SS Tioma Artificial Reef
Steve was the instigator and driving force behind the Taioma Reef Society Inc who successfully sunk the 33meters (108 ft) tug, SS Taioma in 27 metres at Motiti Island off the city of Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island on 19 March 2000.
The tug was the centrepiece of a small maritime village that was being dismantled. Rather than see the once proud tug being turned into razor blades Steve and his team started the long battle to have her sunk as an artificial reef for divers to study and enjoy.
And it was a battle! There were the obvious physical aspects of the project such as cleaning the interior of the tug so that it was environmentaly safe to sink. Transporting it to the water’s edge on a 128-wheel trailer down an expressway which had overhead pedestrian crossings in the middle of the night – the list of challenges was endless.
Steve and his team could handle what they could physically see, but things you could not put a jack or spanner to such as the forest of paper work to achieve the necessary permits was soul destroying. Many a time the battlefront seemed insurmountable. Steve had the bit between his teeth, this project was not going to be sunk by paper – salt water was the only option! Funding the project was another major challenge!
The remarkable thing about this huge effort was that Steve and the other members of the society had no financial motive. They just wanted to give the tug a peaceful resting-place so that generations of divers could enjoy the tug’s beauty and the marine life that would smothered her with colourful kisses.
We wish to thanks the Oceans Society for allowing the award to be presented at their annual photographic awards dinner.