The Nepalese Sherpa team: Nabin Shrestha, Padam Prashad Adhikari, Saphal Acharya, Rupesh Acharya, Ambika Basnet Shrestha and Rojee Khadgi. Not pictured are Sumil Shrestha and Yam Kumari Tamng. Photo: Supplied.

Ain’t no mountain high enough

A challenge of mountainous proportions is putting a team through their paces.

The Marlborough Mount Everest challenge got underway earlier this month.

And one Nepalese team are reaching new heights, taking the leader board by storm.

A group of Nepalese friends taking part under team name The Nepalese Sherpa have already clocked up 24390 metres between the eight of them.

The Marlborough Mount Everest Challenge is a run and walk event where the goal is for participants to travel the elevation of Mount Everest (8800 m) in the time that it took Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 (7 weeks).

Padam Prashad Adhikari says some of their crew even hope to climb the equivalent of Mount Everest twice.

“We wanted to do it to represent our country and some of us are doing it for our own health.

“We’ve got to know more people in Picton and Blenheim who we meet while walking and who comment on the photos we put on Facebook – it helps encourage us on,” he says.

Organised by staff at the Port Marlborough Pavilion in Picton, the challenge is proving popular with 131 competitors currently taking part.

Port Marlborough Pavilion Project Coordinator Regan Russell says the event is going well.

“We have 131 competitors that have so far logged bang on 600 climbs. We have had some big numbers already with Iwan one of the individuals climbing to an altitude of 6396 meters in the ten days since we have started.”

“We aim to encourage local people to not only utilise the amazing local walking tracks that Marlborough has to offer, but to get fit while doing so,” Regan says.

The tracks chosen will allow participants to accomplish the goal by running or walking the Tirohanga track 36 times or the Mt Vernon Track 25 times during the seven-week period.

“We usually go out before or after work and try to do two walks back to back and we are certainly getting faster,” says Padam.

Petition organiser Mia Yealands with her terriers, Archie and Wolf. Photo: Matt Brown.

Petition for pooch freedom

Dog owners are biting back against a proposal which could see dogs confined to leads along parts of the Taylor River.

Marlborough District Council are set to tighten bylaws around dogs roaming free.

The move would see pets put on a lead from The Quays, near Raupo café to the Burleigh Bridge.

A group of dog lovers have started a petition against the proposed bylaw changes.

Petition organiser Mia Yealands says it would be sad to reduce the size of the central off-leash dog park.

“We come here for the run, the water and the wide-open spaces.

“If it changed it would affect so many people.

“We don’t want this to happen.”

Mia reckons tensions between cyclists and dogs (and their owners) are to blame for the potential change in rules.

“Since council increased the footpath, there have been a lot more bikes and they go too fast.

“They [cyclists] treat it like a training path,” she says.

Animal Control contract manager Jane Robertson says the area is where they see the most conflict between different users

“We have had instances of uncontrolled dogs and also owners not cleaning up after their dogs in this area,” Jane says.

Other proposed changes in the draft bylaw include allowing dogs into Blenheim’s CBD if they are on a leash and under control and increasing the restricted area around playgrounds for dogs from three to ten metres.

Prohibiting dogs from Blenheim’s Pollard Park and Ward Beach, is also proposed.

“We want input from dog owners and the general public to make sure our policy and bylaw works for everyone in our region,” she says.

Following the consultation period hearings will take place in early December when submitters will have the opportunity to speak.

Mia says moving the areas where dogs can run off lead – down the Burleigh end of the Taylor River – would make it difficult for dog owners with mobility issues to exercise their companions.

“One of the concerns we have is there are a lot of elderly who would find the terrain difficult.

“Dogs are a part of the community, too,” she says.

“They help people, they’re good for your mental health.

Consultation on the Marlborough District Council Dog Control Policy and Bylaw is underway and will run for six weeks, closing at 5.00 pm on Monday 9 November.

Marlborough Citizens Advice volunteer Tiffany Cross. Photo: Matt Brown.

Online only move puts people at risk

Vulnerable people are at risk of losing access to vital services, a community organisation warns.

A bid to move government services online and out of local communities is putting some people at risk say Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) staff.

Now staff have launched a petition calling for government bosses to urgently address digital exclusion.

Marlborough Citizens Advice volunteer Tiffany Cross says the move to online-only is deeply concerning and affects a large cross-section of society.

“People of all ages are coming to us stressed and frustrated about their experiences of trying to access government services,” she says.

“It’s getting harder to access human support from government agencies, but people’s need for face-to-face services is as real as ever.”

A report, released by CAB just before Covid restrictions in New Zealand, reveals digital exclusion affects people across all demographics.

The report, ‘Face to Face with Digital Exclusion’ puts the spotlight on the impacts of government digital services on inclusion and wellbeing in society

“While online services are great for some people, the drive towards online-only is leaving some of the most vulnerable members of the community behind.”

Tiffany says CAB is left to pick up the pieces and shoulder the costs.

“Many of these individuals seek the support of the CAB because they need access to face-to-face services, paper-based resources, and empathetic human connection.

“In the report, it is made clear that the public sector is relying heavily on the goodwill of the Citizens Advice Bureau and its volunteers, to fill the gap from government’s withdrawal from face-to-face and paper-based service delivery.

“This has a very real impact on local CABs who are carrying the burden of this cost-shifting by government agencies.”

The CAB is asking all candidates in the upcoming election to support the recommendations of its digital exclusion report and pledge their support to the following:

 

  1. Leave no-one behind:

Ensure that steps are taken to address digital exclusion and that no-one is left behind or left out because they can’t or don’t wish to engage online.

  1. Public services accessible to all:

Implement accessibility and inclusion standards for the delivery of public services that include offline channels as part of the proactive design of government service delivery.

  1. CAB compensated for cost-shifting:

Ensure that the Citizens Advice Bureau is properly funded to meet the demands and cost-shifting that has resulted from government services going online.

The CAB has issued a pledge statement for candidates to sign up to. It is also asking for the public to get behind this by signing a petition, and Tiffany wants to assure people that “paper copies of the petition will also be available at your local CAB.”

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.

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

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.”

James Galloway, Alina Joe, Lucy Bridgen, Maisie Davison and Dave Pauling, with Elijah Galloway and Andrew Kubis, front, take delivery of new technology. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Top up for local schools

A Marlborough based fuel company is helping keep hundreds of school children topped up with technology & sports equipment.

Southfuels a New Zealand wide bulk fuel distribution company has donated $80,000 to schools across the Marlborough region through their Fuel for Schools sponsorship programme.

The nationwide initiative has helped put more than $1 million dollars of resources into more than 350 rural schools in the last twelve years.

Pupils at Richmond View School in Blenheim are the latest to benefit, with a special technology package worth over $5000 delivered on Thursday, this package included 11 Chromebooks, an iPad and other technology for the classroom.

Southfuels Marlborough account manager Maisie Davison says customers nominate a school to receive 50 cents for every 100 litres of bulk fuel they have delivered.

“I’d like to give a big shout out and massive thank you to all our customers throughout the Marlborough region who contribute and all the schools who take part.”

Southfuels customers and programme supporters, O’Donnell Park Barging and Kenny Barging manager James Galloway and Amber-Lousie Connor from Waikawa Fishing Company were at Richmond View School to hand deliver the children get their new technology packages.

“One of our values is betterment for all and we do that in a number of different ways; we have a community van and of course, donate through Fuels for Schools’ says James.

“Being able to see just how much there is and how excited the children are is great. It’s like Christmas.”

When a participating school reaches a $1000 in donations they can pick between a technology or sports package.

Richmond School principal Dave Pauling says the donation makes a big difference to students.

“It helps enormously. We know what we need, and we get to choose.

“Some of these things go to children who might not have them otherwise.”

There are a number of schools in the region whom have benefited from the Fuel for Schools programme in recent times, including Mayfield School, Seddon School, Witherlea School, Linkwater Primary, Ward School, Spring Creek School, Fairhall School, Wairau Valley School and Riverlands School.

To get involved or find out more call Maisie Davison on 0275936229, and start supporting your local school today.

Marlborough Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom Heritage Education Programme has been taught by historian John Orchard. Photo: Supplied.

Heritage heroes

A teaching role geared to helping bring local history alive for Marlborough students is set to benefit from a $100,000 sponsorship boost.

Bosses at Marlborough Lines have signed off on a $20,000 a year sponsorship deal with Marlborough Heritage Trust in Blenheim.

The announcement means the trust can employ a senior teacher to run the Marlborough Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom Heritage Education Programme.

The move comes as current senior teacher and renowned John Orchard retires.

John has played an integral role in teacher Marlborough children about the region’s past.

Marlborough Lines chief executive Tim Cosgrove says there is a renewed interest in teaching New Zealand history in all schools and the firm is keen to support this.

Sponsorship will help ensure that Marlborough students have the best opportunities to learn about our local history and area, he says.

Trust executive director Steve Austin says more than 6000 students benefit from the initiative each year.

Funding has been earmarked for the next five years.

Steve says the trust is delighted Marlborough Lines has agreed to support the programme, which will now be known as the Marlborough Lines Heritage Education Programme.

The heritage education initiative is largely funded by the Ministry of Education, but government funding has not been increased for many years.

It also falls short of the full cost of remuneration in today’s employment context, Steve says.

“The Ministry are not in a position to increase funding, but we know that Marlborough schools rely on our programmes to enhance their work in history, geography, social studies, science and technology.

“We have been very fortunate in John Orchard’s outstanding leadership of the heritage education programme, but he has retired now, and we have to be realistic about the new salaries offered by schools in the coming years.

“We need to do our best to match these expectations.”

Corey Hebberd. Photo: Supplied.

Rangitāne supports iwi business

Rangitāne o Wairau has launched a special fund to help support people and businesses suffering hardship in the wake of COVID-19.

After delivery more than 300 emergency food and hygiene packs during lockdown, iwi are now helping with the recovery process.

Rangitāne Investments Limited commercial property manager Corey Hebberd says times are tough for everyone.

“We know that doing business is tough right now.

“Our commercial arm, like all businesses, is feeling the effects of COVID-19.

“Now more than ever, we need to focus on supporting local – and, where we can, supporting our own whānau enterprises.”

New oranga fund Te Kura Ora has been set up to help support whānau who need one-off financial support.

Plans for a directory of whānau businesses have also been bought forward in a bid to help.

The Directory, Rārangi Pakihi o Rangitāne, was published on Thursday on the Rangitāne o Wairau website.

It’s about helping, says Corey.

“This message is about the next steps that we are taking to support whānau, particularly those who own a small business.

“Both the Iwi Trust and our Iwi Investment Company contract and employ services via small businesses in our community to deliver our work programme.

“Not only are we sharing details with our wider whānau and iwi on their services, but we’ll also be engaging and contracting them where we’re able to.”

Email [email protected] to register on the Rangitāne Business Directory.

If you need support contact the office on (03) 578 6180.

Derek and Maureen Waller long to stay in New Zealand to be nearer to their family and friends. Photo: Matt Brown.

Rule change costs couple life in NZ

When Derek and Maureen Waller moved to New Zealand, they found happiness in the wake of tragedy.

The husband and wife, originally from England, were devastated when their only son died suddenly.

They made the move to Renwick to be closer to their daughter who had immigrated to New Zealand.

But now the couple may be forced to leave their family behind as they face deportation after five years of calling the community home.

It is a terrible blow say the stricken pair whose only grandchildren are in New Zealand.

‘We’re totally desperate about what to do next,” says Maureen. “We’re so well known in Renwick; it’s such a gorgeous community and people help each other out.

“It’s devastating and people keep asking us what we’ve done wrong.”

The couple lost their son David, 42, when he suffered a heart attack in 2011.

When their then son-in-law was headhunted for a job in Christchurch, they knew they had to leave the UK.

“We couldn’t lose both our children,” says Derek, a retired engineering teacher.”

Both had fallen in love with the country on previous holidays and were told by an independent immigration agent they would have no problem getting residency.

They arrived in New Zealand on a Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa and have spent $30,000 trying to get residency.

A change in rules after they arrived in the country meant they could only stay up to six months at a time, with a maximum total stay of 18 months in 3 years

Only a 1000 people a year can apply for residency under this scheme.

A last-ditch attempt to persuade immigration to let them stay failed and the pair have been told they have to leave in September.

“We fell in love with Marlborough, the climate and the people,” says Derek.

“Our 4-bedroom house means we have plenty of room for our daughter and grandchildren when they come and stay.

“We have private British pensions, have savings and pay for health care privately. We don’t rely on the government for anything.

“This has caused us both a lot of stress and worry.”

Both Derek, 76, and Maureen, 73, do volunteer work in Renwick, with Derek a committed member of the Men’s Shed.

“There are people who rely on us, people who are distraught for us,” says Maureen.

Under immigration rules, the couple must be sponsored to the tune of $160,000 a year.

After their daughter and son-in-law separated, the pair faced a shortfall in sponsorship.

But offers of additional financial sponsorship from friends have been turned down by immigration officials, says Derek.

“We’ve been told we’re out of options and will have to leave and go back to England in September.

“We have no idea how we will start again.”

Chairman of the Renwick Men’s Shed Rick Gleeson says Derek has been a valued member of the team since 2016.

“Derek has a lot of skills to contribute, is very passionate, loyal and always willing to help anybody or with anything that needs doing.

“It would be of great loss and sadness to myself, all of our MenzShed members and to the local community to lose Derek and his wife Maureen who also helps out a lot in our community, the Renwick School, one of the local Marae’s school and helping with our BBQ’s at Bunnings.”