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.”

Margaret Smith, Brenda Munro and Michelle Munro are keeping charity in the family. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Charity begins at home

A Blenheim family have joined forces to help new school entrants start their schooling in style.

Michelle Munro, Brenda Munro and Margaret Smith have launched the School Starts First Impressions charity in Marlborough.

The trio are working with welfare organisations to ensure financial hardship does not mean a child misses out on the school essentials.

Colourful kits, tailored to the child when possible, are filled with everything needed for a bright start to school.

Chairperson Michelle says she came up with the idea after seeing a social media post about the charity started by Jane and Graeme Thomas in Auckland.

“I shared it with my family and friends and said how awesome it was. Next thing I know my mum and aunty had followed through.

“We want to make a difference and give 5-year-olds the opportunity to start school on an equal footing with their peers.”

The new initiative also celebrates the child’s 5th birthday, with a personalised gift and a handmade cake.

But because privacy is so important, volunteers will only ever be told the child’s first name and what they are interested in.

All requests for the 5 Kitboxes will come from a third party such as Oranga Tamariki, Te Piki Oranga and Maataa Waka.

Brenda, an accountant, who also served on the Board for Women’s Refuge in Marlborough, says helping in the community appealed to them all.

“We feel so, so lucky. We have lived lucky lives and want to give back.”

The family are now looking at gathering cash donations from individuals and businesses across the region. A gift of a whole box can be acknowledged on the 5 Kitbox as having been paid for by them.

With each box costing about $450, the charity hopes to provide up to 70 a year – 10 percent of 750 new enrollments.

“But we expect that number could be higher because of the COVID-19 situation we’re all going through,” Michelle says.

Retired teacher Margaret says she has seen children who come to school without all the items they need.

“This will give children the chance to focus on their learning and give them the chance to be the best they can be.”

To make a donation visit givealittle.co.nz/org/school-start-first-impressions-marlborough

General manager Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey. Photo: Supplied.

Help for addicts as wait times slashed

Supporting drug and alcohol addicts to detox at home is slashing wait times for people desperate for help.

Marlborough patients were waiting almost two months as staff shortages slowed access to addiction services.

But a new detox nurse employed across the district is providing planned treatment faster than ever before.

Nelson Marlborough Health Addictions Service in Blenheim was struggling to keep up with demand, with 32 people waiting six weeks plus for help in April.

General manager Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey says the new appointment is already having a positive effect.

“Treatment can be provided more quickly because, with a detox nurse’s support, it can be provided in a person’s home and doesn’t rely on the availability of hospital beds, or beds in a residential service in another part of NZ,” she says.

The regional service has facilities in Blenheim, Nelson and Golden Bay and, among other tasks, helps with community detox, screening and intervention for patients admitted to Wairau Hospital.

Staff can also refer people for in patient care and assist with an opioid substitution treatment plan.

The wait list in Blenheim is currently longer than Nelson primarily due to staffing vacancies.

“We have been providing phone support from Nelson for people on the Wairau waitlist and we have recently recruited to a position in Wairau,”

“This is making a difference and we are starting to see a reduction in the waitlist time,” Jane says.

There are currently 13 people on the waitlist in Blenheim and can usually be seen within two weeks, on average.

Jane says finding staff for Marlborough vacancies can be difficult.

There is a current vacancy for one full-time nurse and a part time service coordinator.

“We still have vacancies in the team and while it can be challenging to recruit qualified staff like this to the Marlborough region, we are confident we will find the right people,” Jane says.

Addictions service clients may also have appointments and treatment plans with staff in other services.

There are 16.4 (full time equivalent) staff employed by the service in Nelson, which also covers Motueka and Golden Bay and 11.8 (full time equivalent) in Marlborough.

MP Stuart Smith has launched an online petition to help save Sounds Air. Photo: Supplied

Stricken airline’s online support as MP joins funding battle

Marlborough’s stricken regional airline is being backed by the community in a bid to help save it from receivership.

Sounds Air bosses are not eligible to any of the Government’s $600 million rescue package set aside for the aviation sector amid Covid-19 lockdown.

Now MP Stuart Smith has started an online petition calling for immediate financial help.

He says the company has a big role to play in helping the region recover after lockdown as well as playing a vital role in providing essential transport links.

“I was deeply concerned to hear that Sounds Air risks going into receivership because they have not received any financial support from the Government’s aviation sector support package.

“When restrictions are eased, we will need Sounds Air to ensure people living in regional New Zealand can get to where they need to go.

“I’m calling on the Government to immediately provide the financial support that this highly reputable business needs so we can save jobs and maintain our essential transport links,” Stuart says.

Money from the government’s $600m aviation support package has been spent on keeping freight and lifeline links running.

Sounds Air connects Wellington to Picton, Nelson and Blenheim, and flies other routes Air New Zealand pulled out of over the years but is not considered an essential service.

Managing director of Sounds Air Andrew Crawford says he is making every effort to keep his airline afloat but is being met with brick walls.

Eighty employees face losing their jobs if the company has to close.

Stuart says the business cannot be let go without a fight.

“Some businesses are just too important to let fail. Sounds Air will be an important player in the economic recovery of regional New Zealand and our aviation sector.”

The petition has already been signed by almost 2500 people.”

To sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-transport-save-sounds-air-make-the-government-provide-financial-support-to-an-essential-nz-airline?recruiter=1078209202&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

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. “