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

Going the extra mile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both are desexed and ready for adoption.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hui to help protect heritage site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much of Kōwhai Pā is owned by grapegrowers Montford Corporation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residents are concerned the potential increase in trucks will create more noise, dust and safety risks. Photo: Chloe Ranford.

Rocky road ahead for council over quarry objections

Marlborough District council bosses face a logistical nightmare as plans to dig rock from a rural quarry come under fire from residents.

Simcox Quarry Limited is seeking permission to dig up to 90,000 tonnes of rock a year from the Barracks Road quarry in the Omaka Valley.

But 113 submissions to the resource consent application opposed the plan and just three in support.

A report presented to council’s environment committee last week says officials could “easily require a week” of hearings to listen to the 82 submitters that asked to speak on the consent in person.

“This presented a logistical challenge in terms of planning the hearing, providing a venue that could accommodate such a large number of submitters … and managing the volume of material required for the hearings,” it reads.

The hearings were cut down to two days, with a third set aside “if required”, after the council asked Omaka Valley residents to be represented by one member.

Residents are concerned the works would be a safety risk, generate “unbearable” noise, and “severely deteriorate” lifestyles.

Simcox Construction had mined the quarry since 1998, but management was passed to Simcox Quarry Limited in 2018.

Simcox Quarry asked last June to run the quarry for an “unlimited” time period, estimating it would last for “more than 100 years”.

Brookby Rd residents Mary and Rickard Potez say the plans could see an end to “peace in the valley”.

“It [is] inconceivable and deplorable to grant a legacy to future generations of 100 years of destroyed peace in the valley,” they say.

Simcox say the quarry is crucial for Marlborough’s flood control, has “significant” positive effects, and that dust, noise, and hazards would be well managed.

But fellow Brookby Rd resident and Wairau Hospital orthopedic surgeon Rick Wilson says the possible increase in truck traffic was “abhorrent” and would “inevitably result in accidents”.

“Without being unduly melodramatic, the mix of locals, visitors and heavy vehicles is ‘a tragedy waiting to occur’,” he says.

Fairhall School principal Stephen Crockett says an increase in traffic would heighten the risks for students who lived on or travelled along the trucking routes.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

Sharlese Turnbull-Tait, centre, with her young family has a big battle ahead of her. Photo: Supplied.

Mother’s fight for life

A young mother faced a critical delay in diagnosis before being told she has incurable cancer.

Sharlese Turnbull-Tait, 34, from Blenheim waited years for an answer from doctors only to find she has stage 4 bowel cancer which has now spread to her lungs.

Her devasted family are now frantically trying to raise enough money for a last-ditch treatment they hope will save her life.

The mum of two says she saw her own doctor after developing severe stomach cramps in 2018.

But despite several visits over the next few years and a pelvic scan, Sharlese was told it was probably endometriosis – an inflammatory condition of the uterus.

She now faces an anxious wait after an MRI scan last week to see if the cancer has spread even further.

“I went to my doctor so many times.”

“When I saw that doctor again after I’d been diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, he apologised and offered to pray for me.

“He said it never thought it could be bowel cancer as I was too young.

“I want everyone to know the signs and symptoms as age just doesn’t matter,” Sharlese says.

The former care worker says she spent hundreds of dollars visiting her GP before a locum doctor noticed something abnormal in her blood test results.

She was immediately referred to a specialist who did a colonoscopy and discovered a large tumour.

A week later Sharlese was told the growth was cancerous and had been growing for years.

“I’m more angry than emotional as I feel really let down by the health service.

“I’m angry for myself but angrier on behalf of my children and family and what they’ve gone through,” she says.

Her children, Luka-Paul Cunniffe-Tait, 10, and Ellazae Cunniffe-Tait, 3, know that mummy is sick, says Sharlese.

She has spent weeks apart from them while undergoing surgery in Christchurch last year.What was supposed to be a three week stay turned into six weeks as Sharlese battled a twisted bowel and ended up in intensive care.

A grueling chemotherapy and radiation regime also took its toll.

“They removed part of my bowel. I was very tired and had to be fed through a tube in my nose,” she says.

Sharlese is pinning her hopes on immunotherapy drug Keytruda.

The drug is only government funded for certain breast cancers and the family hopes to raise at least $9000 towards the first dose to see if it will help.

If not, any money raised will be used to help Sharlese make memories with her children instead.

Her sister Kelsie Small says donations could also be put towards a holiday for the family.

“We would love to raise enough money to support alternative treatments for her to give her a longer life. We will also try to send her away with her family on holiday if she isn’t too sick to create beautiful memories.”

A Give a Little page has been set up. Visit givealittle.co.nz and search under the name Sharlese.

New Zealand has one of the highest bowel cancer rates in the world. Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand.

Bowel cancer affects people of all ages, especially those in people aged 60 years and more.

There is a free national screening programme available for people aged 60 to 74 years old.

In 2018 Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) staff launched the National Bowel Screening Programme in the region.

About 30,000 people aged 60 – 74 were invited to participate in the programme.

The screening helps save lives by detecting pre-cancerous polys or finding bowel cancer while still in the early stages.

Sharlese is too young to have taken part in the programme and wants everyone to know that bowel cancer can strike at any age.

“My doctor didn’t consider it, he thought I was too young,” she says.

The numbers of people under 50 years old being diagnosed with the disease is rising in New Zealand

Sharlese says the delay in being diagnosed meant her cancer had time to spread.

She doesn’t want anyone else to share the same fate.

“Be aware of the symptoms,” she says.

Suzanne O’Docherty with her pet, Sparky the part-Maine Coon cat. Photo: Supplied.

Cat death prompts warning

The owner of a cat thought to have been viciously mauled by a dog wants other pet owners to be on their guard.

Suzanne O’Docherty, from Blenheim, popped out to the supermarket on Wednesday night, leaving her husband, Brian, watching the news.

But when she returned, 45 minutes later, she came back to the lifeless body of her beloved pet part-Maine Coon, Sparky, in their garden.

She is warning other pet owners to be on their guard

“It looked like he had been shaken and had his neck broken,” Suzanne says.

Suzanne says she thinks a dog that has been chased off their property before is responsible.

Husband Brian had already scared off the dog earlier that evening.

She doesn’t want to reveal the breed of the dog, as she believes the fault lies with the owners.

Now, Suzanne, who works at the SPCA opshop, says she’s afraid to adopt another pet, in case it happens again.

“This is the first time in my life that I haven’t had an animal,” she says.

Suzanne says dog control have been excellent, combing the streets for the offending canine.

After moving from a rental near the railway line, Suzanne says she loved the new quiet Redwoodtown neighbourhood.

“We loved this place, we thought Sparky would be safe.

“He was in his own yard; he hadn’t done anything.

“He wasn’t a wanderer.”

Suzanne says she has seen the dog around the neighbourhood several times.

“The dog is innocent,” she says.

“The fault falls on the owners, not the dog.

“The owners have a lot to answer for.

“There have been a few people in Blenheim who have had their pets attacked by dogs.”

The three-year-old tom cat originally belonged to Suzanne’s granddaughter.

“He was the most affectionate, loving animal we’ve ever had.”

“Sparky was a bit too trusting, but I’m worried it might happen again,” she says.

Ivan Miller has walked more than 4000 kilometres around New Zealand so far. Photo: Supplied.

Steps in the right direction

A year ago, Ivan Miller started walking and 4000 kilometres later shows no signs of stopping.

In a bid to raise awareness about mental health, and to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation, Ivan Miller left his Kerikeri home last February with the goal to traverse New Zealand by foot.

And the mental health advocate returned to Marlborough on Sunday as he completed his circumnavigation of the South Island.
So far, he’s travelled 4063 kilometres.

“It’s a huge adventure,” Ivan says.

“Every day is extraordinary.”

The ups and downs of the winding roads through the countryside reflect the ups and downs Ivan has had through his own life.

His own experience with mental health inspired him to reach out to others.

“Everyone has a story,” Ivan says. “It’s touched everybody.

“I think mental health is something people haven’t talked about enough and it’s made me realise how big the issue is.”

Ivan says he suffered with mental health issues for most of his life, and at 31 while working on a vineyard in Marlborough suffered a mental breakdown.

After a stint at the Mental Health Unit at Nelson Hospital, Ivan credits his recovery to a friend who encouraged him to study the arts at NMIT in Nelson.

In 2018 he was made redundant from the Kerikeri orchard where he works and, with his 50th birthday looking, he opted to take the chance to do “something memorable”.

“It’s definitely been a memorable year,” he says.

With no experience of long-distance walking, Ivan set out from Cape Reinga on 9 February 2019 with just his backpack and a new pair of walking shoes.

“I got a really rude shock on the first day – I was gasping for breath.”

But with no cellphone reception along most of 90-mile beach, Ivan had no choice but to tough it out.

“It only took three or four weeks to build up that fitness,” he says.

“Now when I’m walking, it can be tough, but I don’t think about what my legs are doing anymore.”

Ivan says his hope is to share his highs and lows along the way, walk with others, and basically allow others to follow his personal journey.

He says he will have a few days rest catching up with mates in Marlborough and Wellington before turning his sights on the longest leg yet of his journey – the east coast of the North Island.

“I’m only about two-thirds of the way through,” Ivan says.

He says there’s about 2000 kilometres to go before the finish line, back where he began at Cape Reinga.

“I’ve been helped and supported by a lot of people,” he says.

“It’s been an amazing experience.”

To support Ivan raise money for the Mental Health Foundation, donate at events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/ivanmiller/Ivan–s-Walk and follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pg/Walking-for-Life-1247548552058877

David and Leonora McKelvey can now stay together after a four-year battle with Immigration NZ. Photo: Supplied.

Wife wins battle for residency

A wife caring for her dementia-stricken husband has won a four-year battle for permanent residency.

Leonora McKelvey, 69, from Blenheim, married husband David in 2015.

Threatened several times with deportation, Leonora fought to stay and care for her ailing husband.

Leonora was finally granted NZ residence by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) last Monday.

A spokesman for the company representing the couple has welcomed the decision but blasted officials previously dealing with their case, accusing them of a “a total absence” of fairness.

“The manner in which Leonora has been treated by all INZ officials over the four previous years … displayed a total absence of any semblance of fairness or natural justice,” he says.

Originally from the Philippines, Leonora came to New Zealand in 2014 on a visitor visa to see her son.

She met and married David, who was diagnosed with dementia a year after their wedding.

The spokesman says by caring for David at home, Leonora has proven her genuine commitment to her husband.

“He has been cared for by Leonora 24/7 for more than 1000 days. Her love, care and Christian ethics have ensured David could remain at home and have some measure of quality and life enjoyment.”

He added that Leonora wanted to thank all those who gave their support, particularly the previous and current Associate Ministers of Immigration, the Hon Kris Faafoi and then Hon Poto Williams.

He also paid tribute to Immigration Advisor Sam Yoon for his “outstanding” work.

“Over the last six months, Sam’s interaction with the final documentation within INZ has been crucial to an excellent and final result,” he says.

He credited immigration officer Isabella Stern, praising her for her “steadfastness and principled approach.”

“Her fortitude in arriving at the correct decision displayed fairness and natural justice and was in adherence to the best principals that all immigration officers must strive to reach,” he says.

The couple have struggled on the poverty line for four years, surviving on one pension, growing their own vegetables and trying to keep costs to a minimum.

The spokesman says Leonora would now like to maintain a “quiet life” and care for David.

‘They would also like to thank all their church members and friends.

“Leonora’s overall situation will in time be carefully examined to determine the facts and accountability to the fate of this remarkable, humble woman.

“Her faith, courage and love for all have carried her through her last 20 years of a journey that most of us would find unbelievable and very difficult to endure.”

George Glover is welcomed onto the beach at Anakiwa on Wednesday afternoon after completing his 123km “Black Dog Swim”. Photo: Peter Jones.

Sounds swimmer finishes with a smile

Spontaneous applause echoed around Anakiwa as a wet-suited swimmer in a pink cap neared the jetty.

Cheers rang out across the Grove Arm as he emerged dripping from the water, feeling solid ground under his feet for the first time in 10 days.

After a makeshift finishing tape was crossed, a traditional Maori reception with speech, song and the presentation of a taonga signalled the completion of an inspirational journey by Marlborough teenager George Glover.

Inspired last year by the words and deeds of Kiwi free diver William Trubridge and Ross Edgley, the first man to swim around mainland Great Britain, the 17-year-old Marlborough Boys’ College student and accomplished pool swimmer decided to use his physical and mental skills to benefit a cause he felt passionately about.

So the “Black Dog Swim” was born, George deciding to swim the length of Queen Charlotte Sound and back to raise funds for and awareness of the I AM HOPE charity.

He pledged to swim approximately 123km, over 10 days, and came up with a possible fundraising target of $50,000.

At around 3pm on Wednesday he waded ashore at the place where he set off from on December 30, slightly weary but delighted as the promised funds soared past $57,000 and recognition for a particularly worthwhile cause skyrocketed.

Amid post-swim celebrations with over 100 well-wishers and supporters, George admitted he had mixed feelings about ticking off the unique achievement.

“Mainly because of the support crew … I’ll obviously see them again but it won’t be in circumstances like this, and that’s the element that’s been really special.”

While the charitable cause was always motivation during the many hours in the water, George said that it was the support crew who were most often on his mind.

“I thought, I’m doing this for the crew and those donating to a great cause – I didn’t want to let them down.

“But that wasn’t too often on my mind because I was loving it, even when it was choppy, it was so much fun.”

He said his support team had made it such a pleasurable experience. “They were able to mitigate any issues and kept me entertained … they were the best part of the swim.

“People like Ross Anderson, Norm Wilson, Dave Edgar, Jon Haack, Glen Richardson, Dan Moore … plus there were so many others, they were all so cool.”

Although George is a competitive pool swimmer, one of the best in the Nelson Marlborough region for the past four years and an age-group silver medallist in the 1500m freestyle at the NZ short course champs, he has limited experience of long-distance ocean swimming.

Consequently, he said his time in the water had been as tough as he had expected.

“That’s why we prepared for it like we did. The training that we put in paid off – we were as prepared as we could have been. The organisation of the swim was very smooth, which was great … everything went to plan.”

To prepare him for the challenge he enlisted the help of local endurance swimmer Edgar, a veteran of many long-distance swims.

Dave was mightily impressed by his charge’s efforts. “It takes resilience, you’ve got to get back in day after day … it’s all good doing big swims but multi-day, stage events are different … it takes a lot of damn hard training and a really good resilient mindset to get through that sort of work every day.”

The experienced Edgar ensured the logistics of spending long hours in the water were taken care of, including proper pre and post-swim nutrition each day. “We also set up half-hour feeding systems and did mouthwash every 90 minutes to coat the lining of his mouth, ensuring he didn’t get ‘salt mouth’.”

Work on George’s ocean swimming technique also paid off, the teen improving rapidly, according to Edgar. “Look at him today, he was smoking … almost like he was doing a 2k open water race or something. For him to be swimming like this at his age is pretty phenomenal.”

It was a proud and emotional time at the finish line for George’s family, his father Ben, mother Susie and three sisters, who were with him every stroke of the way. Ben said, “It’s just been a pretty cool journey. I don’t think we are going to potentially experience anything like this as a family … we are extremely proud of him. It was his idea from the start and I’ve learned quickly that if he says he’s going to do something, he is going to do it.”

“You could call it cantankerous every now and then, but he has certainly got a view and it’s not a stubborn, shallow or selfish view – it’s all-encompassing for people around him, which is pretty special. That’s what I am most proud of … it’s how he views things.”

Although the swim’s financial objective has been surpassed, George stressed that raising funds “wasn’t the main thing”.

“It was about raising awareness and eliminating the stigma around mental health. The money and support for the I AM HOPE charity is a by-product of everyone who has been involved.”

I AM HOPE is a youth and community-focused support group, run by The Key to Life Charity Trust, which promotes positive attitudinal societal change in schools and communities, while funding private care and counselling for young people.

A link to his Give A Little page is below …

https://givealittle.co.nz/…/black-dog-swim-for-nz-youth-mental-health

Lee Griggs with his modified ‘backwards brain bike’. Photo: Matt Brown.

Backwards brain challenge

A mental health advocate known for his off-the-wall challenges is back on his bike – taking his fundraising efforts in a different direction.

Guinness World Record holder Lee Griggs, from Seddon, has unveiled his latest bid to help highlight mental health.

Using a new ‘backwards brain bike’ the intrepid adventurer will enter two of New Zealand’s most prestigious mountain biking events.

He says the mind-bending bicycle is a physical demonstration of neuroplasticity, or the brains ability to rewire itself.

Turning the bicycles handlebars left turns the front wheel right, and vice versa.

Lee says on a regular bike, your brain knows exactly which direction and with how much force is needed to subtly move the handlebars and pedals to avoid falling off.

“This just shows it all up,” he says.

“I’ve had to relearn how to ride a bike.”

The mechanism which reverses the steering on the ‘backwards brain bike’.
The mechanism which reverses the steering on the ‘backwards brain bike’.

In previous years, Lee climbed Mount Fyffe, in Kaikoura, on a pogo stick and cycled the punishing Molesworth track on a unicycle.

The handlebars on the bike, supplied by Blenheim’s Bikefit, are mounted on a specially designed clamp, designed by Cuddons, with gearing that reverses the handlebars direction.

He says participating in the two mountain-biking events is to show what the human brains is capable of, and its ability to change.

“You can take a really well rehearsed and practiced thought pattern you’ve had through life and exchange it for a new one,” he says.

“We all have the ability to change our thought patterns.

“It takes practice, hard work and consistency.”

Lee says there are two principles of neuroplasticity.

“Two neurons that fire together wire together, and the other is use it or lose it.”

“Like the muscles in our body, you use them and make them stronger, or they atrophy.

“If you don’t use the neural pathways in your brain, they become weaker.”

He says the project is to raise awareness about mental health.

“We are not our mental ill health.

“We can replace those anxious thoughts with constructive, resilient thought patterns.”

Lee wants to compete in the longest-running mountain bike event, the Karapoti Classic, a 50km event near Wellington at the end of February followed by the Motatapu in Otago, a 47km event.

“I want to showcase it at those events to raise awareness about mental health.

“On the smooth stuff, you react calmly but with the rough stuff, your brain flicks back to riding a regular bike.

“That’s the parallel, mental health isn’t something you deal with only when it’s tough.”

Lee and his ‘backwards brain bike’ will be on demonstration, with the opportunity to give it a go, at the Christmas Festival on Thursday.

“I would like to do a school tour afterwards and compete in the cyclocross series on the bike in June,” he says.

“Harcourts, Cuddon and Bikefit have joined the team, but I’m still looking for more sponsors to help us promote the message and get us to the events.

“And I’m looking forward to getting back to riding a normal bike.”

Salvation Army major Deane Goldsack and social worker Bridget Nolan hope Marlburians will help them spread Christmas cheer by donating gifts for children. Photo: Matt Brown.

Operation Gifts for Kids

Hundreds of children who might otherwise miss out on a gift this Christmas are set to benefit from the Salvation Army’s toy appeal.

Staff have launched a public appeal for toys in a bid to spread Christmas cheer to those less fortunate.

More than 200 families are expected to receive brand new toys for their children as a part of the Christian organisation’s Operation Gifts for Kids.

Salvation Army social worker Bridget Nolan says the gifts go to families that are “doing it tough” over the holidays.

“The concept is a relief for families from the stresses of Christmas,” Bridget says.

“Things are coming up – uniforms, school camps, and they’re expensive.”

She says the support at the “stressful” time of year enables families to pay a bill or afford food instead of shelling out for pricey presents.

“And every child deserves a brand-new toy,” she says.

Eligible families are referred to the Salvation Army from other regional social services.

Salvation Army officer Deane Goldsack says their unique token gift system gives the decision on what their children receive for Christmas back to the parents.

Though the toy appeal has been running for several years, Bridget introduced a token system.

Inspired by the Dunedin Salvation Army and modified for Marlborough three years ago, the system enables parents or care-givers to personally choose gifts for their children from a room specially decorated for the occasion.

Each family gets a free family game and a free book, then, tokens are issued to the family.

Expensive toys cost more tokens.

Bridget says last year, 109 families and about 230 kids received presents through the operation.

And the number is expected to grow this year.

“The public and business supporters have been very generous in the past,” Bridget says.

“We’d like to say thank you to the past supporters in previous years and hope they can support again.”

Donations of new toys for children can be dropped to the Salvation Army Family Store, on Redwood Street, or the Salvation Army Centre on the corner of George and Henry Streets.

Financial donations for toys are also accepted.

This year, the Salvation Army are the recipients of the Kmart Wishing Tree – toys donated to the wishing tree will also go towards Operation Gifts for Kids.

To donate or for more information, call Bridget on 035780990.