A dead possum in a tree at Liz Davidson Place. Photo: Matt Brown.

Young mum’s gruesome find

Dead animals hanging in trees in the Blenheim central business district proved a shocking sight for a young mother.

A dead rabbit holding a wine bottle and three dead possums adorned the trees at Liz Davidson Park on Queen St horrified a mother-of-one after visiting a pet shop.

Jesse Smith and her two-year-old son stumbled across the macabre scene on Wednesday.

“It was horrible,” Jesse says.

“It must have been done as a funny joke, but it’s not funny at all.

“Blenheim is a nice place and it’s not a nice thing to see.”

SPCA spokeswoman Sarah Hitchings says there were no complaints or evidence of an offence, but the scene was “unusual”.

“It is unusual and not something we see very often,” Sarah says.

“While the scene is distasteful, there is no evidence of an animal welfare offence.

“These animals were likely roadkill and have been staged to evoke a response from the public.

“However, if someone came forward with evidence these animals being killed inhumanely or in breach of the leghold trap provisions, then we could investigate the manner in which the animals died.”

The dead animals were cleaned up by Marlborough Roads, who manage the park.

Sharlese with son Luka-Paul Cunniffe-Tait. Photo: Supplied.

Community rallies for Sharlese

A young mum battling bowel cancer has been told the deadly disease has spread even further.

Sharlese Turnbull-Tait, 34, from Blenheim has stage 4 bowel cancer which spread to her lungs.

Now doctors have discovered a new tumour and Sharlese faces further radiation treatment to ease the pain.

Her family hoped to raise enough money for an alternative treatment but now need funds to help with medical bills and costs.

They have organised a rally in a bid to raise money and hope people will support them.

“She cannot accept alternative treatment because she has a very unique type of mutated metastatic cancer.

“A tumour has returned in her surgery site which is causing her pain but she’s heading down to Christchurch to get some radiation treatment for 10 days so she can be a bit more comfortable.

“The Rally to raise some money to pay for her medical bills, prescriptions and hopefully a holiday,” Kelsie says.

Mainly confined to her bed, Sharlese is being cared for at home by her family who are also looking after her children, Luka-Paul Cunniffe-Tait,10, and Ellazae Cunniffe-Tait, 3.

“The family have all cut work hours to help with the kids and caring for her.

“Mum will be her primary caregiver but unfortunately she has to work also during that time which is pretty tough on her emotionally and definitely financially,” Kelsie says.

Rally for Hope will be held on 4 April taking drivers from Blenheim to Lake Rotoiti.  A car and bike show will be held first at Waterlea Racecourse.

The show will be open to the public between 9 and 11am. There will be a cash raffle too.

To register a vehicle for the display or rally text 0212581213 with your full name and licence plate number or visit the Rally for Hope Facebook page.

Donations can be made by searching the Givealittle website and searching ‘Sharlese’.

Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin says the company will build the roundabout, then seek costs through development contributions. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR.

Ever increasing circles as new roundabout gets approval

Blenheim is to get another roundabout to help pacify council ahead of a possible 367-house development.

Thirty hectares of mostly vineyard land on the west side of Battys Rd has been rezoned residential.

But Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin says a roundabout must be installed at the intersection before any subdivision can take place.

Marlborough Roads are set to pay for the addition, with costs being recouped from developers.

Environment plan panel member and councillor David Oddie says commissioners proposed developers would cover the costs of installing the Battys Rd and New Renwick Rd intersection roundabout.

“I’m not quite sure how that works, but that was what the proposal said.”

But Steve says he understood Marlborough Roads would build the roundabout, and then seek costs from development contributions.

The roundabout would cater for increased traffic movements from any new housing development, and “some existing pressures”.

Design work on the roundabout has already begun, which could see land purchased to allow it to go ahead.

New subdivisions could be developed by Burleigh Estate Ltd, which owned 14.8ha of the rezoned 30ha, or by their neighbours, the Marris Family Trust, which owned the remaining 16.8ha.

The Marris Family Trust are yet to decide to go ahead with any development.

Speaking on behalf of the Trust, Donna Marris says the trust was aware there would need to be “traffic considerations, including potentially a roundabout solution”, before developments took place.

Burleigh Estate Ltd spokesman Norman Clifford says a roundabout has been needed for “some time”.

“It’s the main road used to get from the south to north of town. It was a very wise decision from the plan’s panel,” he says.

The deadline for appeals on the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan had been pushed out to April 16, after delays in getting the full and finalised version of the plan out last week.

Anastasia Brown and Caleb Mischeski finally have the keys to their new home. Photo: Matt Brown.

Fresh start for couple burnt by fraudsters

For a young Blenheim couple, it was a day they didn’t think they’d see.

Last year, Anastasia Brown and Caleb Mischeski fell foul of defunct building company Rose Built Homes.

Now the delighted pair have finally moved into their dream three-bedroom house.

Blenheim’s Peter Ray Homes took on the build at the last minute to “help Anastasia out”.

“We’re so excited to be finally in our own home,” Anastasia says.

“Peter Ray have been fabulous – we couldn’t have done it without them,” she says.

The pair, armed with their new-found knowledge of the building industry, are warning others looking to build to verify the company’s reputations.

“Ask people around town,” Anastasia says.

“There’s always talk around the town.”

Rose Built Homes folded in September leaving Marlborough businesses $1.6 million out of pocket.

Anastasia and Caleb paid a $101,000 deposit to Rose Built Homes. All they got for their money was the foundations and the house frame.

They’re down about $50,000, Anastasia says.

Appointed liquidator Brenton Hunt says the former owners, Ryan Butler and Kyle Payne were treating the company as a “personal cash cow”.

He branded the case “one of the worst” he has seen in 25-years, with creditors unlikely to see any money back.

Anastasia says the first sign of trouble at her build was when scaffolding was pulled down.

Then, overdue bills saw a skip on the building site emptied on where the couple’s front lawn would be.

“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.

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency management officer Gary Spence. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Mayor tipped over the edge

Marlborough’s Emergency Response Team tipped the region’s mayor over the edge last week – but all for a good cause.

Strapped into a stretcher, mayor Leggett was lowered from a height of 4.1metres as he was rescued from the fire station training tower in Blenheim.

Playing the part of a casualty, mayor Leggett joked he had checked his will.

“I did think about checking whether it was up to date,” he says

Members of Marlborough Emergency Response Team train regularly to prepare for possible disaster.

Mayor John Leggett was in safe hands as he was lowered to the ground. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
Mayor John Leggett was in safe hands as he was lowered to the ground. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Part of their training includes ground-based rescue, structural search, flood response and casualty recovery.

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency management officer Gary Spence was on hand to talk the audience through the stages of a rescue.

Fire, ambulance and police personnel watched on in interest.

“It’s about keeping the team safe and getting the casualty out of there, he says.

Mayor Leggett agreed to play the part of a casualty with possible neck or spinal injuries.

Crews carefully transferred him into the stretcher by sliding it underneath while he was moved in a blanket.

“I felt very safe, very secure,” he says.

The Marlborough team make up part of 750 emergency personnel throughout the country.

Gary says the 24-strong team are unique in that they don’t just undertake rescues but help support Fire and Emergency New Zealand setting up mobile civil defence centres.

“Other responsibilities include performing evacuations; they are qualified to do cordons and roadblocks so it’s a team that can really fit lots of different areas and different roles.

“The reason that we’re interested in showcasing what we’re doing tonight is that rescue is one of half a dozen things that we do, so that some of the other emergency services can see that this perhaps can be a resource they can look into.”

SPCA centre manager Donna Sollogar with kitten Duffy. Photo: Paula Hulburt

Going the extra mile

Brother and sister Jack and Jill have been at the SPCA centre since December last year. Photo: Paula Hulburt

An animal charity has taken delivery of some new arrivals sent to Marlborough in a bid to find new homes.

The SPCA centre in Renwick has welcomed in seven kittens and cats from the Christchurch rescue hub which is swamped with strays.

Centre manager Donna Sollogar says she hopes people will come out to Foxes Island to meet the new arrivals for themselves.

“We’ve taken some in to help with the backlog. They help us out when we’re really busy so it’s only right to return the favour,” she says.

Staff are also looking for permanent homes for some of the centre’s longer term residents.

“Some have been born here and just get overlooked as new kittens arrive.

“Many have been at foster homes and are well handled and used to children.

“They’re really friendly and mainly very confident,” Donna says.

Siblings Jack and Jill have been at the SPCA since December and the pair have been in one of the centre’s two kitten units the longest.

Both are desexed and ready for adoption.

“They’re both really sweet and while Jack’s a bit more reserved he’s very affectionate,” says Donna.

Another sibling pair looking for home are Lemon and Lime. White-furred Lemon (white) is partially blind and relies on her sister Lime for support.

The pair share a close bond and need a quiet home where they can live as inside cats.

“People are welome to call in to see us during opening hours or give us a call.

“We’d love to see all these lovely animals find a new home,” Donna says.

The SPCA is at 31 Foxes Island Road and is open Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm and from 10am until 2pm on a Sunday.

Save Kōwhai Pā event organiser Keelan Walker says the land is of great importance. Photo: Supplied.

Hui to help protect heritage site

Worried iwi have gathered to debate the best way to protect one of New Zealand’s most important heritage sites.

Iwi want to see development work at Kōwhai Pā stopped pending an official investigation.

The significant site belongs to Rangitāne, Ngāti Toarangatira and Ngāti Rārua. It is close to the Wairau Bar and is one of the first places humans settled in the country 800 years ago.

Grapegrowers in Marlborough are accused of disturbing the ancient Māori burial sites with new vines.

Work should cease, say iwi, until an investigation by New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (HNZPT) in completed.

On Saturday, supporters gathered at a hui to discuss the best way forward.

Save Kōwhai Pā event organiser Keelan Walker says the land is of great importance.

“Our wahi tapu, our urupa, our burial grounds are all out there.

“It’s about bringing people out here to introduce them to the history and significance of this area,” he says.

Much of Kōwhai Pā is owned by grapegrowers Montford Corporation.

Director Haysley MacDonald is also an elected trustee at Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne o Wairau, and director of te Pā Wines.

The company does not have permission to use parts of the land commercially without permission from HNZTP.

“If I’m found to be wrong, nothing’s damaged. If he [Hasley MacDonald] is found to be wrong he’s just destroyed our heritage,” says Keelan.

In a statement released on Friday, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua urge their relationship with the ancestral lands be recognised.

“We have also engaged with the other iwi associated with this site, and we welcome the opportunity for further dialogue,” it says.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua says it acknowledges that investigations are ongoing.

But all activities that could be harmful need to stop now, it says.

“We urge that HNZPT to take this statement into consideration with urgency, to recognise the relationship with the ancestral lands, wāhi tapu, and other taonga, as presented by Ngati Rarua to the Waitangi Tribunal. “

Resident Richard Peterson was one of many who opposed the plan. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR.

Gravel plans withdrawn

Plans to extract gravel from a Wairau Valley riverbed have been withdrawn.

Marlborough Ready Mix Limited lodged a resource consent earlier this year with Marlborough District Council, asking to use a village lane to access a river site for four to six weeks each year.

Thirty-one residents opposed the resource consent, concerned the works could be a safety risk, prevent river access, generate noise and dust, and damage the environment.

The company had hoped to use Church Lane to extract up to 20,000 cubic metres of aggregate a year from “gravel island beaches” along the Wairau River.

A council spokesman confirmed the application had been withdrawn by the company.

Lockdown has made it easier for police officers to spot people breaking the law, says senior community constable Russell Smith. Photo: File

Police thwart cannabis op

Police have uncovered a sophisticated cannabis growing operation following a search of two Marlborough properties.

Officers executed two search warrants last week that netted a significant quantity of cannabis that was being grown in commercial quantities.

A firearm was also seized at one of the homes and investigations are still underway.

Senior community constable Russ Smith says 124 plants were found in a series of indoor grow rooms at a rural property in Queen Charlotte Drive.

“A total of 124 mostly mature cannabis plants were in a series of indoor grow rooms with sophisticated filtration and lighting systems.

“A firearm was also seized.  Police are still investigating but are considering laying charges against two individuals occupying the property,” he says.

Thirty-eight mature cannabis plants and 139 grams of dried plant were seized at another rural property west of Havelock.

Police know that those who grow cannabis commercially do business with organised crime groups, says Russ.

“The sale of their crops contributes to crime by helping to fund criminal activity.

“As a consequence, police will act whenever there is evidence of illicit activity relating to cannabis and any other illegal drug possession, cultivation, dealing, manufacture or use.

“If you are aware of cannabis or any other drug activity, please contact the police so that we can do something about it.”

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111, call the Police non-emergency number 105, or speak to any police officer.

David Bendell with wife Vicki at the Melbourne Cup in 2017. Photo: Supplied.

‘A legacy no one will forget’

A much-loved husband and dad, who played a key part in shaping New Zealand’s hairdressing industry, has died.

David Bendell, 70, died at home near Picton on 19 February surrounded by his family.

The popular business owner and author leaves behind his wife Vicki and children Sophia, Lucy, Hunter and Amber.

Paying tribute to her husband, Vicki says he had lived his life to the full.

“David left a legacy which no one will forget.

“He doted on the children and was there for them every single day; enjoying in summer the water sports, fishing and going out for picnics on the boat.

“He had wonderful passions in life, adored his children and was so proud of them, Sophia, Lucy and Amber with their international dancing competitions and Hunter with his harrier running and mountain biking.

The keen runner had recently celebrated 50 consecutive years with the Wellington and Marlborough Harriers Club.

Originally from England, David was chosen by a talent scout looking for qualified hairdressers to teach in New Zealand and moved to Wellington.

He taught thousands of students over the next three decades and is credited with developing the syllabus and trade certificates for would-be hairdressers.

David spent his later years living in the Marlborough Sounds running the Waterfront Bed and Breakfast in Little Ngakuta Bay.

“David and I enjoyed hosting guests at our boutique bed and breakfast and David would take great delight cooking up a full English breakfast.

“He was a great chef and cooked all the family meals every day, he loved creating different meals and had a few signature dishes while sipping on a glass of wine or a cold beer,” she says.

Her husband loved living his life on or near the water and his love for anything maritime was evident in his life, says Vicki.

“David would never crave a more urban or suburban existence, loving our slice of paradise, with its watery front lawn and ever-changing view.

“He also said “Some people have a lot of land, and we have a lot of sea”, “We have everything from superyachts to fishing boats on our front lawn”.

A keen adventurer who enjoyed travel, David skied every year in Queenstown and achieved 40 solo sky diving jumps.

He will be missed by many, says Vicki.

“We commend you David on a very full life, a life so well lived.”