Paula Hulburt

Movie marathon for film makers

Marlborough movie makers will put their talents to the test as they team up to take on a mammoth timed task.

Supported by Screen Marlborough, filmmakers have just 48 hours to create a short film from scratch.

Titled 48Hours, the competition is New Zealand’s largest independent filmmaking competition.

And Blenheim run film organisation Random Directions are gearing up to pit their wits against other groups across the country.

Chris Lippiatt will be helping the team on Friday night as they get a concept and script together.

I’m a five-year veteran of 48hours and am stoked to be part of the Random Directions Team.

“I hope to see some skills shared, inspiration nurtured and one crazy ass movie getting made.”

The competition is now in its 19th year and entrants don’t know what genre (thriller/romance etc.) they will be shooting until the start of the competition.

All creativity: writing, shooting, editing and adding a musical soundtrack, must occur within the 48Hour window beginning Friday 5 March at 7 pm and ending Sunday 7 March at 7 pm.

“Whether you are a professional production company, a group of hobbyists, a school group or two friends with a smart phone you can enter, have fun and get your movie seen,” says Chris.

48hours team leader, and co-creator at Random Directions, Phil McKinnon says the team have a lot of creativity.

“This is right up our alley, the Random Directions Film Project we created is similar to 48hours, but on a much smaller scale, so we should have a pretty solid team of creative filmmakers and outside the box thinkers and its fantastic to have the support of Screen Marlborough behind us.”

In 2018 the Council entered into a three-year partnership with Screen Wellington to promote Marlborough as a screen destination.

Screen Marlborough also supports the development of Marlborough based talent and expertise in various aspects of filmmaking.

“Our team is made up of a dozen Marlburians who have a passion for filmmaking and fun.” adds Phil. “We have a lot of creativity and talent here in Blenheim and this is one way to be able to show that off.”

The Random Directions Film Festival will be in August and be held at Event Cinema in Blenheim.

Follow the Teams 48hour Journey on facebook @RandomDirectionsNZ

Police confident of justice for homicide victim Jess Boyce

The chair she used sits empty, laughter from celebrations past hang in the air.

Two Christmases have past, two birthdays she wasn’t there for and countless special moments missed.

As the second anniversary of her disappearance draws closer, the Blenheim detective in charge of the case says there is more than one suspect.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan says they know the people who are responsible for her disappearance.

“A small number of people still need to be spoken to and plans are in place to do this soon. We are in negotiation to get parties to the table.

“Fairly early on after Jess disappeared a group of people were identified as persons of interest.

‘We had enough information to know that there were other people involved and it became a homicide investigation.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan believes there will ultimately be justice for Jessica Boyce. Main photo: Paula Hulburt.

Jessica, known as Jess, was last seen on 19 March 2019, her disappearance sparking nationwide search for those responsible.

For the experienced detective, Jess’s case is one that’s always on his mind.

At one point the investigating team was one of the largest pulled together in Marlborough. A key core remains dedicated to the case.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sloan is determined to find closure for Jess’s family and a chance for them to say goodbye properly.
People will talk, he says.

“I believe that at some stage in the future, somebody, somewhere will be sitting in a police cell on a completely unrelated matter and want to talk to us.

“They will be looking to save their own skin.

“We are making progress and we do believe we know who was involved in her disappearance.

“The investigation team has travelled from Northland to Canterbury interviewing witnesses and people of interest to the inquiry.
“Many of these people were living in Marlborough at the time Jessica went missing but have now moved out of the area for a number of reasons.

Jess’s uncle and family spokesman, Brent Boyce hopes police will find justice for Jess.

Jessica Boyce was 27 years old when she disappeared. Photo: File

“It will bring no real comfort to those who were close to Jess, but perhaps some closure. We would like to thank everyone for their continued support and kindness over these very trying last two years.

“Jess’s family and friends will need this support more than ever as the details of the investigation are exposed in the coming months,” he says.

Jess was last seen near Renwick, Marlborough, in a red ute.

The vehicle was found three days later in the Mount Richmond Forest Park, seemingly abandoned. Jess’ purse and mobile phone minus its sim card were found inside.

Police believe the ute was deliberately dumped in a bid to mislead police.

Jess’s disappearance officially became a homicide case in October 2019.

Last week, Brent paid tribute to investigating officers. The police maintain a regular line of communication with the family, he says.

“We are beholden to the police for the diligence of their ongoing efforts, and for their empathy with helping us understand – they have our utmost respect.”

Several overseas enquiries have also been made in relation to forensic evidence, and investigators are awaiting final results.

Brent says the family continue to suffer and spending time together remembering her helps bring some comfort. Her disappearance has been a rollercoaster of emotions for them all.

“In this time, we have experienced all the highs and lows of hope and despair.

“From what was initially considered a harmless wandering off, to become an unexplained disappearance, to finally a homicide.

Not only have the perpetrators of this harmed Jess, they have also harmed her family and her friends by their misdeeds.

“As a family, we gather regularly, and Jess is never far from our thoughts and hearts.

Jessica Boyce was a bubbly and devoted friend. Photo: File

“In our Jess’s memory – we would ask that you also look after yourselves and your families; and be caring and resolute as the investigation unfolds.”

Police encourage anyone who has any information at all which may assist to contact Police on 105 and quote file number 190322/7217.
Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

High winds caused widespread damage to property in Picton. Photo: Supplied.

Fire crews busiest day as dangerous winds wreak havoc in Picton

Picton Volunteer fire crew had one of their busiest days on record last week as severe winds battered the town.

Winds gusting more than 100km caused chaos as the volunteer crew dealt with 12 callouts in less than 12 hours.

And as pine trees snapped in 140km gusts on forestry roads near Tory Channel last Tuesday, it was sheer luck that prevented a major fire, says chief fire officer Wayne Wytenburg.

Many of the crew were busy all day as a barrage of calls came into the national fire communications centre.

From roofs partially being blown off, to arching power lines and a caravan destroyed by severe gusts, the emergencies kept coming, says Wayne.

“We’ve had winds before but not like this, not recently. It was a very busy day for the crew, that’s for sure.

“A crew member was coming back from Tory Channel via forestry roads and clocked a 140km/h gust; pine trees were just snapping.

‘We’re really lucky that nothing landed on power lines or there could have been a huge fire and there would have been nothing we could have done; the winds were too severe.”

The crew got their first call at about 8.30am when glass tiles above the entrance to Picton Medical Centre were shifted by the wind.

Staff called for help, worried the glass tiles would fall and injure someone.

Deputy chief fire officer Greg Frisken says the brigade dealt with three or four calls that morning alone.

Some of the call outs were serious he says, posing a potential threat to life. A job at Seaview Crescent where metal roof tiles were smashing to the ground saw people running for cover.

“By the afternoon it had really ramped up and the calls kept coming.

“We were at the caravan securing it by the St John Ambulance centre when we got a call to go to Queen Charlotte College as part of the roof was lifting there. We secured the caravan temporarily, went to the college and then came back to the caravan.”

Wayne paid tribute to the crews who helped and appealed for more volunteers to sign up.

“They did a marvellous job but we seriously need to get more recruits. We need at least five more staff, especially those who live in Picton.

“I’d also like to thank the employers and those volunteers who are self-employed. We don’t get paid and without the support of the community we wouldn’t be able to do the job we do.”

The fire station is open on a Monday night for potential volunteers from 7pm and would be volunteers are welcome to come along. To find out more, visit the Picton Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Facebook page or contact Wayne on: 0272226490

Community supporter Alister Neal with Fire Fighter Scottie Henry. Photo: Paula Hulburt

Fire fighters’ life-saving donation

A volunteer fire force has raised thousands of dollars to bring a life saving device to a rural community.

Rarangi Voluntary Rural Fire Force has put up a defibrillator outside the Beach Road station.

It means people in the immediate area can access vital treatment faster should they suffer a cardiac arrest.

Firefighter Scottie Henry says the move fills a gap in getting emergency help when every second counts.

“It’s about community resilience.

“We have one [a defibrillator] on the truck but if we’re out it’s inaccessible.

“People do pull up outside the station in an emergency and to have the defibrillator here could save someone’s life.”

The community gave generously to the call for funds which helped pay for the $4000 defibrillator, batteries and pads.

A locked box keeps the equipment safe and users need to call 111 to get the pin number to unlock it.

With about 340 households in the vicinity of the station, it’s important that help is available as soon as possible, Scottie says.

“For every minute without defibrillation, a person’s chance of survival decreases by around 10 per cent.”

The 14-strong volunteer force put a call out on Facebook for donations and then knocked on hundreds of doors around the community to secure funds.

People were delighted to take part and support the initiative, says Scottie.

“We are a community that looks after each other and if anyone, locals or tourists, need help, the defibrillator is there.

“It’s easy to see in its bright yellow case and there are instructions on it to follow.

“When you call 111 an operator will stay on the phone to talk you through what to do until help arrives,” he says.

Training people how the defibrillator works is the next step to help save lives.

“We hope that St John might help with that,” Scottie says, who revealed the Rarangi Fire Fighter Sky Tower Team 2020 had done well at last week’s challenge in Auckland.

Todd Neal came first in the Grand Master and Donned categories (carrying equipment) while James Cowie was second in his age group and in the Grand Masters.

The brigade is also starting a junior crew in the New Year.

“Five keen local teenagers have said they want to take part and we would like to see if we can get more.

“It’s a means to involve the wider community and hopefully get them keen on the idea of maybe volunteering with us later on,” Scottie says.

“We will do fire related learning including fire safety, use of our firefighting equipment and team building exercises.”

Email [email protected] for further information.

Whānau at Waikawa Marae are helping find solutions to stop violence. Photo: Keelan Walker.

Breakthrough pledge to stop violence

A community have pledged to stand united in a bid to stop violence from wrecking local lives.

Whānau at Waikawa Marae have banded together to make a stance against destructive behaviour.

Supporters gathered at the Marae on Sunday to sign a special Charter of Commitment, signalling the start of a new era.

The charter reinforces that Waikawa Marae is a safe and secure environment.

Chair of Tū Pono Te Mana Kaha o te Whānau Shane Graham says the idea is to develop long term solutions and a zero tolerance to violence.

“We acknowledge the work that needs to be done to prevent whānau harm and the strength that comes from a collaborative effort.

“The goal is for whānau to take ownership and responsibility for their actions and to develop solutions to address whānau harm”.

Making sure people feel safe in body, spirit and mind is the key message of the new charter.

It will take determination, courage and strength to see it through, says Shane.

“Our service model is based on the Mangopare which represents strength, leadership, agility, tenacity, unrelenting determination, courage, and wealth.”

Speaking on behalf of Waikawa Marae, Chair Rita Powick says they came up with their own solutions by working with the South Island Whānau Ora Agency.

“Through strong leadership and whānau input our plans are now coming to fruition,” she says.

Shane says there is no one answer to the problem and breaking the cycle of violence must come from action across marae, iwi, hapū and homes.

All people who belong to or visit Waikawa Marae come knowing it is a Tū Pono (Stand True) space.

“Through Tū Pono, whānau are being empowered to help promote a zero tolerance to whānau harm which is a more powerful message when we’re in it together than through agencies”, says Shane.

“We believe we are all responsible for ‘Standing Strong Together’ to build each other up and provide paths that can be transformational for whānau who truly want to break the cycle of violence and harm.

“We can’t stand by and watch.”

Eden Kavanagh is looking forward to a brighter future. Photo: Sarah Brown.

Singer hits high note

A Marlborough singer who won a legion of fans across the world with a TV audition is set to end the year on a high note.

Blenheim girl Eden Kavanagh,26, wowed audiences with her blind audition on smash-hit British show The Voice but judges were less impressed.

Now the songstress is performing full time and has been booked as part of the New Year’s Eve line up at Picton’s popular New Year’s Eve party.

She will also be one of the supporting acts performing at the Summer Sounds Music festival with Bic Runga at the Queen Charlotte Tavern in Linkwater.

Being able to perform again is a big relief, says Eden, who gave up singing for a while after appearing on the hit talent quest.

“I was heartbroken. I’d put my heart and soul into it. I just wanted my mum and to come home and here felt like home,” she explains.

“I didn’t even want to sing for a while afterwards. I couldn’t.”

Born in Rangiora, Eden has divided her time between Ireland and New Zealand.

Back in Blenheim for 18 months, her confidence has returned and requests for bookings have been keeping her busy.

She has been lucky enough to pursue her singing dream full time after giving up her day job in the hospitality industry last month, she says.

“I’m rapt to be home and delighted to be doing New Year’s Eve in Picton. I remember being on the foreshore one year in the crowds; the vibe was great, and I knew I wanted to be the one singing one day.

The self-confessed ‘super perfectionist’ reveals that after lockdown people started looking to enjoy themselves.

“People are looking to have some fun now. I knew that after level one people were going to want to go out, have a good time and be entertained,” she says.

For the Whiteria graduate who has a BA in Performing Arts, it is the realisation of a lot of hard work.

Without the support of her family and friends she knows it would have been much harder.

“They have been amazing,” she says.

“I was a little hustler from a young age and when I was a kid, I used to create whole performances and, without telling my parents, gave tickets to the neighbours and charged 50 pence at the door.

“I don’t get nervous performing, it’s kind of like I have an alter ego and can literally walk out in front of 100,000 people no problem.

“It’s crazy as I’m so comfortable. I find it calming and think that comes from being well-rehearsed.”

For bookings contact [email protected] or @edenkavanaghmusic on social.

Ben Burridge celebrates taking out first prize in Marlborough Weekly’s popular Shop & Win competition. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Shopping local pays off

It was a lucky day for Blenheim man Ben Burridge when his wife decided she needed new plants –it won him $5000 cash.

Marlborough Weekly’s popular Shop & Win competition received thousands of entries from people keen to support local businesses.

And it was Ben’s visit to Marlborough’s Mitre 10 mega store that scooped him the top cash prize.

The delighted Wither Hills vineyard manager says he had looked after the couple’s son, Luca, 4, while wife Amelia went to look at the store’s huge outdoor plant centre.

“Luca loves the helicopter in the play area. I stayed with him. We had a coffee after that and then filled in the shop & Win form, never really thinking we’d win.”

After getting an email from Marlborough Weekly asking him to call. Ben says he didn’t dare hope he had won anything.

“Amelia mentioned that maybe it was the Shop & Win and we joked about it, not really thinking we had.”

Thirty-three businesses from across Marlborough signed-up to take part in this year’s draw.

Receiving the good news on Friday, Ben revealed it had been a great day all round for him and some of his colleagues at the vineyard.

“I’m not sure what we’ll spend it on yet, I’m sure there’ll be a bit of a debate about that.”

Second place winner Gail Woolacott from Linkwater won $750 after shopping at Fabric Creations in Blenheim.

A regular customer at the store, she says she will use the money when she goes on holiday.

“I’m going on a holiday soon so it will go towards that. I’d forgotten all about it; it was a lovely surprise.”

Motor Kanix co-owner Monique McKechie scooped the third prize of $250 after Senior Community Constable Russ Smith pulled her name out of the pile of entries.

She planned to use the cash, which she won from shopping at Unichem Springlands Pharmacy, at this weekend’s garden fete in Pollard Park.

“It’ll be great to use the money to put towards some Christmas gifts.

“I never win anything, so this is a wonderful surprise.”

Now in it’s third year, the Shop & Win competition has gone from strength to strength.

Marlborough Weekly owner Summa Donald says the response is heartening, especially as people are finding their feet after lockdown.

“Locals supporting locals are what this is all about and it’s more important than ever before to support our community.

“A huge thank you to all the businesses who backed the initiative, we couldn’t have done this without you.”

About 140 people attended Salsa Groove Marlborough’s successful SBK Back to the Roots festival. Photo: Shelani De Jager.

Salsa festival finds its rhythm

A local dance group has been making all the right moves, scooping a national nomination for their contribution to salsa.

Latin dance group Salsa Groove Marlborough has been nominated in the Cultural Manager/Promoter category at this year’s New Zealand Latin Awards 2020.

The announcement comes in the wake of their successful salsa festival, SBK Back to the Roots held in Blenheim last month.

The very first of its kind in New Zealand, the festival showcased the essence of Afro, Latin and Caribbean rhythms and the dance styles that evolved.

Events Coordinator Karen Knofflock says the group are delighted to be nominated.

Salsa Groove are thrilled and honoured to be nominated for our service and contribution to the Latin dance community.

“With the huge success of the festival, we continue to improve and enhance the scene, focusing on current trends and ideas for future events,” she says.

The New Zealand Latin Awards recognise and celebrate Latin Americans and their work here in Aotearoa.

Launched three years ago in Christchurch, nominations are voted by the public and cover five categories: Art and Culture, Sports, Entertainment, Business and Latin Attitude.

Salsa Grove run weekly group classes and social dance nights, as well as hosting dance weekends.

To vote for the team at Salsa Groove Marlborough visit

The team from Astrolabe joined staff at The Burleigh to pick up the coveted winner’s trophy. Photo: Supplied.

‘A prize worth savouring’

The winning pies were out in force and glasses of Riesling clinked in celebration.

Astrolabe’s Spätlese Riesling 2017 paired with The Burleigh’s Jamaican Lamb Pie is this year’s overall winner in the Great Burleigh Pie Pairing Challenge.

And delighted winners got together to mark the win and accept the sought-after trophy.

Astrolabe chief winemaker Simon Waghorn and the Astrolabe team turned out in force at The Burleigh to collect their winnings.

“Not to mince words, but this is a prize worth savouring”, he says.

Jane Waghorn-Forrest says Astrolabe organised “extensive” testing of Burleigh pies with the Astrolabe range of wines.

“We thought the sweetness of this wine would go well with spices.”

She says she is delighted the Spätlese Riesling won as it’s from her family’s home vineyard.

Judges Fiona Fenwick, Saulo Camillo, Summa Donald and Jesse Mulligan worked their way through 47 wine and pie pairings.

Marlborough Weekly owner Summa Donald says being picked as a judge was an honour.

“It was a tough gig, but somehow we managed try some of the best pies and wine Marlborough has to offer.

“Congratulations to the Astrolabe team and of course Burleigh for their fantastic selections.”

This is the fourth time the annual competition has been held.

All the entry fees go to charity, with this year’s recipient being Marlborough Foodbank.

Two generations of Whitney Street School pupils are looking forward to fireworks fun this Saturday night. Pictured from left are Naomi Barton and daughter Emilia, Deborah Barton, whose son Sidney is in the foreground, Huia Crosby with sons Maui and Tamiti, Andrea Craig with son Sam, and Jeff Valk with son George. Photo: Supplied.

Fireworks show sparks memories

Watching their children light up with excitement at the prospect of this weekend’s big fireworks show sparks memories for these parents.

They are all former Whitney Street School pupils and their children now attend the school too.

The fireworks event, Lights Over Marlborough 2020, is the school’s big annual fundraiser.

It’s on this Saturday night, with food carts, on-stage entertainment and lots of fun activities from 6pm, before the fireworks light up the night sky as darkness falls.

Organisers encourage people to come early and buy dinner on site, or bring a picnic, and enjoy the happy vibe.

Parent Andrea Craig says the school roll and the fireworks event had grown since her days as a pupil, but the community feeling of the gathering was just the same.

“It’s still a very relaxed evening out, there’s so much for the kids to do beforehand and the fireworks at the end are still really exciting.”

Back in the day, the event featured a massive bonfire in the school grounds.

These past pupils recall their parents bringing in their garden cuttings and piling them on the bonfire in the days leading up to the event.

Families would also make Guys at home and carrying them down the street to the school.

They recalled raiding their parent’s old clothes – ties, stockings and cardigans – and stuffing them full of scrunched up newspaper to create their “Guy”.

They also remember with amusement that attitudes toward safety were quite different in 1980’s New Zealand.

Huia Crosby says she can’t over emphasise just how big the bonfire was – one year the flames were enormous, creating a spectacle in the night sky that was as unnerving for some as it was exciting for others in the crowd.

These days Lights Over Marlborough is at a bigger venue and attracts about 5000 people depending on the weather.  KiwiPyro licences pyrotechnician Michelle Harris oversees the display.

Michelle grew up in Blenheim and remembers fondly attending the early displays at Whitney Street School grounds as a child.

Now she organizes the music play list to the rhythm of the fireworks display.

The event is organised by the school’s Parent Support Group and this year money raised will go towards an astro turf.

The postponement date in case of bad weather is Sunday 15 November.


What: Lights Over Marlborough Fireworks display

Tickets: Free for children under five, $8 for adults, $35 for a family pass of up two adults and three children

Where: Marlborough A and P Showgrounds on corner of Maxwell Rd and Alabama Rd in Blenheim

When: Gates open 5.30pm for a 6pm start, Saturday 14 November, or if postponed Sunday 15 November

Why: Major annual fundraiser for Whitney Street School