Staff at Blenheim's Re-Use shop helped raise money for E Tū Tāngata as part of Metallic Sweepings bid to give back to the community. Photo: Paula Hulburt

Re-use centre’s labour of love

Keeping unwanted goods out of landfill helped raise vital funds for a charity supporting Marlborough school students.

The Re-Use Centre at Blenheim’s Resource Recovery Centre in Wither Road receives thousands of unwanted items every year.

Operators Metallic Sweeping have pledged to donate part of the revenue they raise by selling on donated goods to charity.

Metallic Sweeping director Clive Peter today handed a cheque for $22,000 dollars to 24-7 YouthWork E Tū Tāngata Founder Jay Gerald.

He says the company, who are waste contractors for Marlborough District Council, are proud to help support the community

“When we look at the issues that face our communities, especially the issues that our youth and young people face and when I look at the work that 24-7 do, it pulled at our heartstrings.

“These are the value that we inspire to embrace, and we decided we wanted to support them and keep funding their work.”

24-7 YouthWork is New Zealand’s leading school-based youth work provider and recently celebrated 21 years of work in communities across the country.

In 2011, 24-7 YouthWork began working in Redwoodtown School, which was followed by Marlborough Girls’ College in 2016.

Jay says the latest initiative, E Tū Tāngata, is about instilling sense of confidence, in young people especially, and creating a climate where everyone can flourish.

From camera chargers and books to glass wear and toys, all sorts of items can be found at the popular Re-Use Centre.

Situated next to the recycling centre off Wither Road, the shop is a treasure trove of goods.

Rather than being dumped items are made available for someone else to use.

They are checked, cleaned and sometimes re-worked before being made available for sale to the public at low prices, to cover costs.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says the work the centre does is of great benefit to the whole community.

“Back in the 1970s I worked on the rubbish cart and there was no recycling then.

‘Times are changing and we’re all up for that; young people especially are up for that and are the drive behind change.”

Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alex McNeil says the Re-Use Centre has an important role to play.

“It’s come along way from 2011. There are a lot of social challenges that fly under the radar because we have a vibrant economy and the council are looking at that.

“As Covid-19 and unemployment kick in people in will need cheaper furniture.”

AppliancePlus Blenheim owner Michael Fitzpatrick. Photo: Matt Brown.

Reno plans dashed by whiteware wait

Kiwis turning to home renovations in the wake of Covid-19 are facing lengthy waits for whiteware.

Low interest rates and soaring house prices have seen people cashing in to carry out renovation work.

But a world-wide shortage of appliances is being felt across Marlborough, with some customers waiting weeks for new goods.

Kitchen and laundry appliances, like ovens and washing machines, are in short supply with some models taking nearly two months to arrive on our shores.

AppliancePlus Blenheim owner Michael Fitzpatrick says a surge of buyers as the coronavirus pandemic closed factories around the world created the “perfect storm”

“Most appliances we’re ordering today are not available,” Michael says.

“We’re waiting one or two months for stock, some even longer.”

“We’ve got multiple brands and plenty of stock but ff it’s not in store, it’s a six week wait.”

Michael says appliance sales are up across the board throughout the country.

“It’s a combination of no holidays for 12 months and low interest rates triggering excess capital for home improvements.

“Out of COVID we had a massive surge and suppliers haven’t been able to catch up.

100% Herkt Appliances store owner Lisa Herkt says there have been “massive disruptions” in the supply chain.

“There may be ovens sitting in factories in Thailand 98 per cent complete waiting on a component from Europe,” she says.

“Covid is still happening worldwide on a grand scale.

“Things are dribbling through, but not at the scale they were. We’ve been in the game for 30-odd years and we’ve never seen anything like it. It’s bizarre.”

She says disruptions began in February and she’s forecasting for ongoing difficulties through November.

“It depends on how it plays out and where stock’s coming from,” she says.

“Distribution is a big one – there are less boats moving around. The days of things being made in New Zealand are long gone – it’s a global market now.

“Noone could have predicted the scale of disruption.”

Michael says he doesn’t know of any price rises this side of Christmas.

“We had price rises on the first of July, once we came out of COVID.

“I’m not seeing the level of discounting there was before – because there’s a lack of stock.”

He says it’s still a very competitive market and if you’re planning to do a renovation in November, you need to order appliances now.

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.”

Cuddon Engineering. Photo: Matt Brown.

Retirement beckons for Cuddon boss

After almost 14 years at the helm of one of Blenheim’s oldest companies, a well-known businessman is ready to make some life changes.

Cuddon Limited Blenheim chief executive Andy Rowe has announced he is standing down from September.

Spending time with his wife Marion, his grandchildren and helping others in the community are top on his list of priorities, he says.

“Let’s call it semi-retirement as I will be looking for projects and or short-term work, so I don’t drive Marion mad.

“I think we had come to the realisation as a family through a number of events across our wider family members that we need to start to think about what our next steps were,” he says.

With other community commitments and Cuddon in a strong position, the time feels right to make a move, Andy says.

Terry Duff has been appointed as the new chief executive of the firm which is in its 87th year of operations.

Andy Rowe. Photo: Supplied.
Andy Rowe. Photo: Supplied.

The engineering manufacture business is in a strong position, making it a good time for change, Andy says.

“Cuddon Ltd is in a strong position and as such this is a good time for a shift in leadership, I think it is also very healthy for an organisation to have fresh eyes every so often.”

But bidding the business farewell will not be easy, he says.

“There are two really key areas that I will miss and the first of these are the people, particularly those that work within the business but also those that we do work for.

“The second thing is the huge range that we are able to do as an organisation at Cuddon Ltd across both national and international markets.”

Andy says he will spend time with the incoming CEO handing over the reins.

He the hopes to spend more time at the family’s Kenepuru Sound property.

“I will also be looking for some project-based pieces of work or using my skills to help others in business and or community.

It’ll be great to have time for the grandkids and their adventures as they progress.”

Making the announcement, principal shareholder and director John Cuddon says the firm was delighted to have attracted a new chief executive of Terry’s calibre.

Corey Hebberd. Photo: Supplied.

Rangitāne supports iwi business

Rangitāne o Wairau has launched a special fund to help support people and businesses suffering hardship in the wake of COVID-19.

After delivery more than 300 emergency food and hygiene packs during lockdown, iwi are now helping with the recovery process.

Rangitāne Investments Limited commercial property manager Corey Hebberd says times are tough for everyone.

“We know that doing business is tough right now.

“Our commercial arm, like all businesses, is feeling the effects of COVID-19.

“Now more than ever, we need to focus on supporting local – and, where we can, supporting our own whānau enterprises.”

New oranga fund Te Kura Ora has been set up to help support whānau who need one-off financial support.

Plans for a directory of whānau businesses have also been bought forward in a bid to help.

The Directory, Rārangi Pakihi o Rangitāne, was published on Thursday on the Rangitāne o Wairau website.

It’s about helping, says Corey.

“This message is about the next steps that we are taking to support whānau, particularly those who own a small business.

“Both the Iwi Trust and our Iwi Investment Company contract and employ services via small businesses in our community to deliver our work programme.

“Not only are we sharing details with our wider whānau and iwi on their services, but we’ll also be engaging and contracting them where we’re able to.”

Email [email protected] to register on the Rangitāne Business Directory.

If you need support contact the office on (03) 578 6180.

Cuddon freeze dry sales and marketing manager Blair Kibblewhite with Lara, who’s destined for America. Photo: Matt Brown.

Firm’s overseas odyssey

Lara has been lovingly bundled up and prepared for her several-thousand-kilometre boat trip to North America for a new life making pet food.

Usually, a Blenheim engineer would be ready to welcome her after her six-week trip to help get her settled and comfortable in her new home.

But COVID put paid to that, so Lara, a $2 million plus, general-purpose freeze-dryer made by engineering firm Cuddon will be making the trip alone.

And the Blenheim based team are making the most of modern technology to oversee Lara’s installation remotely from the other side of the world.

Cuddon freeze dry sales and marketing manager Blair Kibblewhite says they had to think outside the box to get the large machines overseas and installed.

“Previously, we would send an engineer to unpack and facilitate the install,” Blair says.

“Now, we’re doing this in Canada at the moment, the owner has a camera on his head and we’re talking him through the process remotely.

Cuddon Engineering, on Mcartney Street. Photo: Matt Brown.

“We’ve achieved a lot utilising that technology,” Blair says.

Closed borders due to the pandemic continue to hurt exporters.

But Cuddon Engineering is bucking the trend, and while bosses have had to rethink some ways of doing things exports are going strong.

The engineering company works in refrigeration, water engineering, irrigation and carbon steel but their big earner is designing, building and installing freeze driers.

Most of the other branches worked through lockdown as essential services, but the freeze-drying section couldn’t do anything due to health and safety reasons.

“We find the guys may have put things on hold, but the sales are still coming. We haven’t stopped at all.”

He says two freeze dryers are leaving the workshop, one bound for the US and other, the UK.

“We thought and worked outside the box,” he says.

Working remotely via Zoom, up to four engineers in Blenheim can pop on a call to run the engineers onsite through the installation process.

Then there are a few more working with contractors.

“It’s face to face and stable – it’s better than phone.

“It’s given us the ability and confidence to do it again with this one going to the US.”

Health woes force resignation

Poor health has forced a long-serving Marlborough Trust committee member to resign.

Marlborough Electric Power Trust has revealed trustee Malcolm Aitken is standing down at the end of the month.

The former air force employee will be replaced by unsuccessful candidate, Cathie Bell, who was the highest-polling candidate not elected to the board.

Trust chairman Ian Martella says Malcolm’s contributed over the past few years has been valuable.

Marlborough Electric Power Trust has revealed trustee Malcolm Aitken is standing down at the end of the month. Photo: Supplied.

“Malcolm has been on the trust since September 2014, and we have really valued his input.

“He is a long-time Marlburian, moving here in 1960 with the air force, and then running a highly-successful restaurant business for 22 years, as well as being part of many community organisations.”

Malcolm Aitken was re-elected to the trust in the election held in February 2020.

Ian says Malcom had resigned because of health reasons and that the Trust wishes him all the best.

Cathie Bell is a communications specialist, having worked in journalism, public relations, and in local and central government roles.

She now owns her own communications business.

“Cathie has followed the trust’s work actively, attending all our public meetings and asking questions and we look forward to welcoming her to the team”.

The Marlborough Electric Power Trust holds all the shares of lines company Marlborough Lines and administers them on behalf of the power users of Marlborough.

Meeting chair Niel Sowry takes feedback from worried Clubs of Marlborough members. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Future of social club in jeopardy

Potential bankruptcy and claims of bullying are threatening the survival of one of Marlborough’s oldest clubs.

The running of the Clubs of Marlborough has come under fire from anxious members who fear for its future.

About 140 people packed into the Redwoodtown Community Hall on Sunday to voice their concerns and discuss a way forward.

Members say they have been kept in the dark by a non-communicative committee and fear the struggling club may go under.

President Jason Clouston, who alongside other committee members was invited to the meeting but did not attend, came under fire for alleged bullying tactics.

Meeting chair Niel Sowry warned the crowd to be careful to stick to facts as Clouston had threatened legal action over anything libelous.

“Anyone that wants to talk, I have to advise you to be very careful that what you say is factual and can be proven.

“Social media has been alive with comments, a lot of them we cannot substantiate.

“There has been a threat of legal action if anything libelous is said, so please be careful if you want to say something.”

The move comes after sweeping plans to restructure the Club were announced earlier this month, with staff facing redundancy.

Concerned members say they did not understand why the Club had not reopened under level 2.

Sowry says the Club received wage subsidy payments for 56 staff members over lockdown.

Official documentation from the wage subsidy website shows the club received $356,000.

Members have earlier written a letter to the committee calling for a vote of no confidence in Clouston and an extraordinary general meeting.

No meeting has yet taken place.

“We could wait two years and still not see a meeting so the issue of confidence or non-confidence in anyone on committee is not addressed,” Sowry says.

“You want to do something, you’ve got to do it according to the rules, and the rules are deficient.”

Sowry told the crowd he was working with Clubs New Zealand and legal representation in Wellington.

“We have a president who tries to rule by fear and intimidation.

“It appears to be that he’s a bully when it comes to staff, and anyone that wants to stand up and oppose him, they get the treatment.

Tina Beattie says she stood for the committee and served but was forced to resigned because of bullying.

She claims the bullying had continued after she resigned.

A Committee of six were voted by members to approach the committee and get lines of communication going.

Members say the club needed a new committee to ensure it thrived.

Jason Clouston says they have advised by our Solicitors to refrain from commenting on issues arising from the Clubs restructuring process which is currently ongoing.

“Members will be notified shortly on the time and date of the Extraordinary General Meeting requisitioned by the Sowrys.”

In a statement, RSA president Chris Bamber asked members to bear with them through this difficult time.

“It is a stressful time for all concerned in the Clubs of Marlborough restructure process.

“I know it is hard for our members not knowing what is happening, hearing all the rumours, out there but please bear with us for a little longer and know we are working our hardest at getting our Club back to a stage where we can all enjoy our Clubs’ facilities and activities again.”

Marlborough Girls’ College students Beth Gray, Destiny Aires and Vita Elworthy. Photo: Matt Brown.

Business students’ wake up call

Students needing a good night’s sleep have sparked a business idea for a team of college entrepreneurs.

Four Marlborough Girls’ College business students have created special sprays to help people relax at night and feel refreshed in the morning.

Their new company, Mellow, is fully funded by the team who hope their new venture will get the money coming in.

The team settled on the facial sprays after their market research revealed many of their peers often felt tired or rundown.

Mellow chief executive Destiny Aires says the facial sprays weren’t the group’s first business idea.

Butter sticks, dog biscuits and reselling secondhand clothing were all ideas left on the cutting room floor, she says.

“We came up with a few ideas before we settled on Mellow. We had to think of a problem or an issue and then solve it.

“One of the sprays calms your mind and relaxes you. The other reinvigorates you and wakes you up in the morning.”

Production and communications manager Vita Elworthy says expert help was invaluable to get the sprays to trial stage.

Vita says the team made the most of their business mentor Erena Oliver’s knowledge of essential oils.

“She explained the properties of the oils and we made our own recipe based on that,” Vita says.

“We had a few prototypes – the first one didn’t smell too nice. We had to make it appeal to people – to make it smell nice and make people want to put it on.

“It applies to everyone, but we’re targeting youth.”

Destiny, who’s aiming to be a hotel manager, says business studies and the practical experience was really useful.

Finance director Beth Gray says the project has been exciting.

“It’s fun having full control, from the logo to the packaging,” she says.

“We’ve all contributed ideas.

“It would be cool to keep it going.”

Beth and Vita are looking to take a more creative route in their future – but both agreed the business experience was an eye-opener.

“Alongside tiredness and not getting enough sleep – it won’t lead to breakouts,” Vita says.

“It’s made for sensitive skin,” Destiny adds.

The young entrepreneurs will soon take up a stall at the Sunday Farmers’ Market with the sleep sprays retailing at $12.99.

Our tagline is ‘the natural way’, Destiny says.