John Malcolm


YOB: 1931
Experience: Commercial Fisherman
Regions: Otago, Catlins, Fiordland
Interview Location: Palmerston, NZ
Interview Date: 02 February 2016
Post Date: 25 October 2017; Copyright © 2017 John Malcolm and Steve Crawford


CRAWFORD: You said that some of the old-timers told you about seeing White Pointers in the lower harbour? 

MALCOLM: Yes, I remember, there was a boat, the Isle Lewis, I think it was. Fred Gibbs, Berty Lewis were on it. They were coming up the harbour one day, and they stopped to clean fish, and next thing the boat started shaking. "What the blazes!" There’s a White Pointer had their rudder, and was shaking the boat. No one believed, but the next time they went on the slip you saw broken teeth in the woodwork.

CRAWFORD: When do you figure that might have been? 

MALCOLM: That would have been about 1946/47. Yes. 

CRAWFORD: Did they see the shark following them? 

MALCOLM: No, they were just cleaning fish. Next thing, the boat was shaking. "What the hell’s going on here!" When they looked, there was nothing there. And all they could deduce to be a shark. People thought they’re mad, but when they went down for the annual scrub and paint, you’d see the broken teeth on the wooden rudder. 

CRAWFORD: That vessel would have been out day fishing from Port Chalmers, I presume?

MALCOLM: Day fishing, yes.

CRAWFORD: Roughly what speed would that vessel have been going on the way back in? 

MALCOLM: Well, at that time, the wind had been blowing and they waited till they were 2/3 up the harbour, put it out of gear, and just drifting while they were cleaning. 

CRAWFORD: When you say 2/3 up the harbour, you mean the lower harbour? 

MALCOLM: Up to Port Chalmers from the entrance. A lot of fishermen used to do that - stop the boat, put it out of gear, and carry on cleaning. Avoid throw all the rubbish around the wharf that way. 

CRAWFORD: That kind of aggressive behaviour against the rudder. Is that something that other fishermen talked about as well? 

MALCOLM: Yes. It happened to me as well. [described above]

Copyright © 2017 John Malcolm and Steve Crawford