Fire crews win battle over Ward blaze

A blaze believed to be caused by a train carriage derailment is out.

Fire crews tackled a blaze alongside SH1, thought to be caused by a train carriage derailment this afternoon.

Two crews from Ward and crews from Seddon and Rarangi battled a fire between Ward and the Ure River, three kilometres south of Ward.

Spanning 20 metres in length, the fire is believed to be connected to an incident involving a KiwiRail Ltd freight train.

There is no threat to road traffic, but trains have been stopped as a precaution.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman says a train had caused the damage.

“It’s been caused by the train somehow. There are reports of damage to sleepers, like something was dragged along,” he says.

A helicopter has been called in to tackle a blaze which crews cannot get to by road.

The derailment of a KiwiRail carriage was reported to emergency services at about 2.15pm.

“A wagon on a freight service travelling north on the Main North Line partially derailed near Taimate this afternoon,” a KiwiRail spokeswoman says.

“KiwiRail is investigating the cause of the derailment, and its possible link to two fires beside the tracks,” she says.

There were no injuries and the wagon remains upright on the tracks, the spokeswoman says.

Rail services have been suspended while investigations are underway.

Homeward bound for record bid

A musician who catapulted to internet stardom is hoping her first headline gig will help make her dream come true.

Singer Eden Kavanagh, 24, won fans across the globe after her appearance on the Voice UK went viral.

Now to raise funds for her first album, the talented songstress will perform at Escape to Picton boutique hotel & restaurant in Picton.

And she’s looking to make her dream of releasing a record a reality.

Singer Eden Kavanagh, 24, won fans across the globe after her appearance on the Voice UK went viral.

“I’m making the music and having that polished. I can’t afford to do the recording, yet. Recording is the goal,” she says.

Eden made it through the gruelling selection process for the popular talent contest, the Voice UK, in January this year.

Performing for the judges, Eden had the crowd’s backing and entertained the judges, but was ultimately unsuccessful in her bid to secure a mentor.

Eden says the song she performed on The Voice UK will feature at her upcoming gig.

She says it would be a “crime” not to perform Megan Hilty’s ‘They Just Keep Moving The Line’ for a New Zealand audience.

“It’s going to be a very intimate setting, candlelight, the piano outside in the courtyard,” she says.

Since performing on the popular UK television show, Eden has been using her talents for the greater good.

She took part in the ‘This is who we are’ charity concert at the SkyCity Theatre in Auckland  to raise funds for the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Recently, she was a guest judge at the Voice of China South Island regional finals in Christchurch.

“The emotion and performances were unreal and I was honoured to be a part of it,” she says.

“I was honoured to show my support for victims and families affected by those horrific attacks.”

Eden  will be accompanied by accomplished jazz pianist Jack Page at her June gig.

“Jack’s brilliant,” Eden says.

“We have brilliant chemistry, I’m very happy to have him on board, that’s for sure.”

An Evening with Eden is on 1 June in Picton. Photo: Supplied.

Eden will also perform a mix of contemporary and classic songs.

“Songs that I resonate with, that have stories,” she says.

“It’s nerve-wracking but exciting”.

Eden says she hopes Marlburians would come out and “support a local girl and her dreams.”

“I hope to see a lot of familiar faces there,” she says.

‘Evening with Eden Kavanagh’ is on 1 June at Escape to Picton.

Tickets are $25.

A return bus will be operating from the iSite in Blenheim for $15.

Pink ribbon breakfast serves up smiles

Golf club Smiles and support were on the menu for a special Pink Ribbon Breakfast in aid of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

Many of the woman at Awatere Golf Club have first hand experience of dealing with breast cancer.

So, when it came to combining their love of the game with the chance to lend a helping hand, members were keen to help out.

Two members, are currently undergoing treatment for the disease so it was even more important this year, says event organiser Gayle Marfell

“It struck a chord. A lot of our ladies have gone through breast cancer.

“We’re a little club with about 70 members and almost everyone volunteers and does their bit for it.

“Our president Kelly is quite sick at the moment and this is a way we can show her support,” Gayle says.

Last week’s champagne breakfast golf tournament and high tea attracted 45 people.

In its second year, the club’s event raised more than $2000.

For mum of two Kelly Pitts, 41, who is almost at the end of radiation and chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, the event was particularly special.

“The whole Seddon community has been very supportive.

“I found a small lump and even the doctors were surprised to discover it had spread to my lymph nodes.

“We don’t have a history of cancer in the family either.

“There are ladies at the club who are at the age where they have regular mammograms and are cancer survivors.

“It’s wonderful to have that support and to raise both money and awareness,” she says.

​Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand is a not-for-profit charitable trust.

It relies totally on donations to fund the latest technologies and to ensure Kiwis have access to new treatments as early as possible.

For more information visit

Stadium boss excited about new role

He’s well aware he has big shoes to fill, but incoming Marlborough Lines Stadium CEO Rob MacLean relishes a challenge.

The 48-year-old, a former School Director of Outward Bound NZ at Anakiwa, stepped into the new role last month following the departure earlier this year of Paul Tredinnick, the stadium’s boss since its 2000 opening.

Under Paul’s careful watch the stadium has become an award-winning facility, utilized by thousands of Marlburians.

Although he has been on-site for only a short time, Rob has been mightily impressed by the stadium personnel.

“There is such a lot of passion here. I have watched them with the youngsters and the other clients … they seem really good at what they do and they seem to love what they do. That’s a wonderful environment to be working in, it really is.”

Originally from Christchurch, Rob studied at both the University of Canterbury and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, before starting work with the US National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) delivering leadership and outdoor skills courses. After working abroad for 10 years he returned home to help establish the NOLS New Zealand programme. Rob then worked out at Outward Bound before moving to Blenheim as a project manager and consultant in 2016.

With 20 years of experience managing high-performance teams, Rob feels his new role will be a perfect fit.

“I love working as part of teams … and I love being involved with people development … this organization is about developing people in all walks of life. Helping them get the most out of their life, being active, and that activity translates into so many other aspects of wellbeing … both in terms of mental health and all the dimensions of physical health … but also social cohesion, people feeling part of a community.

“I think the [stadium’s] tag line, ‘the centre of activity’, has some real meaning, it is a focal point for the community, across all ages.”

One of his first jobs will be a strategic review of the stadium, inviting stakeholders – clients, tenants, customers, school groups and sports codes – to offer their views on where they want the stadium to go over the next five to 10 years.

“There has been some huge work done in the community to get this facility up and running, it punches well above its weight for the size of the region.

“We want to know how we take it into this next phase, where is active recreation going and how do we position ourselves to be relevant, to support the interests, desires and aspirations of the people of Marlborough?”

His personal wish list for the stadium moving forward is relatively simple. “To be relevant, to be a hub for physical activity and social connection, to be as environmentally sustainable as we can get and to be a fun place for people to come to, where people always feel welcome.”

‘Making Marlborough the best place to live for all sections of the community through activity’ is a tagline that Rob identifies with.

“But we have to accept that the community’s needs are changing,” he warned.

“The way kids engage with sport is changing. How do we stay in front of that?

“Does it have to be technology versus activity, or can we incorporate both. I don’t know, let’s go and find out … it’s a pretty exciting space to be in.”

Shop sale music to their ears

A legacy of music in Marlborough is set to continue as the region’s only music shop changes hands.

Ken Hams MusicWorks Blenheim has been sold and the store is set to join the nationwide Rockshop and KBB Music network.

The Scott St store will soon close for a refit and restock as the store gets painted in Rockshop’s trademark blue.

New technology will also play a big part in the store so customers can access the store’s whole online catalogue.

Current owner Ken Ham says it is important to him that whoever bought the store would continue to look after musicians in Marlborough.

“I am delighted to announce that we have been able to pass our business on to The Rockshop.

“I know that the musicians of Marlborough will be well looked after and continue to be supported at every level,” he says.

Rockshop have a store in Nelson and had no plans to expand into Marlborough – until they realised the region would be left without a music shop.

Founder and managing director Mick Webb says it is a “privilege” to follow in the former owners’ footsteps.

“We have the same deep, fundamental, connections in the NZ musical community – and the same passion for music – that Ken, Karenne and their team brought to their region.

“We have respect and admiration for what they have achieved and their absolute commitment to generations of musicians in the province.

“It is our privilege to be there for the musicians and we look forward to continue their legacy in Marlborough,” he says.

Established in 1986, The Rockshop has long be a supporter of Blenheim’s Southern Jam event.

KBB Music – established in 1888 will focus on the piano, keyboards, brass and stringed instruments side of the business, as well as print music and tutorial resources.

Mick say he’s confident the new-look store “knows what musicians need”.

“All the directors and executives are musicians, most with regular gigs on top of their day to day executive roles. We know what musicians want and what they need: we will deliver that to Marlborough by keeping the store open in Blenheim.”

Manager and muso Bett Wells travelled from Christchurch to Blenheim yesterday to oversee the changes.

“This is the 27th store development I have over seen and I don’t envisage any issues.”

Hospice heroes reunited

Sixteen years ago, two nurses worked the first ever shift at Marlborough’s Hospice.

Kerri Hale and Michele Devereux-Austin met in November 2003 and for four years helped care for patients and their families.

But when a nasty leg fracture meant Michele had to leave, the pair lost touch.

Now they have been reunited as retired nurse Michele returns to the Blenheim-based hospice as a volunteer, just in time for the start of Hospice Awareness Week.

“We’ve come full circle,” she says.

Michele, from Blenheim, graduated as a registered nurse in 2000 and started her career at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.

But palliative care was always the area she was most interested in, she says.

“I spent a lot of my working life as a health carer in hospitals in Auckland as well as a St Joseph’s Mercy Hospice,

“We moved to Blenheim as my husband is involved with Omaka and then I saw the job at the hospice advertised – it was meant to be.”

An early photo of the hospice team. Photo: Supplied.

Michele says that volunteers have a big role to play in the smooth running of hospice, not just at the hub itself but in the wider community.

“I really don’t mind what I do, I just want to help,” she says.

“I like people and I make a mean omelette.”

For clinical nurse specialist Kerri, the hospice is also a special place.

“It has a real sense of community and it’s a place where people have connected.

“Death is a natural part of life, that’s our philosophy.

“People come to us feeling vulnerable, patients get comfort from us and that’s crucial so they can see that it’s okay and we can get through it.

“This is not a sad place to work, there’s always laughter,” she says.

Some of the hospice team in the early days of the organisation. Photo: Supplied.

The six-roomed hospice, community care team and other vital volunteers care for an average of 100 patients a month across the region.

From preparing breakfast, looking after the gardens, taking on a shift at the hospice’s Redwoodtown shop or writing biographies, Volunteers are always kept busy.

While there are between 250 to 300 volunteers on the books, not all are actively involved.

“For the 16 years I’ve been working here, the world has really opened up.

“We’ve done ballet dancing, learned te reo, sold raffle tickets and helped organise weddings.

‘It’s all about the holistic approach,” says Kerri.

Hospice Awareness Week runs from 13 May to 19 May.

School crossing joy as council steps in

Picton pupils have a spring in their step as a dangerous road is made safer.

Several near misses at Picton School’s Kent Street pedestrian crossing prompted calls to Marlborough District Council to act.

Now a new $35,000 crossing is ready to use, helping keep children safer on their way to and from school.

Principal Dave Sullivan says the upgraded crossing is a “relief.”

“Staff and the school committee are really, really thankful that the council has made this effort.

“It’s not just them making a statement, it [the crossing] has real value and is already making a difference,” he says.

The old black and white striped crossing was on the main thoroughfare for ferry traffic using SH1.

Pupils at Picton School celebrating the new crossing. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Heavy trucks are a regular sight on the road and while most take care, some drivers seemed unaware the crossing was even there, Dave says.

“The new crossing is slightly raised, and drivers are treating it as a hump in the road and slow right down.

“It’s bright red, they can’t miss it and even if no one is waiting to use it, they still slow down.”

Year 4 pupils say the crossing has made then feel safer.

Jayla Murrell, 8, says she must cross the road regularly and used to be nervous about it.

“I think it’s much better. It’s red and bright and people can see it,” she says.

Dave says council also have plans to move the York Street pedestrian crossing which is situated close to a corner.

New warning signs will also go up around the perimeter of the school to emphasise children will be using near-by roads.

Pupil Mercedes Raj, 8, says the crossing has made a big difference already.

“No one could really see us before and it felt like the cars were too close and could nudge us.

“It was too narrow but it’s great now.”

This project was delivered as part of Marlborough Roads Safety programme.

Marlborough Sounds Councillor Nadine Taylor helped push for the new crossing.

“The children and staff were rightly concerned at the position of the crossing, being so close to the intersection, and the lack of obvious visual warnings for motorists approaching the crossing, and raised their concerns publicly.

“I’m thrilled to see that Marlborough Roads, council and the school have all worked together to achieve a great outcome for Picton, building on the success of the improvements we made at Waikawa Bay School two years ago.”

Viral blogger booked into literary festival

She describes herself as a sleep deprived mum of two and is coming to Marlborough to share her latest work.

Successful Blogger and author Emile Writes has no qualms about sharing the highs and lows of parenting and is set to tell all as a guest at this year’s Marlborough Book Festival.

Her honest take on parenting saw her first blog on motherhood go viral and she has since published two books; Rants in the Dark and Is it Bedtime Yet?

The author says she is looking forward to her trip to Marlborough, especially as it’s home to her favourite wine.

“I can’t wait to come back.

“It’s also where my favourite wine is from so that’s another bonus.

“I am really excited about this festival. The best part about being included in a really great festival is that you get to see everyone else. “

With writing in her blood, Emily says having her two boys made her more aware of “cutting to the chase” when it comes to her work.

“I grew up around adults who always asked questions and kind of had roaring debates so it might be in my blood.

“Since having kids it has ramped up quite a bit because I feel so protective of them. I want a better world for them, and I want to cut to the chase and write about important stuff,” she says.

It was writing, she says that helped keep her sane after the birth of her youngest.

“I had a baby who didn’t sleep! Ever! Ever!

“My first book was written entirely between the hours of like midnight and 5am.

“I was just constantly awake nursing and trying to get the baby to sleep. I felt really isolated and lonely. And it’s not like at that time you can just ring a friend.

“So, I started writing just to stop myself going mad,” she says.

Now in its sixth year, the festival will hold some events in the ASB Theatre or the first time, as well as other venues across the region.

Emily will share the ups and downs of modern parenting with Jane Forrest Waghorn on Saturday 6 July.

She will also tackle a range of social issues in conversation with Naomi Arnold at Cloudy Bay Winery on 7 July.

Novelists, poets, bloggers, non-fiction writers, an historian, a songwriter feature among other guests.

Pip Adam, the winner of the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, and Kate Duignan, who has been shortlisted for the same award this year, will both put in appearances.

“I recommend that people don’t put off buying tickets,” says Sonia. “Last year many of the sessions sold out, which caught some people by surprise.”

Visit for further information.

Pest invasion threat

Biosecurity bosses are battling to contain a pest that could prove catastrophic to Marlborough’s multimillion-dollar aquaculture industry.

Marlborough District Council’s biosecurity unit were called in following the discovery of hundreds of invasive pest species.

The worst case of Mediterranean fanworm ever found in Marlborough was uncovered on a boat moored at Waikawa Marina.

While the pest species was immediately destroyed, staff now face an arduous task as more were found on the seabed.

Mediterranean fanworm will readily settle on mussel grow-out lines and may reduce mussel growth by altering water flow around the lines and competing with mussels for suspended food.

Council biosecurity manager Jono Underwood says the find poses a serious threat to both the region’s salmon and mussel industries.

“It can colonise any structure in the water and has a massive filtering factor.

“Not only will it compete for space, it will filter food before it gets to the mussels,” he says.

The sea scourge has only ever been found in Marlborough in low number.

Only a dozen had previously been discovered, says Jono.

But hundreds were found after a boat, which had been in Auckland, was taken out of the water for cleaning.

“It was right up there in density,” he says.

Initially found in Auckland in 2008, the species has been trying to make its way to other parts of New Zealand, Jono says.

“It’s a bit of a nasty one and has high reproductive rates.

“Our whole goal is to try and make sure it’s not established here in Marlborough.

“We want to make sure that more and more people know about it.

“Vessel owners and operators need to play their part, know the rules, and keep their vessels clean, especially when moving around.”

“Everyone needs to be especially vigilant moving boats from northern hubs such as Auckland and Whangarei, where the fanworm is well-established and can easily establish itself on to a vessel.

“If you’re moving something south, a lift and clean immediately prior to departure is your best chance of avoiding an unwanted passenger.”

The owner was unaware of the fouling, which was probably smaller in size when the vessel came south six months ago.

Any findings must be reported by law. Worried boaties should contact  Marlborough District Council or Ministry for Primary Industries.

Netball title race predicted to be close

Early indications suggest the 2019 Marlborough premier netball race will be a close-run affair.

The three favoured teams pre-season – SMOG Good Home, Harlequins Radich Law and Pelorus Edridge Contracting – picked up wins at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 last week, however none were compelling.

All six teams in action on opening night battled to shake off the rust that had accumulated over the warmer months, struggling for combinations and rhythm, no surprise this early in a long campaign.

SMOG accounted for Awatere 61-32, by far the most comfortable margin, although they had to battle in the early stages for cohesion.

The Quins had a ding-dong battle with Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon, the students staying within reach most of the way through before finally succumbing 46-35.

Pelorus also struggled throughout their clash with Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton, unable to shake off the Picton side, with the final score of 52-47 suggesting some torrid battles to come this season.

Tonight the three winning sides from week one have an opportunity to make an early statement, all matched against first round losers.

SMOG meet MGC in the night’s early game, at 6.15pm, Pelorus take on Awatere at 7.45pm then Harlequins play Tokomaru at 8pm.

Janine Jordaan, coach of defending premier champions SMOG, was happy with her side’s first efforts, especially given they had some untried combinations on court.

“I would probably give them a seven-out-of-10 mark,” said the experienced mentor.

“We started slowly and  tried different combinations … but I thought the defence started working better as a unit as the game progressed, along with the attackers’ ability to change speed, create second phase and drives … the connections were just there.

“We have some younger players in areas we had experience in last year, so they just need time to grow.

All the newbies did great. Mahina [Henry-Campbell] at goal keep has never played a full premier game and she kept going all night. Mereana [Ave], at wing defence is a beautiful young player who started reading the game well, built her confidence and grew as the game went on, while Sarah [Hammond] and Ella-Rose [Hammond] did their jobs, meaning the other players could just concentrate on their work.”

A standout in the opener was goal attack Kate Gaudin who showed her reliability, dropping in 32 goals from 36 attempts.

Aimee Jones stood out for the Tussocks, providing an energetic, reliable shooting option, while new centre Nicole Witterick made an immediate impression.

Harlequins gave court time to all 10 players, working on different combinations around the solid core of centre Bridget Gane, shooter Hayley Marfell, goal attack Lauren Murray and goal defence Taylor Rogers.

Wing defence Lily Tiueti, circle defender Mya Wiapo and middie Ella Donald were impressive for MGC, along with goal attack Taila Town who shot at 87 percent and looks a highly-promising prospect.

Pelorus got good value from the experienced midcourt duo of Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jenna Gilbert, defender Danelle Moffat and Kelly West, who moved into the shooting circle during the second spell.

For Toko, youngster Haze Tepuia stepping up with 31 goals from 37 attempts, while Naia Lawrence also impressed under the hoop. The Wilson twins, Hana and Kayla May, were busy and constructive in midcourt while Savannah Lawrence toiled hard in defence throughout.

Scores from week one:

SMOG Good Home 61 (Karli Murphy 13/19, Lucy Barrett 16/21, Kate Gaudin 32/36) Awatere 32 (Aimee Jones 21/35, Tracee Lee 11/19). Quarter scores (winning team first): 13-10, 17-7, 14-9, 17-6.

Harlequins Radich Law 46 (Hayley Marfell 17/28, Lauren Murray 29/41) MGC New Zealand King Salmon 35 (Oakley Tepuia 7/17, Isabella Rohloff 7/13, Taila Town 21/24). Quarter scores: 11-9, 12-7, 10-11, 13-8.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 52 (Courtney Taufa 18/32, Olivia Pinkerton 23/33, Kelly West 11/18) Tokomaru Crafar Crouch 47 (Haze Tepuia 32/38, Naia Lawrence 11/12, Gemma Hika 4/5). Quarter scores: 15-10, 11-9, 13-14, 13-14.

Standings: SMOG 3, Harlequins 3, Pelorus 3, Tokomaru 0, MGC 0, Awatere 0.