Reviving and reshaping Wharekaka’s elder care

When Wharekaka closed its residential and hospital care programmes early 2022, trustees of the facility hoped for a reprieve for the 50-year-old elder care centre. At the time its governing board hoped the meals-on-wheels programme would continue and said the attached elderly villas would continue. Financial challenges meant an extra …

Native birds mural new to Marty Mural Walk

Martinborough wine village has a new wall mural depicting a family of native birds with strong connections to the Wairarapa region. The new mural has been designed and painted by Manawatu artist Joe McMenamin and is part of the reignited Marty Mural Walk – a continuation of The Martinborough Mural …

Travellers vote Wharekauhau best Pacific resort

Wharekauhau Country Estate in South Wairarapa has been awarded “Best Resort in Australasia and the Pacific,” and 46th among the top 50 resorts on the planet by Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2023. Voted for by over half a million travellers, the awards reflect recognition of the exceptional experience …

Big Red Suit Guy: back by popular demand

Santa has the date in his diary, the Mens Shed have finished the sleigh, and now its off to be painted.  Storm Robertson from the Community board has been working on the Traffic Management Plan, so it’s all go for the 2023 Martinborough Santa Parade on Saturday 9 December at …

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Will this plan shape the region’s future?

November 3, 2023 November 2023 Comments Off on Will this plan shape the region’s future?

Will the Wairarapa–Wellington–Horowhenua region have an extra 200,000 people and 9,000 more homes by the 2050s, with controls on housing and business locations which prevent that growth from expanding into critical farm/food production land?

That’s the big picture option being touted by a Greater Wellington draft future development strategy (FDS) published without fanfare in early October _ and with consultation closing 9 November.

The draft strategy has been prepared by all the councils in the Wairarapa-Wellington-Horowhenua region, Iwi partners and central government – called the Wellington Regional Leadership Committee. (Find it here:

The strategy outlines a future housing and business development vision and gives priority to growth being focussed on the current road and rail networks from Wellington to Horowhenua and Masterton.

It notes that it’s “important to plan for where future generations will live, work and play.”

Planning by all the region’s local bodies is required to ensure the region become more resilient to natural hazards and climate change; improves access to employment, education and housing; reduces carbon emissions, and creates a sustainable and prosperous future.

The proposed strategy concentrates most development in existing urban areas with good current and future transport links. This would help people live low carbon lifestyles and get around more easily. It would “also ensure we protect our natural areas and food production land from encroachment.”

Currently there is enough greenfield land identified for up to 65,000 homes, or two-thirds of the proposed growth. But, the strategy notes, “we know that developing all this greenfield land would not meet our strategic direction.”

Instead, the proposed Future Development Strategy could see as little as 18 percent of housing development on greenfield land and 82 percent on brownfield land _ a huge shift away from expansion and towards infill.

The strategy will also have to address new requirements in relation to freshwater, biodiversity, climate change and urban development issues, as well as new national directions (through National Policy Statements) for freshwater, highly productive land and indigenous biodiversity, plus plans for emission reductions and climate adaptation. … Continue Reading

February wines and food harvest festival

November 3, 2023 November 2023 Comments Off on February wines and food harvest festival

By Joelle Thomson

Ancient native trees will provide shade and the setting for the first local wine and food festival of 2024 at The Cliffs Riverside Reserve on Saturday 17 February, 10 minutes’ drive from both Masterton and Carterton.

The Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival takes its name from the annual grape harvest, which will begin shortly after the festival. 

While its somewhat remote location sets it apart from the village atmosphere of Toast Martinborough, Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival will be well connected to Featherston, Martinborough, Greytown, Wellington and the Hutt Valley with a combination of coaches or shuttles to and from all locations. 

This means festival-goers can enjoy wine, without driving.

Local is key with food from nine caterers in the region and 13 local wineries booked in. The wineries come from Greytown, Martinborough, Te Muna Valley, Gladstone and Masterton.

Tickets for the annual Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival are now on sale and, for the first time this year, there will be a masterclass style event. This will offer an opportunity to taste lesser known wines and learn how they are made.

“We are delighted to offer a masterclass style event for the first time. This will feature eight off the beaten track wines where each winemaker will provide an insider’s look under the bonnet, showcasing how our local wineries are pushing the boundaries of traditional wine making,” says festival general manager Carla Steed.

Wineries booked in to the 2024 festival include Alexia Wines, Big Sky Wines, Borthwick Estate, Butterworth Estate, Cambridge Road Vineyard, Colombo Martinborough, NgaPari, Fairmont Estate, Gladstone Vineyard, Huntress, Johner Estate, Le Gra Winery, Lynfer Estate, Matahiwi Estate, Schubert Wines and Urlar.

The food at the event will be catered by Korky’s Catering, Kiwi Kai Catering, Colombo Martinborough, Caveman BBQ, Clareville Bakery, Brac & Bow, Balter Bar, Le Gra Winery, and Levitate Coffee.

The Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival at The Cliffs Riverside Reserve on 17 February 2024 with gates open at 11 a.m. 

Tickets $69 per person from:

Resolute Councillors awaits path to resolution

November 3, 2023 November 2023 Comments Off on Resolute Councillors awaits path to resolution

It went almost unnoticed last May when South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Harry Wilson suddenly resigned, 

But six months later it burst into the open as all nine councillors voted “no confidence” in Mayor Martin Connelly _ an action that even Gore’s roiling elected councillors stepped back from amid major dissent.

Was it the growing number of council staff resignations – a reported SWDC attrition rate of 22 percent, a costly pay-out to the departed CEO, or the mayor’s insoucient reaction to councillors’ concerns that tipped the issues into public view?

According to the councillors, their unanimous vote of no confidence in Mayor Connelly came from “the collective disappointment in the Mayor’s absence (from a formal meeting they called on the issue) and frustration of the council.”

“We understand that this course of action may raise concerns within our community. We want to assure our residents that we, the South Wairarapa councillors, stand united and resolute in our commitment to creating the best environment for robust decision-making on your behalf,” they said in a statement. 

(Advice confirmed the councillors have no legal power to sack a mayor, who is elected directly by the voters). 

“The vote of no confidence signifies our desire for meaningful change and our expectation of enhanced performance from the Mayor, both for ourselves and our community.”

It continued:

“Key areas of concern centre around the Mayor’s behaviour and performance, including but not limited to:

*Interaction with the public: The Mayor’s inconsistent and disrespectful treatment of presenters in public participation;

*Engagement with third-party presenters and staff: Instances of disrespectful and dismissive behaviour towards third-party presenters and staff and a lack of inclusivity during formal meetings and workshops, hampering collaboration and knowledge exchange; … Continue Reading

“Wings” has 17 aircraft types in show

November 3, 2023 November 2023 Comments Off on “Wings” has 17 aircraft types in show

Wings over Wairarapa, halted by Cyclone Gabrielle in February, is promising 17 airplane types when the air show blasts into local skies from Hood Aerodrome for three days in late November.

The festival is regarded as one of the best air shows in the country, with what promoters say will be “exhilarating flying” and exciting displays on the ground.

The programme includes the Goodyear FG-1D Corsair, considered the premier navy and marine fighter of World War II, which will be making its first air festival appearance in six years. 

Other highlights include the Avro Anson MK 1, the only flying Anson in the world. A maritime reconnaissance bomber, it was one of the RAF’s most important planes when WWII began.

The crowd favourite Strikemaster also returns – the ex-RNZAF plane which was used for advanced pilot training on the Wings Course. 

The British-built training and light attack aircraft was operated by the RNZAF from 1972 as a lead-in trainer for the A4 Skyhawks.

The RNZAF will also showcase the new P-8A Poseidon which will be in action for the first time, as well as the Black Falcons aero display.

A new aspect of the event will be an expanded STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) programme called Take Flight, for the first time being extended to all secondary school students (years 11-13) from the lower North Island to participate in for free. The three-day programme is designed to promote and inspire people to consider flight and aerospace careers. 

Former Defence Minister Ron Mark, board chair for Wings Over Wairarapa, is thrilled the festival can still deliver an exciting programme. … Continue Reading


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Eight medal haul for local wrestlers

The wrestling season came to a competitive end with the National Championships held in Tauranga in early October. The Featherston Club team of Duncan Allen-Alloway, Nate George, Wairangi Sargent, Tommy Read & Angus Read came home with four gold and four silvers, an excellent result as the wrestlers competed in …

Marty Rugby Club winners and grinners

The club doesn’t forget to say a Big Thanks to all its sponsors and supporters of the 2023 season. We look forward to seeing you all in 2024. Premiers – winners Lane Penn Cup & Hodder Steffert Cups Reserves – finalists Presidents Cup Congratulations to all the recipients of our …

Featherston wrestlers continue winning

The penultimate tournament of the year the Wellington Regional Championships were held at Kapiti College on Saturday 9 September.  A strong team from Featherston attended with some of our junior wrestlers building towards this tournament through two terms of training. It also signalled the end of the junior and intermediate …

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