Hularii Mckenzie and daughter Bailey are asking Marlborough businesses to be aware of accessibility issues during Covid-19 alert levels. Photo: File.

Covid causes access issues for wheelchair users

The family of a young wheelchair user are calling for businesses to help keep vulnerable people safe during the pandemic.

Blenheim parents Hularii and Amber McKenzie are calling for local companies to be more mindful when it comes to protecting disabled customers.

The pair, whose 10-year-old daughter Bailey uses a wheelchair, say hand sanitisers and QR codes for tracking apps are often too high to reach.

“Some can’t see onto countertops or reach high up, for those wheelchair users still needing to access shops and the community a QR code lower can really help.

“This also applies to sanitiser as well, having it lower helps, if it’s high they can’t reach it or it can squirt in their face,” Amber says.

Under Alert Level 2, all shops and business are required to post QR tracking codes to be used with mobile phones or keep a written record of visitors.

But the family of seven, who are currently self-isolating as Bailey has just had surgery, believe more care needs to be taken where posters and sign-in registers are placed.

Bailey, who has a range of conditions, including spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy, uses a wheelchair.

The youngster underwent double bilateral ankle surgery in Wellington earlier this month and is recovering well.

Hularii says he highlights the issue to businesses when he sees a problem.

“There was just a few I’d seen and mentioned it to the place, both here and in Wellington when we were there for surgery.

“All the places approached took it on board really well including making sure sanitiser was at a good height for wheelchair users.

“My understanding is on the back of the QR code sheet are recommendations, so they are at a height wheelchairs users can reach,” Hularii says.

The government recommendation is that the QR code sheets be placed no higher than 130cm.

Hularii says some people are displaying more than one QR code at different height levels to help.

But others people just aren’t aware of the problem,” he says.

“It doesn’t surprise me that some people aren’t aware of it.

“I always say if accessibility is not something you deal with day to day it’s easy to forget to account for because it’s not there, obvious in your face.

“Once people know they are usually very accommodating.

“Though it can be annoying for some, the disabled community can see issues and make others aware of the challenges we face.

“People don’t know what they don’t know.”

Council parks and open spaces manager Jane Tito says the council wanted to provide a “safer option” in Ward. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR.

Freedom camper money making plans amuse

Rural township residents are laughing off suggestions a new freedom camping site will bring in money.

About 30 Ward residents burst into laughter at a meeting last week after a Marlborough District Council staffer suggested freedom campers’ cash would benefit the town.

Ward is one of three new sites proposed under the council’s draft freedom camping bylaw.

But despite overwhelming opposition for the site, Ward farmer John Hickman took a one-man stand at the meeting.

John had earlier emailed members of local community group, the Flaxbourne Settlers Association, calling for residents not to “throw up barriers.”

“I just want everyone to keep an open mind,” he says.

But local mechanic Mike Hole says he objected to his taxes funding other people’s holidays.

The proposed campsite was located by a creek damage during the 2016 quake and which flooded in extreme weather, he says.

Council released its draft bylaw earlier this month, which included a Marlborough-wide ban on freedom campers that were not self-contained.

The bylaw would restrict freedom camping in Blenheim, Renwick and Picton to designated sites.

But in Ward, campers would still be allowed to park up anywhere. Rai Valley was the same.

Council parks and open spaces manager Jane Tito says the council wanted to provide a “safer option” in Ward, instead of having campers parked along the state highway.

Council staffers advised they were not documenting people’s opinions and asked the meeting’s attendees to submit on the proposed bylaw before the deadline of September 7, at 5pm.

It was recommended residents outline where they felt freedom camping should be banned in Ward, while Kaikōura MP, National’s Stuart Smith, suggested the community put forward an alternative site.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

Zoe Osgood, 13, has been supported by the local community during her bone cancer battle in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

Café’s coffee kindness

A café’s bid to help a Blenheim girl dealing with bone cancer has raised more than $5000.

Zoe Osgood, 13, is in Christchurch undergoing treatment for osteosarcoma.

Friends and family in Marlborough have been raising money to help take the financial pressure off her family while they support Zoe.

Ritual Café in Blenheim held a Zoe Week last week, raising $5301. For every coffee sold, staff donated a dollar.

An instore donations box raised $1736 which boss Julie McDonald then doubled.

“It’s been the most outstanding week for the team at Ritual Café.

“I’m hoping that this money will help Zoe and her family in some way.

“Knowing the family, I know that they will be totally grateful to everyone who supported this amazing cause.

All the very best Zoe – you got this girl.”

A Givealittle page has been set up to help, with $39,994 raised as of Monday morning.

Zoe;s mum Michelle Osgood says the community support has been amazing.

“It is truly an amazing gesture. We are absolutely been away.”

Visit givealittle.co.nz to donate by searching under Zoe Osgood.

Marlborough Sportsperson of the Year 2019, MMA champion Gase Sanita. Photo: David James.

Sports awards to run with different format

The Marlborough Sports Awards are going ahead in 2020 – albeit in a slightly-modified format.

It was confirmed this week that the annual celebration of sporting prowess, which has been running since 1968, will be staged at the Marlborough Convention Centre on Monday, November 16.

However, given the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on most sports, the MSA organising committee have opted for a different approach to suit the current environment.

They have decided to stage a more “grassroots” awards evening this year, with the aim of reducing potential costs to sports bodies, the nominees’ individual sponsors, plus the major supporters of the event.

Trophies will still be awarded across all five categories, with an overall winner announced, while the Marlborough Medal, for lengthy service to sport in the province, will again be presented.

Ticket prices for the evening have been reduced to $30 per head.  Although there will be no formal dinner there will be snack food available on the tables, plus some beverages.

Nomination information has been sent to Marlborough’s various sporting bodies, with organisers hoping for a good spread of nominees across the categories [sportsman and sportswoman, junior sportsman and sportswoman, plus team of the year].

MSA committee spokesman Rory Crawford said, “With sports bodies facing less expenditure and not being required to find a sponsor for their individual nomination, we see this as an opportunity for them to perhaps make several nominations.

“Plus, with restricted national and international competition in 2020, we expect those competing at a local level to be more prominent in the various categories.”

Crawford added that, while no high-profile guest speaker was being sought this year, the committee were working hard on attracting an MC and speaker with links to the region.

For more information on the 2020 Marlborough Sports Awards please contact [email protected] or go to the website www. marlboroughsportsawards.

The Marlborough Sports Awards are run by Sport Tasman, Blenheim Round Table and Marlborough Media.

The event’s main sponsors are House of Travel, Redwood Trust, MoreFM, Marlborough Convention Centre, WK Advisors and Accountants and Fairweathers.

Writer Gavin Kerr has reprinted his popular poetry book twice. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Poetry in motion a money spinner

A poetry book written during lockdown has raised $1000 dollars for Alzheimers Marlborough.

Author Gavin Kerr self-published work Under Lockdown has been reprinted twice since it was published last month.

Earlier this week, the Blenheim writer, whose wife Liz died in March from complications relating to Alzheimers, took a cheque to the Wither Road centre.

“The public were very generous in their support, with two reprints being necessary to cater for demand both in New Zealand and in Australia.

“I would especially thank the Marlborough community for their contribution to the project. It was most heartening indeed,” he says.

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

Alzheimer Marlborough manager Diane Tolley says the organisation appreciates Gavin’s kindness.

“Alzheimers Marlborough was thrilled to receive a very generous donation of $1000.

“Personally, receiving of a copy of the poem “The Lockdown” written twenty days after the passing of Gavin’s wife brought home to us the range of emotions families go through, as the dementia journey progresses.

“We were pleased to be able to support Gavin and his family through their journey and encourage all people affected by dementia to seek the support of the caring staff at Alzheimers Marlborough.

“Having support in place, as soon as possible after a diagnosis, can assist the person living with dementia and their family to continue to lead fulfilling lives,” she says.

Books are still available for $25 from both Marlborough Alzheimers office on Wither Rd or by emailling  [email protected].

The Burleigh’s Jane Dickenson, left, and Pie Challenge organiser Fiona Fenwick closely examine a Burleigh pie in the buildup to this year’s challenge. Photo: Anthony Phelps/Phelps Photography.

Pie pairing challenge launched

The chefs behind some of Marlborough’s most famous pies are looking for a perfect partner for their crusty creations.

For the fourth year, the Great Burleigh Pie Pairing Challenge is back, and teams are set to compete the find the best wine match for their popular pies.

As well as a trophy and bragging rights, winners also get the chance take a coveted place on the judging panel.

Co-founder of the Great Burleigh Pie Pairing Challenge Fiona Fenwick says this year’s competition includes an additional challenge.

“While Marlborough is known widely for its wine, there are also people producing other beverages – alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

This year, there is a wildcard entry these Marlborough non-wine beverage producers can do – match a Burleigh pie to any non-wine beverage from Marlborough.”

But, she says, this one is for the glory and bragging rights only – entries in the “wildcard” category are not eligible for the Supreme Award.

All fees from the winery team entries go to charity, with Marlborough Food Bank set to benefit this year.

Fiona says they are also looking for entries for the most original savoury pie recipe.

The main criteria here is that three of the ingredients need to be from Marlborough – whether it’s Lake Grassmere sea salt, a lemon from the tree next door, or greenshell mussels from the Marlborough Sounds,” she says.

As the Burleigh Pie pair, Jane Dickenson and Rod Burdis, say “We love the unexpected and we love quality so we can’t wait to see what Marlborough people come up with”.

The Marlborough Weekly has teamed up with the Great Burleigh Pie Pairing Challenge this year and is a collection point for pie enthusiasts.

Entry forms are available from The Burleigh on New Renwick Road in Blenheim or at Marlborough Weekly at 52 Scott Street.

Completed forms to be returned to The Burleigh, Marlborough Weekly, or emailed to [email protected]

All entries are to be received by 5pm on 4 September 2020.

Marlborough District Council is looking at banning non-self-contained vehicles from its freedom camping sites. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR

Freedom camping challenge could face legal threat

Marlborough council may face legal challenges in their bid to ban freedom campers in vehicles that are not self-contained.

Council staff want to ban vehicles without toilets from its freedom camping sites under a draft bylaw, released last week.

The bylaw was sparked by ongoing concerns that freedom campers were using Marlborough’s green patches as a toilet.

But at a public meeting in Renwick last week, council’s parks and open spaces planner Linda Craighead said the ban was not straightforward.

The council anticipated legal challengers she says.

“As with a lot of legal matters, there are some lawyers who feel we can ban non-self-contained units, and some lawyers who think we can’t.

“We’re going to have a go and see how we do,” she says.

Speaking after the meeting, Linda said the Freedom Camping Act, which guided the bylaw review, said councils “must not absolutely prohibit freedom camping” in their regions.

“Some believe that if you make freedom camping self-contained only, you’re prohibiting freedom camping for a number of people in the community, which goes against the act,” she says.

“Others argue that you’re still making provision for freedom camping, just that it’s restricted to self-contained. We already do other restrictions like limiting the number of vehicles at a site.”

To receive a self-containment certification, vehicles must have a toilet, portable or fixed, which must be able to be used inside a campervan with “sufficient head and elbow room”.

Under the bylaw, non-self-contained campers could be fined up to $200 by the council’s freedom camping enforcement officers.

This was in line with neighbouring Nelson City Council’s bylaw.

The council was aware of some individuals or organisations who might challenge their draft bylaw, but Linda says challengers had to submit on the bylaw then take their case to the High Court.

One attendee says he was concerned campers would not use their toilets, even if their vehicle was certified as self-contained.

“I hear stories of these people hiring campervan rentals.

“There are companies that put a seal over the toilets in the van. These cheeky companies are saying; ‘If you don’t break the seal to use that toilet, we will give you that bond back’. It’s wrong,” he says.

The bylaw says it is an offence to improperly dispose of waste.

Linda says infringement notices were “challenging” as the act prevented the council from fining more than $200. If the camper challenged the fine, it was not worth the costs of going to court.

A freedom camping report written by an independent expert earlier this year says the council’s approach of ‘educating first’, rather than fining, has led to a lower infringement tally than other regions. Last summer, the council issued seven fines, while Nelson issued 245 and Queenstown issued just under 2500.

An audience member asked how the council would manage homeless people who did not have toilets in their vehicles.

Linda says officers would contact relevant services.

The bylaw proposed no changes to the Renwick Domain camp site, which allowed up to 10 campers between 6pm and 9am.

Submissions on the bylaw would close on September 7 at 5pm.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

Random Directions film festival organiser Phil McKinnon. Photo: Matt Brown.

Film makers set for silver screen

A new film festival will soon hit Marlborough’s silver screens.

But the awards and certificates have been left on the cutting room floor – this purely local tournament is purely for the love of film.

Random Directions organiser and self-confessed cinephile Phil McKinnon says his festival is all about the movies; there’s no judgement, no pressure, and no politics allowed.

“It’s all about showcasing films and embracing anyone that wants to be involved in film in Marlborough,” he says.

“We want to keep it in the Marlborough community.”

Fifteen filmmakers will be showing off their hard work at Event Cinemas, in Blenheim, at the end of the month.

Phil says the playlist is a “combo” of films created in the first two years of the Random Directions group.

“Covid kind of got us behind,” he says.

“Next year, in September, we’ll show the films from our third year.

“The longest [film] is about 13 minutes. Most are around the four to five-minute mark,” Phil says.

He says a lot of planning and preparation go into films – even short ones.

“You have to rely on your crew.

“It’s always a whole lot of chaos and you have to manage the chaos as well as you can.”

“Movies – it’s what I love. Making them, watching them. Working at a cinema is one of the only jobs I’ve ever wanted to do.

“Now it’s all Netflix. It’s convenient but I miss checking out film covers at the video store.

He hopes the screening will attract new members to the group.

“People can get scared to get involved because they think they’ll have to be on screen.

“But there’s so much going on behind the scenes; sound, post-production, even catering.

“There’s heaps of different aspects.”

Film makers of all ages, from 16 years old to 50 plus will be showcasing their work.

All the proceeds from the short-film screening go toward cinema hire, and Phil says any extra money made he wants to put back into the local filmmaking community.

“We’re also looking at getting into scholarships, to encourage training in Marlborough.”

The “Marlborough-based film festival, Marlborough-made, for Marlburians” screens August 30 at Event Cinemas in Blenheim, from 7.30pm.

Tickets are available on Eventfinda.co.nz and cost $15 plus booking fee.

“Come buy a ticket and support local,” Phil says.

“It’s just Marlborough filmmakers – unless, of course, Taika calls. Then we’d make an exception.”

Cats in Blenheim are being targeted prompting a police investigation. Photo: Supplied.

Police launch investigation into cat killings

Pets are being killed and poisoned in a series of deliberate and cruel attacks.

Cats in Blenheim are being targeted prompting a police investigation it has been revealed.

Redwoodtown residents in Blenheim yesterday received a letter from police appealing for information about the ongoing abuse.

Officers are also looking for people who think their cats may have been deliberately hurt to come forward in a bid to catch the culprit.

The move comes after a series of attacks on cats and a rise in the number of pets being reported missing.

“Recently, and in the past, cats have been targeted in your area. Some have been injured and some poisoned,” the letter reads.

“We have received a number of reports recently of cats being injured and on several occasions the animal was hit by a person with an air rifle.

“This is a serious offence and persons found committing acts of cruelty to animals face a maximum of five years imprisonment along with firearms charges.”

Blenheim woman Brenda Green’s cat was shot in June with a high velocity slug gun which shattered its shoulder on impact.

The 13-year-old family pet had to be put down.

Knowing someone had set out to harm TC was devastating, Brenda says.

“He came inside, and I thought he had broken his leg as it was just dangling.  He could not do anything with it.

“The vet informed the police and we went and put in a report that day.

“When the vet told us he had been shot and his shoulder bone was completely snapped in two we were really furious that someone could do this.”

Another cat, Smudge, was shot on Bythell Street in Redwoodtown in September last year.

Cat rescue and rehoming charity Marlborough Dog Pawz staff say they have been contacted by pet owners who have had cats killed and maimed.

“There seems to be a lot of it happening and someone must know something

“We would be happy for anyone that knows anything to contact us if they don’t want to talk to police or SPCA directly,” as spokeswoman says.

“It’s a concern someone can be so cold and cruel, next it will be people being shot. At least if that happens people can speak up but not the animals.”

Concerned cat owners have been on high alert for weeks, taking to social media to highlight missing or hurt animals.

If you think your cat had been harmed either phone the police on 105, or email Amy Pottinger on [email protected] and quote file number 190908/2661.

Hub committee members thank the community for their help. Photo: Matt Brown

Awatere ECE another step closer

The Awatere ECE Hub committee are “cranking into overdrive” as the realisation of years of hard work comes to fruition.

Construction on a new centre bringing the Awatere/Flaxbourne Plunket, Awatere Playcentre and the Awatere Early Learning Centre under one roof is hoped to begin early next year.

And on Thursday the committee held a special ceremony to thank early supporters of the decade-long project.

Awatere ECE Hub committee chair Phil Muir says they’re taking the opportunity to show their appreciation to the community for all their support.

“It’s been a long time coming.

“There’s a truck load of planning that goes into it, which is what we’ve been doing.”

He says the committee are still waiting on the decision of a Lotteries grant application for $1,354,000 expected during August.

“If that all comes together, we’re potentially starting the build next year,” Phil says.

The area was struck by a 7.8 magnitude quake in 2016, damaging the buildings serving the communities youngest residents beyond repair.

The group’s goal is to raise $2.1 million to build the modern hub.

A new sign showing the amount raised for the learning hub was unveiled at the ceremony.

Committee member Olivia Doonan says she was hoping for the Lotteries decision in time for today’s certificate ceremony so “we would have a bit more of the red line filled in”.

“This will be such an amazing thing for our community,” she says.

“It’s close, after years of working on it.”

“Since the 2013 earthquake we’ve been repairing. It’s been going on for a long time.

“It’s the culmination of years of the community trying to provide the right services.”

She says the ceremony was to show their appreciation for the community’s support.

“We’re wanting to get the build started at the end of the year.

“We’re cranking into overdrive to get it going.”