Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

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

Marlborough Covid-19 cases rise by two

Two women in Marlborough have been diagnosed with Covid-19, with one case confirmed and the other probable.

A spokeswoman from Nelson Marlborough Health revealed a female in her 40s has been confirmed as having the virus while a woman in her 60s look likely to have it too.

“One new probable and one new confirmed case were announced on 4 April by the Ministry of Health for the Nelson Marlborough region,” she says.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Marlborough to 13, including two probable cases.

Nelson has 17 confirmed cases and two likely.

Across both Nelson and Marlborough, 31 cases are in isolation at home while one case in Nelson hospital in a stable condition.

All cases are believed to be related to travel.

The Ministry of Health today revealed there are 950 cases in New Zealand, with 82 new cases confirmed today.

People with new or existing health worries should not delay in getting medical help and advice, doctors warn. Photo: File

One more Covid-19 case in Marlborough

A woman in her 40s has become the lastest to fall foul of Covid-19 in Marlborough.

Nelson Marlborough has confirmed one more probable case in the region as the total number of cases in Nelson Marlborough rises to 30.

But a patient who has spent the last few days in isolation at Wairau Hospital has been discharged after making a good recovery.

Across New Zealand there are now 868 confirmed and probable cases, with latest figures showing 103 patients have recovered.

A Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman says there are also two more cases in Nelson.

This comes after 52 people were assessed in Blenheim yesterday and 14 swabs taken for testing.

Nine people across Nelson Marlborough have recovered from the virus.

None of the cases in the clusters have had to be admitted to Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Two clusters of Covid-19 under investigation

The Ministry of Health is investigating two clusters of Covid-19 cases in Blenheim – all linked to travel.

Ministry of Health staff have today classed six cases of Covid-19 in the region as a cluster.

Latest figures show that the cases are all linked to two sources; Marlborough Alzheimers and an New Zealand Air Force rugby team



This includes one probable case.

A Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) spokeswoman says The Ministry of Health confirmed a cluster of confirmed COVID-19 cases among an Air Force rugby team who had returned to New Zealand from a US rugby tour.

Six of the nine Air Force cases have been confirmed in the last 24 hours,

Although the Ministry reports nine cases, only three of the nine cases reside in the Marlborough region.

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) Clinical Director of Public Health Dr Stephen Bridgman says that it’s important people do not confuse ‘cluster’ with ‘community transmission’.

“A thorough investigation and contact tracing process was completed after the first of these cases was confirmed on 22 March.

“Investigation found that local cases in this cluster were related to travel.

“All local cases have been in isolation since upon their return from the USA, and I thank them all for working closely with the public health team to ensure they remain in strict isolation.

“People do not need to be concerned about these cases’ movements in the community,” Dr Bridgman says.

“Our message for the community is that the NMPHS, and the national close contact tracing service, undertake expert contact tracing to reach close contacts – the people most at risk – as they determine necessary. Close contacts will be contacted directly.”

A cluster is where there are a group of COVID-19 cases who are linked together because they have been in the same place together.

There are some clusters of cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Most of these clusters have a link to someone or several people who have travelled overseas recently.

Fourteen clusters under investigation across New Zealand with possible contacts being traced.

The move comes as front-line health workers in Nelson Marlborough are set to get a boost in protective medical gear.

NMH will receive 41,580 masks for distribution to health and disability workers in our region as part of a Government decision to release 1.2 million masks from national pandemic stock.

With the assurance this new stock arriving in the next 48 hours, NMH will start to distribute more masks from our own reserves in the meantime, the spokeswoman says.

General manager strategy primary and community, Nelson Marlborough Health Cathy O’Malley says staff will be reminded and taught how and when to use PPE masks.

“We will continue to teach and remind health and disability workers about how and when to use PPE such as masks, to ensure that it is used correctly and responsibly.

“Basic hygiene measures are still the best defence against COVID-19, so training and reminders about this will also continue,” she says.

More masks will be distributed to hospitals and primary care facilities, aged residential care providers, community pharmacies, community mental health providers, home-based support workers, disability support services and community midwives.

If members of the community want to know how to use a mask correctly, there is a video on the Ministry of Health’s website :www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-information-specific-audiences/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-essential-workers

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett. Photo: Paula Hulburt

United we stand

Paula Hulburt and Chloe Ranford

Protecting the people of Marlborough is a top priority and everything possible will be done to help.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett yesterday issued a heart-felt message to the public in the wake of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to raise New Zealand’s alert level to level three, with level four coming into force on Thursday.

“This is an unprecedented global emergency and everyone in Marlborough needs to play their part.

“I think it was inevitable … This is a clear signal that this is a very serious situation and that we each have to take responsibility to get through this.”

Nelson Marlborough Health chief medical officer Nick Baker says he believes the number of cases in Nelson Marlborough will continue to rise in the short term.

“The fight against Covid-19 will not be won in hospital corridors or at GP clinics but in the supermarket aisles.

“The key message is that we are physically separated but still together. The virus is like an invisible enemy; you only know it’s there seven days after it arrives.”

Dr Baker says these “challenging times” were especially hard for older, more vulnerable people in society.

“Be strong, be kind and think about your neighbours. The virus is like a fire if you like, we must keep it from spreading.”

Mayor John Leggett strongly urged Marlborough to support the Prime Minister’s and Ministry of Health’s advice and direction.

Council’s pandemic planning has been fast-tracked.

The Marlborough Pandemic Group met yesterday to discuss the Covid-19 crisis and share the latest information about the economic challenges now facing the Marlborough region.

Mayor Leggett, who chairs the group, says it’s a difficult time but people are doing their best to adjust to the new environment.

“Marlburians can have confidence that there is a lot of good work going on at the moment and our key industries and employer groups are responding to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis.”

“We will come out the other side of this – we are a resilient bunch who have experienced challenges and emergencies before.”

Chief executive Mark Wheeler says council will be focusing on delivering “critical lifeline services.”

“Our focus now is on delivering critical lifeline services such as drinking water, waste management, sewerage and effluent disposal, road maintenance and emergency management.

“Keeping Port Marlborough and Marlborough Airport operational is also critical.”

Mark confirmed the Blenheim office front counter in Seymour St will close too.

Anyone wanting council services should contact them via phone on 03 520 7400 or email [email protected]

An injured paraglider was spotted by drone. Photo: Supplied.

Drone rescue for paraglider

A seriously injured paraglider was rescued from remote farmland after he was spotted by a drone.

Emergency crews spent 45 minutes searching for the paraglider who crashed about 12.45pm on Monday.

A drone pilot, called into help police and fire crews find the missing man, discovered him at Longpoint near Ward Beach.

The injured man is believed to have spinal injuries and warned rescuers he is also a possible Covid-19 risk.

He was flown by helicopter to Wellington Hospital shortly after 2.10pm.

A police spokeswoman says emergency services were alerted at 12.45pm.

“Emergency services responded to a report of a paraglider crashing on a farmland near Ward Beach Road around 12.45pm.

“The person was located around 1.30pm and flown to hospital with serious injuries.”

The paraglider was unable to activate his locator beacon due to his injuries.

Four-wheel drive vehicles searched farmland in the area where the man was last seen.

But it was a drone pilot who spotted the man on the ground around 50 metres from the sea.

The man has told emergency personnel he has had recent contact with a couple who have possibly been exposed to Covid-19.

Emergency workers were alerted to the possibility of infection and will follow procedures.

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 crimestoppers-nz.org 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.”