By Dave Moran
I’m sure many of our readers are totally unaware of the existence of the New Zealand Underwater Association (NZUA) and the Australian Underwater Federation (AUF). Both these organizations were created as a result of divers’
for spearfishing. The NZUA, originally named New Zealand Spearfishing Association, was formed in October 1953. The AUF, originally named Underwater Spear Fishermen’s Association of Australia, was formed in June 1953.
The World Underwater Federation, Confederation Mondiale Des Activites Subaquatiques (CMAS), the international organization that represents sport divers worldwide, was founded on 10 January 1959 in Monaco. Jacques Cousteau was the first president. Visit:
As time went by the NZUA and AUF became recognized as the voice for the diver. They vigorously protected diver rights, especially in the area of catch limits. They organized national competitions and were the organizing body that was affiliated with CMAS which allowed New Zealand and Australian divers to compete in international competitions.
For Australians the Holy Grail, the World Spearfishing title, was won by Ron Taylor in 1965 in Tahiti. In the team event Australia fielded only two divers and picked up second place. New Zealand was also represented at this competition by a group of five spearos. In the team event they came ninth out of the 13 countries competing. In those early days the
for spearfishing was the huge driving force for these national organizations as the sport of diving developed.
It was not long before other activities were added to the NZUA and AUF’s annual competition events list. Scuba diving, photography, swimfin trophies were soon vigorously competed for. In 1976 Underwater Hockey (UWH) was added to the list of sports under the protective umbrella of the NZUA. And more recently, freediving. In the 1970s UWH was seen by many spearos as a great way of keeping fit and maintaining your breath holding skills during the winter months. It also catered for individual’s competitive nature. Plus it was a heap of fun and kept them in contact with their spearfishing mates. It was not long before schools picked up the sport and all of a sudden the older spearos in the late 1970s found themselves up against some real smart and fast competitors!
In 2005 the 21st Secondary Schools Underwater Hockey Championships were held in Auckland. In that event there were 512 participants representing 40 teams and 22 schools! I have been to a number of the national events as my daughter is a fanatical player. What absolutely blows me away every time I attend these events is the
. The amount of
that these kids, both male and female display for their sport is unbelievable. They are supported by their parents and a hard working passionate group of adults who organize events from the grass roots level to national level. There are now around 1,100 registered kids playing the sport. The number of registered players that are not affiliated with schools is around 1,000 representing 30 teams. Add around another 1,000 players who represent non-registered teams both school and non school and a minimum of 3,100 players in New Zealand. At the 2006 national spearfishing championships there were under 100, mainly male, competitors.
Times have changed.
With the above in mind it was of concern that I learnt last year, before the 2005 NZUA’s AGM that some of the NZUA executive were keen for the NZUA to stop being the umbrella organization for UWH and advised them to become affiliated directly with CMAS with the NZUA’s blessing thus allowing UWH to still be able to compete internationally – unbelievable, cut off the most passionate, largest branch of your organization. The main justification being that UWH could take control of the NZUA because it had become so successful! At the recent NZUA’s AGM held in early June there was still a push by some to dump UWH, but common sense prevailed.
Lyn Taylor was re-elected for her second term as president. She has many challenges on her plate. Time will tell if she can dismiss any move within the organization of discarding their most passionate branch.
For many in the diving industry, including this magazine, we see the young UWH players as representing a large pool of possible future long term divers. In the 60s, 70s and 80s many spearos took up scuba diving and guess what? It soon became apparent that these divers enjoyed their diving and became long term divers because they felt comfortable in the water. Who is one of the largest group of people that feel comfortable in the water now? Underwater hockey players! These players are already half way to becoming competent, long term scuba divers (or spearfisherman, freedivers, etc) because they have had an apprenticeship with a mask, snorkel and fins much the same way as spearfisherman did in the 60s-80s.
The NZUA, like the dive industry, needs to nurture future divers (members). And equally as important attract divers who are most likely to continue participating in the sport. It is a recognized fact that a huge percentage of newly certified scuba divers do not continue participating in the sport. Why? One of the reasons is, because they never do enough diving to feel comfortable in the water.
The lobbyists and the people in positions of power within and on the fringes of the NZUA would do well to remember,
Without it the organization will struggle to survive.
Make sure you read our regular contributor Judy Ann Newton-Harzer’s article in this issue, Save the whales – again, page 29. This is a critical look at the recent results (votes) of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting recently held in the West Indies. My editorial in the last issue questioned Japan’s need to hunt whales and the alliances it is establishing with our close South Pacific neighbours.
I would love to hear from anyone with the answer to: why it makes economical sense for the Japanese to continue with their desire to hunt whales when they have tons locked up in freezers?
Many believe next year’s IWC meeting will result in the lifting of the moratorium on world wide whaling. There is less than 12 months to try and turn the momentum that Japan is building. Visit:
and register your support.
Winter diving can be spectacular! In northern New Zealand divers are experiencing 25-30 metres of visibility, great for photography and spying that elusive crayfish – even in southern waters. The scallop season is open, check the, Take Limits in your area – enjoy!
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