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  • Parekaia Tapiata

Diving memories, good and bad

Updated: Mar 12

Towards the end of last year I went on a diving and fishing trip to Aotea Great Barrier island, with a group of school friends. It was a special occasion as it was also a reunion for all of us, and our charter boat would launch from Harataunga Kennedy’s Bay. Many of us had whakapapa tying us back to the area. The trip was three days and two nights, and was also my first time staying overnight on a boat.




Man with fish caught at Aotea Great Barrier Island
Parakaia with his catch of the day.

My brother and I arrived at our cousin Moni’s house in the middle of the night and were welcomed by a school song that we had not heard in more than 10 years. It was like taking a step back in time to when we were all little school kids, listening to our fathers and uncles singing their top hits.

 

The next morning we met our captain and our vessel. We loaded all of the cargo on board and set out for our destination. I even had a chance to steer the vessel (although it may have been on autopilot).

 

When we arrived at our first destination, we quickly suited up and got stuck in to collecting some kai. I was mesmerised by the tropical marine life, which was different to the marine life I am used to seeing in the cold waters of Wellington. Later that night some of us were able to go out and do some night diving for snapper. Being in the water at night was both terrifying and peaceful at the same time.

 

The next day we went out to deep water where the kingfish would be. Where the big fish swim is also where the sharks come to play. As I made my way down to the bottom of a ledge, I heard my cousin Moni screaming from the top, “shark, shark!” As I emerged from the water hoping that I had misheard him, Moni yelled again to me, “There’s a shark close by!”

 

I hurried over to help him and as I got closer, he calmly said to me, “I’ve got kingfish on.”  I forgot all about the shark and dove down to secure a holding for Moni and we quickly loaded his catch on to the boat. Like an excited child I quickly got back into the water, this time without a diving partner.  I only had one thing on my mind: to shoot my kingfish and get back on board. I had seen kahawai, trevally and blue maomao, but the mighty kingfish was the only one eluding me. Finally I heard my cousin Moni scream those frightening words again, and although I could not see it, I could feel the shark’s presence. I took that as a sign to pack up my things and go. Luckily enough I was able to shoot two kingfish at our next stop, which I took as a tohu that I had been right to leave when the shark signalled me to go.

 

On our return we even managed to squeeze in a bit of jig fishing, which reminded me of my love of rod fishing. It also reminded of how strenuous it can be on your arm. When our boat pulled into the landing, I was lucky enough to be given a container of live oysters to take home. It was the only criteria that my ‘hunny’ Irihia put in place for me before I left for this trip. Our trip to Aotea Great Barrier will never be forgotten, for the time spent with friends and the experience gained in the water, but most notably for the two close calls I had with the shark that I will remember forever.

 

Nā Parekaia Tapiata



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