Taylor Pass Honey Co’s plant supervisor Troy Appleton and operations manager Richard Hopkins. Photo: Paula Hulburt

Sweet taste of success for honey makers

Honey company staff have tasted victory after scooping four awards at a top national competition.

Taylor Pass Honey Co. won three gold awards and one bronze for their liquid honey, honeycomb and honeydew honey.

They were also awarded two trophies, one for best liquid honey and best comb honey at the 2019 Pi-a-ora Apiculture NZ awards in Rotorua.

For CEO Richard Green, the win was a team effort.

Some of the awards the honey business has recently achieved. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
Some of the awards the honey business has recently achieved. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

“This is recognition for the whole team and a credit to the skills of the whole team.

“We’re really proud as our flavours are where we do well; one of our unique selling points is that our flavours are very special”.

With around 40 permanent and part-time staff, including 24 beekeepers, Taylor Pass Honey Co started 27 years ago.

It’s gone from strength to strength exporting honey all over the world.

With 10,500 hives, each housing around 100,000 bees, the company is the biggest honey producer in the South Island.

Operations manager Richard Hopkins says the bees from one hive fly the equivalent of three times around the world during the honey production season.

“They work hard. It’s a little bit of art and a little bit of science. It’s about knowing what the honey is and how it behaves during the creaming process.”

At the packaging plant in Riverlands, the honey goes through a scrupulous filtering system.

From filtering to packaging, around 600kg an hour goes through the process during peak season,

“Each tank holds three tons of honey and it stays there for three to four days to control the crystallization process.

“That’s the art of producing honey and being in control, knowing what the honey is and how it behaves while crystallization occurs,” says Richard.

Each jar of honey can be traced back to a specific hive site.

It is this attention to detail, says Richard that helps make the honey an award-winner.

“A lot of the guys make honey especially for the competition but Taylor Pass won by pulling a sample of the pack line; it’s not one we made specifically.

“They’re all good”.

Plant Supervisor Troy Appleton is an essential team member.

With two seasons behind him, he knows plenty about how the company’s award-winning honey is made.

“It’s down to the bees to do their thing before we do ours.”

The company has partnered with other retailers in town and are selling honey through these outlets including The Vines Village off Rapaura Road.

Janet Steggle hope the Marlborough Creative Artisans new shop will be a big hit. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Overseas buyers get crafty

A posse of Picton crafters have been making their mark across the world as their work gets snapped up by overseas buyers.

The Marlborough Creative Artisans are set to mark seven years since they first opened their doors.

And with a new, larger premises in Mariners Mall in the heart of Picton, there is plenty for the 30-strong team to celebrate.

Members hope the new High St venue will boost sales locally when the number of tourists drops off after cruise ship season closed.

Artisan knitter Janet Steggle says the new site, in the former post office building, is more prominent.

“We’re lucky that we didn’t have to do any work to it, except a bit of cleaning.

“As we’re a co-operative, we all got involved, along with husbands and family, and spent a whole weekend moving and arranging.

“It’s a lovely, bright, airy space with great light,” she says.

A range of work is on display, from colourful knitwear and water colours to jewellery and baby clothes.

The shop attracts a variety of customers, with many making the effort to keep in touch once they’ve left New Zealand.

Janet has seen some of her creations end-up in places from Alaska to Tasmania.

“Customers want to buy something unique, hand-crafted and locally made.

“We’ve sold things that go all over the world. Cruise ship passengers especially need things that are easy to take back with them.

“Some of the ships have craft groups on board or knitting groups and passengers are really excited when they see what we have on offer,” she says.

“I’ve had emails from Alaska and photos from Tasmania from people who have bought my knitwear”.

The shop’s big draw is the fact that everything on sale is made locally from people who live in the region.

“You have to live in Marlborough and make the work yourself,” says Janet.

This two-year old Taimate Angus bull sold to Turihaua Angus Stud in Gisborne for an eye-watering price. Photo: Supplied.

Record-breaking bull sale nets Ward farmer massive payday

A Marlborough farmer has smashed records selling a bull for a jaw-dropping $85,000.

Taimate Angus stud farmer Paul Hickman sold a two-year-old bull to Turihaua Angus Stud, in Gisborne, for the sum, eclipsing his previous record of $20,000.

It is believed to be the highest for a bull in the South Island.

“It is an extraordinary price,” Paul says.

Previously, the top price Paul had received for one of his Angus bulls was $20,000.

The Aberdeen Angus, simply known as Angus, is a Scottish breed of small beef cattle.

The name comes from cattle native to Aberdeenshire and Angus in north-eastern Scotland.

The Ward farmer has been breeding bulls on the family farm his whole life.

Sired by Taimate Lazarus, a bull kept as a breeding stud, the as yet unnamed bull will be shipped to its new owner in Gisborne.

“He is just an all-round exceptionally good bull,” Paul says.

“To look at, his performance, the way he walks, the way he moves. Everything.”

Paul says he sold another bull, by Lazarus, for $40,000 and another for $23,000.

Paul says the highest amount paid for a New Zealand Angus bull was around $150,000 in the mid-90’s.

Breaking another South Island record, Taimate Angus received an average price of $14,000 for their 65 livestock up for sale, selling 65 out of 65 bulls.

“She’s a good day and a rather long night celebrating,” Paul says.

He says next year, there will be more sons of Taimate Lazarus for sale, but he wasn’t expecting to surpass this year’s prices.

“That would be a hell of a long shot,” he says. “But never say never.

“I’m very, very pleased.”

BeeApp Co-founder and CEO Erik Bast, left, out in the field with the BeeApp. Photo: Supplied.

Bee Intelligence creating a buzz overseas

The brains behind a new beekeeping app have been chosen to pitch for a $100,000 funds boost.

Bee Intelligence, which provides its BeeApp software for commercial beekeepers, is one of just 20 companies to be shortlisted.

The app, which started life in Marlborough, saw off competition from a raft of other businesses at the LAUNCH Festival in Sydney –  which attracted more than 1000 start-up businesses.

BeeApp Co-founder and CEO Erik Bast, says it’s been an exciting time.

“We’re really excited to be one of the few startups pitching at the event – it’s strong validation that there is international interest in BeeApp.

“We are excited about the opportunity to be exposed to the resources and expertise of these global innovation leaders, he says.
Bee Intelligence co-founder Christian Stresing made the long trip from Berlin to Sydney to join some of the team on the ground.

The company has earned the right to take part in a pitch which could see them scoop the prize pool. The event is the first international version of Silicon Valley’s largest startup conference.

Three New Zealand startups from ecentre’s Sprint Global startup programme also flew to Sydney to take part.

Marlborough-based BeeApp co-founder and keen beekeeper Dale DeLuca came up with the idea after looking for ways to help combat everyday problems.

The self-taught apiarist says he couldn’t find an app that could help.

“I quickly found there wasn’t anything decent around that was going to help me understand how my hives were performing, or keep track of the health of my bees…

“As a beekeeper I understand what beekeepers need,” he says.

The company’s technology suite includes sensors, offline smartphone apps and web-based dashboards.

The new development will use the same designs as used for Casebrook village in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

New retirement village bosses call for cost cuts

Bosses behind Blenheim’s biggest retirement village are looking for council to relax rules when it comes to development fees.

Summerset Group Holdings Ltd announced plans to build a $100 million rest home on a six-hectare former strawberry farm site earlier this year.

The company has appealed to Marlborough District Council to soften development levies on the project, saying it is “very different” to typical housing projects.

Residents would not be a burden on existing infrastructure, they say.

In a written submission to council, senior development manager Oliver Boyd says the upper age of residents meant they put less demand on services.

“This is primarily due to the nature of a comprehensive care retirement villages attracting an older elderly demographic.

“Summerset’s residents, across New Zealand, are typically in their early 80’s when they move into the independent units of the retirement village.

“That provision of on-site amenities, along with the age and mobility of many of Summerset’s residents, results in a low level of usage of Council funded community facilities and infrastructure,” he says.

He added resident’s use of cars was also “considerably below” that of an average residential household.

“Consequently, Summerset’s residents place less demand on roading infrastructure,” he says.

Following completion of the master plan, village design and the resource consent process, the new village is expected to open within the next two years, a spokeswoman says.

The new development will use the same designs as used for Casebrook village in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.
The new development will use the same designs as used for Casebrook village in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

The village would offer more than 200 independent living homes, including two- and three-bedroom villas, serviced apartments, and hospital level care.

It is expected more than 300 people will be employed or contracted during the construction phase. Up to 40 positions will be created at the village once it is fully operating.

“No village is exactly the same, and we have recently been conducting specific research in the Blenheim community, so that we can build the picture of locals’ preference for future home and surrounds,” the spokeswoman says.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is still to approve the sale of the land, which was bought following the death of well-known berry farmer Celia Jones.

Council say growth, while positive for the community, came with a “number of challenges”.

“Not the least is council’s task of expanding infrastructure networks to support the increased use of essential services.

“The cost of expanding these networks is often high, and the issue of funding inevitably arises.

“As a result, alternative means for funding these capital works must be considered. Development Contributions is one such source”.

A spokesman from Marlborough District Council says it will hear what developers have to say.

“Council has taken a similar approach to Summerset’s proposal that it has taken with other developments of this type, including RSE accommodation, hotels and other retirement villages.

“Currently we are waiting for Summerset to finalise the details of their proposal”.

A development on Scott St is set to go above shops on the main thoroughfare. Photo: Matt Brown.

Marlborough to welcome the ‘Y’

For decades, its name has been as a place for people across the world to stay – and now YMCA is coming to Blenheim.

The Young Men’s Christian Association is set to open a 90-bed facility in the town centre.

Described by new owner and Blenheim man Robin Sutherland as a “flash packers”, the YMCA will breathe “new life” into the CBD, he says.

“It can be very difficult to find a room in Blenheim, and not just in the normal busy season,” he says.

“Vineyards are one, but also the government is taking a lot of rooms out of the market.”

Founded in London in 1844, the World Alliance of YMCAs is the oldest and largest Movement for youth in the world.

YMCA Christchurch chief executive Josie Ogden Schroeder says the opportunity helps solve a “significant” accommodation shortage while also allowing the YMCA to reach out into the community.

“It is our intention that our contribution to Blenheim extends over time to more than just accommodation,” says Josie.

“Our philosophy is not to come into a community and deliver in competition with others.

“Where we work best is in partnership with others, using our skills and resources to meet gaps in provision whatever they may be.

“We are really looking forward to how we can add value to the area of Marlborough and meeting a need in the accommodation market is just the first step.

Robin says working drawings, a two-month process, is halfway completed.

“It’s a matter of process, but you can never take anything for granted,” he says.

“The strange thing about Blenheim is its bloody hard to find a bed in winter, because of the vineyards.

“People that otherwise might stay at backpackers tend to graduate up to find a room in a motel.

“The YMCA business model is quite interesting which is why we started talking to them.

“There’s a wide range of rooms on offer, hopefully to suit all sorts.”

He says the business community had been very supportive with the project being very well received.

“It might help our failing CBD to get a bit of life into it,” Robin says.

Elemental Distiller's Ben Leggett celebrated two events recently. Photo: Matt Brown.

New babies for Marlborough distiller

The hectic birth of a Marlborough distillery coincided with a birth of the more natural kind.

After years in the making, Elemental Distiller co-owner Ben Leggett, released his Marlborough Roots Dry Gin recently.

And in a quirk of fate, his son Toby was born the day before the first scheduled bottling.

“Long story short, I took a single bottle … Toby’s cut, and that’s going to be the bottle that we will probably open for his 21st birthday.

“Even though it added a bit of stress to the day, it’s a nice memory that we’ve got this first bottle of gin taken from the absolute sweetest part of the gin cut.

“ … that will always be Toby’s bottle of gin and hopefully one day he will be able to enjoy it.

Ben Leggett with his new son, Toby. Photo: Supplied.
Ben Leggett with his new son, Toby. Photo: Supplied.

“It was by no means a planned event, it’s just the way life works sometimes,” Ben says.

Since it was first released at Feast Marlborough, the Roots Dry Gin has been a big hit.

The dad of two says his timing was good as the region has embraced the newest addition.

“Despite the love and scale of the wine industry here, people seem to be gin fiends as well.

Ben says the day Toby was born, he had 200 litres of his first gin run ready to go.

“The day that my son Toby was born, I had 200 litres of my very first gin run sitting in the still waiting to be run off”.

He says once both mother and baby were well and resting in hospital, he was given permission to shoot away and deal with it.

“We seem to be timing it quite well with a bit of a gin renaissance that Marlborough seems to be going through,” he says.

The distillery is based at Vines Village off of Rapaura Rd.

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.”

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.