Blenheim School principal Denyse Healy with St Andrew’s Craft Group members Dicky Willemsen and Raewyn Buchanan. Photo: Matt Brown.

Winter woollies welcome

A craft and knitting group are putting their passion to purpose by keeping young heads and feet warm this winter.

St Andrew’s Craft Group members knitted more than 100 winter woollies for Blenheim School pupils.

And Blenheim School principal Denyse Healy says the timing couldn’t have been better.

“With the start of the term we have our camps coming up,” she says.

Students will be heading off to Mistletoe Bay and Pine Valley, and in the cold weather the slippers “keep feet so warm”.

She says they will continue to be used throughout the term in class, to keep mucky boots of 93 children outside and combat winter chills.

St Andrew’s Craft Group member Raewyn Buchanan says their group love knitting and the finished product going to keep kids warm is a real bonus.

“We’re thrilled to give these to Blenheim School,” she says.

“We’ve made about 40 beanies and 60 pairs of slippers.

“Knitting doesn’t have to be expensive – I got two skeins from an opshop for $8 and I’ve made uncountable slippers from them,” Raewyn says.

Raewyn says the craft group has already begun on the next batch.

Marcelo Lopes, left, with sons Vitor, centre, and Lucas at their newly-rebranded Blenheim gym. Photo: Peter Jones.

Pandemic puts pressure on local martial arts instructor

The sign on Marcelo Lopes’ Blenheim gym wall says “Built Under Pressure”.

The slogan refers to the diamond, symbol of the SJJA Jiu Jitsu Academy, but could just as well apply to the latest ventures of the Marlborough martial arts instructor and his family.

Marcelo has recently joined forces with the Australian SJJA, spearheaded by multiple world champion Bruno Alves, a fellow Brazilian who is based in Sydney and now oversees 13 teaching bases across that country.

The Blenheim SJJA is the first in this country, with Marcelo re-branding his Stuart St-based martial arts organisation in line with the hugely successful Australian model.

Marcelo met Bruno two years ago and felt they were on the same wavelength regarding the type of programmes they could offer.

So, earlier this year they decided to join forces. Marcelo and his son Vitor were training in Australia, then competed at the Brisbane and

South East Queensland Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Championships, where they both picked up multiple gold and silver medals representing SJJA.

At the same time, Marcelo and Bruno were in the process of setting up another SJJA facility, this time on the Gold Coast. They had fitted out the gym when COVID-19 struck, leaving them high and dry. Fortunately they had not finalised their lease, so were able to put the project on hold without a crippling cost.

Most of the Lopes family remained in Australia during lockdown on the Gold Coast while elder son Lucas ran the Blenheim business until it was forced to close as the Kiwi lockdown kicked in.

Marcelo had plans to continue with on-line instruction, charging a small fee to keep some income flowing in. However, the company that organised on-going payments at the gym shut down completely, meaning he was unable to follow that plan through.

Undaunted, he and Vitor set up some instructional videos which they put on-line for free for five weeks. The Zoom classes had a large following, in both Australia and New Zealand.

As the effect of the virus lessened on both sides of the Tasman, Marcelo and Vitor were able to return home and re-opened their Blenheim gym in mid-May.

They closely followed spacing, sanitising and cleaning protocol for the first two weeks, but are now back to full-contact training.
Marcelo says class numbers are still not back to previous levels, suggesting some parents are not yet totally comfortable with close-contact work.

But he is confident numbers will grow, especially with the additional programmes and benefits gained through the Blenheim business’s association with their Aussie partners.

He plans to journey back to the Gold Coast when border restrictions are lifted and finish the work needed to open the new gym there.

“We have come back to New Zealand to regroup,” explained Marcelo, “[the virus] came at the worst possible time for us. It affected both our Gold Coast plans and the exciting new association with SJJA we have back in Blenheim. Things are picking up quickly though … diamonds are definitely built under pressure.”

Next up for Marcelo and his sons is the NZ national champs, their date yet to be confirmed.

Derek and Maureen Waller long to stay in New Zealand to be nearer to their family and friends. Photo: Matt Brown.

Rule change costs couple life in NZ

When Derek and Maureen Waller moved to New Zealand, they found happiness in the wake of tragedy.

The husband and wife, originally from England, were devastated when their only son died suddenly.

They made the move to Renwick to be closer to their daughter who had immigrated to New Zealand.

But now the couple may be forced to leave their family behind as they face deportation after five years of calling the community home.

It is a terrible blow say the stricken pair whose only grandchildren are in New Zealand.

‘We’re totally desperate about what to do next,” says Maureen. “We’re so well known in Renwick; it’s such a gorgeous community and people help each other out.

“It’s devastating and people keep asking us what we’ve done wrong.”

The couple lost their son David, 42, when he suffered a heart attack in 2011.

When their then son-in-law was headhunted for a job in Christchurch, they knew they had to leave the UK.

“We couldn’t lose both our children,” says Derek, a retired engineering teacher.”

Both had fallen in love with the country on previous holidays and were told by an independent immigration agent they would have no problem getting residency.

They arrived in New Zealand on a Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa and have spent $30,000 trying to get residency.

A change in rules after they arrived in the country meant they could only stay up to six months at a time, with a maximum total stay of 18 months in 3 years

Only a 1000 people a year can apply for residency under this scheme.

A last-ditch attempt to persuade immigration to let them stay failed and the pair have been told they have to leave in September.

“We fell in love with Marlborough, the climate and the people,” says Derek.

“Our 4-bedroom house means we have plenty of room for our daughter and grandchildren when they come and stay.

“We have private British pensions, have savings and pay for health care privately. We don’t rely on the government for anything.

“This has caused us both a lot of stress and worry.”

Both Derek, 76, and Maureen, 73, do volunteer work in Renwick, with Derek a committed member of the Men’s Shed.

“There are people who rely on us, people who are distraught for us,” says Maureen.

Under immigration rules, the couple must be sponsored to the tune of $160,000 a year.

After their daughter and son-in-law separated, the pair faced a shortfall in sponsorship.

But offers of additional financial sponsorship from friends have been turned down by immigration officials, says Derek.

“We’ve been told we’re out of options and will have to leave and go back to England in September.

“We have no idea how we will start again.”

Chairman of the Renwick Men’s Shed Rick Gleeson says Derek has been a valued member of the team since 2016.

“Derek has a lot of skills to contribute, is very passionate, loyal and always willing to help anybody or with anything that needs doing.

“It would be of great loss and sadness to myself, all of our MenzShed members and to the local community to lose Derek and his wife Maureen who also helps out a lot in our community, the Renwick School, one of the local Marae’s school and helping with our BBQ’s at Bunnings.”

Big changes ahead for Little Theatre

Over the decades, thousands of performers have trodden its boards, but Picton Little Theatre was on shaky ground.

The historic venue needs earthquake strengthening to bring the landmark building up to modern building codes.

And a funds boost from Marlborough District Council means vital reinforcing work looks likely to go ahead.

Committee Chair Carmen Gimpl helped secure a $7,000 grant from the annual plan this month to put towards theatre funds.

Combined with $5,000 left over from last year’s successful $26,000 bid, the charitable trust now has enough to approach other agencies for money.

“We’re keen to do it quickly.

“It [the theatre] constantly needs work so we really want to keep going while the momentum is there,” Carmen says.

From left, Chrissy Powlesland, Val Griffith-Jones, Joy Fletcher, Allison Hargrave, Sheira Hudson and Phil Crawford are looking forward to seeing the Little Theatre get some vital strengthening work done. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
From left, Chrissy Powlesland, Val Griffith-Jones, Joy Fletcher, Allison Hargrave, Sheira Hudson and Phil Crawford are looking forward to seeing the Little Theatre get some vital strengthening work done. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

To be eligible to approach agencies such as Rata for funds, the group must have $11,000 of the $33,000 needed to strengthen the building.

National Building Standards says if a building’s seismic resistance capacity is calculated as less than 34 per cent it is considered earthquake prone.

The engineer’s report gave the old theatre, built about 1886, a 26 per cent rating.

Reinforcing work will take around two weeks and should hopefully be finished by the end of the year, says Carmen.

The building hosts professional and amateur theatre, concerts, meetings, table tennis, dance classes and private functions.

Carmen says the 8-strong committee have great plans for the theatre.

“We put on 10 professional shows a year and really want to upgrade the bar area and see more people use the theatre.

“The theatre has been part of the town for a long time, so it makes sense to make sure it’s still here for generations to come.”

The committee have planned a Monster Garage Sale for 27 June to help raise funds for future improvements.

Carmen says it would be great if people can show their support by donating goods or turning up on the day.

Donations of household goods, tools, clothes and books can be dropped off on the day at the theatre on 9 Dublin Street or the night before between 4 and 6pm.

“Please come along and support the theatre and find out more about what we do too. We’d love more members,” Carmen says.

Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin at the soon-to-be upgraded roundabout near Redwoodtown. Photo: Matt Brown.

A roundabout solution to road safety

A solution to crashes at a notorious Blenheim roundabout could be rolled out across the region if it works.

Fourteen accidents, some serious, have happened at the roundabout at Alabama Road and Weld Street over the last five years.

Marlborough District Council’s Assets and Services committee have revealed plans to slow down traffic which comes at a social cost of about $550,000 a year.

Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin says the $300,000 raised roundabout and ramps will be used on all intersections to slow people down.

“Depending on the severity of the accident, the social costs can be huge in terms of ACC claims, time off work and hospital care.

“It’s not the most dangerous in terms of the number of accidents but they are more severe and something had to be done.”

Plans for the proposed roundabout upgrade. Photo: Supplied.

And after an 18-month trial period other potentially dangerous roundabouts on Weld Street, Seymour Street and Maxwell Road could get the same treatment.

This option will help to reduce vehicle speeds and improve facilities for walking and cycling, Steve says.

“The raised roundabout will create less of an impediment for heavy vehicles than other options, and it will also feature urban design treatments to reduce the impact to residents.

“A zebra crossing, with a speed indication sign is also proposed on the Alabama Road Western approach for the nearby school and sports grounds.

“This will further help to reduce the approach speed from this direction,” he says.

Following the Committee’s decision last week, Marlborough Roads will consult with nearby residents, school and businesses before a final design is completed.

Construction works could begin this summer.

A zebra crossing will also be put down on the roundabout exit closest to Redwoodtown School, with a speed indicator sign on approach.

Puro managing director Tim Aldridge. Photo: Supplied.

Medical cannabis company to grow job market

Marlborough’s fledgling marijuana industry could inject millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs into the region in its first year.

Bosses at Medical cannabis firm Puro have revealed growing the crop could bring in about $60 million dollars in the next two years.

It could also create more than 300 jobs once established, with the first intake set to start in October.

Puro managing director Tim Aldridge says the business will also create other jobs as it gets underway.

“Puro has the capacity to create in excess of 300 jobs once our long-term facilities are up and running, most of these will be at Kaikoura site.

“On top of this are the indirect jobs and construction employment that our infrastructure and development project will create,” he says.

Puro ran a successful crowd-funding campaign last year, raising $4million to establish the medicinal cannabis operation.

The company intends to grow medicinal cannabis in greenhouses in the Waihopai Valley and high-CBD (cannabidiol) hemp in Kekerengu, on the coast between Blenheim and Kaikōura.

“We estimate that over 95 per cent of our total product will contain no THC, 0.3 per cent or lower,” Tim says.

THC is the psychoactive compound of cannabis that is used to create a high.

“Our focus is towards CDB and other medically beneficial cannabinoids.”

The large, outdoor facility in Kaikoura is where most of our new jobs will be created, Tim says.

“Here we will have cultivation technicians that will work under supervision in roles based around plant sowing, harvesting, pruning and pest management.

“There will be supervisors overseeing these roles and specialists to work alongside them – plant pathologists, compost experts etc.

“These roles will be most suited for horticultural trained postgraduate students, or others with similar qualification and commercial experience,” he says.

The Kaikoura processing area will also have technicians for bucking, trimming, milling, and drying of the hemp flower.

“Following the processing, we will have roles for packaging and distribution to third party manufacturers.

“Our outdoor cultivation will come online in September with some workforce required prior to planting.

There will be multiple roles in the laboratory, research and cultivation divisions including cannabis horticulture, process management, compliance and packaging created at the indoor Waihopai glasshouses.

“We are ready to start planning as soon as our commercial cultivation license is received from the Ministry of Health, which is currently pending.”

“This is a multi-million-dollar economic boost for Marlborough and Kaikoura and our success will encourage other local businesses to entire this exciting and profitable market.”

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith is backing the business, saying it brings with it the chance for Marlborough to make its mark on the world stage as a cannabis producer.

“I understand the value in utilising our precious farmland for economic purposes, with the goal to better both the local and national community,” he says.

“…there is now an opportunity to bring a new land-based industry to Marlborough with the potential to cement Marlborough’s place on the world stage as a premium producer of medical cannabis products.”

Student Volunteer Army lead picker Alison Faulls will coordinate the volunteer shoppers in Marlborough. Photo: Matt Brown.

Student army wages war against virus one trolley at a time

Volunteer shoppers have mobilised in Marlborough in a bid to provide help for the elderly and infirm.

A shopping and delivery service for over 65’s, the medically vulnerable and healthcare workers, staffed by Student Volunteer Army volunteers, launched in the region today.

Student Volunteer Army lead picker Alison Faulls says they’ve had a great response from the community.

“We currently have 9 fully registered volunteers from a range of backgrounds, with the interview process ongoing,” Alison says.

Orders are placed online through the SVA website, then volunteers in full PPE pick the groceries at New World, which opens early especially for the volunteers, before delivering them to the door.

Consideration is given to those who are otherwise vulnerable on a case by case basis.

It is a completely contact-free process.

“We have to follow all the procedures staff at New World do,” Alison says.

Alison, a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment policy advisor, communicates with volunteers and the supermarket to ensure orders are picked up and meet the requirements of their customers.

“I’m the first point of contact for ensuring everything goes to plan,” she says.

Founded as a response to the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes the Student Volunteer Army work to provide community-based solutions and connection.

“I was drawn to the sense of community and the projects SVA ran, and volunteered with them from 2012 through to 2016,” Alison says.

Studying a Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering Management at University of Canterbury, Alison served as an SVA executive for her final two years and says she’s excited to be a part of the initiative in Marlborough.

“We’ve had some great buy in from the high schools here and I’ve heard the head students have been encouraging others to get involved.”

Founder Sam Johnson says this is humanity at its best.

“We have been astounded with the response to what we are doing, from those willing to join the SVA as volunteers, the individuals in the community that require our service, and also the general public sentiment who recognise the support we are providing for the most vulnerable.

The service will continue for as long as is required.

SVA Grocery orders can be placed at www.shop.sva.org.nz and volunteers can register to help at www.sva.org.nz.

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

Two new cases of Covid-19 in Marlborough

Two new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Marlborough.

A Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman says all cases are travel-related with no evidence of a community outbreak in the region.

The two new cases bring the Nelson Marlborough region’s total to 46, with 12 confirmed and 8 probable in Marlborough.

The number of new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand has decreased for the third day in a row, with 50 new and probable cases announced today, bringing the national total to 1210.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she remains cautiously optimistic that the country is “starting to turn a corner”.

“It’s all the more reason to stay the course of our self-isolation as a nation,” she says.

She says there are no plans to end the lockdown early.

Director General Ashley Bloomfield says four people are currently in intensive care across the country with Covid-19, two in a critical condition.

He says 282 people have recovered from the virus, 41 more people than yesterday.

More than 46,000 Covid-19 tests have been performed in the country to date with 4049 completed yesterday.

Warning people off travelling during Easter, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says police will be checking with motorists that their travel is essential.

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

One more Covid-19 case in Marlborough

A woman in her 40s has become the lastest to fall foul of Covid-19 in Marlborough.

Nelson Marlborough has confirmed one more probable case in the region as the total number of cases in Nelson Marlborough rises to 30.

But a patient who has spent the last few days in isolation at Wairau Hospital has been discharged after making a good recovery.

Across New Zealand there are now 868 confirmed and probable cases, with latest figures showing 103 patients have recovered.

A Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman says there are also two more cases in Nelson.

This comes after 52 people were assessed in Blenheim yesterday and 14 swabs taken for testing.

Nine people across Nelson Marlborough have recovered from the virus.

Blenheim at the beginning of lockdown. Photo: Matt Brown.

What’s open in Marlborough?

There is still confusion around just what business classes as an essential service – so we made a list of businesses operating through the lockdown.

By no means extensive, the following list will hopefully prove useful.

If you know of or run a business that is operating through level 4 lockdown restrictions, and want to be added to this list, please email [email protected]

 

Postal services

Mail will continue to be delivered and couriers are delivering items, but many New Zealand-based online stores are not dispatching items during the lockdown period.

 

Supermarkets

New World (Daily 9am – 8pm)

Pak’n’Save (Daily 8am – 9pm)

Countdown

  • Town (Daily 9am – 8pm)
  • Redwoodtown (Daily 9am – 8pm)
  • Springlands (Daily 9am – 8pm)

Four Square – Spring Creek (Daily 7.30am – 7pm)

Williams Green Grocers (Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm)

 

Petrol Stations

Z

  • Grove Road (24hrs)
  • Redwood (Daily 6am-10pm)
  • Springlands (Daily 6am-12am)
  • Picton (24hrs)

NPD (Daily 6am-10pm)

Caltex (24hrs)

Mobil (24hrs)

GAS Picton (6.30am – 10pm)

 

Pharmacies

Wairau Pharmacy – 03-578 6022

Life Pharmacy – 03-578 5228

Community Care Pharmacy (in the Warehouse) – 03-579 1751

Poswillo’s Pharmacy – 03-578 9022

Unichem Springlands Pharmacy – 03-578 2271

Unichem Redwoodtown Pharmacy – 03-578 5748

Marlborough UFS Dispensary – 03-578 6099

Omaka Landing Pharmacy – 03-777 1056

Civic Health Pharmacy – 03-928 4354

 

Community services

Womens Refuge & Sexual Violence Support Centre Marlborough – 0800 REFUGE or 03-577 9939

 

Vets

Vets on Alabama – 03-578 6965

Springlands Veterinary Centre – 03-578 0661

The Vet Centre Marlborough – 03-577 9822

 

Doctors

Redwoodtown Medical Centre – 03-578 0470

Omaka Medical Centre trading as Francis Street Medical – 03-578 5252

Civic Family Health Care – 03-578 0199

George Street Medical Centre – 03-577 8757

Springlands Health – 03-578 0979

Marlborough Urgent Care Centre – 03-520 6377

Wairau Hospital – 03-520 9999

 

Farming supplies

Farmlands – 03-579 3150

Kiwi Seed Co. – 03-578 0468

OsGro Seed Services – 0272639885 or 03 5778323

PGG Wrightson / Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim – 03-579 3733

Tasman Crop – 03-572 5164

 

Trades

Under a level 4 alert, only trades people undertaking work related to essential business or infrastructure are expected to be working outside of the self-isolation protocol. The exception to this may be where tradespeople are required to undertake emergency work where the need is immediate and required to maintain human health and safety.

Plumbers

Laser Plumbing Blenheim – 03-579 6001

Morgan Plumbing – 03-5782034

Electricians

Cresswell Electrical – 03-578 7247

Callahan & Martella Electrical Ltd – 03-579 4445

Refrigeration and Heating

Martella Refrigeration & Air Conditioning – 03 578 0030

 

Community news

Marlborough App

 

Dairies

Night ‘n Day (Daily 7am – 9pm)

High Street Dairy (Monday – Saturday 7.30am – 7pm, Sunday 8am – 7pm)

36 Nine Convenience Store (Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday 8am – 7pm, Sunday 9am – 6pm)

 

IT and Technology

BP Computers – 03-577 9498

Sam’s Computer Clinic – 03-572 9287

GCH UAV (drone operators) – www.gchuav.com or 021 267 2966

Mechanics

Instant Auto – 03-577 7492

 

Banks

Kiwibank – Wednesday 10am-1pm for urgent banking needs only.

ANZ – Wednesdays 9am-12pm for simple cash transactions only.

SBS Bank – Thursday 10am-2pm.

Westpac – Wednesday 10am-1pm.

ASB – Tuesday 10am-2pm.

 

Essential retail

Whiteware, heaters, blankets and devices are available for purchase during the lockdown through online or phone orders that can be delivered in a contactless way.

100% Herkt Appliances – 03-578 0700 or https://www.100percent.co.nz/

Michael Fitzpatrick Applianceplus – 021333222

 

Picton

Four Square Picton (Daily 7.30am – 7.30pm)

Fresh Choice Picton (Daily 7am – 7.30pm)

Super 7 Picton (Daily 8am – 5pm)

Picton Health Care Pharmacy – 03-573 6420

Picton Medical Centre – 03-520 3222

Picton Veterinary Clinic – 03-573 8299

Z Petrol Station Picton (24hrs)

GAS Picton (6.30am – 10pm)

 

Renwick

SuperValue Renwick (Daily 9am – 8pm)

Renwick Medical Centre – 03-572 8838

Renwick Healthcare (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm) – 03-572 8915. Scripts faxed are delivered on the same day if in before 11.15pm.Prescriptions should be faxed to Poswillo’s Pharmacy 03 5789794 or emailed to [email protected]

GAS Renwick (24hrs)

 

Seddon

Seddon Supermarket (Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm, Saturday – Sunday 9am – 3pm)

Southfuels Seddon (24hrs)

 

Havelock

Four Square Havelock (Daily 9am-5pm)

Havelock Healthcare (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm) – 03-574 1400. Scripts faxed are delivered on the same day if in before 12.30pm. Prescriptions should be faxed to Poswillo’s Pharmacy 03 5789794 or emailed to [email protected]

Havelock Medical Centre – 03-574 2233

Poswillo’s Pharmacy – 03-574 1400

Allied Petroleum (24hrs)