Marlborough missionary’s motor plea

She had devoted three years helping others but after being caught in a cyclone, a Marlborough missionary is the one who needs help.

Laura Monahan, 32, is the founder of the Liberty Project in Mozambique.

She works with women to help them escape exploitation and to build better lives.

But after category 4 Cyclone Kenneth roared through in March, the organisation has been left without use of a vital vehicle.

They had been relying on a borrowed Land Rover which is now only good for parts.

Laura, from Blenheim, hopes the community she called home will help by donating money towards a trusty new people mover.

“It’s critical to do the work we do.

“In the environment we live and work in both safety of our foreign workers and transportation of our volunteers and women in programs is necessary.

“The roads here are rough. We deal with roads mostly made from sand, dirt and severely potholed tar-seal.

“At this moment following both the rainy season and Cyclone Kenneth roads are a mess.

“Small cars cannot pass, and distances are long. I live rurally, most of our girls live in the middle of very poor villages and none own vehicles,” she says.

Laura Monahan with some of the women helped by the Liberty Project. Photo: Supplied.

The Liberty Project is a faith-based organisation in Pemba Mozambique that works with women from backgrounds of sexual exploitation, abuse and oppression.

The refuge relies on the use of a road-worthy car.

It is important for safety reasons and to help women in more remote areas of the community.

“The Landy has given up the ghost…

“It’s a real challenge living here without the technology to fix serious technical things and this sees many vehicles permanently off the road.

“We have been entirely reliant on rides from others, and in this type of environment everyone is overworked.

“There are many families and villages that have been destroyed and need aid, some are beginning to make steps forward and others only receiving food now after three weeks – young children and elderly are perishing in coastal hard to reach areas.

“It’s time to switch sides and go with a Toyota Land Cruiser that will last the long haul.

“The Liberty Project are without a vehicle at a most critical time”.

The initiative hopes to raise a total of $72,000 AUD dollars for a 10- seater, five-door, Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series.

To donate visit gofundme.com/let039s-get-the-liberty-project-a-vehicle

School crossing joy as council steps in

Picton pupils have a spring in their step as a dangerous road is made safer.

Several near misses at Picton School’s Kent Street pedestrian crossing prompted calls to Marlborough District Council to act.

Now a new $35,000 crossing is ready to use, helping keep children safer on their way to and from school.

Principal Dave Sullivan says the upgraded crossing is a “relief.”

“Staff and the school committee are really, really thankful that the council has made this effort.

“It’s not just them making a statement, it [the crossing] has real value and is already making a difference,” he says.

The old black and white striped crossing was on the main thoroughfare for ferry traffic using SH1.

Pupils at Picton School celebrating the new crossing. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Heavy trucks are a regular sight on the road and while most take care, some drivers seemed unaware the crossing was even there, Dave says.

“The new crossing is slightly raised, and drivers are treating it as a hump in the road and slow right down.

“It’s bright red, they can’t miss it and even if no one is waiting to use it, they still slow down.”

Year 4 pupils say the crossing has made then feel safer.

Jayla Murrell, 8, says she must cross the road regularly and used to be nervous about it.

“I think it’s much better. It’s red and bright and people can see it,” she says.

Dave says council also have plans to move the York Street pedestrian crossing which is situated close to a corner.

New warning signs will also go up around the perimeter of the school to emphasise children will be using near-by roads.

Pupil Mercedes Raj, 8, says the crossing has made a big difference already.

“No one could really see us before and it felt like the cars were too close and could nudge us.

“It was too narrow but it’s great now.”

This project was delivered as part of Marlborough Roads Safety programme.

Marlborough Sounds Councillor Nadine Taylor helped push for the new crossing.

“The children and staff were rightly concerned at the position of the crossing, being so close to the intersection, and the lack of obvious visual warnings for motorists approaching the crossing, and raised their concerns publicly.

“I’m thrilled to see that Marlborough Roads, council and the school have all worked together to achieve a great outcome for Picton, building on the success of the improvements we made at Waikawa Bay School two years ago.”

Cannabis event organiser ditches on the day

A campaigner for medical marijuana abandoned his own event after fears police may clamp down.

Co-organiser Dakkie Aikad helped organise the inaugural Picton J Day event, but comments from police in a Marlborough App article spooked the cannabis campaigner.

However, his concerns were in vain as the police were not in “direct attendance”, according to a police media representative.

“The police attitude in your article tells me they will be making arrests if anyone uses cannabis tomorrow, so I will no longer be making the trip to attend.” Dakkie says.

“I have too much to lose and too many people relying on me so I’m out.”

J Day organiser Shane Mckenzie says J Day is “sort of like crate day but way better, way safer.”

The police statement says there were no arrests or issues for police.

Shane Mckenzie and Dakkie Aikad organised Picton’s first ever J Day, on Saturday, as part of a nationwide series of events.

The pair hoped their “family friendly” efforts would educate the public ahead of next year’s referendum on legalising the personal use of marijuana.

Shane, a Picton hairdresser, encouraged people to bring their own joints to the event but has warned people to be safety conscious.

“It’s sort of like crate day but way better, way safer. You don’t get a bunch of drunk idiots,” Shane says.

“Some joints will be handed out but please bring your own stash if you have it but not large quantities for safety reasons.”

Shane, who has been attending J Days for more than 10 years, says the event is about informing the public about medicinal marijuana.

“People who are chronically ill should turn up,” Shane says. “There’s no drug dealing, no bad stuff.

Shane broke his neck “years and years ago” and uses medicinal marijuana as a substitute for heavy painkillers.

Shane says the idea is to help educate people.

“Bad behaviour or intimidation will not be tolerated.

“Let’s keep this event family friendly and educate our new generation about the benefits of cannabis but used in a safe way.

“Everyone knows it’s a trouble-free event.

Marlborough Area Commander Inspector Simon Feltham says police are aware of the J Day Picton event.

“We will have a presence in the area,” Simon says.

“The role of the police is to enforce the law and our approach to cannabis has not changed.”

He says police have discretion on how they deal with a range of matters, including cannabis offences, on a case-by-case basis.

J Day is an initiative started by the social activism group, National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Organisers describe the event as a national day of action supporting cannabis law reform, including safe legal access to medicinal cannabis.

It’s been held on the first Saturday in May every year in over 100 cities around the world.

For further information visit norml.org.nz/campaign/j-day-is-the-first-saturday-in-may/

Replica guns blanked from Classic Fighters show

A world-renowned air show has banned historic reenactor groups from using some blank-firing guns.

The upcoming Yealands Classic Fighters show has a proud history of ground theatre, with groups attending from across New Zealand.

Organisers issued a blanket ban on all blank-firing semi and automatic weapons in the wake of the tragedy in Christchurch.

The move comes as new gun reform laws which ban military style semi-automatics and assault rifles go before parliament later today (Tuesday).

Re-enactment groups planning to attend were also asked by show bosses to be cautious with their “rate of fire”.

But disappointed groups believe they have fallen foul of the new laws.

All artillery field guns are still allowed.

One New Zealand military re-enactor, who asked not to be named, says the ban means any ground theatre would look like “something from the Napoleonic wars.”

He says while he understands the need for caution, banning replicas is a “step too far”.

“All of the guns fire blanks. Some are replicas which are not firearms at all but can shoot blanks; should they even be classed as weapons?

“The ground theatre will look and sound like something from the Napoleonic wars”, he says

Army Group Centre (AGC) members from Nelson are deciding whether to still attend.

Marlborough historical re-enactment group Delta 06 Inc has been a regular at the air show for more than a decade.

President Dale Hulburt says military collectors and re-enactors are being “unfairly punished.

However, he says the group will be supporting the show.

“There is much vagary around what these laws will entail, or whether re-enactment groups will be able to continue theatrical demonstrations for the NZ public in the future.

“The re-enactment community in general is extremely concerned about the roll-on effect to all public events such as air shows, military ceremonies, ANZAC and Armistice Day remembrances.

“This is an “unintended consequence” military collectors and reenactors are being unfairly punished for the actions of one despicable madman terrorist,” he says.

Dale says such groups help educate and entertain, with many having devoted thousands of dollars to their collections.

“It is their passion,” he says.

The Garrison Society Incorporated confirmed they would also be attending.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed reforms to the gun laws two days after the Christchurch attacks.

The changes make it illegal to own a military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) and accessories which could convert a standard semi-automatic into a MSSA.

The move means there can be no weapons on display at the Yealands Classic Fighters Omaka show which takes place from 19-21 April over Easter weekend.

No one was available from Omaka to comment.