Event supporter Paul Jackson of Harcourts Marlborough handed over the cheque to Sandy Inwood of Hospice Marlborough earlier this month.

Charity begins at home

Hospice Marlborough is benefitting from the popular Marlborough Art & Wine Fair, getting a donation cheque from part of the proceeds.

A portion of art sales by local artists Brian Baxter, Clarry Neame, Liz Anderson and Joanna Dudson-Scott has been given to the hospice after the successful show at The Wine Station.

Event supporter Paul Jackson of Harcourts Marlborough handed over the cheque to Sandy Inwood of Hospice Marlborough earlier this month.


Community College Marlborough youth advisor Carolynn Tipene is a favourite with the students. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

College counsellor changing lives

Students at community college have been reaping the rewards of an on-site counsellor, who is helping change lives for the better.

Carolynn Tipene was employed as a part time youth advisor but has since secured more hours as a Kaiarahi.

She is part of a team looking after about 50 students; young men and women who need some help finding their niche in life.

It is, she says, her role to take a holistic approach when caring for the students she sees as an extension of her family.

“I don’t look at them like they’re students, I think of them as my own.”

From helping with accommodation to lending a listening ear, her days are unpredictable and busy, and she loves every single second; well almost.

An open-door policy means students can call in to see her if they need help, guidance or just to chat.

“They are teenagers with all the problems and drama that comes with that and sometimes they feel they can share stuff with me that they find hard to do with others.

“Mostly it’s just growing pains but sometimes I hear stuff I don’t want to and this is when it gets hard”

Taking on the four day a week role in 2017, Carolynn, who had previously worked in healthcare, is Whānau Ora trained.

The students aged between 16 and 19 years old may have been let down by the schooling system, she says, and struggling with self-esteem.

Helping them grow and appreciate their potential is incredibly rewarding, she says.

“The best part is when a kid comes in here and academically, they don’t think they can do it. When they graduate it brings me to tears.

“We get them, we pick them up and put back together in a way that works.

“We’re like family here; a village.”

But breaking down some of the barriers can take time, she says.

“It cracks me up. When they arrive, you can see them looking at me, thinking ‘what’s that old lady doing here?’ By the middle of the year they’re one of my best friends.”

Carolynn’s laugh is infectious. Her natural empathy shines through and it’s easy to see why she’s a firm favourite with the students.

With some coming from difficult home environments, she is someone to turn to, someone they clearly trust.

“I represent students and support them at conferences, with Oranga Tamariki and the Department of Corrections. I get asked to do that a fair bit,” she says.

As well as covering classes as the need arises, Carolynn also puts her experience as a professional chef to good use, providing cooked lunches at the Scott Street site.

For some, it may be the only food they get in a day, she says.

“I still have a passion for cooking and the kids help prepare and with the cleaning afterwards. It’s a great way to teach about budgeting too.”

As Carolynn chats, a student comes in to see her; a young woman she has helped.

With an apparent close bond, the pair laugh and joke together, the student is clearly happy to have Carolynn on her side,

“She gives me hope, she says.




Marlborough District Council is proposing a controversial freedom camping site in Koromiko close under a new bylaw. Photo: Supplied/Marlborough Express.

Carry on Freedom camping?

Council bosses are looking for feedback on freedom camping as they look to review their freedom camping bylaw.

A month-long consultation process is underway, and the public are encouraged to have their say.

Parks and open spaces manager Jane Tito says now is the time for the community to be heard.

“We know freedom camping is a challenging issue in Marlborough and New Zealand.

“Following last year’s Annual Plan process, and in consideration of the submissions and presentations received from the community in recent years, council agreed that a review of the Freedom Camping bylaw was required.

“The new bylaw aims to provide a long-term, sustainable approach to the management of freedom camping in Marlborough, aligned with our neighbouring regions of Nelson, Tasman and Kaikōura,” she says.

The Freedom Camping Control Bylaw 2020 is available to read online on the council’s website.

The bylaw suggests closing the controversial Koromiko Recreation Reserve site to conserve the environment, but instead allow up to 10 freedom campers to park off Picton’s High St and Memorial Park between 6pm and 9am.

People need to ensure they make submissions or highlight other issues, Jane says.

“Once the submission period closes on Monday 7 September all submissions will be summarised in preparation for the hearings.

“The Freedom Camping Sub-Committee, chaired by Councillor David Oddie, will then hear submissions over a three-day period during the week of 14 September,” she says.

“Following the hearings, any amendments to the draft Marlborough District Council Freedom Camping Control Bylaw 2020 will be presented for adoption at the Assets and Services Committee meeting on Thursday 1 October.

“The Bylaw will then be ratified at the next scheduled Council meeting and adopted by Council prior to the 2020/2021 summer season.”

Visit Marlborough.govt.nz for further information.

Former Sony Music Executive Paul Ellis is returning to Marlborough to set the stage for an annual music festival. Photo: Supplied.

The sound of music

From Cyndi Lauper to Sarah McLachlan etc he’s worked with some of the biggest names in music.

Former Sony Music executive, New Zealand Idol and NZ Got Talent judge Paul Ellis is back home in Marlborough.

And he has his sights set on bringing more top music talent to the township of Linkwater- making the Summer Sounds concerts an annual event.

While Paul says he can’t divulge any artist names yet, he can reveal they’ve one of the acts has had had four number 1 albums.

“It’s all under contract”, he says.

Swapping the big city of Auckland for the small rural township, the former Queen Charlotte Sounds man is excited to be back, organising the Summer Sounds gigs.

Supporting long-time friends and Queen Charlotte Tavern owners Mary-Ann Surridge and Jane Tito, Paul has been hitting up his contacts.

He’s also on the lookout for some local support music talent to support on the day.

“I have been away from Marlborough on and off for a long period, but I am keen to hear of any top of the south acts, let me know,” he says.

Paul’s signings include Bic Runga, Dave Dobbyn, Shona Laing and The Strawpeople.

“The location lends itself to a great place to enjoy a day of music. There’s tons of off-street parking and the opportunity to camp overnight”

“It’s not too big, it’s intimate and you have the incredible vista of the sounds hills as a backdrop,” he says.

Kicking off on Saturday 19 December, the first festival which will herald a mixture of New Zealand music royalty – with names to be revealed soon.

On 16 January 2021, the debut South Island performance of one of the hottest and exciting acts to emerge in NZ in the last 18 months will take to the stage, Paul says.

“As well as the music there will food and beverage stalls. If you want to camp overnight, it’s included in the ticket price.”

As Vice President of A&R for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Paul runs his own PR and music consultancy firm and last year bought OpShop Lead Singer Jason Kerrison to Linkwater.

“As well as the music there will food and beverage stalls. If you want to camp overnight, it’s included in the ticket price, Paul says. “I want people to be able to relax, have fun and enjoy this beautiful slice of paradise.”

Tickets for the R18 events are $55 plus booking fee on Eventfinda.co.nz

“It was important that the tickets weren’t too expensive, we want this to be within reach,” Paul says.

Email Paul Ellis at [email protected] if you know of any local music talent. Tickets on sale today. Go to Eventfinda.co.nz

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

Community rallies after shock diagnosis

A teenager getting physio for what she thought was a sports injury is set for surgery after doctors discovered bone cancer.

Zoe Osgood, 13, from Blenheim was complaining about a sore knee when she got the shock diagnosis after an MRI scan.

Now her friends and family are rallying to raise money for the family so they can spend as much time together as possible as Zoe begins treatment.

Mum Michelle Osgood, who is manager at The Wine Station in Blenheim, says the family are very grateful for the support.

“We are so humbled by the response from the community.

“It has been overwhelming.

“We really feel like we have a village behind us. It’s a sensational feeling. The messages from people really give us strength, especially on a tough day.”

Just before lockdown, Zoe, a pupil at Marlborough Girls’ College, was limping and complaining of a sore knee.

Following physio, the bubbly youngster was given an MRI and diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.

“We assumed it was a sports injury and she had been receiving physio until 10 July when she got an MRI. That was Friday. On Monday our wonderful GP told us to come into the surgery and they had found a 2cm tumour called Osteosarcoma.

“It’s hard to believe, even now,” Michelle says.

Now in week two of treatment, Zoe has just finished her first round of chemotherapy. She faces between 9 and 12 months of further treatment including two cycles of chemotherapy, surgery, then more chemo.

She is in isolation now to protect her struggling immune system, Michelle says.

“She is very tired but coping incredibly. We take one day at a time.

“The five-week chemo cycles are something no child should have to go through however she is very positive in herself and in true “Zoe style” dealing with this in her quiet stoic way. She is one tough cookie.”

Dad Phil and brother Lucas are in Blenheim, hoping to get to Christchurch as much as they can. Zoe and Michelle are dividing their time between Ronald McDonald House and the hospital.

“It is particularly hard to not be here apparently – just waiting to hear how Zoe is…It’s no easier being here, you feel just as useless,” Michelle says.

The family also hope to make it back to Blenheim for a Shave Off fundraiser at Biddy Kate’s Café & Bar on 29 August.

Organised by family friend Donna Tupouto’a, there will be live music on the night and raffles. Entry is $20.

Blenheim’s Ritual Café is holding a Zoe Week between 10 and 16 August, donating $1 dollar for every cup of coffee they sell to hep the family concentrate on getting Zoe well again.

The support means a lot, says Michelle.

“This is a blip in our lives which we will overcome with the help of everyone there in the Boom.”

To donate through Givealittle visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-13-year-old-zoe-kick-cancers-arse.

Medlab South union staff have confirmed a 24-hour strike. Photo: Matt Brown.

Hospital lab staff to strike

Hospital lab staff are set to strike for 24 hours in protest over pay.

Union staff have voted to walk off the job next week from Wairau Hospital’s Southern Community Laboratories Ltd run lab.

Nelson Marlborough Health bosses say only urgent tests will be carried out.

General Manager Clinical Services Lexie O’Shea says staff are working in partnership with Medlab South to minimise disruption but warned there may be delays.

“All life-preserving services and emergency services will remain operational.

“Clinically urgent requests sent to the laboratories will be processed during the strike period.

“However, turnaround times may be delayed.”

The strike also affects Nelson Hospital which is run by the same provider.

The Medical Laboratory Workers employed by Southern Community Laboratories (SCL) Ltd are bargaining for a fair pay offer.

Staff have turned down the current rise offer, with union advocates APEX branding the move as unfair.

The offer “goes nowhere near” matching what staff employed by the District Health Board get, says APEX Senior Advocate David Munro

“The current offer from the employer goes nowhere near to matching the salaries of colleagues employed in the DHB run laboratories.

“Under their proposed pay offer a fully qualified scientist would be paid 4 per cent behind a colleague in a DHB lab doing the same work, and a qualified technician 6 per cent behind,” says David.

The strike is scheduled to take place on 17 August from 0800 Monday 17 August to 0800 Tuesday 18 August 2020.

Since lockdown level 4, all blood tests have been done via an appointment system.

Urgent blood tests can usually be done on the same day at either the Maxwell Road or Wairau Hospital collection centres.

Lexi says people should check with their GP before presenting to a collection centre.

“Some non-urgent procedures and tests may need to be rescheduled.

“Any affected patients will be contacted directly. We want to reassure people that unless they hear from us directly, they can assume that their appointment or procedure will be going ahead,” she says.

Some of Blenheim’s old parking meters have been sold to Ashburton Council. Photo: File.

Marlborough earns extra coin selling ‘lollipop’ parking meters to Ashburton

A handful of Blenheim’s bruised and battered old lollipop meters are set for a swansong further south after being saved from the scrap heap.

The Marlborough District Council has managed to sell 21 of its coin-operated Duncan ‘lollipop’ meters to Ashburton, recycling the remaining 299 for free at a metal yard.

Ashburton District Council paid $3150 for the old meters, to replace damaged stock or use for parts.

Pay-by-plate meters have been gradually rolled out in Blenheim and Picton since June 2019, after old age and vandalism pushed Blenheim’s lollipop meters to breaking point.

Picton did not have lollipop meters, but its pay-and-display meters were upgraded to pay-by-plate. The final lollipop meter was removed from Blenheim’s streets in June.

Figures obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) showed the new pay-by-plate meters were bringing in about an extra $300 a month before coronavirus hit.

Parking revenue was about $83,700 a month in Marlborough when lollipops reigned supreme, and about $84,000 after. This included figures from Blenheim and Picton’s parking meters and for the council’s car park building on Alfred St.

The council was unable to differentiate between parking meter revenue collected by Eftpos in Blenheim and Picton.

On top of the meters, the new PayMyPark phone app, also introduced last June, earned the council $415 in its first month. This jumped to about $4100 the following month, with revenue increasing steadily to $9700 by February, the last full month of data before lockdown.

The app, used by several councils across the country, went offline in March after a ransomware attack but later returned.

Councillor Brian Dawson, who held the parking and central business district portfolios, said feedback on the pay-by-plate and PayMyPark phone app had generally been positive.

“Some people had said they liked being able to just drop a coin into the old machines and go, rather than having to enter in their licence plate. Others have said to me that they really like using the app and it has made parking so much easier.”

The council waived parking fees in town centres during the coronavirus lockdown. It later agreed in May to roll out free parking in Blenheim and Picton to boost local businesses, which was extended in June until September 30.

The switch from lollipop to pay-by-plate was estimated to cost $543,600, well over the $330,000 budget set aside. This included $385,000 to install 42 new pay-by-plate meters, or $9200 each.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

16-year-old Jack Unwin is helping people make sense of technology is. Photo: Matt Brown.

Teens’ help tech-troubled seniors

A tech-savvy student is helping pensioners get to grips with technology while fundraising for charity at the same time.

Entrepreneur Jack Unwin, 16, from Blenheim has launched a new business – TechZupport.

And while his prime goal is to help people struggling with technology, companionship has been a bonus, he says.

“It’s teaching basic skills, like using Facetime, TVNZ OnDemand or Netflix,” Jack says.

“We have a cup of tea, a chat and learn about technology together.”

“We want to give them a better understanding. It’s giving an idea about new technology, so they don’t feel swamped.”

The Year 12 Marlborough Boys’ College student wants to go on to study engineering at university.

In the meantime, his new company focuses on companionship and learning together rather than simply fixing a problem.

He says TechZupport is off to a good start with several repeat customers.

“Part of it is learning business myself,” he says.

“I’d like to invest in, grow and expand the company.

Jack says he’s actively looking to partner with banks and medical institutions to provide tailored help with things like online banking and health monitoring software.

“I’d love to help out in those scenarios. It helps doctors and patients.”

As Graeme Dingle board youth representative, Jack says starting the business isn’t just about money, with a percentage of each job going to the charity.

But ultimately, he would like to see it grow bigger with dreams of expanding the business to Nelson and Wanaka.

“It’s definitely a service that people need,” he says.

It’s not just computers he helps with, he says he’s even helped a client with a microwave.

If you need help with your tech, send Jack an email at [email protected]

David Swanson and Chris Atkinson are two of Martella Refrigeration’s newest staff members. Photo: Matt Brown.

Covid career switch

It took 120 emails and a nervous wait but within an hour, a Blenheim man secured a new career.

David Swanson moved to Australia three years ago, but as COVID-19 pandemic’s grip tightened on the world he says his family made the decision to move back.

And within an hour of sending out his CV to hundreds of Marlborough firms he had five job offers.

He is now one of the newest recruits at Martella Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, working as an apprentice refrigeration engineer.

Martella owner Craig Martella says because of the strong Marlborough economy, and community support, he’s been able to hire four new workers.

“It’s a testament to the Marlborough economy,” Craig says.

“There’s been a lot of interest in positions.

“There’s more interest from older people – people looking for change and future job security.”

He says finding experienced refrigeration technicians is still hard – but that shows it as a strong competitive field for people to get into.

“It shows it’s a good position to get into because they’re in demand,” he says.

David, whose flights to New Zealand were rescheduled at least ten different times spent two weeks in quarantine in Auckland.

“I enjoyed the quarantine,” David says. “Sometimes the ice-cream was a bit melted by the time it got to your room – but that really the worst of it.”

“Coming out of this I’ll end up with a new qualification,” he says.

“I’m relieved to be back and working somewhere I enjoy.”

“Everyone needs a warm house and a cold beer.”

Colleague Chris was at Canterbury university finishing his master’s degree in engineering geology when the pandemic struck.

But as large infrastructure projects ground to a halt, Chris found himself at a loose end.

He’s been working at Martella’s for seven weeks as a labourer.

“Big infrastructure jobs have slowed down,” Chris says.

“These guys said I could help them out and I jumped at the chance.”

Round Table members Chris Corbyn, left and Julian Butterlin hope to have the new course open by late spring. Photo: Matt Brown.

May the course be with you

One of the fastest growing sports in the world could be coming to Blenheim.

Plans for a $35,000 disc golf course have been unveiled by Blenheim’s Round Table.

And, pending council approval, they hope to have the completed course, either at the Taylor River Reserve or Harling Park, open by late spring.

Blenheim’s Round Table have raised a third of the funds for the region’s first 18-hole disc golf course.

But they need the community’s help to get it in the basket.

Round Table member and keen disc golfer Chris Corbyn says there’s more to the sport than just throwing frisbees.

“It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world,” he says.

“Blenheim is the last major town that doesn’t have one [a course].”

The 39-year-old took his pitch to traditional golf courses around the region, trying to replicate the success clubs in other regions have had from diversifying.

“Pollard Park took it to their committee, and it got voted down,” he says.

“That’s about the furthest it went with any of the clubs.”

But Chris says the “competitive walk in the park” has seen a massive boom in New Zealand.

“Invercargill went from a group with two members – their club now has 140 members,” Chris says.

“In the last 12 months there have been 15 new courses in New Zealand.”

Another Round Table member, Julian Butterlin, is leading the charge to raise the course’s $35,000 price tag.

The rules are the same as traditional golf, but instead of a ball you have a frisbee – or disc.

“You have to get the disc in the basket in as few shots as possible,” Chris says.

“There are drivers, mid-range and putter discs – which are accurate at different distances.”

Blenheim’s geographical location, right in the middle of New Zealand, is a perfect place to participate in the fledgling pro-circuit, Chris says.

“The New Zealand national tour has thousands attending and hundreds of players.

“We could be part of the tour and very beneficial for the region.

“Wellington and Christchurch have a thriving scene – we’re in the middle.

Chris went to council and presented his idea during the annual plan process.

He says a few of the councillors have played before, in Queenstown, so the pitch wasn’t falling on deaf ears.

“For them [council] to be involved they want a show master – someone to take responsibility, to form a club and maintain the facilities,” he says.

A special movie night fundraiser will be held on 26 August at Event Cinema Blenheim with details to be confirmed.