A new pollution monitor gets the once over in Picton. Photo: Supplied.

Picton pollution to be traced

Picton’s air quality is to be put under the microscope in a bid to better understand the town’s worst pollution offenders.

Along with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Marlborough District Council staff have started a year-long study.

Several air quality transmitters and meteorological stations have been installed around the area.

The transmitters will record air quality through both a winter and a summer, operating from July until the end of winter 2020.

Council’s Environmental Scientist Sarah Brand says the study will enable a better understanding of the area’s sources of air pollutants and their significance throughout the year.

“Picton is a unique location, and with population and tourism growth combined with port and industrial activities, we need a greater understanding of the town’s air quality issues,” she says.

Fed-up Picton residents approached council with their concerns last year. The new transmitters are part of the council’s response to pollution concerns.

Continuous monitoring will provide a detailed record of both particulate and gases and where they originate from.

“Previous monitoring revealed that Picton’s topography plays an important part in air movement over the town, so it’s hoped the study will also provide a more detailed understanding of air flows over the area,” Sarah says.

“The study was developed to help address community concerns over the town’s air quality and its sustainable future.

“It has been encouraged and supported by a project team including Council, Te Atiawa, Port Marlborough, the Harbour Master, and community representatives Captain Paul Keating and Mr Brent Yardley.”

Carol Taylor with dogs Sophie and Alfie thinks about her dog Buster every day. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Beloved dog inspires pet remembrance park

A much-loved dog who died too young has inspired plans for a Pet Remembrance park.

Buster the bichon frise was family to Blenheim husband and wife Carol and Phil Taylor and when he died in December 2017 at 8-years-old, they were devastated.

Carol vowed to find somewhere special where she could bury his ashes and mourn the loss of the little white dog who has been such a big part of her life.

“He passed away in my arms.

“Buster was my baby really, my prime mover on this,” this says.

A longtime advocate for a pet cemetery in the region, Carol promised herself she would push for a suitable location.

Carol vowed to find somewhere special where she could bury his ashes and mourn the loss of Buster. Photo: Supplied.
Carol vowed to find somewhere special where she could mourn the loss of Buster. Photo: Supplied.

And after making a submission to council, the wedding celebrant says she is delighted that councillors have pledged to investigate the possibility of setting aside land for a park.

“It would be a park for ashes, somewhere nice where people could sit and reflect.

“There’s nowhere to go and mourn here, nowhere to go and just think about them,” she says.

“It broke my heart when Buster died, he was an extra special dog and I just want somewhere nice to put his ashes.

“We do bury our pets in our gardens, thinking our homes will be our forever homes, but often they’re not.”

Carol says she is hopeful of seeing her dream of a place to remember pets that have passed become a reality soon.

Possible sites include the Wither Hills Farm Park, alongside the Rifle Range Carpark or at the Renwick Dog Park at Foxes Island or along the Taylor River area.

The move comes as council ruled out the possibility of putting a pet cemetery in the grounds of any of the eight it cares for.

The memorial park would be a place of peace where ashes could be buried and for owners to reflect, says Carol.

People could donate money to scatter or bury ashes, she says.

“They’ve [the council] been brilliant and appear to be behind it. It’s not been shot down nor has there been any negativity from them at all,” Carol says.

With two other dogs, Sophie, 14, and Alfie, Buster’s grandson, Carol is determined to see the project through.

Until then, Buster’s ashes remain close by at home.

“We make them our family,” she says.

Friends, from left, Georgie Ballagh, Rose Church, Bridgette Yarrall, Shania Tunnicliff and Maddy Ryan with their invention. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Thinking outside the lunchbox

A group of friends have invented a way to tackle the scourge of school lunchboxes – brown fruit.

Five business studies students from Marlborough Girls’ College have come up with a plan to stop fruit growing brown.

They hope their special spray will prove to be a big hit with families sick of ditching spoiled produce.

The year 12 friends, Georgie Ballagh, Rose Church, Maddy Ryan, Shania Tunnicliff and Bridgette Yarrall came up with the concept as part of their business studies class.

“We had to come up with something that would fix a problem. We started with food waste and how much waste families throw out and went from there to the spray,” says Shania.

The close-knit group tried and discarded several recipes before finding their final formula for Keep ‘n Fresh.

It was created in the kitchen at the Scenic Circle Hotel in Blenheim to strict hygiene standards.

And it was a long process to find the right one, says Shania.

“It was trial and error between all the different recipes. There was one that worked well but it tasted of honey.

“We didn’t want one that flavoured the food”.

Inventors, from left, Bridget Yarrall, Georgie Ballagh, Rose Church, Shania Tunnicliff and Maddy Ryan. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
Inventors, from left, Bridget Yarrall, Georgie Ballagh, Rose Church, Shania Tunnicliff and Maddy Ryan. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

The spray, which comes in a lunchbox size 5oml for $2.99 and a bigger 100ml bottle for $4.99, has been a steady seller.

But the girls are keen to get the word out.

“It really does work and we were quite surprised that there’s nothing else quite like it that you can already buy,” Maddy says.

The groups CEO, Rose, says the product had piqued public interest.

“When we did our research, we discovered there were lots of people who would be interested in buying it.”

The girls hope to continue selling the spray even after their business studies class has finished.

They hope to be selling it at the Farmers’ Market soon.

“We went to the car boot sale, but it wasn’t really the right target market.

“We need to be somewhere with more families,” says Rose.

Twenty per cent of all sales will be donated to John’s Kitchen in Blenheim.

Rebecca Wiffen with kitten Kwaazi which survived a house fire on New Renwick Rd last week. Photo: Matt Brown.

Lucky fire cat’s nine lives

She survived an encounter with a washing machine, being shut in a fridge and now a fire which destroyed her family’s home.

Kwaazi the kitten is back in the arms of her relieved family who feared she had died in a house fire last week.

Scared and smelling of smoke, Kwaazi was discovered hiding under the deck of the Marlborough homestead which burnt to the ground last week.

Her family, Rebecca Wiffen, husband Andy Fitzpatrick and children Sophia, 5, and Sam, 3, say the lucky cat is quickly “using up her nine lives.”

“Our very good friend Tim Abraham managed to find her.

“We’re very lucky to have her back, she’s only a kitten and she’s used many of her nine lives already.”

A fire gutted the Wiffen family home last week. Photo: Matt Brown.
A fire gutted the Wiffen family home last week. Photo: Matt Brown.

She’s been eight minutes in a front loader, she’s been locked in a fridge, originally, she came through from Nelson in the bonnet of a car.

“Kwaazi, named after a character in children’s cartoon show Octonaut was initially nowhere to be seen.

Her family feared the worst but apart from “smelling a bit smoky” Kwaazi escaped unscathed.

The Lawson’s wine maker watched in horror from the side lines as fire engulfed the home, called St Claire, which has been in her family for six generations.

She was at work when the call came through from the family’s American au pair, affectionately known as Big Sam, that the house was on fire.

They think Kwaazi was in the house when the fire began.

The family are staying with Andy’s parents in Blenheim, alongside Kwaazi and two dogs.

“To be honest, I think I’m over the shock. It’s about settling children, to be fair. It’s about having somewhere to be.

“I’m in the next mode, trying to get my life back on track,” Rebecca says.

The family have lived at the house for about 20 years, continuing a family tradition that goes back to 1907.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

A new home is a top priority and Rebecca says they are “incredibly lucky” to be able to buy.

She says the family have a lot to be thankful for.

“The generosity from people has been incredible and overwhelming.

“It’s been a little bit heart-wrenching how lovely people have been to us.

Wither Hills were incredible during the fire. They bought us blankets, they bought us cups of tea and coffee, they bought us chairs to sit down.

“It’s been overwhelming”.

Blenheim Business Association coordinator Caroline Stone wants to turn the town centre into a riot of woolly colour. Photo: Matt Brown.

Yarn bombs away for Blenheim

It’s going to be bombs away for Blenheim as plans to turn the town centre into a woolly wonderland are launched.

Blenheim Business Association are planning to turn the town’s central shopping district into a kaleidoscope of colour– and they need your help.

Crafters, knitters and crochet stars are needed to help create knitted decorations for the first ever Blenheim Yarn Bomb.

Blenheim Business Association (BBA) coordinator Caroline Stone says knitters of all levels are needed to help the community project make a splash.

“We want members of the public to get involved as well as retailers.

“It doesn’t matter if you can just make squares; we don’t want people to think that they’re not good enough knitters. We need knitting en masse so it looks good,” she says.

Knitters are needed to contribute to Marlborough's first yarn bomb event. File photo.
Knitters are needed to contribute to Marlborough’s first yarn bomb event. File photo.

Caroline came up with the idea to bolster Blenheim’s Christmas festivities.

Even if you can’t knit or crochet, the BBA still needs people to help, she says.

“If you can make a pom-pom or help with the installation, that’d be great too.”

Yarn bombing originated in the USA as is seen as a form of street art. Public places are covered with home made creations in a bid to brighten them up

Caroline says the association wanted to expand on their annual tradition of wooden reindeers and the wine-barrel Christmas Trees.

“It will help spread cheer and hopefully put big smiles on people’s faces.

“The idea is, if this year’s event goes well, that we will do this year on year.

“We’re not asking for donations of yarn, in fact we can help supply it, but we do need help.

“We will use as many pieces as we can over again and any leftovers will be gathered together and used to knit blankets for animal shelters,” she says.

The hope is there will be enough woolly wonder to decorate Market St and neighbouring areas.

“We are conscious that we have BBA members all over the place and there are some really beautiful, big trees in Queen St that would look great,” Caroline says.

For further information on how to help visit facebook.com/blenheimyarnbomb/ or check out the Blenheim Business Association at facebook.com/BlenheimBusinessAssociation/

Blenheim Community Patrol are looking to expand the service to Picton. Photo: Supplied.

Picton ‘mischief makers’ on notice

They pledged to help make their communities a safer place and Picton mischief-makers are next in their sights.

Blenheim Community Patrol volunteers have been so successful in their bid to help police they have been approached to set up a regular beat in Picton.

The team hope to recruit more people to help catch potential troublemakers and “steer them” towards a more positive path.

Patrol coordinator and volunteer Moira Conroy says early intervention is key.

“There are a few young ones over there who think they can get up to mischief.

“We’d like to deter them young so they don’t end up in prison,” she says.

Since it began in 2017, the patrol has seen volunteer numbers rise and fall but are currently steady at seven with one recent addition to the team.

Proving to the public they were there to help and not “tell tales to the police” was the first step in building trust, says Moira.

“When we first started there were some negative comments from some of the young ones that we were there to go running to the police.

“Word’s getting through that we’re there to help and are looking out for people and their welfare,” she says.

For Moira, one night in particular stays in her mind when the patrol were on hand to help an assault victim.

Pale and starting to go into shock, the young woman had blood dripping down her face.

Community Road Patrol were out on the streets of Blenheim and rushed to help.

“The police just can’t be everywhere and we can help fill gaps,” Moira says.

“We’ll keep an eye out for people struggling to get home, those who have had too much alcohol and just can’t manage it alone.”

But it’s not just in town that the crew have proven their mettle.

From helping find a drunken wedding guest lost in a vineyard off of Rapaura Rd to calling ambulances, the team have all gone through a rigorous training process.

Moira says that volunteering is a commitment but people are also needed to help with administration and fundraising.

“It’d be nice if a couple of people could commit to some fundraising for us. They’re are heaps of avenues for fundraisers but we just haven’t got the time”.

To find out more about Blenheim Community Patrol email [email protected] or visit facebook.com/blenheimcommunitypatrol/

Husband and wife Gary and Karen Knofflock keep up to date with the newest salsa trends. Photo: Supplied.

Finding their salsa groove overseas

A dance duo with a passion for salsa have taken their talent to the next level after travelling overseas to learn the latest moves.

Blenheim husband-and-wife Gary and Karen Knofflock have just returned from a 10-day dance trip to the Dominion Republic.

The pair held a Latin Dance Party so others can benefit from their skills.

And they’re planning to bring a dance festival to Blenheim later this year.

Karen says they chose the Dominion Republic as it was where the Bachata style of salsa originated.

“There were up to 200 people there from all over the world; there were about seven of us from New Zealand.

“We wanted to learn all the moves so we can teach them here and what place to learn than where it all started,” she says.

The globe-trotting team from Salsa Groove Marlborough travel regularly to ensure they are up to date with the latest crazes.

They had planned to travel to Cuba while overseas, but political reasons saw the trip cancelled at the last minute they went to the Bahamas instead,

‘Havana is one of our favourite places. You can go into a café in Little Havana and just get up to dance,” says Karen.

“People asked if we were from Cuba. Every time we hear music, we just have to dance”.

Live bands, high temperatures and a balloon trip all made the Dominion Republic trip a great success, says Karen.

Now back in the country, she has turned her attentions to organising their first dance festival, set to take place just before Labour weekend in October.

“There will be teachers from Wellington coming and dancers from across the country.

“We’ll have a pre-party at Fairweathers and then a Hallowe’en party at the Harlequins Rugby Club rooms at Lansdowne Park,” she says.

For further information on salsa dancing lessons and party nights, contact Karen on 027 309 0268 or visit salsagroove.nz

This two-year old Taimate Angus bull sold to Turihaua Angus Stud in Gisborne for an eye-watering price. Photo: Supplied.

Record-breaking bull sale nets Ward farmer massive payday

A Marlborough farmer has smashed records selling a bull for a jaw-dropping $85,000.

Taimate Angus stud farmer Paul Hickman sold a two-year-old bull to Turihaua Angus Stud, in Gisborne, for the sum, eclipsing his previous record of $20,000.

It is believed to be the highest for a bull in the South Island.

“It is an extraordinary price,” Paul says.

Previously, the top price Paul had received for one of his Angus bulls was $20,000.

The Aberdeen Angus, simply known as Angus, is a Scottish breed of small beef cattle.

The name comes from cattle native to Aberdeenshire and Angus in north-eastern Scotland.

The Ward farmer has been breeding bulls on the family farm his whole life.

Sired by Taimate Lazarus, a bull kept as a breeding stud, the as yet unnamed bull will be shipped to its new owner in Gisborne.

“He is just an all-round exceptionally good bull,” Paul says.

“To look at, his performance, the way he walks, the way he moves. Everything.”

Paul says he sold another bull, by Lazarus, for $40,000 and another for $23,000.

Paul says the highest amount paid for a New Zealand Angus bull was around $150,000 in the mid-90’s.

Breaking another South Island record, Taimate Angus received an average price of $14,000 for their 65 livestock up for sale, selling 65 out of 65 bulls.

“She’s a good day and a rather long night celebrating,” Paul says.

He says next year, there will be more sons of Taimate Lazarus for sale, but he wasn’t expecting to surpass this year’s prices.

“That would be a hell of a long shot,” he says. “But never say never.

“I’m very, very pleased.”

Marlborough community groups have been recognised for their commitment and support. Photo: Supplied.

Stellar work from community support groups

The first ever Volunteer Community Awards meant a memorable night for many of the region’s hard-working volunteer groups.

A partnership between Volunteer Marlborough and Marlborough District Council, the awards recognise voluntary groups who make a valuable contribution to the Marlborough community.

In presenting the awards mayor John Leggett congratulated all those nominated and those who received awards.

“Volunteer organisations do fantastic work in our community, across an amazing number of clubs, organisations and causes – these awards recognise that work,” he says.

Twenty-three nominations were received, giving the judging panel had the tough task of selecting a winner and runner up for each of the four award categories.

In choosing each of the winners, the panel took into consideration the effectiveness of the activity, programme or service, the impact on the community, the volunteer input and the number of people who benefit.

The winners and runner up of the awards are as follows:

Arts, Culture & Heritage: Marlborough Civic Orchestra (Winner), Picton Maritime Festival Trust (Runner Up)

Community/Social Services: Selmes Garden Trust (Winner), Marlborough Hospice Trust (Runner Up), LandSAR Marlborough (Commendation)

Sport & Recreation: Marlborough Touch – Junior (Winner), Hockey Marlborough (Runner Up)

Child/Youth Development: Graeme Dingle Foundation (Winner Equal) Marlborough Youth Trust (Winner Equal)

Community Star Award: Bryan Strong

Author Sayu Weerasinghe spent nine months writing her first novel. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Young writer’s book makes its mark

Nestled on the library shelves, a colourful cover catches the eye.

Like it’s literary neighbours, it looks like a good read, but unlike the others, this book has been written by a ten-year old Blenheim girl.

Even more impressively, English is not her first language.

With a talent for creative writing, up-and-coming author Sayu Weerasinghe has published her first book.

The St Mary’s School pupil says she has always been a keen writer.

“I’ve always loved writing and reading, ever since I first went to the library when I was about 6-years-old.

“My dad gave me the idea for the book and encouraged me to write it.

“I didn’t have time to so any at school, so I wrote after school and it took about 9 months to finish,” she says.

The Coral Kingdom is a magical adventure story, full of colourful characters and exciting twists and turns.

The main character, Molly is whisked away to an unfamiliar land called the Coral Kingdom when her grandmother’s dog finds a glowing shell on the beach.

Sayu is proud of the self-published work which she says wouldn’t have been possible without all the support and encouragement she had from her mum, dad, and teachers at St Maries School.

She also credits her English teacher in Sri Lanka for her support, reading and editing the draft and her daughter Serene Palleyagedara for her wonderful illustration on the book cover.

“I would like to write a series,” she says.

“I’ve already got ideas where to go next and when I’m older I would like to get a job and write stories in my spare time”.

When I told friends at school, I don’t think some believed me at first but when they saw it, they started asking me for autographs”.

Born in Sri Lanka, Sayu first moved to Nelson where her mother studied at NMIT to become a chartered accountant.

The family moved to Blenheim four years ago.

But learning a new language was no problem for Sayu who learnt English while living overseas.

“I was lucky,” she says.

Every teacher who has taught Sayu has been given a copy as well as Marlborough District Library where the book can be borrowed.

But for those wanting their own copies, Sayu’s debut book is available for $15 New Zealand dollars online.

“I used everything I know about writing in this book but never thought I’d have a book.

“It was so exciting when the book arrived, and I saw my name on it.”

The book can be ordered through www.lulu.com/spotlight/sayumdee