Crossroads Marlborough office manager Lauren Dodson. Photo: Matt Brown.

Charity kitchen stirs up support

Volunteers will hang up their aprons and take to the streets in a bid to raise vital funds for a community kitchen.

Community kitchen Crossroads will have people rattling buckets around town looking for a much-needed cash boost.

Office manager Lauren Dodson says she is pushing for more entrepreneurial ways for the bustling Redwood Street kitchen to raise an income.

“We’re currently living off fundraising and grants,” she says.

Crossroads is a not-for-profit that helps ensure people of Blenheim “don’t wake up hungry, cold or alone”.

Lauren says all money raised will go towards operating the community space.

“It’s not cheap,” Lauren says. “It costs around $11,000 to $14,000 per month to run.”

She says money will go towards food costs, electricity and providing internet to their customers.

“If this goes well, we’re aiming to do this annually.”

Lauren says there can be “confusion” from members of the public about what service Crossroads provides to the service – so volunteers will also be handing pamphlets to give people a “better idea” about their core role.

The Blenheim Lions, Beavertown Lions and SBS bank staff have volunteered to collect funds from the public around the Blenheim CBD.

But Lauren says they are still looking for volunteers to help on Scott St.

“Two hours would be awesome, but an hour would be fine,” Lauren says.

The Crossroads Marlborough Community Centre street appeal will take place this Friday throughout the Blenheim CBD from 9am to 1pm.

Tracey Phillips says it’s a “matter of time” before someone is injured near Girls’ College. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Hundreds of school speeders stung in traffic operation

A recent speed sting has left Marlborough police “disappointed” with hundreds of drivers flouting road rules.

Almost 300 tickets were issued in four hours on Tuesday to motorists speeding past Marlborough Girls College on Nelson Street in Blenheim.

New Zealand Police Marlborough prevention manager senior sergeant Peter Payne says the result is “incredibly disappointing”.

“Even small increases in speed result in a much greater increase in your stopping distance,” Peter says.

“That can mean the difference between life and death for pedestrians, so it’s vital that drivers slow down around schools.”

Mother-of-two Tracey Phillips says it is “just a matter of time” before someone is seriously injured or killed outside the high school.

“I sit there every day waiting for my daughter and it makes me cringe how fast these vehicles go,” Tracey says.

“It’s a ridiculous, crazy situation and I don’t know why they can’t slow down; I think it’s getting worse too.”

Her concerns come as New Zealand Transport Authority reveal a planned pedestrian crossing controlled by traffic lights may be shelved.

NZTA Top of the South system manager Andrew James says the decision to combine both Marlborough Girls’ and Boys’ Colleges on the same site has delayed the promised crossing.

“Our funding and design was based on specific location and traffic movements, so the move of Boys’ College onto the Girls’ site adds a new layer of complexity,” Andrew says.

The ‘road policing operation’ on Tuesday saw 288 infringement notices issued on Nelson Street.

Marlborough police say they will continue to monitor traffic throughout November and will focus on safe driving around schools.

“Motorists need to be driving at a speed and in a manner that enables them to respond safely to the unexpected,” Peter says.

EcoWorld technician Margret Hall checking out the family of Little Blue Penguins before release. Photo: Supplied

Rescued penguin family go wild

A family of penguins are safely back in the wild after being released by rescuers.

The trio of Little Blue Penguins are finding their feet at Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary near Picton.

Nicknamed, Harry, Meghan and Archie by staff at EcoWorld Aquarium & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre staff, the family were found trapped in a drain in September.

But after a month of rehabilitation, the two adult penguins and their baby, have been given the all clear and freed on Thursday.

“It’s a real feel good story with a fantastic result,” says EcoWorld’s director John Reuhman.

“The Little Blues, affectionately named Harry, Meghan and Archie by one of our royalist visitors from the UK, have responded really well to our care.

“It’s been a privilege to watch them regain their health, especially mum and dad feeding their baby regurgitating up the King Salmon rehab. formula we fed them.

“The team has cared for them really well.  Now back in tip top condition and getting feistier every day we decided it was out the door and back into the wild for the trio.”

Coralanne Child. Photo: Supplied.

Support for sex scandal school in wake of guilty pleas

Education bosses have pledged their ongoing support to a school stricken by an underage sex scandal.

Students at a Blenheim high school are a “top priority” say Ministry of Education staff after a former member of staff pleaded guilty to having sex with minors.

In the wake of her guilty pleas, acting deputy secretary, sector enablement and support Coralanne Child says support to those affected is ongoing.

“The safety and wellbeing of students is a top priority for us, as it is for boards of trustees, parents and whānau.

“In this case, we continue to offer our support to the school and its board as it moves past this challenging event,” she says.

The woman, who cannot be named, admitted seven counts of having sex with minors, and two of sending sexual images and video to minors, at the Blenheim District Court last week.

She was convicted and bailed for sentencing.

Her registration with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand has been cancelled though she may be eligible to apply again.

A spokeswoman from the council says no formal hearing will be held though the former teacher will be told officially that she has been struck from the register.

“A person with a cancelled teacher registration is able to apply for registration again.

“However, if they have been convicted of a specified offence, they must first be granted an exemption by the Ministry of Social Development.

“Then the person may apply to the Teaching Council for registration and we review and consider if the person meets our registration requirements,” she says.

The school’s Board of Trustees welcomed the woman’s guilty pleas, saying it “ensures justice” for all those caught up in the case.

In a letter to parents, the chairman of the Board of Trustees says he hopes the move will “provide closure.”

“Her actions breached the trust of so many and it is appropriate that she has taken sole responsibility by pleading guilty,” he says.

He added that he hoped sentencing at the end of the year would allow people to move forward.

“I am very thankful that this matter will be concluded before the end of the year for the sake of our community, staff, parents and boys.“I would like to thank the police and all of the other agencies involved in this case for their diligence and their care during this very difficult time … and ensuring that this did not impact on the wider student body of our college,” he says.

But not everyone has been happy with the handling of the case, with one worried parent branding it “disgusting”.

The woman, who asked not to be named, says the scandal was felt by the wider community.

She says the guilty woman seemingly showed no remorse for her actions and was spotted at several public events, including junior rugby games.

“Talk about allowing her access to a smorgasbord of underage boys.

“I’m not comfortable with her being allowed to watch my boy play rugby and I know other parents feel the same.

“If this was a male teacher who was accused of having sex with underage girls- I highly doubt he would be allowed down the netball courts.

“Those poor boys and their families being made to look like fools by our justice system.”

The woman will appear for sentencing at Blenheim District Court on 17 December.

Marlborough gynaecologist and obstetrician Helen Crampton has been able to get back into old passions, like playing the flute, since retiring. Photo: Kat Duggan.

Birth of new era for retired obstetrician

After 30 years of helping being new life into the world, one of Marlborough’s most well-known obstetricians has hung up her stethoscope for good.

Dr Helen Crampton has been a fixture at Wairau Hospital, spending days, nights, weekends, weekdays and holidays delivering babies.

After officially retiring in September, the Blenheim-based doctor has ditched the middle of the night wake-up calls in favour of running a bed and breakfast.

“The demands of being called out urgently at night and continuing the next day; I was certainly finding increasingly challenging; it wasn’t a problem when I was young,” she says.

“Once you hit your 60s, being on call becomes particularly challenging.”

Working in a small town for so long also meant delivering two generations of one family became inevitable.

“I have delivered babies of the babies … You always enjoy when someone comes in and says ‘mum said you delivered me’,” Helen says.

While highly rewarding, Helen says her career has not been without stressful moments, and she is relieved to be free of the pressure that comes with it.

Helen says she remembers many of the mothers and babies she has worked with.

“You always remember the ones that cause you more worry; there are mums you never forget,” Helen says.

“A highlight would be being there at the moment of delivery for a couple who had struggled with infertility … being there and sharing their joy at that special moment, that was always a very special time.”

Initially setting out to become a surgeon, Helen was working at the Emergency Department at Wellington Hospital when she encountered a difficult obstetrics case.

“I decided [then] to do a diploma in obstetrics and I fell in love with it from there,” she says.

“It was a male dominated career and I was told point blank that it was far too hard for a woman to do … now here I am.”

Helen met husband John on a tramping trip in the Nelson Lakes, and later made the move to Marlborough, beginning her career at Wairau Hospital in 1988.

With John’s help, Helen balanced being on call, working late nights and weekends with being a mother.

The pair have now set up a B&B in their Blenheim home and have already met some wonderful people since opening for bookings.

“I’m a people person and I still want to make a difference in other people’s lives, and that’s enabling me to do that,” Helen says.

Max the cat was reported missing when someone tried to drown him. Photo: Supplied.

Blind cat saved from watery death

An elderly, blind cat has been reunited with his owner after being rescued just moments before being drowned.

Marlborough SPCA staff were tipped off by the public that someone was trying to drown 15-year-old tabby cat, Max.

His distraught owner had been searching for his beloved pet for a month and was reunited after staff at the Renwick centre swooped in to save him.

An SPCA spokeswoman says they took Max into their Foxes Island centre to care for him.

“Earlier this month, SPCA Renwick were called out to reports of a member of the public trying to drown a cat.

“SPCA took the cat in but were concerned about his overall health due to old age.

“A few days after the rescue, an SPCA employee noticed that the cat looked very much like one he had seen on a missing poster and on Facebook.

“Max is now back in his loving home, getting the care and attention he needs,” she says.

Centre staff now hope people will help raise money for other animals in need.

“Without the help of the public, a story like Max’s may not have ended so well.

“The SPCA rely on Kiwis for their donations to continue carrying out the fantastic work they do every day, in this case, it included rescuing Max, nursing him back to good health and reuniting him with his owner,” the spokeswoman says.

The SPCA’s latest fundraiser, the Great NZ Paws Walk takes place on 9 November and the Foxes Island centre urgently needs more people and pups on board.

Staff will be hosting a walk from 10am. Sign up via

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing carparks on the main road through Renwick could sink their business. Photo: Matt Brown.

Battle lines drawn over parking plans

Angry Renwick business owners fear they could be left counting the cost of plans to replace parking spots with planter boxes.

A Marlborough District Council initiative to put concrete planter boxes on Renwick’s main street has local businesses up in arms.

At a charged meeting between several Renwick business owners and council staff on Wednesday, business leaders voiced fierce opposition to the idea.

The meeting followed a flyer drop by council staff detailing the plans to local businesses, but owners say they feel “ambushed”.

Initial plans saw the busy thoroughfare losing more about 14 car parks, but a revised option was presented to the nine Renwick business owners at the meeting, at the Renwick Roadhouse Café, where about four parks would be removed.

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing a single 10-minute carpark from the street could cost their business upward of $20,000 a year.

“The business is our livelihood,” Kristine says.

“We’ve been here nearly nine months and we only heard about it the other day.”

“The issue is, we need more carparks, not less.

“Boaties on the way to the Sounds – if they can’t get a park, they keep driving,” Kristine says.

Council bosses says the idea was to help cut speeding through the town.

Metal planters were placed along the busy street in the past year but were removed due to vehicles crashing into them.

Marlborough District Council community advisor – Marlborough townships Adi James says the plans were revealed at a Smart and Connected gathering about a month ago.

But the initial idea was first put forward a few years ago.

Originally, Adi says plans were to line the street with large trees, however, that plan “stalled”, she says.

The latest proposal would help save money by “piggy backing” on current works fixing pipes along High Street.

Kristine says business owners are “sick” of the ongoing work along the streets.

She says the roadworks are costing her about $2000 per week in lost sales.

Adi says there is still the option to not go ahead with the project, but it is an “opportunity worth exploring”.

“There were some benefits with piggybacking,” she says.

Liquid Action owner Matt Broughan says the changes could potentially cost his business up to $50,000 a year in lost sales.

“It’s got a huge effect on local businesses,” Matt says.

“We’re all a bit blown away with it.

“To rush it through to save $100,000 – it could cost us much more.”

Matt says once the concrete planters are in, there’s no going back.

“We need the car parks desperately.”

Matt says he loves working in

Renwick and being a part of the community, but the consultation process surrounding the
proposed plans in Renwick was lacking input.

His “bottom-line” at the meeting was “no loss of car parks”.

“I’ve had a kick up the arse,” he says.

“I should have listened, but I’m prepared to put a positive effort in.”

Children’s toys and household rubbish, along with what should be beloved family pets are being discarded along the Port Underwood Rd. Photo: Supplied.

Sounds locals appalled by ‘ghastly’ dumping

Cruel pet owners have been ditching animals at a remote dump site – creating an illegal pet cemetery.

A concerned Port Underwood resident has discovered a dead dog with a gunshot wound as well as a cage of abandoned guinea pigs.

The woman, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, says the area has an “ongoing” illegal dumping problem.

Alongside children’s toys and household rubbish, what should be beloved family pets are being discarded, she says.

“It’s quite ghastly.

“It’s obviously a bach owner – they’ve just done a house up.

“There’s gib and wood panelling, but also pig skins and carcasses.

“Green waste is no biggy, but appliances, the big stuff, it’s costing us an arm and a leg.”

The dog was discovered last week amongst gib and other debris down a cliff from a skid site along the windy Port Underwood Road.

This follows the finding of a cage of black guinea pigs, some dead and some alive, found nearby a week earlier.

Police and the council have been contacted but claim there is nothing they can do.

“Police say they can’t do anything without a registration number.

“Council say it’s out of their jurisdiction,” she says.

“The locals want it to stop.

“It’s tragic to see the amount of people affected by the rubbish.”

A council spokesman says “flytipping” is a problem in the Marlborough Sounds “from time to time”.

“The council sympathises with landowners who suffer from flytipping, but the onus is usually on them to remove any rubbish dumped on

their property,” the spokesman says.

“The Council operates seven transfer stations throughout Marlborough and people are encouraged to take their waste there.”

The spokesman says council is trialling free tip days at transfer stations in an effort to reduce illegal dumping across the district.

“We will follow up with this landowner and see if we can assist,” he says.

The council spokesman says council have been trialling free dump days at the Picton Transfer Station and at Foxs Island in Renwick in a bid to clamp down on illegal dumping.

The free tipping excludes green waste and is limited to one vehicle load.

He says the trial will extend to the Blenheim Transfer Station before the end of the year.

Anyone with information about illegal dumping can call the council on 03 520 7400.

The spokesman says the council will prosecute offenders if they are caught.

Wine Station manager Michelle Osgood is looking for food truck chefs. Photo: Matt Brown.

An appetite for food truck comp

A Blenheim business owner is looking for food truck chefs to pit their wits and cooking talents against others.

The Wine Station in Blenheim will host an inaugural battle of food trucks in a bid to find the best food truck in the Top of the South.

Station manager Michelle Osgood says the event will also take advantage of 2020’s ‘extra Saturday’, falling on February 29.

She has been mulling over the ‘The Food Truck Off; Battle of the Whangamoas’ for around six months.

“We have had a lot of food truck events in the last two years, since we have been open, and we just wanted something that would sort of bring some different people to town,” she says.

“We also just wanted to get people together and have a street event, and that was the only way to do it.”

Open to food trucks based in Marlborough and Nelson, Michelle is hoping to attract around 20 to 30 operators.

A trophy is being made and donated by Havelock copper artist Tony Matthews, and attendees will be invited to vote for their favourite food truck.

“The idea is that maybe it will become a four-yearly event,” Michelle says.

It is also hoped that the event will attract more people to the region.

“I sort of envision that the food trucks will also get their followers to come along; the more of your own followers you have got, the more votes you’re going to get.”

Entry to the event will cost $10, with funds raised going to the Blenheim Rotary Club.

Running from 12pm and 7pm, it is hoped the event will appeal to both lunch and dinner time crowds, Michelle says.

“It’s really cool. I’m pretty excited, and I’m overwhelmed at how excited other people are,” Michelle says.

“It’s an extra Saturday that no one knew they had.”

Those interested in entering The Food Truck Off could contact Michelle directly via The Wine Station’s Facebook page, or via email; [email protected]

Jane Kinsey oversees Mental Health Addiction and Disability Support Services. Photo: Supplied.

Mental health service under pressure from meth

The pressure is piling on mental health services as methamphetamine addicts seek crisis help.

Mental health services are coming under extra pressure as the number of people becoming addicted to the dangerous drug increases.

Health bosses hope to unroll a new, intensive outpatient treatment initiative before Christmas to help tackle the growing issue.

A report to members of Nelson Marlborough Health Board revealed use of the drug is a “significant cause or concern” for a service already feeling the squeeze.

Nelson Marlborough Health chief executive Peter Bramley revealed mental health services have experienced a high demand.

In a report to the district health board last week, he wrote: “The service welcomed our new psychiatrist to the CAT (mental health community assessment team) team.

“This is the first time the team has had a dedicated medical support which we trust will make a huge difference…

“We still have four vacancies in our teams … this unfortunately means we are heavily reliant on medical locums to give service coverage.”

General manager Mental Health Addiction and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey says she has noticed more people needing their help.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug available in pill, powder, crystal or liquid forms and has serious social, economic and even environmental consequences.

“We are certainly noticing more people seeking help and that’s good but there is a definite upward trend.

“As meth becomes become more embedded in the community it’s become more chronic –  and it’s harmful effects.

“Our referrals are increasing because of the demand. We want to be able to respond as quickly as we can,” she says.

A new drug treatment initiative based on a successful American outpatient initiative, the Matrix Model, will hopefully be rolled out in Nelson later this year.

Plans to expand the service to Marlborough next are in the pipeline.

Jane says the impact of the drug is making mental health issues worse in some cases.

“It makes any health issue worse, both physically and mentally. We hear some very sad stories.

“When people present with meth, we really want to respond before they change their minds.

“The ambition is to make contact and give them some ideas and strategies as soon as possible,” says Jane.

The first point of contact for anyone seeking help with methamphetamine addiction should be their GP.