By Dave Moran
Its all about comraderie.
The smiles on the guys’ faces said it all. These divers were not just divers, they were Royal New Zealand Navy divers. They were also from a time in New Zealand’s history when Navy’s divers were called upon to carry out dives on targets that were splashed all over the media’s headlines.
Such events as: The Wellington ferry TEV Wahine wrecked on Barrett Reef Wellington harbour (10 April 1968); Locating the RAAF, F111 fighter bomber that crashed into Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf (25 October 1978). During the investigation they lost one of their own; Assisting the investigation into the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour (10 July 1985).
Divers of those days, Dusty Miller and Spud Murphy got together and decided that it was about time for another reunion, their last being in 1991. The 25th anniversary of the Rainbow’s bombing was perfect timing.
On the evening of Friday 9 July, I could hear the laughter as I walked towards HMNZS Manawanui moored at Opua Wharf in the Bay of Islands.
The crew aboard the Navy’s diving vessel welcomed the ‘divers’ and their partners aboard. It was a proud moment for the crew to have aboard these men who had, in part, created the aura surrounding the Operational Diving team (ODT)
The drinks were flowing and the plates of crayfish were going down well. Many of the divers had not met up for many years – some were not sure who was who! A mannequin dress in a rebreather kit from a bygone era had many of the old timers reminiscing much to the interest of the young divers. For Dusty and his helpers it was the perfect start to a weekend of renewing old friendships and recalling their times as Navy divers.
Saturday morning the Manawanui headed to the final resting place of the Rainbow Warrior at the Cavalli Islands. For the young divers it was a privilege for them to dive the Warrior with the men who had gone before them. A dive they will always remember. Heather Roy the former ACT Party Deputy Leader and at the time the Associate Defence Minister was also aboard. Her visit was to more fully understand what the ODT was about and I could see she was blown away by the atmosphere aboard – these guys had tighter links than an All Blacks scrum! She even donned scuba gear and with Dusty and others by her side, she experienced her first dive.
Sunday was recovery day! There is no better medicine than a hangi! Dusty who, with his wife Aroha, son Cam and daughter Michaela operate Beach Side Holiday Park (www.beachsideholiday.co.nz) and Dive Ops in the Bay of Islands (www.diveops.co.nz) prepared a feast that had all the traditions that make New Zealand’s culture so unique. As the steam rose from the hangi pit the singing, laughter and the sinking of a few quite ales continued!
There could be no better way to finish off a reunion of divers who had experienced more than most and who in their own humble way enjoyed again what was so much part of their younger years. They all knew that they are part of a proud Navy tradition that is very unique within the Services – they had the right stuff to be a member of the ODT. For me it was an absolute honour to be in their company – thanks Dusty.
The Significance of the Operational Diving Team Badge:
The Operational Diving Team badge is based on the protective Maori symbol ‘He Tekoteko’.
He Tekoteko is a carved figure that stands outside, or on top of a Marae (Maori meeting house), defiant to all conditions of weather. It provides strength, inspiration, spirit, knowledge and guards against obstacles that may block its path.
Held above He Tekoteko’s head is a sea mine. The addition of a mine symbol gives He Tekoteko a ‘Diving Sea Warrior’ identity. His pledge is to strive to protect all in his team, with the core values of courage, strength and loyalty. The Korus (markings on the body and face) represent the scars received through the intense training a Navy diver endures throughout his career and the many pathways one must follow to become a diver.
The Operational Diving Team Motto is:
‘Whakamaaia, Whakakaha, Whakapono’
‘Courage, Strength, Loyalty’