Project AWARE, Environmentalist


Ross McDonald (left) and Eric Simmons.

Ross McDonald may not be a household name in Auckland but he certainly is in the South Island. He is a very quiet gentleman who can quite often go unnoticed to the majority but is always there when something is needed or something needs fixing or someone needs help developing their skills.

Ross started diving in the very early 1950s in the days when you had to make your own equipment and life underwater was always an adventure. This did not stop Ross from seeking more adventurous dive sites and was the first to enter the Riwaka Resurgence in times when a candle in an Agee jar sufficed for a torch and Waikoropupu Springs when it was surrounded by dairy farms and covered in weed.

He established the Nelson Underwater Club as a response to the local Police needing divers and then became a dive instructor for the New Zealand Underwater Association and later PADI. Ross has been at the leading edge of most changes in the diving world and can been seen at any event whether spearfishing competitions or environmental missions, he is a strong advocate of PADI, Project AWARE as well as many local community based projects. ‘One person can make a difference’ – this statement epitomises Ross McDonald, a true gentleman who has made a difference to so many divers and people in New Zealand, and is still diving at 80 years young.

The Wyland Award was created for people like Ross McDonald who is the 2011 winner. Congratulations Ross.

–Eric Simmons, Nelson Underwater Club

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