelson.

Staff discovered the mistake three hours later after lab staff checked the results.

The patient was not told of the positive result.

Medlab South Nelson Marlborough Clinical Microbiologist Dr Juliet Elvy says a manual entry error is to blame for the mix up.

“A manual entry error was made in recording the result for a Covid-19 test – due to a key stroke error.

“The incorrect test result was passed on to the Medical Officer of Health and that notification was withdrawn immediately after the error was detected – about three hours later.”

Southern Community Laboratories (SCL) run the labs at Nelson Hospital  and Wairau Hospitals.

All Covid-19 swabs taken by the SCL run Medlab laboratory in Marlborough are sent to Nelson after first being processed at Wairau Hospital.

Dr Elvy says the error was detected before the incorrect result was given to the person who had been tested.

Processes have been changed in the wake of the incident.

“We now have processes in place which mean we no longer rely on manual entry of test results, and all validation of manually entered tests is done by a second scientist,” she says.

The member of staff had been doing an eight-hour shift at the lab when the error occurred.

Laboratories in both Marlborough and Nelson have been swamped processing Covid-19 swabs.

Between 13 and 23 August alone, a total of 3210 tests were done in Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman, including 902 in Marlborough.

The figures come from all test providers; community-based assessment centres (CBACs), GP clinics, after-hours clinics (urgent care) and hospitals and at Port Nelson.

Dr Elvy says staff have processed 10,000 Covid-19 tests from Nelson and Marlborough.

“ …this testing has significantly ramped up since community transmission was detected in Auckland earlier this month.

“We are doing all we can to support our staff who are meeting the unprecedented demands of Covid testing,” she says.

GM Strategy, Primary & Community Cathy O’Malley says Nelson Marlborough Health has full confidence in Medlab South during this unprecedented time.

Gareth Root died after his car plunged into a river at a local campground. Photo: File.

Coroner rules over cause of death

A man who drowned when his car plunged into the Opaōa River was over the legal driving limit and had taken drugs.

Gareth Root, 35, drowned after crashing his car into the river at the Top 10 Holiday Park on 29 December 2018.

A coroner has ruled that the victim’s driving was the ultimate cause of death but noted poor signage may have contributed.

In his findings, coroner David Robinson says police has identified the absence of signs or marker posts.

These could have helped highlight a sharp bend in the road running through the campground.

“While ultimately Mr Root’s death was due to the manner of his driving, there may be some merit in the camping ground considering the installation of some signage to highlight the corner,” he wrote

Toxicology testing confirmed Gareth was more than three times over the legal blood alcohol limit.

Cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were found in his system.

Gareth and another resident at the park had been drinking together on the night he died. The father of one was helped to bed about 10.30pm.

Police later got reports of a black Hilux being driven erratically around the park.

Witnesses say they had heard “loud crashing sounds” as the vehicle hit trees, other cars, and a tent.

A driver near the park later noticed the Hilux stopped “precariously” on the riverbank.

But by the time he managed to get to the scene, the car had rolled and was underwater. The doors could not be opened.

Based on evidence at the scene, the Serious Crash Unit determined that Mr Root’s vehicle failed to negotiate a bend and left the road.

Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil hopes PONG will offer insight into the region’s bad smells. Photo: File.

Council turn to technology to keep bad smells at bay

Bad smells are set to be logged via a new online odour reporting system in a bid to keep them at bay.

Known as Prevailing Odour Not Good (PONG), the system will record and severity of the stench.

Council staff hope the move will offer some insight into where and why unpleasant smells happen.

Solid waste manager Alec McNeil updated colleagues about the move at a meeting in July.

In his report, he explained that he wanted to see the formal reported process strengthened.

“Currently odours are notified to council either direct to the department responsible for the site in question.

“While each odour complaint and follow up action is recorded, there is not a readily accessible culminative picture of odour reporting across the region.

“This will provide a data base recording of odours as experienced by the community.”

The new PONG system will provide staff with a searchable dashboard of offensive smells.

In terms of costs it has only been internal staff time as the systems and technology are already in place.

On-going issues should highlight a persistent problem almost straightaway, says Alec.

“Persistent, objectionable odours … should show a spike of complaints within a particular locale.

“Operationally, the source of the odour would be identified and a mitigation approach taken to reduce the potential for further impact.”

Especially terrible smells getting a lot of complaints would trigger emails to staff so action could be taken.

The council run Bluegums landfill site has come under fire in the past from nearby residents.

As the only mixed waste site in the region, getting up to 65,000 tonnes of waste each year, smells can waft over the southern end of Blenheim.

Council adopted several issues to help including covering the working area at the end of the day and operating an odour suppressant system – using a high-pressured irrigation style spray system.

The public can help keep bad smells at bay by reporting any they come across.

Council hope to put the system live after full council approval in early September.

“Raising community awareness of the availability of the PONG function will be crucial to achieving engagement,” says Alec.

Zoe Osgood, 13, has been supported by the local community during her bone cancer battle in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

Café’s coffee kindness

A café’s bid to help a Blenheim girl dealing with bone cancer has raised more than $5000.

Zoe Osgood, 13, is in Christchurch undergoing treatment for osteosarcoma.

Friends and family in Marlborough have been raising money to help take the financial pressure off her family while they support Zoe.

Ritual Café in Blenheim held a Zoe Week last week, raising $5301. For every coffee sold, staff donated a dollar.

An instore donations box raised $1736 which boss Julie McDonald then doubled.

“It’s been the most outstanding week for the team at Ritual Café.

“I’m hoping that this money will help Zoe and her family in some way.

“Knowing the family, I know that they will be totally grateful to everyone who supported this amazing cause.

All the very best Zoe – you got this girl.”

A Givealittle page has been set up to help, with $39,994 raised as of Monday morning.

Zoe;s mum Michelle Osgood says the community support has been amazing.

“It is truly an amazing gesture. We are absolutely been away.”

Visit givealittle.co.nz to donate by searching under Zoe Osgood.

Writer Gavin Kerr has reprinted his popular poetry book twice. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Poetry in motion a money spinner

A poetry book written during lockdown has raised $1000 dollars for Alzheimers Marlborough.

Author Gavin Kerr self-published work Under Lockdown has been reprinted twice since it was published last month.

Earlier this week, the Blenheim writer, whose wife Liz died in March from complications relating to Alzheimers, took a cheque to the Wither Road centre.

“The public were very generous in their support, with two reprints being necessary to cater for demand both in New Zealand and in Australia.

“I would especially thank the Marlborough community for their contribution to the project. It was most heartening indeed,” he says.

The former school principal and academic says the support he and Liz had from staff at Alzheimers Marlborough was vital following Liz’s diagnosis.

Alzheimer Marlborough manager Diane Tolley says the organisation appreciates Gavin’s kindness.

“Alzheimers Marlborough was thrilled to receive a very generous donation of $1000.

“Personally, receiving of a copy of the poem “The Lockdown” written twenty days after the passing of Gavin’s wife brought home to us the range of emotions families go through, as the dementia journey progresses.

“We were pleased to be able to support Gavin and his family through their journey and encourage all people affected by dementia to seek the support of the caring staff at Alzheimers Marlborough.

“Having support in place, as soon as possible after a diagnosis, can assist the person living with dementia and their family to continue to lead fulfilling lives,” she says.

Books are still available for $25 from both Marlborough Alzheimers office on Wither Rd or by emailling  [email protected].

The Burleigh’s Jane Dickenson, left, and Pie Challenge organiser Fiona Fenwick closely examine a Burleigh pie in the buildup to this year’s challenge. Photo: Anthony Phelps/Phelps Photography.

Pie pairing challenge launched

The chefs behind some of Marlborough’s most famous pies are looking for a perfect partner for their crusty creations.

For the fourth year, the Great Burleigh Pie Pairing Challenge is back, and teams are set to compete the find the best wine match for their popular pies.

As well as a trophy and bragging rights, winners also get the chance take a coveted place on the judging panel.

Co-founder of the Great Burleigh Pie Pairing Challenge Fiona Fenwick says this year’s competition includes an additional challenge.

“While Marlborough is known widely for its wine, there are also people producing other beverages – alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

This year, there is a wildcard entry these Marlborough non-wine beverage producers can do – match a Burleigh pie to any non-wine beverage from Marlborough.”

But, she says, this one is for the glory and bragging rights only – entries in the “wildcard” category are not eligible for the Supreme Award.

All fees from the winery team entries go to charity, with Marlborough Food Bank set to benefit this year.

Fiona says they are also looking for entries for the most original savoury pie recipe.

The main criteria here is that three of the ingredients need to be from Marlborough – whether it’s Lake Grassmere sea salt, a lemon from the tree next door, or greenshell mussels from the Marlborough Sounds,” she says.

As the Burleigh Pie pair, Jane Dickenson and Rod Burdis, say “We love the unexpected and we love quality so we can’t wait to see what Marlborough people come up with”.

The Marlborough Weekly has teamed up with the Great Burleigh Pie Pairing Challenge this year and is a collection point for pie enthusiasts.

Entry forms are available from The Burleigh on New Renwick Road in Blenheim or at Marlborough Weekly at 52 Scott Street.

Completed forms to be returned to The Burleigh, Marlborough Weekly, or emailed to [email protected]

All entries are to be received by 5pm on 4 September 2020.

Cats in Blenheim are being targeted prompting a police investigation. Photo: Supplied.

Police launch investigation into cat killings

Pets are being killed and poisoned in a series of deliberate and cruel attacks.

Cats in Blenheim are being targeted prompting a police investigation it has been revealed.

Redwoodtown residents in Blenheim yesterday received a letter from police appealing for information about the ongoing abuse.

Officers are also looking for people who think their cats may have been deliberately hurt to come forward in a bid to catch the culprit.

The move comes after a series of attacks on cats and a rise in the number of pets being reported missing.

“Recently, and in the past, cats have been targeted in your area. Some have been injured and some poisoned,” the letter reads.

“We have received a number of reports recently of cats being injured and on several occasions the animal was hit by a person with an air rifle.

“This is a serious offence and persons found committing acts of cruelty to animals face a maximum of five years imprisonment along with firearms charges.”

Blenheim woman Brenda Green’s cat was shot in June with a high velocity slug gun which shattered its shoulder on impact.

The 13-year-old family pet had to be put down.

Knowing someone had set out to harm TC was devastating, Brenda says.

“He came inside, and I thought he had broken his leg as it was just dangling.  He could not do anything with it.

“The vet informed the police and we went and put in a report that day.

“When the vet told us he had been shot and his shoulder bone was completely snapped in two we were really furious that someone could do this.”

Another cat, Smudge, was shot on Bythell Street in Redwoodtown in September last year.

Cat rescue and rehoming charity Marlborough Dog Pawz staff say they have been contacted by pet owners who have had cats killed and maimed.

“There seems to be a lot of it happening and someone must know something

“We would be happy for anyone that knows anything to contact us if they don’t want to talk to police or SPCA directly,” as spokeswoman says.

“It’s a concern someone can be so cold and cruel, next it will be people being shot. At least if that happens people can speak up but not the animals.”

Concerned cat owners have been on high alert for weeks, taking to social media to highlight missing or hurt animals.

If you think your cat had been harmed either phone the police on 105, or email Amy Pottinger on [email protected] and quote file number 190908/2661.