Rhys Hall from Indevin. Photo: Supplied.

Grape expectations

Rhys Hall from Indevin will be pitting his wits against five other finalists next month competing for the coveted NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year title.

The talented finalist I hoping to take out the top spot at the milestone event, which will also mark the competition’s 15th anniversary.

Since 2006 the initiative has helped support passionate, young viticulturists grow, reach their goals and move into leadership roles within the wine industry.

Leadership & Communities Manager at NZ Winegrowers Nicky Grandorge is welcoming a chance for the industry to celebrate after a tumultuous few months.

This year’s National Final is being held in conjunction with the celebration so the fifteenth winner -The Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020 – will be announced at the dinner.

“In this challenging year, it is fantastic that we have made it through our six regional finals and are able to hold the National Final.

“This, along with reaching the fifteen-year milestone, is certainly something to celebrate and a wonderful opportunity to bring our passionate, big thinking winners together, many of whom are now senior leaders in our industry.” Nicky says.

The celebrations take place on 8 October in Martinborough.

Chateau Marlborough manager Lynley, McKinnon, Marlborough Hospice nurse manager Sarah Hammond and Quench restaurant chef Maree Connolly. Photo: Supplied.

Food heroes help hospice

Helping hospice staff prepare for lockdown has seen a Marlborough restaurant recognised for their efforts.

For several years, kind-hearted staff at Chateau Marlborough have donated meals to Marlborough Hospice.

And when lockdown level 4 loomed, they pulled out all the stops to make sure there were plenty of meals ready for patients.

The move saw the team nominated for a NZ Food Heroes award – and now they are through to the finals.

Chef Maree Connolly from the hotel’s Quench Restaurant helps create the evening meals for patients to enjoy.

Hospice fundraiser and events coordinator Sandy Inwood says staff were delighted to be able to nominate them for the award.

“They have done this now for several years and just prior to lockdown they made sure there were enough meals to cover the entire lockdown period.

“The team at Hospice are very, very grateful for their support and generous donation.”

The campaign, launched with the support of Massey University, was launched by the New Zealand Food Awards earlier this year.

It aims to showcase behind-the-scenes efforts of local food producers, charities and individuals to ensure communities had access to quality food as part of the pandemic response.

Massey University’s national events and sponsorship manager, Kelly Douglas, says the range of food heroes is heart-warming.

“It reveals the astonishing scope and scale of innovation and community spirit unleashed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says.

The winner will be announced at a celebration dinner in Auckland on 8 October.

Marlborough Citizens Advice volunteer Tiffany Cross. Photo: Matt Brown.

Online only move puts people at risk

Vulnerable people are at risk of losing access to vital services, a community organisation warns.

A bid to move government services online and out of local communities is putting some people at risk say Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) staff.

Now staff have launched a petition calling for government bosses to urgently address digital exclusion.

Marlborough Citizens Advice volunteer Tiffany Cross says the move to online-only is deeply concerning and affects a large cross-section of society.

“People of all ages are coming to us stressed and frustrated about their experiences of trying to access government services,” she says.

“It’s getting harder to access human support from government agencies, but people’s need for face-to-face services is as real as ever.”

A report, released by CAB just before Covid restrictions in New Zealand, reveals digital exclusion affects people across all demographics.

The report, ‘Face to Face with Digital Exclusion’ puts the spotlight on the impacts of government digital services on inclusion and wellbeing in society

“While online services are great for some people, the drive towards online-only is leaving some of the most vulnerable members of the community behind.”

Tiffany says CAB is left to pick up the pieces and shoulder the costs.

“Many of these individuals seek the support of the CAB because they need access to face-to-face services, paper-based resources, and empathetic human connection.

“In the report, it is made clear that the public sector is relying heavily on the goodwill of the Citizens Advice Bureau and its volunteers, to fill the gap from government’s withdrawal from face-to-face and paper-based service delivery.

“This has a very real impact on local CABs who are carrying the burden of this cost-shifting by government agencies.”

The CAB is asking all candidates in the upcoming election to support the recommendations of its digital exclusion report and pledge their support to the following:

 

  1. Leave no-one behind:

Ensure that steps are taken to address digital exclusion and that no-one is left behind or left out because they can’t or don’t wish to engage online.

  1. Public services accessible to all:

Implement accessibility and inclusion standards for the delivery of public services that include offline channels as part of the proactive design of government service delivery.

  1. CAB compensated for cost-shifting:

Ensure that the Citizens Advice Bureau is properly funded to meet the demands and cost-shifting that has resulted from government services going online.

The CAB has issued a pledge statement for candidates to sign up to. It is also asking for the public to get behind this by signing a petition, and Tiffany wants to assure people that “paper copies of the petition will also be available at your local CAB.”

The Witherlea School choir took to the stage. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Sing stars

Marking the end of term with a learning showcase, Witherlea School pupils welcomed parents and caregivers back on school grounds.

Pupils across all year groups kept teachers, parents and caregivers entertained with a variety of performances on Friday afternoon.

Ranging from Tukana (senior) Kapa Hapa to jump jam groups and Teina (junior) Kapa Haka, the day was a way to mark student’s learning and progress.

It is the first time in Alert Level 1 that the school community has been able to celebrate together.

Principal Andrea Harnett praised staff, students and caregivers for their support during an “up and down year with Covid.”

The iconic festival attracts wine makers from across the region. File photo.

Wine and food fest falls foul of Covid fears

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival has been cancelled for the first time in its 36-year history.

Festival bosses have today announced the iconic festival will not go ahead as planned to help protect the 2021 harvest from the threat of Covid-19.

Marlborough Winegrowers Board Chair Tom Trolove says the decision has been a difficult one.

“It’s been a really tough decision, and we realise this will impact businesses in our community.

“But the board was clear that in these unprecedented times, it had to prioritise the safety of the harvest.

“The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival celebrates our industry on the cusp of our harvest, and that’s a risk,” he says.

A report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research found that the wine industry made up 19 per cent of Marlborough’s GDP.

The industry employs 4,850 people in Marlborough and could not be put at risk Tom says.

“This industry is absolutely vital to Marlborough’s economic health.

“So, no matter how much we love our iconic wine festival, with all its camaraderie and celebration, we cannot let it jeopardise our industry, or indeed our community.”

“Deciding early to cancel the festival was important for event partners, festival organiser Wine Marlborough, and also the event audience, many of whom travel from other parts of the country to attend,” he says.

Around 8000 people celebrate at the annual festival each year at Brancott Estate.

But worries about Covid-19 means organisers have had to pull the plug.

“The past month has been a reminder that the world is in a time of uncertainty, and New Zealand’s situation can change at any time.

“What is certain to us is that we have to do all we can to protect the health of our people, and the economic lifeblood of this region,” Tom says.

Marlborough’s wine industry makes up 77.7 per cent of the national grape harvest, and accounts for at least 80 per cent of all exports, which are currently worth $1.923 billion a year.

General admission tickets were due to go on sale on October 1, which also made an early decision important.

“It may not be a good time for 8000 people to gather on a vineyard site to celebrate together with over 40 wineries, but it’s a fantastic time to visit Marlborough’s cellar doors and get an extraordinary insight into what makes this region’s wines amazing,” Tom says.

Super Early Bird ticket holders will be offered a 100 per cent refund.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says the cancellation would be a blow to Marlborough’s events calendar,

“But there’s no doubt that the wine industry’s main objective is to harvest its grapes in optimal condition and make the wine that helps put Marlborough on the global stage”.

Festival Committee Chair Tracy Johnston says the committee was disappointed the event was not going ahead but believed it is the right decision.

“The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival will return as a proud and iconic event for Marlborough when it can be delivered without putting our industry and community at risk.”

Wine Marlborough General Manager Marcus Pickens says the committee and organising team put their heart and soul into the event every year.

“It’s gutting that we can’t do that for February 2021, but we fully support the board’s decision.”

“Wine Marlborough’s top priority is protecting the reputation of our extraordinary wine region, and right now that means doing all we can to help reduce the risk of holding a large event like this before harvest.”

Brendon Adams raises money for mental health groups. Photo: Supplied.

A driving force for health

Mental Health Awareness Week is on until 25 September Here mental health advocate Brendon Adams from Blenheim highlights his journey and why he wants to help.

 

What inspires you to help raise awareness for mental health? 

Up until 2010, I had very little appreciation or knowledge of what mental wellbeing was.  You could say I experienced an awakening.  From that moment I got to meet and talk to a wide variety of people working within our current mental health system.  From high-level psychiatrists, the many branches of social services, and the many people living with a vast array of mental health matters.  I have no doubt my 10-year experience has been my driving force and inspiration to continue to help raise awareness for mental health.

 

What have been your goals to raise awareness for wellbeing? 

I was 37 years old when I first learned anything about the topic.  I felt I could have been better equipped with some form of prior knowledge.  That’s not to say that the information wasn’t around, more so to speak to the fact that the subject was seldom spoken about.  Almost considered Taboo.  Making it ok to talk about mental health and wellbeing and being comfortable doing so would be one of my main goals.  It’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to talk about it.   To help others will always be my primary goal.

 

What are some of the main concerns our mental health systems faces? 

I guess the most obvious concern to me would be the apparent lack of resources available to cope with the demand for our mental health system.  It seems to be the poor cousin of our general health system.  It is often very hard to convince people to seek help for themselves or loved ones especially when they’ve tried and have been turned away because the problem doesn’t appear to be big enough.  This will often lead to a problem exacerbating.   Then the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff type scenario plays out and the help is often too little too late.  This seems to be prevalent with men in particular.  Men generally struggle to talk about their feelings and what’s going on for them.  They tend to bottle things up or their situation is played down.

 

What are key signs that a person may be suffering from mental health, both what to look out for in ourselves and in others? 

Signs may include the following.  Don’t want to see their friends or no longer enjoy spending time with their friends and family.  Stop doing things they used to love or don’t seem to be enjoying themselves.  Can’t remember things, concentrate, or pay attention.  Feel bad about themselves – guilty, worthless, or ashamed.  Have a big change in eating patterns or appetite.  Have extreme mood swings.  Feel hopeless or really sad, or cry a lot.  Feel anxious, stressed, nervous, or scared a lot and can’t seem to relax.  Are not happy unless they’re using drugs or alcohol.  Don’t take care of their appearance or personal hygiene.  Have physical signs of injury or that they are hurting themselves.  Have panic attacks – rapid heartbeat, unable to breathe, feeling dizzy, and extremely scared or anxious all at once.  Unsettled sleeping patterns.

 

What do you think can help people be resilient in times of adversity, including strategies for coping? 

By being mindful of the four basic cornerstones to good health, you can help yourself and others in many ways.  To start with you would want to 1. get a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours a night).  2. Eat well and frequently, drink plenty of water.  3. Get plenty of exercise throughout the day.  4. Talk to someone about what’s going on.   Too often we see the signs of suffering get worse if any one of these cornerstones is compromised.

 

How can people support loved ones who suffer from mental health? 

I often have people ask me where to start when trying to get help either for themselves or for their loved ones.  The answer is never simple as everyone’s situation is different.  The good news is the increase of awareness we are now seeing as our culture shifts from this being a topic once kept in the dark to a topic bought into the light.  There seems to be more understanding and acceptance nowadays than there used to be.  Although we still have a long way to go.  Encourage an open and casual conversation with someone you think may be suffering and be prepared to listen without judgment.  Encourage belief and self-worth in someone that they can help themselves and get the monkey off their back.  Sometimes that’s all it takes and that is a good start.  Be kind and caring.

Battle of Britain airmen remembered 80 years in

The gathered crowd fell silent as overhead two Marlborough Warbirds flew by, their wings outlined against a perfect blue sky.

About 100 people gathered in the September sunshine on Sunday at Seymour Square to remember the New Zealand airmen who died in the Battle of Britain.

Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the famous air battle, Marlborough Mayor John Leggett welcomed guests and Officer Commanding Base Woodbourne, Wing Commander Peter De Rungs.

The service at the Blenheim War Memorial clock tower was attended by 32 military personnel from RNZAF Base Woodbourne.

A total of 135 New Zealand airmen flew with the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain which lasted from May 10 to October 31, 1940.

It was the RAF resistance to the Luftwaffe aerial bombing campaign of southern England that effectively prevented the German invasion of the British Isles, a turning point in World War Two.

Airmen from all over the Commonwealth, including New Zealand, served in RAF Fighter Command.

Mark Lovelock was the overall winner. Photo: Supplied.

Trio build bright future in construction

A trio of talented apprentices have taken out three top spots in a prestigious competition.

The Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year, in partnership with CARTERS, is the leading apprentice competition for the building and construction sector.

And at a regional awards ceremony in Renwick on Friday night, three Marlborough carpentry apprentices won first second and third place at the Upper South Island regional competition.

Cameron Palmer-McGruer impressed judges to be awarded second place. Photo: Supplied.
Cameron Palmer-McGruer impressed judges to be awarded second place. Photo: Supplied.

Mark Lovelock of Timbercraft Construction, Cameron Palmer-McGruer from Brent Woodward Builder and Daniel Small from Scott Construction Marlborough Limited impressed judges.

At the Upper South Island regional competition the apprentices were judged on a two-hour practical challenge, and their initial entry submission.

The top 10 in the region progressed to an interview with the judging panel, which was followed by an onsite visit where contestants discussed their project.

Making their selection, judges praised Mark’s organisation and his ability to be involved in all aspects of the build.

Daniel Small was third at the regional awards. Photo: Supplied.
Daniel Small was third at the regional awards. Photo: Supplied.

“The site visit showed us why in-depth planning was so necessary. The site’s isolation meant everything was helicoptered onto the site.

“We were impressed with how Mark has been involved in all aspects of the build. This includes planning, set out, groundworks, prefabrication and the delivery and installation.

“The judges look forward to seeing where Mark takes his career,” they said.

Mark will now go on to compete against the 10 regional winners from across the country at the national CARTERS Apprentice of the Year 2020 competition in Auckland this November.

People left photos and lit candles in memory of those they have lost to mark World Suicide Awareness Day. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Shining a light on Suicide Awareness Day

Clutching photos of loved ones lost, friends and family gathered last night to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

The clock tower and fountain in Seymour Square in Blenheim were lit up in yellow for a candlelight vigil to mark the day and those affected by suicide.

About 50 people joined together and marked a minute of silence before some took the opportunity to talk briefly about their loss and honour those they have lost through suicide.

World Suicide Prevention Day is held on this day each year to highlight the devastating effects of suicide, and the need to work together to support each other.

Organiser Bary Neal urged those struggling to seek help, saying loved ones left behind in the wake of such devastating loss deserved the chance to live their best lives.

“They wouldn’t want us to suffer forever,” he says.

National helplines

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Springlands School students Maisie Cornelius and Jaye Wiapo with their gold-medal-winning science fair project. Photo: Matt Brown.

Science fair finds right formula for success

Young scientists are set to make history as the annual Marlborough Lines Science and Technology Fair moves online.

For decades, thousands of curious Marlborough school children have taken part in the popular event, proudly showing off their projects.

But Covid-19 means this year’s event will be different from any previously held.

Organiser Hugh Lensen says this is the first time the fair hasn’t had a physical presence

“[Going online] is a good idea otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to do it at all,” he says.

Video and digital slides will replace the traditional hand drawn poster boards and papier mache models.

But the carefully crafted poster boards will still make an appearance at schools where they can be shared with fellow pupils.

The online move has proven so popular that some would-be entrants had to be turned away.

Springlands School students Jaye Wiapo and Maisie Cornelius won a school gold medal for their science project, ‘An apple a day keeps the dentist away’.

The pair were intrigued by Maisie’s granddad, who claimed eating two apples was enough to replace brushing his teeth.

“It actually wrecks your teeth,” Maisie says.

They tested a variety of apples, hoping to find a type that would prove her granddad’s claims.

“The Pink Lady was the most harmful,” Jaye says.

“Royal Gala was the best for your teeth.”

But their research found that apples in general aren’t particularly good for teeth – and are not a replacement for brushing.

“There are all sorts of out there projects,” Hugh says.

“A lot of students have not really wanted to do a project but then have really got into it.

“Some have gone to university, studying science, and changed their career path just because they enjoyed the science fair as a kid.

“Students can end up with a bundle of money.”