Sawmill staff working wonders

Sawmill staff have been clocking up qualifications in a bid to move into new roles.

Kaituna Sawmill has seen many of its employees move through the ranks to take on new trades.

And now sawmill bosses hope to encourage others to join the 60-strong team.

Jamie Howieson says he heard about jobs at Kaituna Sawmill after talking to a friend’s brother at a party 16 years ago.

He started stacking timber, then became a forklift driver coordinator, before completing a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship to become a saw doctor.

Despite his trade apprenticeship being quite specialised, he’s also had the opportunity to try out working in other areas of the sawmill.

“There are quite a few different jobs at the mill. You can move around,” he says.

Ryan Williamson qualified as a maintenance engineer six years ago, having done his apprenticeship at the sawmill.

“I started here just before I turned 17. I’ve been here coming up 11 years now.

Students from local high schools looking at their career options can experience working at Kaituna through the Gateway programme.

Processing around 115,000 tonnes of logs a year, the Marlborough sawmill has started many locals on the career path.

Ricky McKnight began his apprenticeship at the sawmill, and Kane Sullivan, Ryan Williamson, and Jamie all completed apprenticeships.

Kane is a maintenance engineer, who has stepped up to share a departmental manager role.

He says he started at the sawmill in 2011 on the production line, feeding timber into a machine to be wrapped.

He was on night shift and had moved from the food industry.

“It was a big change, but I adapted.

“My biggest regret was that I didn’t do some sort of apprenticeship when I was 20,” says Kane.

Kaituna Sawmill general manager Tracy Goss is encouraging people to get in touch and make the most of opportunities for trade training at the mill.

“If you or someone you know might be interested in a career at Kaituna Sawmill, the time to make an enquiry is right now. Get in touch with me and we can talk to you about where an apprenticeship can lead.”

The Liu family on holiday in China are in self-imposed quarantine after returning home. Photo: Supplied.

Coronavirus caution for chippy family

A Blenheim family has placed itself in self-imposed quarantine after returning from China amid coronavirus fears.

Main St Fish and Chips owner Andrew Liu says he took his family to Guangzhou to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Even though the family were forced to stay indoors for most of their visit, they have chosen to take extra precautions to protect the public, just in case.

“Most people were worried about it,” Andrew says of their visit where people are on high alert for the potentially fatal virus.

“We were told to stay home; the whole country is worried about it.”

Andrew, his wife Winnie and their three children, will stay in quarantine for the recommended 14 days.

The family arrived back in New Zealand on 31 January.

New Zealand Immigration has placed temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China to help stop the virus from spreading.

The restrictions do not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family.

Andrew’s popular Main Street takeaway shop, which temporarily closed before they left on holiday, will remain shut until the quarantine period ends.

The couple’s three children will not be attending school.

“No one is feeling sick,” Andrew says.

“It’s because we notice that when we came back, we should have self-imposed quarantine for 14 days.”

All travellers arriving in New Zealand out of mainland China, or any travellers who have had exposure to a confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China or were exposed to novel coronavirus.

A Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) incident management team is on stand-by but not yet active. NMH has a pandemic plan and a health emergency plan in place.

People will not be allowed to smoke at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival. Photo: Supplied.

Winefest goes smoke free

The popular summer Wine and Food festival is giving fags the flick.

Land-owners Pernod-Ricard has banned smoking at the long-standing event and are asking smokers to leave their cigarettes at home.

And even vapes have come on the chopping block – with the entire site right to the road flagged as smoke free.

Wine Marlborough event coordinator Loren Coffey praised the initiative, saying New Zealand had been heading in this direction for a while.

“None of their [Pernod Ricard] workers can smoke on their site – so it’s fair to extend it to events,” she says.

In recent years, smoking was confined to a designated area. But this year those areas have been canned. “If anyone’s smoking on site they will be politely told to put it out,” Loren says.

The policy, part of Pernod Ricard’s 2020 sustainability plan, was shared with wineries attending the festival at a briefing last Thursday.

Loren says stallholders were supportive of the initiative.

Destination Marlborough general manager Jacqui Lloyd. Photo: Matt Brown.

New look website the perfect match

Marlborough’s online profile has just been given a makeover in a bid to woo more admirers.

Destination Marlborough has unveiled a new-look website dedicated to show off all the region has to offer. includes new sections sharing the ins and outs of living and working here.

Destination Marlborough general manager Jacqui Lloyd says visitors who have a good time here could be inspired to make the region a permanent home.

“Travellers who have a positive holiday experience in the region are more likely to be inspired to consider returning to live, work or do business here.

“Having one site that can seamlessly serve up the right information to encourage this will be invaluable.”

The project is a partnership with Marlborough District Council and supported by multiple regional agencies, Jacqui says.

“It’s been built to provide an online portal to showcase Marlborough in a way that doesn’t duplicate what organisations are already doing, but instead, strengthens and underpins their activity.”

Until now, the website has been tailored towards attracting holiday visitors to the region, generating more than 31,000 visits a month.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says the new website fills a much-needed gap for people thinking of relocating, working or investing here.

“The site even has a section on film production, showcasing the amazing opportunities for filmmakers here in Marlborough,” he says.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Hans Neilson says the site will be a valuable tool support business.

“It means that anyone wanting to find out more about doing business here is directed to the right place and given a range of organisations to connect with, based on their desired pathway and supporting businesses to attract talent into the region.”

Blenheim Dive Centre owner Bryan Bailey. Photo: Matt Brown.

Tills ting to tune of $8million

Blenheim bargain hunters spent a whopping eight million dollars in just one weekend, cashing in on annual mega sales.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday proved a popular draw as consumers made the most of marked down prices.

Figures from Eftpos payment provider Paymark show spending across the country rose by more than 40 per cent compared to a weekend without the widespread sales.

And the shopping holiday appears to be catching on in the region, with spending up 10 per cent on last year’s discount deals.

No. 4 Boutique manager Cheri Baker. Photo: Matt Brown.
No. 4 Boutique manager Cheri Baker. Photo: Matt Brown.

No. 4 Boutique manager Cheri Baker says the eagerly awaited shopping event saw foot traffic in the town centre soar.

“It was definitely busier than any other weekend,” she says.

“It’s great for customers that want to get in and do some early pre-Christmas shopping.”

Cheri says new developments on the outskirts of town haven’t affected their business.

“We’ve just shifted and the foot traffic on Market Street was very busy.

“The fashion hub for Blenheim is Market Street, developments out of town don’t affect us.

“It’s nice to keep that niche in the town centre,” Cheri says.

Paymark spokesman Paul Brislen says Kiwi’s were simply keen to shop.

“Besides strong sales-driven Black Friday activity in shops, there were also strong increases in spending through supermarkets, hairdressers and internet service providers,” he says.

But Blenheim Dive Centre owner Bryan Bailey says the effect of the Black Friday frenzy on his business is “tricky” to gauge.

“We’re a destination shop and it’s our busy season anyway,” he says.

“I think some people may have used it as a tool for pre-Christmas shopping, but it’s our busiest time in terms of retail.

Paul says the last seven days before Christmas are traditionally the busiest shopping days of the year – busier than Black Friday and Boxing Day.

“There are likely to be three very busy shopping days this year, based on the pattern of 2013 when Christmas Day was last on a Wednesday, with possibly Christmas Eve pipping the Friday and Monday before as the busiest day.

Villa Maria Estate are recalling a 2018 batch of sparkling rosé. Photo: Supplied.

Fizz loses sparkle amid safety recall

Glass damage to a 2018 batch of Villa Maria wine has seen bottles of the popular festive fizz recalled for safety reasons.

Company bosses at Villa Maria Estate are recalling a 2018 batch of sparkling rosé after glass damage on the lip of the bottles.

While the damage is thought to be limited to just some bottles, the entire batch is being recalled.

Villa Maria CEO Justin Liddell says no other products have been impacted.

“Although this issue only impacts a very small proportion of the unique bottles we use for our Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling rosé 2018, customer safety and wellbeing are paramount so we are recalling the entire batch,” he says.

The damage has been discovered under the screw cap on some bottles of the 750mL Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling 2018 rosé product.

The damage is on rosé batch number: VM101L9238.

“If you have purchased a 750mL bottle of Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling 2018 Rosé since August 2019 we ask that you please refrain from opening the bottle and return the product to the retailer for a full refund,” Villa Maria says in a statement.

“You can locate the batch number at the bottom of the bottle which has been stamped onto the glass.”

“Villa Maria’s reputation as New Zealand’s most awarded winery is founded on the highest quality standards from the vines to the bottle,” says Justin.

The product was available from supermarket chains, various liquor outlets, Villa Maria Cellar Doors in Marlborough, Auckland and the Hawke’s Bay.

The wine was also sold at the Villa Maria wine sale which took place at the Auckland and Hawke’s Bay cellar doors. A small quantity was sent to Tonga and Fiji.

Villa Maria said they expect to launch our 2019 vintage of Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling rosé early in December, and apologised for any inconvenience to consumers in the meantime.

For more information on the recall the public can contact the Villa Maria Customer Service team directly on 0800 900 013 or [email protected]

St Marks Foundation chairman Charles Murdoch. Photo: Supplied.

Plea for help from St Marks rehab

The only residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in the top of the south is facing increasing financial pressure.

St Marks Addiction Residential Treatment Centre in Blenheim is facing increasing pressure on resources as demand for help escalates.

Centre bosses hope a new financially savvy trustee will help boost fundraising efforts and find urgent new revenue streams.

St Marks Foundation bosses say they need more community-minded people to “put up their hand” to take on the challenge.

Outgoing chairman and founding trustee Brian Moore says demand for treatment is “greater” than the facility can currently offer.

“It’s one of those things that society would like to brush under the carpet but it’s there and we do what we can.

“In lots of respects, it’s a pretty thankless role – but we do get amazing results and that’s what it’s about.

“When they’re at rock bottom, we’re there to pick up the pieces; we’re the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.” he says.

The 16-bed centre needs a new residential block for women, but money is tight.

Operational costs are covered by Nelson Marlborough District Health Board.

Brian says the centre is getting more court referrals as well, putting the centre under even more strain.

“The courts have recognised the service that St Marks offers and is referring drug and alcohol related cases to us.

“They have a fund to support some of that work, but as for buildings … we’re continually looking for new facilities.

“We get serious funding from the Rata Foundation, which is helpful, but the bulk of it we have to fundraise for ourselves.

“That’s the main role of a trustee – finding new funding streams or being able to fund it themselves,” he says.

Originally set up as a drop-in centre, people come from as far away as Invercargill for treatment.

New trustees are needed to make sure as many people as possible get the help they need says new chairman Charles Murdoch.

“A willingness to help people, that’s got to be the important thing.

“It would be good to have interested people to put their hand up and help.

“In many ways, the foundation is still in its infancy. We’re now at the stage to get into the community to raise a pot of gold.

“Someone who’s well known in the community – someone who is known to always help.

“We’re looking to increase the number of trustees, potentially up to ten.

“It would be beneficial and helpful to have a few more, to spread the load a little more,” he says.

Chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo says the aim is to make the best mussel powder “in the world.” Photo: Supplied.

Seafood firm flexes mussels with multimillion-dollar venture

A seafood company has announced plans to invest $20 million dollars in a new Greenshell Mussels extract centre in Blenheim.

Sanford Ltd bosses revealed last week they would build a new Marine Extracts centre to boost their mussel powder power.

The move will create more jobs in the area and plans are already been drawn up for the centre which is set to open early in 2021.

It will focus on the discovery and production of high value nutrition products from New Zealand seafood.

Sanford already makes Greenshell mussel powder from a small facility in Blenheim and its success has convinced the company to go several steps further.

Chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo says the aim is to make the best mussel powder “in the world.”

Greenshell mussel powder. Photo: Supplied.
Greenshell mussel powder. Photo: Supplied.

“We want to make the best mussel powder in the world and more. The demand for marine extracts is huge and it’s only going to grow,” he says.

Greenshell mussel powder can help athletes combat inflammation issues and staff plan to start moving into the benefits of mussel oil.

“The plan is to move into mussel oil and look at extracts from marine species other than mussels.

“There is so much to unlock and we are incredibly excited about the potential,” says Andre.

More than 40 people will be employed in a wide range of roles from scientific research through to production.

Sanford’s current extracts business general manager of innovation, Andrew Stanley says Blenheim the “perfect” place for the new hub.

“It’s a great location. We already have all the natural ingredients just down the road growing in the Marlborough Sounds so it was an ideal location for us to choose.

“Blenheim is also an attractive place to live and that’s a very good thing given the number of highly talented people we will need to attract.

“The lifestyle here is amazing. I recently moved here from Auckland myself and I can vouch for the combination of open spaces, wine country and being near the sea,” he says.

Andrew says science at the new centre will be world leading.

“This is a fantastic new chapter and we’re stoked to be able to share it with the world.”

Biddy Kate's owner Terry Sloan. Photo: Matt Brown.

CBD apartment complaint quashed

A bar owner who feared a proposed apartment development would mean noise complaints has lost his bid to stop the plan going head.

Hotel owner Terry Sloan, whose pub, Biddy Kate’s, sits directly opposite the site of the proposed apartments, was worried future tenants would find it too noisy.

But a decision by a council-appointed commissioner found the pub, which includes an upstairs backpackers, was unlikely to be the target of noise gripes.

He highlighted that the pub was already able to operate with “noise sensitive activity” – its own visitor accommodation.

In his official decision, commissioner Julian Ironside says the decision rested on whether Biddy Kate’s would suffer unreasonable constraints from residential use of the Porse building.

“I recognise that permanent residents may have or develop different expectations in terms of a night-time noise environment,” Julian says.

“However, I do not consider that the establishment of residential activity in the Porse building is contrary to the expectations for the Central Business Zone or is incompatible with the business activities undertaken on the Criterion Hotel site.

“The issue of night-time noise is in my view adequately addressed by the refurbishment details for the proposed apartments.”

The apartments ranging in floor area from 62 square metres to 110 square metres, have been in the pipeline for building owners TH Barnes & Co since late last year.

Consents show vacant shop frontage on the street could be converted to a car parking garage and storage for each of the units.

The car parking garage entrance would require the loading zone on the street to be moved or removed.

Originally built for the Inland Revenue Department in 1987, the government agency downsized and quit the region shortly after completion.

Since then, the building has been largely vacant.

Council documents show TH Barnes & Co engaged a lawyer to draft a ‘Noise and Nuisance’ agreement that could be signed by both parties ahead of the development.

The documents were not signed by Terry, it says.

Plans for the apartment include double glazed windows to minimise sound intrusion and an acoustic engineer’s report found the apartments comply with the noise rule for residential activity within the CBD.

Puro cultivation director Tom Forrest believes Marlborough’s microclimate makes it ideal for growing medical cannabis. Photo: Supplied.

Marijuana moguls top half a million dollar mark

A bid to turn Marlborough into New Zealand’s largest medical cannabis producer has topped half a million dollars in just a few days.

Puro launched a fundraising campaign on Wednesday, selling shares in the fledgling company for $1each.

Less than four days later 168 people had pledged $610, 293.

Company bosses say the business is on track to become the first company to grow medical cannabis and hemp in Marlborough.

Puro director Sank Macfarlane says the company intended to grow medicinal cannabis in greenhouses in the Waihopai Valley and high-CBD (cannabidiol) hemp in Kekerengu, on the coast between Blenheim and Kaikōura.

“The feedback we’ve had so far has been incredibly positive – there’s a real mood out there that it’s medical cannabis’ time.

“But we’re not there yet – while we’ve raised enough capital to get started, we need more investment if we’re going to achieve what we’ve set out to do,” he  says.

Puro is looking to raise $2 to $4 million through crowdfunding and an additional $2 million through wholesale investors.

A minimum of $500 dollars is being asked for by investors.

The unique microclimates are ideal for growing high end cannabis says the company’s cultivation director Tom Forrest.

“Marlborough is ideal for growing cannabis on a large commercial scale.

“We believe the local climate, summer daylight hours, intensity and quality of light spectrum will provide a perfect location for healthy, high potency, flavourful cannabis.

“Combined with the existing farming expertise from the wine sector and local agricultural resources, Marlborough will make as fantastic location for commercial cannabis cultivation,” he says.

Puro secured a licence from the Ministry of Health for medicinal cannabis at the Waihopai Valley site.

The licence would be for research purposes only until the medical cannabis scheme is rubber-stamped.

The Ministry of Health will need Cabinet approval on the regulatory proposals which could see the proposed Medicinal Cannabis Scheme up and running by April next year.

“Cannabis is one of the oldest used medicines in history, says Thomas.

“Written evidence dates back thousands of years showing proven medical efficacy and usage for a vast range of serious ailments, alongside safe recreational use in many different cultures worldwide.

“Legal cannabis provides a valuable commodity for farmers and wide range of economic opportunities.

“Legalisation helps with socioeconomic challenges and is shown to decrease societal harms from hard drug use.”