Part 3 – 1970s through to 1999

A Snapshot of New Zealand Diving History – 1970s to 1999

Diving the Caves of Death

Extracts from the first ‘Modern Day’ expedition for the wreck of the

General Grant

in the Auckland Islands West Coast at 50 Degrees South, by John Dearling Dive South Pacific Magazine,1971, Vol 11, #5. Our skipper: Bill Gallagher. The divers: John (Jag) Gallagher, John Pettit, Kelly Tarlton, Peter Clements and myself. Deck Hand: Len Sherer. Cooks and Boatmen: Don Lock and John Calcott. The ship, the ‘Haumutana’, departed 23 February 1970. ‘We found the cave of death’ said Kelly adding ‘That’s the one’ as he had photos of it. So this was it – no mistake. Our hearts were beating with excitement and steam came off our breath as the master plan was made. Kelly and I were to dive first, swim into the cave, mark the gold position and then everyone would help raise it. (Just like that – no worries.) We jumped into the water and our warm bodies were soon shaking.

Five minutes and our fingers were hopeless. The current swept in and we would move in with it at about 15 m.p.h. then hang on whilst it raced out again. We saw bones of albatrosses, also bones that looked human but could have been from seals. No gold – not even a piece of wood or ballast from the ship which is usually left somewhere on a wreck site. We made our way out of the cave and reported back to the boys who were eagerly awaiting our return. It was a bitter blow to everyone that nothing was to be found. We decided to go further down the coast to see if there were more caves. There were, at least 1,000 of them, but where to start? In the morning we picked out the biggest caves, around fifty of them. We searched each but no luck.

Goat Island – New Zealand’s First Marine Reserve

The Okakari Point to Cape Rodney Marine Reserve at Leigh was officially opened in May 1977 by the then Minister of Fisheries, Mr Bolger. The reserve covers five kilometers of shoreline and includes 500 hectares of seabed and shore. At the centre of the reserve is Goat Island.

Fiordland’s Big Guns

NZ Dive Magazine, Vol 6, #3, May 1984. On March 5, 1984, two large iron cannons were discovered on the bottom of Fiordland’s Dusky Sound by members of Dr Simon Cotton’s 1984 Fiordland Expedition. Using an underwater magnetometer, Kelly Tarlton, found the cannons lying in the mud in 60 feet of water, where they had remained undisturbed for just over 188 years. The cannons were lost off a raft which capsized while ferrying equipment from an old and rotting ship the ‘Endeavour’. The ship was finally scrapped and driven ashore to become New Zealand’s first recorded European shipwreck.


NZ Dive Magazine, Sept 1984. PADI and NZUA diver training is now in direct competition for the first time in New Zealand. The decision of Sportways Aqua-lung Centre, Divers World (Wellington), Divers City (Henderson) and a few other smaller establishments around the country to offer PADI training and certification is a milestone for the sport here. The consequences could be very far-reaching. One thing is sure – if PADI gets a grip of diver training in this country then this could be financially damaging to the NZUA if not the death-knell to an organisation that is wholly New Zealand, strictly non-profit and totally dedicated to the welfare of divers.

NZUA move to PADI training

NZ ‘Dive’ Magazine, Jan 1986. The New Zealand Underwater Association’s big move to the American PADI systems takes affect from March 1, 1986. Final agreement was reached between the two bodies last month for the NZUA’s obtaining the PADI training franchise.

The Cyberdiver II – the beginning of diving’s electronic age

by Editor, Rob Lahood NZ Dive. August/September 1980. A new era in diving has begun with the arrival from Canada of the a dive computer – the Cyberdiver II. The electronic wizard that flashes and bleeps a concoction of digital and audio information for the diver of the ’80s is far cry from oil-filled capillary depth gauges and unlined wetsuits of the 60’s.

Rainbow Warrior

NZUA Downunder Newsletter, Vol 3, #6 Nov 1985. The NZUA is proud to announce that we will take possession of the Rainbow Warrior late October-early November. Immediately we receive Government permission we will have the Rainbow Warrior towed to Slipper Island where she will be sunk. Note: The French Government sunk the Rainbow Warrior at the Port of Auckland on 10th. July 1985. The Rainbow Warrior was eventually sunk at the Cavalli Islands.

NZUA Memorial for Kelly Tarlton

NZUA Downunder Newsletter, Vol 4, #3, May 1986. The NZUA, with the assistance of our immediate Past President, John Gallagher, has had a bronze casting made in the likeness of Kelly. There will be a ceremony to mark the presentation at Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, Friday, June 13, 1986.

The Kermadec Marine Reserve

Dive Log NZ, Dec 1990. The 16th of November 1990 was a red letter day for marine protection in New Zealand. This is the day that this country’s latest and largest marine reserve became official.

Mme Cousteau dies

Dive Log NZ, Dec 1990. Paris. Simone Cousteau who accompanied her husband Jacques-Yves Cousteau on hundreds of voyages aboard the marine research ship Calypso, died in December 1990 at her home in Monaco. She was 72. Married in 1937, the Cousteau’s spent most of their time aboard the Calypso on more than 1000 expeditions. Known by the Calypso’s crew as ‘the shepherdess’ for her ability to keep things running in order and settle shipboard quarrels. She is survived by her husband and a son, Jean-Michel. A second son Philippe, died in an air crash in 1981.

Monster at the Poor Knights

Dive Log NZ, June/July 1991. Kevin Butler, owner/manager of The Dive Shop in Whangarei while diving with Steve Brown and Murray Smith at 80 feet (24m) they could not believe their eyes when this old daddy of the sea came ambling along. A huge Bass – 8.5 foot (2.6m), 600-800lb?? (270-360kg) ‘drove around like a huge bus!’

Ports of Auckland Dumping

Dive Log NZ, Dec/Jan 1992. NZ Underwater continues to independently monitor the effect on surrounding sea areas of Ports of Auckland dumping 270,000 cubic metres of dredged sediment from the Port area three point five kilometers north-east of the Noises. Environmental groups and NZ Underwater objected to the dumping saying there was no guarantee that the dredging would all get to the seabed or stay within the confines of the dump site. The Ports of Auckland Water Right stated that dumping had to be completed by the start of the snapper spawning season which the ARC claimed was 1 November. However, Bruce Carter of NZ Underwater’s ERMAG (Environment Advisory Group) said nobody told the snapper that and they started spawning anyway on 1 October while the dumping was going on. By November the ARC fell 10,000 cubic metres short of their 270,000 cubic metres target.

End on an era for Calypso

Dive Log NZ, 1996. The diving world has lost its most famous ship, Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s research vessel Calypso. The wooden-hulled former minesweeper sank in January 1996, after being struck by a barge in a Singapore shipyard. The world-famous ship began life in 1942 as British minesweeper J-826. After the war, she entered service as a ferry between Gozo and Malta and was named Calypso (‘water nymph’). Bought by Cousteau in 1950. The Calypso was used over the last 45 years in virtually every area of marine research.

Sir Peter Blake to take over The Captain’s Role

Dive Log NZ, 1997. When Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau passed away earlier this year (1997), the sadness felt by New Zealand divers went hand in hand with pride when the Cousteau Society announced that New Zealand yachtsman Sir Peter Blake would take over Cousteau’s role as head of the Society. The Society’s requirements were for a leader who is ‘a sailor, an adventurer, an environmentalist, and a gentleman’ – and indeed a better description of Sir Peter Blake would be hard to find. Starting after the America’s Cup in the year 2000, he will carry the legacy of Cousteau to the new millennium at the helm of Calypso II.

Poor Knights a No-Take Marine Reserve … Finally

Dive Log NZ, 1997. Dr Nick Smith, Minister of Conservation, made his historic address to the New Zealand Underwater Association in Auckland on Friday May 30, 1997, in which he announced his decision to finally make the Poor Knights Islands a total no-take marine reserve. In his address he stated ‘The bottom-line on which I base my decision is the Marine Reserves Act itself. Section 3 (1) of the Marine Reserve Act clearly indicates that the purpose of a marine reserve is to preserve the marine life for scientific study where it is of such distinctive quality, or so typical, or beautiful, or unique that their continued preservation is in the national interest. I was advised by the recreational fishermen and the charter operators that there was strong agreement that Aorangi Island should be a no-fishing zone, and that this could take place immediately. For this reason, the ban on all fishing in that part of the Marine Reserve surrounding Aorangi Island will take effect on October 1, 1997’.

20th Feb 1999 – TUI says Goodbye

Dive NZ, #51, Apr/May 1999. History was made when the NZ Navy’s ship, HMNZ Tui finally came to rest at 23m just north of the Tutukaka harbour entrance to become an artificial reef, to be dived by divers from all over the world for the next 100 plus years. This project was accomplished by a very dedicated and hard working Tutukaka Coast Promotion’s team of Jerven Jongejam, Andy Britton, Harvie Fergusson, Malcolm Pullman and Peter Vink. Note:In November 1999 they have also successfully purchased the HMNZ Waikato, which will be sunk late in the year 2000.

New Age Rebreathers enables some of New Zealand’s deep Shipwrecks to be knocked-off. Diving the Puriri at 100m

Dive NZ, #51, Apr/May 1999. On January 9, 1999, Tim Cashman and Pete Mesley descended from Phil Bendle’s charter boat Norseman onto the wreck of the HMNZS Puriri. This was the first time anyone had dived the wreck since she went down 58 year ago. On June 14, 1941 she struck a German mine and sunk within minutes, claiming five lives. She now lies in 100m of water, nine miles northeast of Whangarei Heads.

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