Hope Walk organisers Vita Vaka and Bary Neal. Photo: Matt Brown.

Bringing Hope to the community

Two friends hope people will turn out in force to support those whose lives have been touched by suicide.

Marlborough man Bary Neal lost his son, Matt, 22, to suicide in 2016 while his friend and Hope Walk organiser Vita Vaka suffered from depression.

Together, the pair hope this year’s walk will start conversations about suicide and let people know support is on hand.

Organiser Vita Vaka says suicide is a topic close to his heart.

“I do this because I wish people were there walking with me through it,” he says.

The walk takes up to an hour, depending on the size of the crowd, and makes a loop circuit around Blenheim – starting and ending at Seymour Square.

In 2017, nearly 1000 Marlburians turned out for the region’s inaugural Hope Walk after organiser Bary Neal heard of a guy in Auckland starting a similar event.

Bary handed over organising the event to 30-year-old Vita last year, after he moved to Dunedin for work.

But now back in Blenheim, he continues to be a passionate advocate for the walk.

He organised the first event in Blenheim in 2017.

“I thought, why not?”

“Rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I got out and did something,” Bary says.

“It’s made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

Bary says the event is about encouraging people to open-up.

“To not sit at home and feel like a burden,” he says.

Bary, a competitive speed walker went through a double hip replacement, then a marriage breakup before the death of his  son.

“At that stage I didn’t want anyone around me,” Bary says.

“I put on a brave face, but I would hide and have a cry.

“My best mate didn’t have a clue, but he checked up on me every other day.

“I kept thinking, my boy is looking down on me being miserable, so I wanted to do something to help people who were having similar trouble” he says.

Vita says Hope Walk itself is a type of suicide prevention.

“It’s a day to remind people how valuable they are to life,” he says.

“People have some kai and are informed about the support networks,” Vita says.

“It’s important people know the support is there.”

The Hope Walk begins at 10am Saturday 28 September at Seymour Square.

Cats on a Blenheim property have been suffering say animal advocates. Photo: Supplied.

House of horrors for neglected cats

Starving, ill and flea-infested cats will continue to suffer and die as authorities fail to act warn animal charity bosses.

Marlborough Dog Pawz, which care for both cats and dogs, has hit out at both the SPCA and Marlborough District Council over their failure to act.

The central Blenheim home has around nine cats living in filth and faeces, says charity co-founder Michelle Masden.

Cats on a Blenheim property have been suffering say animal advocates. Photo: Supplied.
Cats on a Blenheim property have been suffering say animal advocates. Photo: Supplied.

She has implored both councillors and SPCA to act and for help to be given to the homeowner.

But she says her pleas are falling on “deaf ears”.

“I feel like it is in the too hard basket and no one wants to actually try, the place hasn’t changed since January and is still a health hazard.

“We did go knock on the door on one occasion to see if we could help with desexing or any other sick kittens etc.

“That is when I found a little kitten lying in the garden covered in flies and crawling with fleas like I have never seen before, there was also a dead cat by the garage.

“I am not sure what you actually have to do to get someone to take action.

“We have taken six or seven [cats] from the property and four were put down as they were past helping,” she says.

Cats on a Blenheim property have been suffering say animal advocates. Photo: Supplied.
Cats on a Blenheim property have been suffering say animal advocates. Photo: Supplied.

The cats first came to the charity’s attention in January. They reported their urgent concerns to the SPCA.

After a four day wait, officials showed up at the house, Michelle says.

“The smell was so bad it almost made me sick, there was also a dead cat by the garage. SPCA know this property and actually took 8 cats from there last year but haven’t followed up since.

“It breaks my heart totally.”

The charity has been calling for a meeting with council staff, including Marlborough Mayor John Leggett.

But despite assurances a meeting would happen, nothing has been confirmed yet, though says councillor and mayoral candidate Jamie Arbuckle has been in contact.

“The owner of the property will not de sex any cats or let the SPCA remove any, this shouldn’t be a multi choice it needs to be enforced and acted upon.

“Kitten season is yet again here and there will be more emaciated kittens very soon.“The property owner needs support and that’s something that isn’t being offered here, the situation is now like a bad joke and i feel like a broken record.

“I know the SPCA and council want me to just disappear, but I won’t, these fur babies have no voice.

A spokesman from Marlborough District Council says the property had been inspected.

“Council inspected the property again on 4 September – there were four cats present and no concerns regarding their health or well-being. There have been no complaints from the neighbours.”

A diagnosis of Alzheimers changes life for the patient and their family. Photo: Models/Supplied.

A life-changing diagnosis – living with Alzheimers

September is World Alzheimers Month.  Below, a husband talks about his wife’s diagnosis and how it has changed their lives.

There are still many good days, moments the devoted couple of 60 years can enjoy ordinary moments they used to take for granted.

For a Marlborough husband and wife, who asked not to be named, an uneventful trip to the supermarket, or even watching TV and laughing together has taken on a special significance.

A diagnosis of Alzheimers for the wife earlier this year changed both their lives in an instance.

“It’s a real defining point, especially for the patient, I hate that word, but use it anyway.

“Once that word, Alzheimers, comes up, you’ve crossed the Rubicon and can’t go back. It took a year to come to terms with it,” he says.

Dementia affects nearly 80 per cent of New Zealanders in some way.

Early warning signs include forgetting conversations or denying they took place, repetition, misplacing items and forgetting where to find household objects.

The disease affects whole families. Models/Supplied.

There is a gradual decrease in socialisation and, latterly, confusion over family, time and place.

For the husband, looking back, the signs were all there.

“The first signs began about five years ago. She was forgetting conversations or that we were going out for tea and would say I hadn’t told her.

“I had a feeling that this was more than just forgetting things, something was out of kilter but as I didn’t really know what was going on, I had to find a way to adjust.

“The worst thing for me, apart from the terrible time my wife is going through, is that there are two of us in this situation. I’ve no experience with this and the impact is huge,” he says.

One of the first tasks he undertook was to contact Alzheimers Marlborough.

The support and information they have provided has proven invaluable, he says.

Almost 70,000 Kiwis are living with dementia. More than 170,000 Kiwis will be living with dementia by 2050

Dementia also impacts women at a higher rate, showing a 30 per cent greater prevalence.

In a cruel twist of fate, the slow progress of the disease in this case means the woman in question is aware of the changes and the likely course the illness will take.

“She’s aware [of what’s happening]. It would be easier if she wasn’t. Being aware and having to come to terms with it is the difficulty,” her husband says.

“Between 70 and 80 per cent of the time we can carry on a semblance of a real life.

“No two days are the same. There may be two days when it’s calm and everything is nice and peaceful. You learn to make the most of the good days.

“My wife still has hope from time to time and will sometimes think that she’s not actually as bad as she was.

“I can’t hope like that,as I know that this condition is irreversible

Likening the illness to a photograph album that is gradually losing its pictures, the retired husband says routine is key when it comes to helping minimise distress.

Where once this committed couple were ardent travelers, the illness has effectively clipped their wings.

“Travel is an upsetter. Travel was a big and important part of our lives, it’s still something she sometimes looks forward to but also has the nouse to know that long distance travel is not an option anymore.”

Alzheimers NZ represents people living with dementia at a national level.

The organisation provides information and resources, advocates for high quality services, and promotes research about prevention, treatment, cure and care.

Being open with the couple’s children, all of whom live overseas, the couple’s friends and neighbours has helped.

There is no point in pretending it’s not happening, he says.

But having to be selective about what information he passes onto his wife has been “difficult”.

“The subterfuge is difficult. Sometimes you have to simply let them believe wholly that something that isn’t true is true or indulge in small white lies.

“I feel bad about that but after a while you get used to it, you do. What you’re doing all the time is thinking for two people,” he says.

Picking his battles has proven key.

“Sometimes at the supermarket we’ll end up with three items of the same thing, it doesn’t really matter if she’s happy.

“You need to choose your time to walk away. If there’s a hint of an argument, her focus narrows and becomes more self centred.

“I’m more often in the wrong now and the simple thing is to become the bigger person. The most important thing for me now as the ‘carer’  is to have time out to relax or indulge in another activity.

“You cut your losses and give in if it doesn’t really matter,” he says.

The future is very much on his mind and ultimately, he knows there is no happy ending.

“I think about it all the time, it’d be foolish if I didn’t.

“You can’t make any definitive plans you can only take guesses. You do have to think about the ultimate; there’s no answer to that at this stage.

“I just have to keep an open mind; hope for the best but know to expect the worst. For further information, help or advice visit www.alzheimers.org.nz/marlborough or contact 03 577 6172.

Alzheimers Marlborough are holding a Memory Walk on Saturday 21 September, leaving the Munro Street Car Park at 10:00am. Registration is completely free and can be made prior to the day by phoning the office – 577 6172. Wear something purple. The Memory Walk is for people of all ages and abilities to remember family and community members that have been or are affected by dementia.


Lawyer Dharshini Ramanathan has won a scholarship towards her studies. Photo: Supplied.

Lawyer wins Adult Literacy scholarship

A lawyer with a passion for literacy has won a scholarship towards study costs as she learns how to help others read and write.

Dharshini Ramanathan is the first recipient of the 2019 inaugural Literacy Aotearoa Blenheim Pat Robbins Zonta Scholarship.

The $500 scholarship is awarded to a female Maori, Pasifika or Youth trainee tutor in Blenheim to assist with their adult literacy tutor training studies.

Dharshini, who is a lawyer with a Masters of Law degree, works for Community Law Marlborough. During her own time, she is studying towards a New Zealand Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching at level 4.

“I think everyone should be able to read, write and do maths. I want to help people learn how to get there,” she says.

The Pat Robbins Zonta Scholarship is awarded in memory of Zonta Club Marlborough foundation member, Pat Robbins who died in 2002.

She was a pivotal figure in pushing for adult literacy classes in Marlborough and spent 40 years helping others achieve their goals.

Zonta aims to raise the status of women throughout the world and educationally, economically and politically enable them to achieve their goals.

Red Cross volunteers were on hand to help and collect donations. Photo: Supplied.

Fashion show a runway success

Volunteer models strutting their stuff on the runway have helped boost funds for Marlborough Red Cross.

The fashion show, Red Cross Crosses the Runway, kept audiences entertained at Marlborough Public House last week.

And the amount raised is record for the event with a total of almost $5000.

Now in its fifth year, the popular fashion show is one of the charity’s three main fundraiser events held throughout the year, alongside their annual ANZAC Day/Marlborough Golf Club tournament and Red Rose day in October.

A model gets into the spirit of the event. Photo: Adena Teka.
A model gets into the spirit of the event. Photo: Adena Teka.

Red Cross spokeswoman Lorna Whitehead says some members of the public may not realise the varied role the organisation has across the community.

Emergency and disaster response, the delivery of meals on wheels, community transport vehicles, taking community garden produce to The Food Bank and Johns Kitchen, first aid training, and youth support are some of the tasks they undertake, she says.

Community support is important and seeing so many people at the fashion show was a real boost, Lorna says.

“We are delighted with the wonderful support for our female models from Shizazz Fashion on Queen Street and Hallenstein Brothers for our male models.

“Many Local businesses have given their support for this fundraising function,” she says.

Rose Built Homes office in the Blenheim CBD. Photo: Matt Brown.

Hope after company collapse

A young Blenheim couple who faced losing their first home after the collapse of a building business has been thrown a lifeline.

Anastasia Brown and Caleb Mischeski faced losing $50,000 after a now-defunct Blenheim building company was placed into liquidation.

But other businesses have since stepped up to help those burnt by the collapse of Marlborough company Rose Built Homes last week.

Peter Ray Homes have taken on Anastasia Brown’s build on Blenheim’s Taylor Pass Road, which has languished for more than three months.

Rose Built Homes office in the Blenheim CBD. Photo: Matt Brown.
Rose Built Homes office in the Blenheim CBD. Photo: Matt Brown.

Peter Ray Homes director Donna Lee says their builders are working at a reduced margin to get her into the house.

“We really want to help Anastasia out,” Donna says.

RBH Limited, trading as Rose Built Homes, was placed into liquidation on 5 September.

It has since come to light the company’s two directors, Kyle Payne and Ryan Butler operated a web of interconnected companies.

Peter Ray Homes has come to the rescue of the young couple after the now-defunct building company Rose Built Homes went under. Photo: Matt Brown.
Peter Ray Homes has come to the rescue of the young couple after the now-defunct building company Rose Built Homes went under. Photo: Matt Brown.

The pair, who are no longer in contact with each other, have since fled town, leaving some Marlborough businesses out of pocket by at least $1.4million.

More than 40 businesses and subcontractors have come forward to date are worried staff and family members.

A source says the company’s troubles were clear to those in the building industry.

For Anastasia, who put money given to her by her grandparents towards the $338,000 home, says the first sign of trouble was when scaffolding was pulled down.

The house, on Taylor Pass Road, has sat for months with no roofs and no activity. Photo: Matt Brown.
The house, on Taylor Pass Road, has sat for months with no roof and no activity. Photo: Matt Brown.

A skip on-site was then emptied on where the couple’s front lawn was going as bills weren’t paid.

“Every week I asked when the roof was coming on, and every week they would say Friday.

“I found out from the plumber, they just vanished, I got incredibly stressed about it so my parents took over,” she says.

“The liquidator cancelled their contract with us. It’s pretty shitty, but I was lucky to find Donna from Peter Ray Homes.”

In January, Butler and Payne transferred 90 per cent of the shares of RBH to a holding company, NOA Development Group Limited.

NOA was removed from the companies register in July.

One unsecured creditor, who didn’t want to be named, says alarm bells for him started ringing in June.

“RBH was charging $2-300sqm cheaper than everyone else but were $16,700 a week in the red.

“It’s bad management.”

Anderson Architectural Design owner Jason Anderson says Ryan and Kyle were not “cut out to run a business.”

“They’re the type of guys you could have a beer with,” he says. “They just weren’t cut out to run a business.”

Jason says there were seven Rose Built Homes houses under construction and another person who had paid a deposit when the company folded.

Former project manager Graeme Andrews resigned from the company six weeks ago after a year with the company.

He says while he is not owned any money, he was “a little bit uncomfortable.”

“I was concerned I maybe wasn’t getting the right information. I had suspicions, but I had no idea.

“All I can say is I don’t have the full picture or the full information.

“Everyone in town knew there were issues.

The reason I did stick around was for the tradies…and for the clients, a lot of which were young couples. I felt for them.”


Butler and Payne affiliated companies:


Maddison Group Limited – Trading name: Tru Cut Property services

Industry Classification(s): N731340 Property maintenance service (own account)

Registered from 2 May 2017 to 22 Aug 2019

Kyle Payne owns 100% of 2 shares

Directors: Ryan Butler and Kyle Payne. Ashleigh Broughton was a director until 3 April 2019.


3rd Gen Homes Limited

Industry Classification(s): E301120 Building, house construction

Registered from 18 August 2016 – in process of being removed from register for being overdue in its obligation to file an annual return.

Ryan Butler owns 100% of 100 shares.

Carl Ross Butler ceased being a director: 01/12/2016 – but the paperwork to remove him as a director was filed July 2019

Directors: Ryan Butler.


RBH Limited

Industry Classification(s):

In Liquidation

Registered from 18 July 2017 to 05 September 2019

NOA Development Group Limited owns 90% of 100 shares (90).

Ross Stuart Butler (Ryan’s dad) owns 10% of 100 shares (10).

Directors: Ryan Butler and Kyle Payne.


Rose Built Limited

Industry Classification(s): E301120 Building, house construction

Registered on 16 January 2019 – current

NOA Development Group Limited owns 100% of 200 shares.

Directors: Ryan Butler and Kyle Payne.


NOA Development Group Limited

Industry Classification(s): E321120 Land development or subdivision (excluding construction)

Registered from 3 August 2018 to 17 July 2019.

Ryan Butler owns 50% of 100 shares.

Kyle Payne owns 50% of 100 shares.

Avalanche dog handler Cait Hall with Rosko and Rainbow Ski Area’s general manager James Lazor. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Meet Rosko, Rainbow’s snow dog

If you are heading up Rainbow Ski Area before the close of the season you might be surprised to see something not usually permitted in a national park – a canine.

But Rosko is no ordinary dog. The labrador, German shorthaired pointer cross is a specially-trained avalanche dog that is our best line of defense in case tragedy strikes.

“A dog is unbelievably efficient at getting an avalanche field, not disturbing it and locating a victim,” says Rainbow Ski Area’s general manager James Lazor. “If there is an avalanche, time is of the essence.”

But until Rosko arrived for the last part of the ski season, the closest avalanche dog was in Methven.

“We call them, and we are looking at three hours before a dog gets here.”

James says with spring conditions heating up the snowpack and more skiers heading out into the backcountry, there is a big risk of avalanches. On top of that, James says Rainbow has some of the best snow coverage in the country right now.

“If they don’t check in with us, we don’t know,” says James. “If a witness sees an avalanche then tells us we have to mobilise and we are under that crunch.”

So, the Rainbow team are working with LandSar, police and the Department of Conservation to help train for avalanche scenarios and James says having Rosko there has made all the difference.

But Rosko wouldn’t be up the mountain if it wasn’t for his handler Cait Hall who has taken him through all the training needed to get him certified. First, she had to find him, though.

“Really it comes down to going with the gut. They need to pass obedience tests and be able to work with other dogs. They need to be able to stay in once place and come back to the handler without being distracted.”

The hope is for Rainbow to get its own permanent dog – but at the end of the season Rosko will head back to Wanaka with Cait.

James says he wants skiers to be more aware of avalanche risk when up Rainbow. Behind the rental shed there is a board that is updated daily with the snow conditions.

He says that people wanting to head back country should always check in with staff, so they know where they are going.

A cheque was presented by Organiser Bob O’Malley to Cancer Society Marlborough centre manager Felicity Spencer at a morning tea ceremony at the Vintage Car Clubs clubroom at Brayshaw Park on Wednesday. Photo: Supplied.

Sun shines for charity car show

The organiser of a vintage car show prayed for good weather and his efforts paid off, especially for the charity they support.

Marlborough’s Cancer Society received a massive windfall after the well-attended car show raised several thousands of dollars.

The popular Vintage Car Club Daffodil Day Vehicle Display smashed previous records, making nearly double the amount of last year’s show.

$17,500 was raised for the charity, with about 4000 Marlburians attending the show.

Organiser Kelly Landon-Lane says he got corns on his knees praying for fine weather for the third annual display.

And it worked, the day was one of the warmest and sunniest of the month.

“The weather leading up wasn’t great, but on the day – they [weather forecasters] got it a bit wrong,” Kelly says.

A cheque was presented by Organiser Bob O’Malley to Cancer Society Marlborough centre manager Felicity Spencer at a morning tea ceremony at the Vintage Car Clubs clubroom at Brayshaw Park on Wednesday.

Felicity says they were “overwhelmed” by the amount the Vintage Car Club made for the charity.

“It’s such an awesome effort, and they took all the initiative to run the event,” she says.

More than 50 generous local businesses contributed to the successful show.

“The support has been absolutely superb,” Kelly says.

“We had a figure in our mind when we started, around $15,000, and we made more than that.

“It’s progressed from $8000, to $9000 to more than $17,000 this year.

“You got to thank the people that turned up on the day.”

Bob says most families are affected “in one way or another” by cancer.

The money raised will go towards a new supportive care nurse hired by the society and to establish support groups for people affected by cancer in the region.

“The public really get behind us, it’s just incredible,” Bob says.

Kelly says the support from the community has been overwhelming.

“Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling and build on the event for next year,” he says.

Steve Badham has big plans for his new restaurant and café. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

New restaurant ready for lift off

An aviation-themed restaurant that faced a few turbulent few years has been bought by new owners.

The former Argosy Restaurant building in Woodbourne will become The Runway and feature an aviation-themed café and a separate restaurant open in the evening.

New owners Steve Badham and partner Lisa Stove hope to open the doors to the new-look business in October.

“I’m moderately excited but a bit anxious too. I love to cook and many of my clients are in the hospitality industry, but I’ve never run a restaurant before.

“I’ve driven past the building every week for 20 years going to and from Nelson.

“I never thought I’d own it,” he says.

The businessman who runs his own commercial IT solutions company says the restaurant will feature mainly Indian and European cuisine.

He would also like to make the most of the Argosy ZK-SAE, owned by Paul Davidson, which sits next door.

“Later on, we intend to landscape a garden area under the plane for outside dining.

“It would be good to make it more of a feature,” he says.

The Argosy ZK-SAE, once owned by Safe Air, carried both travellers and freight.

It hit headlines all over the world in 1978 after two pilots reported they were followed by unidentified flying objects as they flew of the Kaikoura coast.

Steve says while the café and small convenience store he hopes to install alongside would take on an aviation theme, the newly renovated restaurant would not.

“It will have an ancient temple theme and will feature art and antique furniture.

“This may well be for sale, but I’m still trying to piece it all together at this point and am not ruling anything out at this stage.”

The former boat builder has used his skills to do a lot of the renovation work himself, including the new curved counters.

“I want every car that goes past to soon have a reason to stop and come in,” he says.

“I always swore I’d never want to go into a kitchen, but I have a passion for food and couldn’t let the opportunity pass.”

Bottles, human excrement and other detritus mar a popular hut at Marfells Beach. Photo: Supplied.

Marfell Beach’s family hut trashed

It’s survived an earthquake, but a small structure on Marfells beach near Seddon could be taken down by tanked teens.

The hut, built by a local family for shelter from the notorious east coast wind, has become a dumping ground for raucous revellers.

Human faeces, piles of rubbish, including empty bottles and cans, are turning the hut into a tip – the “childish” antics wrecking the shelter for everyone else.

A local Seddon resident, who asked to not be named, says he erected the hut for his family as a respite when walking the popular beach.

“It’s a good place to kick back and get out of the sun and wind,” he says.

“I haven’t been there for a long time, but it was always kept pretty good.”

Constructed prior to the  7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2016, halfway between Marfells Beach Road and the wharf, the shelter was intended to be used by fishermen and families walking the shore.

But a four-wheel-drive track adjacent to the structure has proven to be its downfall.

The Seddon local thought it was local teens wrecking the structure for everyone else.

“It’s absolute childish stuff,” he says.

“I’ve sent a few people down there to clean up glass and faeces.

“I’ve yet to deal with the people that did it.

“They’re ruining it for everybody else,” he says.

Council has been approached for comment.