Marlborough Mayor John Leggett gave Mike Tahere and his wife a lift from the airport. Photo: Supplied.

Uber Mayor steers couple in right direction

Marlborough’s mayor stepped into rescue a couple stranded at the airport – by turning taxi driver.

With no taxis available, retired senior constable Mike Tahere and his wife were delighted to be offered a lift by a kind-hearted stranger.

It was only when they got chatting that they realised it was Marlborough Mayor John Leggett who had helped them out.

The grateful visitors posted to Facebook to say thank you and to the people of Marlborough who made them so welcome.

“I just wanted to thank his worship the Mayor John Leggett that gave my wife and I a lift into Blenheim from the airport last Friday afternoon as there were no taxis available.

“It was a great start to our weekend in Marlborough.”

In town for a 60th birthday celebration, Mike and his wife were part of a group of 30 people from Paraparaumu.

John says he had been in Wellington for a local government meeting when he passed the couple by the empty taxi rank outside the terminal.

“I heard the word Uber so I explained we didn’t have that but asked where they were going, and I was going straight passed Chateau Marlborough so offered to take them.

“They were a genuinely, lovely, nice couple and we got chatting and had a few laughs along the way.

“They were here to have a great time and I’m delighted that they did,”

Mike was full of praise for the region, complimenting Chateau Marlborough where they stayed and the Clubs of Marlborough where the party was held.

“We enjoyed our stay at the Chateau Marlborough, great accommodation, service and meals.

“The ladies enjoyed shopping therapy on Saturday morning. In the afternoon we went on a wine tasting tour at Bladen winery.

“Thanks to the Marlborough people for your hospitality, we enjoyed ourselves and we will be back.”

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.

Photo: Richard Briggs/Marlborough District Council

Pou whenua unveiled

A special dawn ceremony unveiling a pou whenua at Picton Library and Service Centre Waitohi Whare Mātauranga took place on Friday.

It depicts Awanuiarangi and Ropoama Te One, Awanuiarangi the eponymous ancestor of the Te Ātiawa people and Ropoama Te One chief of the fortified settlement of Waitohi.

The whale depicts the region’s whaling history within Tory Channel. The carving was designed by master carver Pita Rua.

Author Gavin Kerr is using his book of poems to help raise money for Alzheimers Marlborough: Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Lockdown life poems a money-earner for Alzheimers

A Blenheim man whose wife died shortly before lockdown has written a book which will help raise money for those who made her last months brighter.

Gavin Kerr’s wife Elizabeth (known as Liz) suffered from Alzheimers and died on 17 March.

And his poetic bid to record life as he experienced it under lockdown level 4 is set to raise money for Alzheimers Marlborough.

The former school principal and academic says the support they had from staff at Alzheimers Marlborough was vital following Liz’s diagnosis.

On each day of lockdown, Gavin penned a poem which he has published into a book, Under Lockdown, with a proportion of the proceeds from the sale going to the local branch.

Gavin Kerr and wife Elizabeth were married for 62 years. Photo: Supplied.
Gavin Kerr and wife Elizabeth were married for 62 years. Photo: Supplied.

The first poem, dedicated to Liz, was written for her service sheet used at a private family farewell at Geoffery T Sowman Funeral Directors.

“I think that was what prompted me. It helped a great deal, there’s no doubt about that.

“Some days I had to sit down and think about what I was going to do but most were done while walking up the Wither Hills or along the Taylor River.

‘I’ve always been interested in writing but haven’t published any of my personal work before.”

Liz, a fellow academic who spoke fluent French, was diagnosed with Alzheimers early in 2019.

For the pair, who were married for 61 years, it was a devastating blow.

“Once that word, Alzheimers, comes up, you’ve crossed the Rubicon and can’t go back.” he says.

Following the diagnosis, Gavin got in contact with Alzheimers Marlborough.

The support and information they provided was critical through a difficult process, he says.

Liz was moved to Maxwell Lifecare rest home in Blenheim after congestive heart failure complications meant she could no longer be cared for at home.

Gavin too needed a break after months of broken sleep and stress.

“You try to put yourself in their shoes but that’s not easy to do,” he says.

The couple’s three children arrived just before travel restrictions were imposed to say goodbye.

“The staff [at Maxwell Lifecare] were fabulous, you couldn’t have asked for anything more; they’re like family.”

Writing the 34 poems proved to be very cathartic, Gavin says.

“It’s a good release. There is a mix of poems in there; some are amusing and others more serious.

“In some way, it’s a bit like watercolour painting; you do it, let it mature and go back to it.”

The $25 book is available to buy at Alzheimers Marlborough on 8 Wither Road in Blenheim or by emailing [email protected]

Braden Prideaux and John Kershaw are looking forward to the new cycleway. Photo: Supplied.

Cycle trail work begins

Construction of a new cycle trail along Jacksons Road has begun.

The two-metre-wide,1.3-kilometre trail is being built on road reserve running between Rapaura Road and Allan Scott winery and is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Walking and Cycling Coordinator Braden Prideaux says the trail is part of a wider vineyard cycling network that’s been developed in partnership with the Renwick Smart + Connected Bike Walk Group over previous years.

“The existing narrow road shoulder and the 100 km/h speed limit supported the proposal for an off-road trail, that will provide cyclists with an alternative when travelling this route,” he says.

Minimal disruption is expected during construction, however people travelling along Jacksons Road are asked to be mindful of the works.

Blenheim School principal Denyse Healy with St Andrew’s Craft Group members Dicky Willemsen and Raewyn Buchanan. Photo: Matt Brown.

Winter woollies welcome

A craft and knitting group are putting their passion to purpose by keeping young heads and feet warm this winter.

St Andrew’s Craft Group members knitted more than 100 winter woollies for Blenheim School pupils.

And Blenheim School principal Denyse Healy says the timing couldn’t have been better.

“With the start of the term we have our camps coming up,” she says.

Students will be heading off to Mistletoe Bay and Pine Valley, and in the cold weather the slippers “keep feet so warm”.

She says they will continue to be used throughout the term in class, to keep mucky boots of 93 children outside and combat winter chills.

St Andrew’s Craft Group member Raewyn Buchanan says their group love knitting and the finished product going to keep kids warm is a real bonus.

“We’re thrilled to give these to Blenheim School,” she says.

“We’ve made about 40 beanies and 60 pairs of slippers.

“Knitting doesn’t have to be expensive – I got two skeins from an opshop for $8 and I’ve made uncountable slippers from them,” Raewyn says.

Raewyn says the craft group has already begun on the next batch.

17-year-old Alex Marshall. Photo: Supplied.

Picture perfect shot makes a splash

A roadie to Rotoiti and some speedy editing has nabbed a national title for a young Blenheim photographer.

17-year-old Alex Marshall took the top spot in the youth category of the ANZ Sony 2020 Alpha Awards with his image, ‘A Celebration of Solitude’.

And with only four hours to execute and edit the shoot, Alex says the competition tested his skills- but he took the perfect shot first time.

“I had a few locations in mind before I was given the theme,” he says.

“I chose to shoot this image at Nelson National Lakes park, I’ve wanted to capture something like this for some time, and my goal was to take a less traditional approach to the theme, one that shows the joy in solitude.

Alex Marshall’s photo, titled ‘A Celebration of Solitude’ and taken at Lake Rotoiti, won the youth section of an Australian and New Zealand competition. Photo: Supplied.
Alex Marshall’s photo, titled ‘A Celebration of Solitude’ and taken at Lake Rotoiti, won the youth section of an Australian and New Zealand competition. Photo: Supplied.

“At the lake we lucked out with conditions.

“It was overcast with some nice light coming through the clouds.”

He roped in his mate, Jack, as the model – who handily has a family bach nearby where Alex edited the shot.

Alex, a boarder at Scots College in Wellington says he had about two hours to edit, after traveling from Blenheim and convincing Jack to dive into the freezing water.

“Because you have a specific theme, it challenges your creativity and it challenges the way you shoot.

“It really encourages you to get out there,” he says.

“I entered last year and got two images through to the short list but unfortunately didn’t get through to the finals.

“I wanted a go at the finals, so I entered again this year.”

Alex says he has been using a camera for years but got serious about photography about three years ago.

The title, a $1700 Sony A6400 Camera kit and $2,000 worth of Sony Alpha camera gear was the  reward.

He says the cash will go toward new lenses.

Cuddon freeze dry sales and marketing manager Blair Kibblewhite with Lara, who’s destined for America. Photo: Matt Brown.

Firm’s overseas odyssey

Lara has been lovingly bundled up and prepared for her several-thousand-kilometre boat trip to North America for a new life making pet food.

Usually, a Blenheim engineer would be ready to welcome her after her six-week trip to help get her settled and comfortable in her new home.

But COVID put paid to that, so Lara, a $2 million plus, general-purpose freeze-dryer made by engineering firm Cuddon will be making the trip alone.

And the Blenheim based team are making the most of modern technology to oversee Lara’s installation remotely from the other side of the world.

Cuddon freeze dry sales and marketing manager Blair Kibblewhite says they had to think outside the box to get the large machines overseas and installed.

“Previously, we would send an engineer to unpack and facilitate the install,” Blair says.

“Now, we’re doing this in Canada at the moment, the owner has a camera on his head and we’re talking him through the process remotely.

Cuddon Engineering, on Mcartney Street. Photo: Matt Brown.

“We’ve achieved a lot utilising that technology,” Blair says.

Closed borders due to the pandemic continue to hurt exporters.

But Cuddon Engineering is bucking the trend, and while bosses have had to rethink some ways of doing things exports are going strong.

The engineering company works in refrigeration, water engineering, irrigation and carbon steel but their big earner is designing, building and installing freeze driers.

Most of the other branches worked through lockdown as essential services, but the freeze-drying section couldn’t do anything due to health and safety reasons.

“We find the guys may have put things on hold, but the sales are still coming. We haven’t stopped at all.”

He says two freeze dryers are leaving the workshop, one bound for the US and other, the UK.

“We thought and worked outside the box,” he says.

Working remotely via Zoom, up to four engineers in Blenheim can pop on a call to run the engineers onsite through the installation process.

Then there are a few more working with contractors.

“It’s face to face and stable – it’s better than phone.

“It’s given us the ability and confidence to do it again with this one going to the US.”

Nine-year-old Anika Jones joined the Pasifika Production group after lockdown as she had heard it was great fun. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Picton’s Pasifika production pride

The door to Picton School hall is flung open amid a babble of excited chatter.

Wilting school bags are dragged across the floor behind excited children as they head to Pasifika Production practice, their smiles broad and voices high.

The bell has just rung to mark the end of the day and Susana Doris Evalu-Tyrell waits as she does every Friday and Wednesday for the students to arrive.

Originally from Samoa, Susana wanted to ensure her heritage remained part of their lives and with other Pacific Island families in the Picton community it seemed like a good fit.

The idea for the group was born and it proved so popular that soon children from all backgrounds were asking to join.

“I wanted it to be culturally inclusive,” she says.

The group has almost doubled in size and has around 40 members.

As the music begins, the children, aged from 5 to 10 years old, quickly take their places. Poised for action, small brows slightly furrowed in concentration, they begin to dance.

Faces light up and eyes cast quick glances around the room to reassure themselves they are keeping up. The smiles are infectious, and the sense of pride is palpable as they show-off their moves.

“Our children come from different backgrounds,” says Susana who is a regular volunteer at the school.

“I wanted to open the Pasifika Production group to everyone as there seemed to be a need for it, it is for everybody.

“It’s not just dance we do, next term the children are going to create designs from their imaginations of flowers or plants and print them on T-shirts.

“At the end of the project they will get to take their T-shirts home with them and be proud of what they have done,” she says.

The group has already performed in public and were captured on film as part of the Tuia 250 celebrations last year.

Picton School Principal Dave Sullivan says the school is lucky to have Susana, who also fundraises for the group and makes their costumes.

“The children are so excited about it.

“We are a culturally inclusive school and a lot of our children have dual heritage and it’s great that Susana does this.

‘This teaches them so much and the ability to perform in front of the public, their confidence has greatly improved.

Nine-year-old Anika Jones joined the group after lockdown as she had heard it was great fun.

“I really enjoy it the costumes and music are great and it’s something my crew and I can do together. It’s helped me feel more confident,” she says.

Friend Jayla Murrell, 10, says she wanted to be part of the group after watching them perform at the Picton Christmas parade last year.

“It looked like so much fun and it really is.”

For Susana, seeing the children smiling and having fun makes it all worthwhile.

“I want to thank Picton for their support because if it weren’t for them, I would not be able to come here and do this.”

Photographer David James did a fashion portrait session with his ten-year-old niece Madison Love who died of a rare brain cancer during lockdown. Photos: David James.

Sick kids to fashion models

The loss of a close loved-one has inspired a photographer to give sick children a moment in the spotlight.

After a magazine cover shoot with his terminally ill ten-year-old niece, photographer David James wants to offer the “awesome” experience to other ill kids.

And with the plan in the “germination” stage, David hopes the community will get on board.

“I’m thinking about ways to go around this,” he says.

David says he’s unsure whether to reach out to families privately, or if it needs to go through an organisation.

“It’s putting an idea out there,” he says.

His niece, Madison, is the motivation behind the initiative after she passed away from a rare brain cancer during lockdown, David says.

“I wasn’t able to go to her funeral because of lockdown restrictions and funeral numbers,” he says.

“I made a strong connection with her; she was a good friend.

“She was cool to hang out with and through her, I learnt about myself.”

He says while on a shoot in Christchurch, he invited his niece along.

“I said, let’s get dressed up and do a fun shoot.

“The clothes were all too big for her, but that didn’t matter.”

Photographer David James did a fashion portrait session with his ten-year-old niece Madison Love who died of a rare brain cancer during lockdown. Photo: David James.

David says during the photo shoot, Madison forgot her troubles.

“For 15 minutes she totally forgot that she was sick.

“I thought after, what an awesome experience to give kids.”

He says the idea has been building since that shoot.

“And I don’t think I grieved properly.

“When I had this idea, I felt some of that grief lifting.”

His mini travel studio has everything needed for a magazine-style fashion portraiture photo session, and he says hair and wardrobe stylists have offered to donate their time.

“I’ll set it up in the living room or somewhere convenient for the family.

“I want to be really respectful about the whole situation.

“I’m seeing if someone can give me ideas about how to go about it.”

David says it’s an awesome experience that results in some neat pictures.

“Every time I look at those photos, I’ll always remember that time,” he says.

“It’s a reason to forget about all the crap for a minute.”

“One of the things that struck me about Madison was how arty and creative she was.

“She had the creative, goofy, weird genes that I have; I fell in love with her straight away.”

To offer support or knowledge, get in contact with David James at [email protected]