There are around 400 RSE workers in Marlborough helping finish this year's vintage. Photo: Matt Brown.

Praise for vintage workers who helped region ‘dodge bullet’

Marlborough’s mayor is paying tribute to the region’s wine workers for their handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

John Leggett is praising the local wine industry for successfully handling the 2020 vintage under extreme circumstances.

And with early indications of a successful vintage, the relieved mayor says the industry has helped Marlborough dodge another potential disaster.

“Wine is a very substantial contributor to the overall prosperity of Marlborough so I’m relieved that this is one COVID bullet that we’ve managed to dodge,” he says.

Wineries across the region had to adopt stringent health and hygiene regimes to move ahead with harvest as lockdown began.

Overseas workers, harvest crews and transport operators have been isolated from their families in many cases.

With wine making up a fifth of Marlborough’s economy, it was vital the vintage went well, mayor Leggett says.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says a successful vintage has helped the region dodge a bullet. Photo: File.

“Everyone has been under huge pressure to get the grapes in, aware that a Covid-19 outbreak could knock down the workforce at any moment.

“It’s to the industry’s credit that harvest is drawing to a close without incident and, by all accounts, it’s a highly successful vintage,

“Vintage is always an intense time for our wineries with everything dependent on the weather, but this year the wineries have faced extra pressure.

“When the vintage goes well, it’s good news for our whole region.”

The ongoing crisis would make “life difficult” for the industry, says mayor Leggett as many international wine trade events and marketing opportunities are postponed.

“It will be a time for innovative marketing and, given our industry reputation and relationships, I’m confident that the strong Marlborough brand will prove its worth,” he says.

There are currently around 400 overseas workers in Marlborough on temporary visas.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment are doing their best to ensure some certainty for temporary migrants, a spokeswoman says.

“An Epidemic Management Notice relating to immigration matters came into effect from 2 April 2020.

“This means that holders of a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 have had their visas automatically extended until 25 September 2020.

“This includes RSE workers who were in New Zealand on 2 April.”

The old nurses' home at Wairau Hospital has had it's demolition put on hold as New Zealand battles Covid-19. Photo: Matt Brown.

$1million demolition to go ahead ‘when practicable’

Covid-19 has bought demolition work on one of Blenheim’s oldest heritage buildings to a halt.

The derelict Wairau nurses’ home is all but destroyed, with only the front façade remaining.

But a Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman says work on the $1 million project will continue “when practicable.”

Work on the red-brick facility in the grounds of Wairau Hospital was expected to be completed by March.

The nurses’ home has lain empty for almost six years, costing health bosses around $30,000 to keep the building fenced off.

“The demolition is largely completed – just the front-facing façade to come down now,” the spokeswoman says.

Concerns over asbestos and seismic rating issues meant the former home would cost too much to address accessibility and fire safety problems.

Nelson Marlborough District Board staff decided demolition was ultimately a better use of public health funds.

The missing rugby ball bought in South Africa was a gift from Dylan North's godmother. Photo: Supplied.

Plea for special rugby ball to be returned

A young rugby fan is hoping to be reunited with a very special gift that’s vanished during lockdown.

Eight-year-old Dylan North, who moved from South Africa to Blenheim four years ago, was given a Springboks rugby ball from his godmother.

But the precious ball, which features the final quarter scores on it, has disappeared from outside his home near Alana and Milford Streets in Witherlea.

His mother Delicia North is imploring for anyone who may have seen the ball to get in touch.

“This ball is very special to my son and was kicked over our fence into the street. Someone must have picked it up.

“The ball has special meaning to him as it’s his home country ball and they are the World Cup Champs.

“He loves that ball and hardly every plays with it as it’s a keepsake,” she says.

A devoted Springboks and All Black supporter, Dylan was playing outside with his mum and 4-year-old brother who kicked it over the fence on 10 April.

But it wasn’t until later that night that they realised the ball, worth around $36 Kiwi dollars, had gone.

“We always throw ball and love the outdoors.

“The ball was kicked over by my 4-year-old and he forgot to tell us straight away to go fetch it.

“When we started looking for it later the night, we realised it’s missing and my 4-year-old said his sorry he didn’t come tell us sooner.

“Dylan absolutely loves rugby and he equally loves the Springboks and All Blacks.

“As he is from South Africa, having them win the world cup meant the world to him,” Delicia says.

It was Delcia who brought the ball to Blenheim after she visited South Africa in January.

Dylan’s godmother gave it to her as a gift to take home for her oldest son.

Delicia says the ball can only be bought in South Africa and is hoping someone may have found the Gilbert World Cup Champions ball.

It would mean the world to him to have it back,” she says.

If you have found the ball and would like to help get it back to Dylan, please email [email protected]

A Covid-19 sign at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Five days without more Marlborough Covid-19 cases

For the fifth day in a row, there are no new cases of Covid-19.

The number of new and probable cases in New Zealand rose by 17 to a total of 1,366.

But numbers in Marlborough have stayed static at 48.

Speaking a few minutes ago, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield say he believes the peak number of cases has passed.

But as the number of Covid-19 deaths rises to a total of nine he has asked for District Health Boards across the country to work with aged care facilities where vulnerable residents are at particular risk.

A low threshold is also in place to ensure maximum testing for the contagious virus.

“We want to be sure we are not missing cases. We would rather overtest than under test at this stage quite frankly,” he says.

More to follow

Shearer Angus Moore checks out his new lease Hyundai as part of his prize. Photo: Supplied.

Shearer’s tribute to community who helped him take top title

A shearer who became hooked on the craft after showing up late for his first competition has taken out one of New Zealand’s top shearing titles.

Angus Moore from Seddon won the PGG Wrightson Wool National Shearing Circuit Championship earlier this month, just before lockdown.

The father of five says it’s the people he’s met along the way who helped him on the path to success.

Angus has come out on top of the National Shearing Circuit, a series of regional shearing competitions that culminated at the Golden Shears Championships.

There are many people he wants to thank for helping him take out the top spot, he says.

“Big thanks to all who have helped me along the way and who work hard to make our industry possible.

“The experience of travel is a draw card, so I have met and worked with farm owners, shepherds, presses, wool handlers, shearers, cooks and runabouts from all over NZ.

“At The Paki station in the far north and Invercargill, and around the Catlins in the south, I have learned a little from you even if you never meant to teach.

“You are fantastic and there always seems to be fun, laughter and keenness to learn.”

Angus and wife Ratapu are expecting their sixth child in May. Together, the pair who met on the circuit, run Moore Sheep Shearing Ltd.

Brought up on a family farm in Kekerengu then Ward. Angus was Head Boy at Marlborough Boys’ College in 2002 and spent his teenage years wool handling in the holidays.

He went on to complete a shearing course run by Meat and Wool New Zealand under the tuition of instructor and later MP Colin King.

But it wasn’t until he took part in his first shearing competition that he really caught the bug, he says.

“My first show was November 2003 in Blenheim. I hadn’t done a full day’s work and arrived late due to playing in the pipe band. I made the final, came 3rd and I was hooked.

“My first experience of the Golden shears was with Nathan Stratford in 2005 where I managed to make intermediate final and came 3rd.

“It was a week that I won’t forget. I had heard about the Golden Shears but the experience was much more than I could have imagined.

“Everyone loved and breathed the wool Industry and we’re so amazingly passionate about it,” Angus says.

But without the support of his sponsors, none of his achievements would be possible, he says.

“Big thanks to PGG Wrightson and Hyundai for their massive sponsorship and recognition of the commitment we all make to compete.

“It will be an honour to compete for my country and I look forward to all the opportunity this prize offers.”

Covid-19 precautions have seen some shoppers have to queue. Photo: File

Supermarket bosses bid to cut queues as weather cools

Countdown stores in Marlborough will open for longer from tomorrow in a bid to help combat queues as the weather cools down.

Stores across the country will be changing their opening hours from tomorrow and will open from 8am to 8pm.

And priority shopping for emergency service staff and medical workers will now move to 7am.

Countdown’s general manager health and safety Kiri Hannifin says the change in hours will hopefully help cut down customer queuing.

“We’ve extended the opening hours of our stores to give our customers more time to do their shopping, especially as the weather starts to cool and the evenings are darker,” she says.

Safer measures put in place during lockdown to protect staff and customers from the threat of Covid-19 means customers have had to wait longer outside some stores.

“This has in some instances led to queues but we’re hoping extended trading hours will help ease this a little.,” says Kiri.

“We also hope the earlier start time of our priority shopping hour will work better for those emergency workers and medical personnel working shifts.

The priority shopping hour is available to NZ Police, Fire Service, ambulance paramedics, DHBs, hospital and medical personnel with proper ID.

A plan to stamp out stoats from D'Urville Island was signed during the Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: Rod Morris/www.rodmorris.co.nz

Sayonara stoats: D’Urville’s $3.1m plan signed

History has been made during lockdown as a multi-million-dollar deal is signed to stamp out stoats.

There was little fanfare to mark the milestone occasion as the culmination of 16 years work was signed in just a few seconds.

A six-year funding commitment will see a combination of old-school techniques and technology help wipe-out stoats from New Zealand’s fifth largest island.

The 16,782-hectare D’Urville Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, is free of ship rats, Norway rats, possums and weasels.

Now, $3.1 million has been committed to stamping out stoats on the island.

D’Urville Island Stoat Eradication Charitable Trust (DISECT), Predator Free 2050 Limited, Rātā Foundation, Marlborough District Council, the NZ Lotteries Grant Board and landowners have all pledged their support.

Oliver Southerland and Angela Fitchett signing the Marlborough District Council agreement at a carefully prepared COVID-19 signing station. Photo: Supplied.

DISECT co-chair Oliver Sutherland says the moments mark the start of an opportunity to “reverse the history of wildlife loss.”

The project will use a variety of traps and lures, including automated luring with an egg mayo mix, as well as smart detection techniques such as cameras and DNA analysis.

Stoats have caused the local extinction of little spotted kiwi, yellow-crowned kākāriki and South Island kākā and threaten an important population of South Island long-tailed bats/ pekapeka.

Predator Free 2050 Limited chief executive Ed Chignell says the project will provide an important boost to the national Predator Free 2050 effort.

“This is a challenging and ambitious project with a lot at stake for wildlife and important opportunities for innovation and learning,” he says.

The government-owned funder is providing $975,000 and facilitating expertise from other projects around the country.

Marlborough District Council Mayor John Leggett says the restoration of wildlife could open new nature-based jobs and opportunities for the island.

D’Urville Island is New Zealand’s fifth largest island. Photo: Tamzin Henderson/ Driftwood Ecotours.

The council is providing $500,000 of support through its biosecurity programme.

Department of Conservation Sounds operations manager Dave Hayes says DOC has been providing technical advice to the project.

“We are pleased to support this community led initiative and will be continuing to provide expert advice and input throughout its duration of the project.”

Special attention will be given to trapping on the mainland within five kilometres of D’Urville and establishing a surveillance network to quickly detect any incursions across the narrow channel from French Pass.

Field work is expected to start towards the end of this year.

Dr Nick Baker is appealing for people with existing or new medical issues to seek help if they need it. Photo: File

No new Covid-19 cases in Marlborough

There are no new cases of Covid-19 in Marlborough for the fourth day in a row.

The number of cases across Nelson Marlborough DHB is 48 with 12 confirmed cases and nine probable cases in Marlborough.

There are 19 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, taking the total number to 1349.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says 546 people across the country who had Covid-19 have now recovered, 75 more people than yesterday.

The news as comes as Nelson Marlborough Health officials appeal to people not to delay seeking help for other new or existing health conditions.

A delay in getting help could see little problems develop into major issues, warns Nelson Marlborough Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Baker.

“We have seen cases recently where people have put off getting health care and illnesses have got worse.

“What may start as a minor issue could become serious if you leave it too long,” he says.

“Please don’t wait until the end of weekends, public holidays, or until the end of the lockdown period, to seek medical attention,” he says.

For more information about where to get healthcare in the Nelson Marlborough region, go to: www.nmdhb.govt.nz/healthcare/

People with new or existing health worries should not delay in getting medical help and advice, doctors warn. Photo: File

Get medical help if needed implore health bosses

People with health problems are leaving it too late to get help, putting themselves at risk during lockdown medical bosses warn.

Health care professionals are urging people not to put off seeking medical help for problems that could become a bigger risk if not treated.

Nelson Marlborough healthcare professionals say people should call their doctor or practice nurse if they are sick in a bid to stop medical problems becoming more serious.

A delay in getting help because of fears about leaving isolation could see little problems develop into major issues, warns Nelson Marlborough Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Baker.

“We have seen cases recently where people have put off getting health care and illnesses have got worse.

“What may start as a minor issue could become serious if you leave it too long,” he says.

“Please don’t wait until the end of weekends, public holidays, or until the end of the lockdown period, to seek medical attention.”

GP clinics, health centres, Healthline, urgent care centres, pharmacies and emergency departments are open during lockdown.

“People can contact their local urgent care clinic or call the general Healthline number for advice.

“For emergencies, people shouldn’t hesitate to call 111 or go to a hospital emergency department.

“Our teams are there to provide care and that hasn’t changed during the Covid-19 response or lockdown period,” says Dr Baker.

Acting Chief Executive of Nelson Bays Primary Health Karen Winton encourages anyone to call their GP clinic for advice.

She says older people should be especially vigilant and reach out for help if they need it. Help is at hand, she says.

“These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures. But the message is clear, general practice (your family doctor) and urgent care centres are open for business, even if that business is delivered in a slightly different way.

“If you are over 70 and not meant to be leaving your home during the lockdown period, please call your GP first for a phone assessment.

“If you need to be seen, come in and they will make sure you are safe when you visit.

“Using a car to seek essential health care is allowed, and the sooner you are assessed, the better your health outcome will usually be.”

During lockdown, patients are being offered consultations over the phone, email or video call.

But people should not be afraid to leave their bubble for help if needed, with medical staff on hand to help. Patients will be seen in person if they need to be.

Dr Baker emphasises people should not delay seeking help for urgent needs due to fear of leaving their bubble and being at risk of being infected with COVID-19.

“New Zealand hospitals follow international best practice for infection prevention.

“Things will look different when you go to an after-hours clinic or ED. You may be screened – asked questions about your symptoms – at the door for example, given a mask to wear, or assessed in a cabin outside of the main building.

“These are all precautions to keep you and others safe from infection,” he says.

For more information about where to get healthcare in the Nelson Marlborough region, go to: www.nmdhb.govt.nz/healthcare/

A Covid-19 sign at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

No new Covid-19 cases in region for two days

There have been no new Covid-19 cases in the Nelson Marlborough region since 9 April.

Health bosses say 26 people have now recovered from the virus.

The total cases for Marlborough remians 12 confirmed and 9 probable.

Nelson has 21 confirmed cases and 6 probable.

More than 1000 people have been assessed and 600 tested in Marlborough, Nelson and Motueka.

All cases are travel-related and there is no evidence of community outbreak.