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

A large Norway rat commonly infesting homes and sections in Marlborough. Photo: Supplied.

Rat problem will ‘go beserk’

Fears of rodents reaching plague-like proportions could become a reality in the region as Marlborough feels the bite of a long, dry summer.

A lack of rain at the season’s end has created the perfect storm for the nasty critters.

A pest expert is warning the problem will quickly get worse if people don’t take action.

He warned the problem would not disappear unless urgent action was taken.

Spiderban Marlborough owner and pest control expert John Sigglekow says the “fully developed” rodent population has become a major issue early this season.

Spiderban Marlborough owner and pest control expert John Sigglekow. Photo: Supplied.
Spiderban Marlborough owner and pest control expert John Sigglekow. Photo: Supplied.

“People need to look at what they’re going to do around longer-term consistent maintenance for rodents going forward,” John says.

“As it gets deeper into winter, rodents are going to become more and more of an issue.

“As it comes into summer, it’s the devil in the deep blue sea.

“You come off the pitchfork and get thrown into the ocean with the ants and the cockroaches and the wasps and everything else that’s going to go berserk.”

John says a mega mast season, when plants produce a bumper crop of seeds and fruit, gives rodents plenty to feast on.

Five rodents can produce the equivalent of 75,000 droppings and 27 litres of urine within a year, enough to turn a roof space into a sewer, John says.

“Rat bite fever, Leptospirosis, there’s a whole lot of things you can catch from rats,” John says.

“If you get bitten or scratched by a rat or a mouse, you’re going to need some heavy antibiotics.

“Even cats and dogs that have confrontations with large, aggressive rodents are at risk.”

There are numerous known pathogens that can spread directly from rodents to humans and many more that can be spread by the mites, lice and louse the rodents are typically infested with.

Rat fleas spreading the bubonic plague is a widely known example.

The rodents are omnivores and also pose a real danger to native wildlife, not just eating birds and chicks but also in competition for the same food source.

“It’s pretty disturbing when you get into it,” John says.

He says the lack of rain meant rodents were not drowning in their burrows as they usually would.

“Also, because of the long hot summer that we had, very dry, without the necessary rain that was to come in later in that season. Which has meant that all the mice that would have drowned in the burrows, simply haven’t died out.

“They’ve all reached full sexual maturity and had their own babies,” John says.

He says Marlborough needn’t fear ‘cat-sized’ rats, but they’re “relatively large”, some of the larger rats can get up to 500 grams or the weight of half a block of cheese.

“It’s a big problem, not so much from a predatory point of view but more so for a hygiene and home maintenance perspective.

“The main thing is that you take the baiting around your property seriously so that you’re not just doing piecemeal.

The most common rats in New Zealand are the Ship Rat/Roof Rat (Rattus Rattus), and the Water Rat (Rattus Norvegicus).

Roof rats are incredibly good climbers

“It’s a busy old time for pest control probably for the next decade with the way the climate is changing” says John who will be selling rodent control gear at the Marlborough Home and Garden Show on 5 July.

New ambulances for region

Story by Jonty Dine

A trio of new ambulances is set to start saving lives across the top-of-the-south.

The three vehicles were gifted to St John last week with one to be based at Blenheim, Richmond, and Motueka.

Territory manager Robbie Blankstein says ambulances no longer simply act as transport to the hospital.

“These are our offices – the days of working in a converted campervan are over.”

The highly equipped, lifesaving vehicles do not come cheap, however, with each ambulance costing $220,000. But the new additions were made possible thanks to donations from Pub Charity Limited in partnership with Northend Hotels.

Among the revolutionary features is an automated Powerload Stryker Stretcher, which will reduce staff injuries and fatigue.

“Our job is unplanned; we pick up multiple patients often multiple times per day,” Robbie says.

He says the new stretcher will mean 70 fewer lifts per day for ambulance officers.

“It is one of the many design benefits.”

The three emergency vehicles were blessed and dedicated at a ceremony in Nelson last Friday morning.

St John District operations manager for Tasman, James McMeekin, says the generous donations helps ensure local ambulance crews have the most up-to-date vehicles and lifesaving equipment to treat patients.

“No one knows when they will need an ambulance, but if, and when the time comes, you need to know you’ll get the right care at the right time.”

Pub Charity Limited chief executive Martin Cheer says for someone in distress, there can be no more comforting sound than a siren, off in the distance indicating help is at hand.

“Then come the men and women of St John – cool and calm under pressure responding with a confidence that allows a patient to focus on their own wellbeing.”

In the calendar year 2018, St John responded to 12,828 incidents in the Nelson Bays and Marlborough area, 33.3 percent of these were life threatening or time critical.

Hike turns to horror as friend paralysed in freak accident.

Experienced tramper and LandSAR member Anthony Oakly walked 20kms and crossed 5 rivers in the dark to call for help. Photo: Anthony Oakly.

A tramper hiked through the night to get help for his paralysed friend after a day’s walking turned into a dramatic rescue bid.

Experienced trampers Anthony Oakly and brother-in-law Ian Hunt were in Marlborough’s rugged and remote back country earlier this year.

Ian fainted during the middle of the night at Severn Hut in the Molesworth, damaging his spinal cord and paralysing himself from the neck down.

But the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Anthony usually carried with him was at home with a dead battery.

“There was no way I could move him myself, luckily I’d done some first aid courses which covered spinal injuries,” Anthony says.

The pair knew their only hope was for Anthony to leave and find help.

“It was a hell of a call to make, to leave my mate there like that, but the hut book showed hardly anyone visited, so there was no point sitting there waiting for someone to turn up,” Anthony says.

“I made him as comfortable as I could … and set off towards some farm sheds, where I hoped to find help.”

Using a map by the light of the moon, Anthony says he had to cross five rapidly flowing rivers before he came across some farm sheds around four hours after setting off.

But, he says, to his horror, they were empty.

“That’s when it really hit me, I had no idea whether Ian was alive or dead at that stage, I had to keep going.”

About 5kms later Anthony made it to the Molesworth Station Road, empty and stretching out for miles in either direction.

As he was trying to decide which way to turn, he saw a cloud of dust kicked up by an approaching 4WD.

“It was a bit of a miracle, no one is usually on the road at that time. I flagged him down and convinced him to drive me to the closest Department of Conservation hut.”

The ranger at the hut contacted Molesworth Station, who called the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter.

At 11am that morning in January, Anthony heard his mate was being choppered to Christchurch Hospital.

“I was so relieved, because I knew then that he’d be ok,” Anthony says.

“Then I threw up. I think I must have had some delayed shock.

“Mountain bikers, trampers, anyone who heads out of mobile phone range, you should take your PLB with you.  You just never know what could happen.”

Ian, who lay in “unbearable pain” for seven hours before the helicopter arrived, said it felt like an eternity.

“ … I was in constant pain, it was never ending,” Ian says.

“I thought it was mid-afternoon when the chopper arrived, but it was only 9.30am.  It was awesome to see them.”

Ian spent time in Christchurch Hospital then Burwood Spinal Unit. He hopes to be back tramping again soon.

“I can’t wait to go tramping, it’s been a big part of my life for the last few years, I’ve still got to have it,” he says.



Appeal for help as family face cancer ordeal

Alivia McGhie was excitedly trying on her clothes ready for her first day at school.

The bubbly youngster was also looking forward to a joint birthday with brother George. The balloons had been bought and friends invited.

But a shock diagnosis means the youngster is in hospital instead. Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Family and friends are now rallying around to help the family in a bid to ensure they can be together while Alivia undergoes treatment.

Rebecca says the diagnosis of Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma (AFH) was devastating.

“We couldn’t comprehend telling Alivia that she is sick and that she won’t be starting school yet.

“This was hard because she was excited to be dressing up for her first week of school, playing, learning and building new friendships,” she says.

Rebecca says she found a lump under Alivia’s arm in December. A scan followed and Alivia was sent to Christchurch for a biopsy.

“Finally came the day Friday 15 March 2019, the worst day we could ask for, finding out our baby girl Alivia has a rare cancer.

“It’s been a big shock to everyone in the family, as we were only going down to Christchurch for three days to get a lump removed and now, we have been here nearly five weeks

While curable, the five-year-old will have to undergo two rounds of chemotherapy for around eight months.

Alivia and her mum stay in either Christchurch Hospital’s Child Haematology Oncology Centre (CHOC) or at Ronald MacDonald House.

Dad Russell is at home in Blenheim with George.

Any money raised would help raised will help reduce financial stress on the family.

“It enables me to not have to worry about work, so I can give 100 per cent to our daughter’s recovery, but also for Russell to reduce his work hours so he can keep George in some sort of routine.

“We are truly overwhelmed with the support and want to thank our employers for being so supportive and understanding during this time.

“Russell and I are so grateful to everyone and want to say a big thank you, for all the support we have behind us.

“I would be here on my own if it wasn’t for Ronald McDonald House, it takes away the stress of being on your own.

“The staff here are truly amazing and so supportive. If ever there is a cause to get behind its Ronald McDonald House,” she says.

To help out the family visit

Plea to vaccinate children as measles outbreak continues

Health bosses in Marlborough are urging parents who chose not to have their children vaccinated to “reconsider their choice.”

An advisory notice from Nelson Marlborough Health has gone out to all school-aged children as the number of confirmed measle cases in Canterbury rose to 35.

And medical officer of Health for Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service, Dr Andrew Lindsay has pressed for parents of children not already vaccinated to reconsider.

“Measles is on the rise in NZ and overseas making it even more important to vaccinate your children.

“Those who have previously declined vaccination of their babies and children are strongly urged to reconsider their choice.

“Vaccination is the only sure way of preventing serious and in some cases life threatening illnesses such as measles”, he says.

Nelson Marlborough Health recorded its highest level of vaccinated children last year.

Ministry of Health figures showed the percentage of 5-year-olds who were not fully immunised fell from 15.9 per cent between 2016 and 2017 to 13.5 per cent from 2017 to 2018.

Two doses of the MMR vaccination are needed for “maximum protection”, Andrew says.

“With the ongoing measles outbreak in Canterbury, and with further cases in Auckland, now is the time to make sure your child is immunised against measles.

“Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed for maximum protection. If you are not sure if your child is fully immunised, check in your Well Child book, or talk to the Practice Nurse at your usual General Practice”, says Andrew.

The vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella is recommended at 15 months and again at 4-years-old.

In the event of an outbreak, the Ministry of Education states that an unimmunised child can be kept away from school and quarantined for two weeks.

There have been no confirmed cases of measles in either Nelson or Marlborough.

Early symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough. See the Ministry of Health website for further information.

New retirement village and dementia care unit welcomed

Photo cap: A representation of the communal areas planned in the new Summerset retirement village to be built in Springlands. Photo: Supplied

By Kat Pickford

Retirement village developer Summerset has purchased the former Jones Berry Fruits property in Springlands, with the intentions of building Marlborough’s largest retirement village.

Summerset CEO Julian Cook says the development of the six hectare property in Old Renwick Road would exceed $100 million and employ more than 300 people during the building phase.

Up to 40 further permanent jobs will be created when the village opens, Julian says.

A timeframe for development and opening date has not yet been confirmed because the land purchase is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval.

Summerset would not say how much it had paid for the property, citing confidentiality reasons, but according to the Marlborough District Council it had a capital value of $1.885 million.

Once built, the retirement village will include 200 independent living homes, including two and three-bedroom villas, serviced apartments, rest home and hospital level care, and a memory care centre for people living with dementia.

With Blenheim’s 75+ population expected to increase by 26% over the next four years, Summerset had been looking for a suitable property in Blenheim for a number of years, Julian says.

“We know people will be really interested in the high quality homes and recreational amenities we offer in our retirement villages.

“A lot of the new Blenheim village will be “independent living”, meaning residents have their own house, but extra support is on hand if they want or need it,” he says.

Marlborough Grey Power president Brian McNamara says the new retirement village will help ease pressure on the region’s housing stock.

“Any help in solving our housing shortage is clearly welcome, I’m told there is still a shortage of flats to rent and buy in Marlborough,” says Brian.

“Marlborough is one of the top retirement destinations in New Zealand, and as our proportion of over-65s continues to increase, we will need suitable housing and amenities for them, as well as a workforce to service them, who will also need homes to live in.”

The new village will also include a number of secure, high quality one bedroom apartments for dementia patients.

Alzheimers Marlborough manager Anne Tolley welcomed the news of the specialist dementia care unit.

“Given an expected rise in the number of people being diagnosed with dementia, the proposed increase in the number of specialist beds is a positive move for the wellbeing of people living with dementia in the long term,” Anne says.

“Any resulting increase in the number of specialist respite beds would be welcomed by care partners who want greater flexibility than current respite care options provide.”

Development plans extend beyond the village itself to help improve access for its residents, Julian says.

Aerial view showing proximity of new retirement village to Westwood Business Park.

“Summerset has been in initial discussions with the Marlborough District Council to talk about footpaths in the area.

“We are expecting to install a new pedestrian footpath from the existing footpath at the corner of Murphys Road and Old Renwick Road to the site as part of the village construction.”

With its close proximity to the Westwood Business Park, Summerset would also be talking to its neighbours about the possibility of creating a direct route to the shopping complex from the village, Julian says.

“Nothing is guaranteed, but we would like to facilitate this if possible.”

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett welcomed the news.

“I’d like to thank Summerset, councillors and Council staff who have worked cooperatively together to make this happen,” he said.

The property is zoned as Urban Residential two – greenfields, which allows for residential development.

Once the Overseas Investment Office approves the purchase of the property, Summerset will need to obtain resource and building consent from the council before development can begin.

According to Summerset’s 2018 annual report, the company was the largest builder of retirement villages in New Zealand last year, reporting a profit of $98.6 million, up 21% on 2017.

It has 25 villages completed or in development across the country, housing 5000 residents and 1400 staff.