Ross Newton

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YOB: 1947
Experience: Commercial Fisherman, Spearfisherman, Scuba Diver
Regions: Otago, Fiordland, Foveaux Strait, Rakiura
Interview Location: Dunedin, NZ
Interview Date: 25 January 2016
Post Date: 08 July 2017; Copyright © 2017 Ross Newton and Steve Crawford

 

1. EXPERIENCE IN AOTEAROA/NZ COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS

CRAWFORD: Ross, you said you were born in Dunedin, and I think you said 1947?

NEWTON: That’s right.

CRAWFORD: Do you remember the age at which you first started spending a significant amount of time around the water?

NEWTON: Probably when I got to about my late teens. Round about 18 or 19.

CRAWFORD: When you were a younger lad, was it not the type of thing that your parents would spend time down at the Otago Harbour or over at St. Clair, St. Kilda, or anything like that?

NEWTON: No, though we lived at Tomahawk. And I spent a lot of time around the beach in that area, but not in the water. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Let’s include any time around, or on, or in the water. To the extent that you would have seen things from the shore. Or even if you were high up on the peninsula looking down, that’s still part of it. 

NEWTON: Right. 

CRAWFORD: So, your family had property close to Tomahawk then?

NEWTON: That’s right. I lived there, for when I was about s6 to about 13. So, I was there about seven years. 

CRAWFORD: When you were outside, close to the water, what kinds of things were you doing?

NEWTON: Probably building play huts and fighting, and things like that. Cowboys and Indians - that sort of thing. 

CRAWFORD: Yeah, but in a region where you would have been close to visual contact with the water for much of the time?

NEWTON: Yes, yes. In fact, when I went to Tomahawk School, there’s Bird Island. You know Bird Island? 

CRAWFORD: No. 

NEWTON: It’s just off Tomahawk. Smaill's Beach, actually. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. 

NEWTON: And I remember going out there with the school, at very low tide, and doing a social study of the marine environment out there. But I don’t remember anything else about it. 

CRAWFORD: When you were playing around as a kid there, were you at sea level or above by some significant amount?

NEWTON: Probably more so at sea level. 

CRAWFORD: When you were kicking around playing huts, playing games, the ocean was right there, the surf zone was right there. Did you ever spend any significant amount of time up on the cliffs looking down?

NEWTON: Some, but not much. And part of the reason why we never ventured into the water much there, was they had the sewage outflow just to the south of that, and there was quite often sewage on the beach.

CRAWFORD: Was that raw, untreated sewage?

NEWTON: It was. 

CRAWFORD: Was it the primary discharge for the city of Dunedin?

NEWTON: Yes. 

CRAWFORD: That’s a substantial amount of nasty stuff going into the water. What do you reckon, was that approximately a kilometre away? How far?

NEWTON: Yeah, yeah. Just around the corner from the beach. Less than a kilometre.

CRAWFORD: Were you told by family or friends or teachers or whomever, that it was not safe to go swimming there?

NEWTON: No. Because just roundabout that particular time, people did used to go swimming there. The sewage never came in until I’d been there a short while. Then you used to see it on the beach, so you didn’t want to go in there anyway. 

CRAWFORD: I'm guessing that you also didn't do any fishing there either, or going out in dinghies or anything like that?

NEWTON: No. And they’ve only fixed that within the last, five years or so. 

CRAWFORD: When you say "fixed it," what do you mean?

NEWTON: Well, they run up further out. They’ve run it a way out. And the treatment’s much better as well. It needs to be broke up, whereas it used to be in lumps on the beach, you know?

CRAWFORD: Ok. Was your family living at Tomahawk all the way through until your late teens?

NEWTON: I lived there till I was 13. 

CRAWFORD: And then moved elsewhere in town?

NEWTON: Yeah, to South Dunedin. 

CRAWFORD: And when you moved to south Dunedin, did you spend much time at St. Clair or St. Kilda?

NEWTON: Probably not much. Although when I was about 15 or 16, I started doing the surf life saving club things. I was a freshwater bronze. And then I was to do my surf ones, and that’s when Les Jordan got taken by the shark then. Then I probably spent three or four years of not going near the beach. Everybody in Dunedin was probably a bit like that, I suppose.

CRAWFORD: Ok. We’ll come back to that later on in the interview but that's a natural marker in your history, at the age of about 16 - when the attack took place, and you basically didn’t spend any significant amount of time on the water?

NEWTON: That’s right. 

CRAWFORD: What was the next thing that brought you back to the coastal waters?

NEWTON: Well I was a panel-beater then. And I was fixing a car for a friend of mine, and he said he was going to do a dive course at the swimming pool up here at Moana Pool. And I said "Oh, I wouldn't mind doing that." So, I went along as well.

CRAWFORD: And you started scuba diving then, in those relatively early years?

NEWTON: Yes. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly how old were you then? 

NEWTON: I was probably about 20 by then, because I was married. 

CRAWFORD: But you didn't have any scuba background at all before that? You just went in cold?

NEWTON: Yeah. But we didn’t scuba dive. In those days, they didn’t let you scuba dive for about a year. You had to do all this snorkel stuff for about a year, before you got into scuba diving. 

CRAWFORD: Why was that?

NEWTON: I don’t know. It was probably just to get you trained, because in those days nobody had boats either. So, you used to jump off the rocks, you know?

CRAWFORD: Shore access dives?

NEWTON: Yeah. We used to dive a lot at Aramoana

CRAWFORD: Alright, let’s go back then. Once you started your scuba training, even though it was just snorkeling or free diving to begin with, was there an equal emphasis between classroom and field? Or is it all field or mostly classroom?

NEWTON: Well, they did a bit of both. You had to do this classroom stuff. Which I wasn’t very good at. They also did scuba diving as well, in the pool. 

CRAWFORD: When you were doing your free diving in the region, what were the most common places you would go?

NEWTON: Seal Point over on the peninsula here. I used to go there a lot, spearfishing. Down at Aramoana, along the Mole. I used to go out between Purakaunui and Long Beach. We used to go out there on holidays.

CRAWFORD: Anywhere over near St. Clair, St. Kilda?

NEWTON: We used to scuba dive out at Bird Island when I started scuba diving. That might have been a bit later. Probably another five years after that. Green Island. Once we started getting boats and that we’d go to places like Green Island. 

CRAWFORD: That’s probably an important break point in this as well. You were 19, 20 years old when the scuba diving training started?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Spent a fair amount of time free diving, but also doing spearfishing associated with that. When did you actually start scuba diving? 20? or 21?

NEWTON: Probably roundabout then. 

CRAWFORD: And when you started scuba diving, was it scuba diving in the same places in the peninsula region, or did you start going to new destinations?

NEWTON: We probably did go to some other destinations, where it was deeper. But we used to do quite a lot at Aramoana. Did quite a lot out at Green Island and White Island. And places like the Puddingstone and Cape Saunders. And I remember, there was a guy called Dollar Doyle here, and he had a boat and he asked me if I’d go with him and like, that was pretty special to go out in this boat. We went to Gull Rock and Co Rock out there. We went at 7 in the morning, and we were back home by about 10 o’clock. One of my mates said "Ah well, we better go to Seal Point, and go sealing for the day," as far as he was concerned. I was used to going for the whole day. He and the guy grab some crayfish, and came back home again. 

CRAWFORD: Was there a seasonality to when you were doing your diving - either free diving or scuba diving? Was it mostly in the summer, or throughout the year?

NEWTON: Mostly the summer in those days, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly how much time were you able to commit to this? Was this a day a week, kind of thing?

NEWTON: Probably, yeah. I became pretty dedicated, probably more so than a lot of other people.

CRAWFORD: And when you became more dedicated, what would it have been? Two or three days a week then?

NEWTON: No, probably still only the weekend, because I worked during the weeks. But in the summer, you now we had the long days. Often we’d go out diving after work. I’ve got a friend, who’s still a good friend of mine, Paul Young. Him and me started commercial Pāua diving as well. I remember one night, we went to a place called Summering Rock, we were dragging our fish up the hill and it was dark. We’d been out ... knocked off work, raced out there and gone diving. Nobody else used to dive out there, and I remember one day there I shot three Butterfish, or Greenbone as most people out here call them. Three of them with one shot! There was just so many fish.

CRAWFORD: With one shot?

NEWTON: Yeah [laughs].

CRAWFORD: Three fish?

NEWTON: One of them was by accident. We used to try and shoot two of them. But one of them, one must have been swimming past, and I had it. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly how old were you when this happened?

NEWTON: I would have probably been maybe 20’s -ish, I suppose. We used to dive up Moeraki and Shag Point and nice places.

CRAWFORD: The point I'm trying to make is that, when you’re diving on the weekends, you’re diving full days. Probably out early, maybe staying out late. But when you’re diving during the week days, you’re heading out a 5 o’clock or whatever, and so you’re out there towards dusk. I'll ask you more about that, later in the interview. Was there anything else that happened between your 20s and when you started doing commercial Pāua diving full time? Or were you panel beating throughout, with that same type of schedule right through your 30s as well?

NEWTON: Well, Paul Young and I become really good friends. I didn’t know him before I started diving, and he was as keen as me. We just used to walk everywhere. All over the Otago Peninsula, everywhere. We’d go everywhere. Karitane, we used to go there a lot.  

CRAWFORD: Walk - as in, that’s how you got around?

NEWTON: Yeah. Because we didn’t have a boat. But Paul was a motor mechanic. Him and me did a couple of write-offs - you know, smashed up cars?

CRAWFORD: Yeah. 

NEWTON: Did them up together. We actually did three of them, and got enough money to buy our own boat. And that’s how we got our first boat, which became a bit more adventurous.

CRAWFORD: Roughly what age were you when you got the boat?

NEWTON: We were probably ... that would have probably still been our mid 20s, About 1975.

CRAWFORD: What size boat was it?

NEWTON: It was only about a 15 foot 6. A ply-boat. And we bought a Chrysler outboard motor - they were terrible motors. 

CRAWFORD: Did you trailer it? Or did you have it at a dock?

NEWTON: We trailered it, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: You would drive to wherever you wanted to go, launch the boat. That meant that extended your range along the coast, and offshore?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Was it the case that you now started diving offshore reefs? Or places that would have been harder to get to from shore?

NEWTON: Yeah. We didn’t actually keep that boat very long. After that was about another 15-foot boat, and then I’ve had a 16-foot boat, and then I bought a 20-foot boat. So, it kind of progressed up. 

CRAWFORD: This was during your late 20s and 30s?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And was this mostly scuba diving now? Or were you still doing some free diving?

NEWTON: We did a bit of both, really. Well, when I was about 27 or 28, I went to Australia for two and a half years. I didn’t do any diving in that period. And then on the weekend straight after I got back, that first weekend I was out diving again. But I didn’t do any diving for two and a half years over there. 

CRAWFORD: Any particular reason?

NEWTON: I worked a lot. Spent a lot more time with my wife and children, I suppose. 

CRAWFORD: When you were diving, free diving or scuba diving here - before and after Australia - was it the same general locations? Or, when you got the boats were you going to different locations?

NEWTON: Same general locations, really. 

CRAWFORD: Same amount of time diving as well? Were you still panel beating throughout this?

NEWTON: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Alright. From your early to late 30’s, did anything else change in a big way? In terms of, where or how you were on or under the water?

NEWTON: I spent probably more time with family, not so much with the guys. We used to have picnic days once a month, as well. You’d go to a place where it was good for families and that. So, I tended to go there more. My sons got really pretty keen on the water as well. Water kids, in a sense, had been born with it. And they’re Pāua divers now, as well. 

CRAWFORD: You’ve got two sons that are now commercial Pāua divers?

NEWTON: Three sons that are commercial Pāua divers. Two of them are here, and one lives up north, and he works up there. 

CRAWFORD: So, this was really a marine family? You guys were in the water a lot. 

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: By way of interest. Did your sons go through any kind of swimming lessons?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: They learned from being around the water with you?

NEWTON: I guess so, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did they ever go through surf life saving, or anything like that?

NEWTON: Well, my middle son, he was what they call a Nipper at the surf club as St. Kilda. We used to live not far from there, and he got into surfing and then his two brothers got into surfing as well. But Steven and Jason, they basically have been doing all the diving now. I haven’t done any for about a year or more. 

CRAWFORD: Let's get back to your spearfishing. Did you ever do any competitions?

NEWTON: I had dived before in spearfishing competitions at Stewart Island.

CRAWFORD: Those competitions would have been in your late 20’s?

NEWTON: Probably early 20’s to late 20’s, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did you have family connections with Stewart Island?

NEWTON: No.

CRAWFORD: You just went there because it was - you thought it’d be good spearfishing?

NEWTON: Well I was involved with the Otago Underwater Club and I became the trip organizer, So I organized trips to the likes of Stewart Island.

CRAWFORD: Were those maybe trips once a month or so?

NEWTON: Oh, no. I went as often as I could, but that was probably every three months, or something like that. A couple of times in the summer. I did some charter trips, but I also did some spearfishing trips over there.

CRAWFORD: Was Stewart Island a place you had been to several times, because it had a reputation for good spearfishing? Or was it just a place where you wanted to go?

NEWTON: Well, we used to have these competitions, where we’d do one up here and then one down in the south. Southland Diving Club would organize the competition, and more often than not they took us to Stewart Island. 

CRAWFORD: What was their rationale for spearfishing at Stewart Island though?

NEWTON: They thought it was better. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Please give me a general overview of other places that you’ve been spearfishing - on your own, or in competition. Around South Island in general, what were your hotspots for spearfishing?

NEWTON: Around French Pass, right at the top of the South Island.

CRAWFORD: Over towards Marlborough Sound?

NEWTON: Pretty much beside the Marlborough Sound. And as I said, I used to spearfish a lot of the Otago Peninsula. And I guess, Stewart Island.

CRAWFORD: Those’d be the three big places?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: When you spearfished, back in the day, around Foveaux Strait, where did you go spearfishing?

NEWTON: We did some over at Ruapuke. We used to go and stay over, not at Topis’, but Mason Whitetree used to be over there.

CRAWFORD: Was he a spearfisherman as well?

NEWTON: No, he was an old guy. 

CRAWFORD: Somebody was just friends with him, or what?

NEWTON: Yeah. So, we used to go out and stay with him. I think it was through Paul Young - he knew him. So, that’s how we went over there.

CRAWFORD: Alright.

NEWTON: I think we did a bit ‘round the islands, here. 

CRAWFORD: Spearfishing the Northern Titi Islands?

NEWTON: Yeah. But I specifically remember diving Port William. I specifically remember doing a spearfishing comp there. And I also remember Halfmoon Bay. Yeah, we dived along that face along this side - they had a South Islands spearfishing champs along there.

CRAWFORD: Ok. Along the south shore, headed out towards so maybe between Leask Bay and Ackers Point? Along that region?

NEWTON: Yeah, yep. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. I’m just trying to put some rough dates on this ...

NEWTON: Well when we dived the competition there, I think it was about 1973 maybe?

CRAWFORD: Ok. And what about Port William?

NEWTON: Well, that would have been early 70’s as well. 

CRAWFORD: What about the islands - the Titi Islands?

NEWTON: I can’t quite remember when I used to go around there, but that would probably be in that sort of mid 70’s to 80’s. And I’m trying to think what I did when I came back from Australia when I lived there for two and a half years. That might have been when I did a few charter trips over there as well. 

CRAWFORD: When you did fish out at the Titi Islands, do you remember which Islands you spearfished around?

NEWTON: No, I don’t. I probably wouldn’t have even known the names of those islands, in those days. I do remember spearfishing in this region - I’m sure it was before I was commercial diving. I seem to remember there's some 'beef barrels' or something they call them, on top of Bench Island. I’m pretty sure I spearfished there because I can still remember to this day, there was this huge big Blue Cod and a big Moki, and I was going "Which one will I shoot?"

CRAWFORD: Yeah? [laughs] And which one did you shoot?

NEWTON: [laughing] I can’t remember ... which one I shot, but I can remember they were really big, you know?

CRAWFORD: It seems most of your spearfishing was on the northeast side of Stewart Island. Or did you do anything else around Stewart island?

NEWTON: It was a long time before I came up at the top. But I remember coming up and diving up around Ruggedy Passage and round that area there. And that’s about all I can remember. 

CRAWFORD: Any other activities on the water back in those days?

NEWTON: I also used to do quite a bit of line fishing and that in the early 80’s.

CRAWFORD: Around the Otago Peninsula region?

NEWTON: Yeah, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Was that from your boat, or did you go out with other people?

NEWTON: My boat mostly. I had a 20-foot boat then. 

CRAWFORD: Right but relative to the amount of time you spent diving, what percentage did you spend fishing?

NEWTON: Well, if I went out, quite often I’d go diving, then we’d do some fishing afterwards. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. You said earlier on that you began commercial diving at about the age of 40?

NEWTON: 42, I think I was. 

CRAWFORD: 42. You don’t hear that every day. When somebody in their 40s just takes a complete change in direction, but also does it by undertaking something that’s physically strenuous - on the extreme side of physical. You have to be in good shape to be a Pāua diver. You switched from being a full-time panel beater, to being a full-time commercial Pāua diver. How did that happen?

NEWTON: Well, there was another guy who was working offshore oil rigs, and he bought some Pāua quota. And he was getting my son, who was quite the diver even then when he was about 15, 16. He got Grant to go diving with him in the holidays. And then, next thing he said to me was "You want to get some of this quota?" Because, I was still diving as an amateur then. So I tried to buy some quota, but I couldn’t buy any initially. Then Paul Young, who I mentioned before, he came and saw me, and said "If I can get some quota will you come into it with me?" I was going to a place called the Rolling Shores in Western Australia for spearfishing. It was 120 kilometres offshore, or something like that, and it’s three big reefs there. We shot some pretty amazing fish there. And then I rang my wife back then, I rang her and she said "You got some quota, so when you come back again, go to Stewart Island."

CRAWFORD: And from that point you and Paul Young were business partners? Late 1980s?

NEWTON: 1987.

CRAWFORD: Right. But this means relocation, at least for when you’re working. 

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What was the seasonality of your Pāua diving?

NEWTON: Well, I kept my panel shop as well for the first year and a half or so. And Paul had a little garage and he sort of kept that up for a while as well. 

CRAWFORD: Because you weren’t exactly sure what was going to happen with Pāua diving?

NEWTON: Probably, yeah. And then we just used to go down there for a couple of weeks, and then come home, and go back for a couple of weeks, and come home, you know?

CRAWFORD: Ok. What about seasonality to the Pāua diving?

NEWTON: Probably not. Because we started in August, end of July, early August I think it was. And it’s certainly not warm here in July and August. In fact, I remember we were staying at Stewart Island, and we had a house there, and we were with another guy as well. They went to the pub this night, and they came back and there was a smell in the house because I had my feet in the cold range - trying to warm them up, and I’d singed my socks. So, not warm down there at that time of the year, I can tell ya. [Both laugh]. And there was no electricity then. You had a generator. Bathwater was like the colour of this table, you know? All of us used to bathe from the same water, sort of thing, you know?

CRAWFORD: This was the late 80s?

NEWTON: Yeah, late 80s.

CRAWFORD: How many of those 2-3 week blocks do you reckon through the year you would have been gone Pāua diving? Half a dozen of those trips through the year? Something like that?

NEWTON: Yeah, we were going to the islands pretty regular. In fact, the first place I Pāua dived back down there was out on the Bunkers

CRAWFORD: Now, let’s just put a pause, let’s advance to you and Paul Young and your Pāua quota. Those 2-3 week blocks that you went down to Stewart Island for Pāua diving. Did you dive Halfmoon Bay?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What kind of boat were you on?

NEWTON: Initially, we just had a little boat that I had, which was about an 18-footer, with a 120 or 140 motor.

CRAWFORD: You fished out at Halfmoon Bay on day trips? Or did you do multiple day trips?

NEWTON: We would go out north to the [Titi] Islands. 

CRAWFORD: You did Pāua diving around all the islands? Or were there some islands that were a bit more productive than the others?

NEWTON: Well, we used to like Bunkers. But generally, we dived all around them. We certainly dived around the edges quite a lot. 

CRAWFORD: And this was late 80’s or early 90’s?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: So, you were doing this well before any of the White Pointer research projects? And well before any of the cage dive tour operations?

NEWTON: Yeah.

NEWTON: I remember the first day I did was at Bunkers, and I thought “I’m not gonna be able to do this. It’s too damn hard.”

CRAWFORD: Just in terms of the work load?

NEWTON: Yeah. yeah. 

CRAWFORD: But then you become accustomed to it?

NEWTON: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. 

CRAWFORD: Were you selling you Pāua back in Halfmoon Bay, or did you have to transport them elsewhere?

NEWTON: No, we sold them in Halfmoon Bay. But when we started diving the east coast [of South Island] - the Catlins and that, we used to have to take them to Bluff or even Moeraki.

CRAWFORD: Ok, but for this period of time you and Paul were still day-tripping out of Halfmoon Bay?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And still mostly around the Northern Titi Islands. Did you do any fishing along the …

NEWTON: Yeah used to go right up toward Ruggedy Passage. We rarely came through here until later. But in the early stage, we dived a lot of the east coast, and down to Port Adventure - down that way.

CRAWFORD: Basically, the whole northeastern side of the island. How many years were you and Paul doing that?

NEWTON: Paul and I probably worked it only for about a few years down there. And then about 1991, I went my way, and he went his. 

CRAWFORD: Alright. And after that, were you still doing Pāua diving as your principle business? Full-time?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did that mean buying some more quota, or leasing quota?

NEWTON: Yeah, I’d bought some quota by then. I had about 8 tons. We were doing the Catlins, sort of about that time as well. We bought a big boat and we started working out of Bluff. 

CRAWFORD: How big?

NEWTON: 72 feet. 

CRAWFORD: That’s a big boat. 

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What was the name?

NEWTON: The Poseidon. They used to call it the Black Bucks. 

CRAWFORD: Black Bucks?

NEWTON: Yeah. Because we were catching so many Pāuas.

CRAWFORD: Ok. How many crew?

NEWTON: I think the most we had at one stage was 13, and probably 9 of them might have been divers. 

CRAWFORD: That is a big operation. 

NEWTON: The most we caught in one year was 120 tonne. 

CRAWFORD: And with that 72-footer, your range …

NEWTON: We moved into Fiordland

CRAWFORD: What year was that that you started fishing out of Bluff?

NEWTON: 1991. 

CRAWFORD:  Were you focusing most of your effort on Fiordland then, or a split between Fiordland and Foveaux Strait?

NEWTON: Mostly Fiordland. When they did a graph, they couldn’t work out why there was this big spike in Fiordland. 

CRAWFORD: That was you?

NEWTON: That was us, yeah. I don’t know if anybody ever realized that, but a friend of mine said “I’ve seen a graph, and it bounces up when you were doing Fiordland.”

CRAWFORD: Where else, other that Fiordland, were you fishing Pāua?

NEWTON: Well, we did still go around Stewart Island.

CRAWFORD: With the bigger vessel, was it no longer just the northeast shoreline? Did you fish around the entire island, or just certain spots?

NEWTON: Probably the whole thing. We might get in here, and we might get in there, or we might get in there.

CRAWFORD: Did you ever go Pāua diving along the western side? Like in behind Codfish Island?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Southwest Cape, Masons? The whole thing?

NEWTON: Yeah. I reckon I swam right round the whole island. [laughs]

CRAWFORD: I don’t doubt you for a minute. Ok. So, you were Pāua fishing Fiordland, Stewart Island …

NEWTON: And the Catlins.

CRAWFORD: In terms of the split of effort was it equal among those three regions?

NEWTON: Probably mostly Fiordland. Probably still is now. Maybe 50% in Fiordland and 25% each in the other two. Then we sort of went away from Stewart Island because Pāua got quite hard to catch there. 

CRAWFORD: When was that, roughly?

NEWTON: Well, they split the area into three. It was roundabout then. Stewart Island was starting to struggle. It’s coming back, but I haven’t dived there much for a while. But on the east coast, we just used to use roundabouts mostly. 

CRAWFORD: When you were using your smaller boats, you were deploying from the Poseidon?

NEWTON: Yeah. But when we would go up the east coast, quite often we would just go straight off. And we still do that now. 

CRAWFORD: How far up the Catlins did you fish?

NEWTON: We did the whole thing. 

CRAWFORD: All the way up to the Nuggets?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Ultimately when you stopped most of your fishing around Stewart Island, did it then become mostly Fiordland and Catlins? 

NEWTON: Yeah. Probably 70% Fiordland, then Catlins, with a little bit of Stewart Island still as well. They split the area in three, so it limited where we could fish. Like the Catlins can be hard to fish, whereas Stewart Island - we’d end up going that way, because you can always get in somewhere there. 

CRAWFORD: Would it be fair to say that throughout the entire time that you’ve been commercial Pāua fishing, there has always been some sort of Pāua fishing on the northeast side of Stewart Island - pretty much every year?

NEWTON: Well, we haven’t much in the last five or six years. Probably it would be 16 years since I’ve dived there to any degree.

CRAWFORD: So, from 1990 to about 2000, for that decade, you’ve got a time series of Pāua diving the northeast side of Stewart Island, plus or minus? Mostly Fiordland, and some Catlins?

NEWTON: Yeah. We also used to do a bit down on Seal Rocks, which is over here. 

CRAWFORD: East of Ruapuke?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

NEWTON: And some round here, like Monkey Island here and then just right round. I’ve done a lot around this area here. 

CRAWFORD: In between Riverton and Colac Bay? That region?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: How long did you have the Poseidon until? Roughly. 

NEWTON: From about 1990 to … We didn’t keep it that long. Probably only had it for about two or three years. And then I went to Australia and bought an Australian fast boat - it was called the Predator. 

CRAWFORD: How big was it?

NEWTON: It was 52 feet - 16 meters.

CRAWFORD: But it was fast?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Lots of cargo space? Working deck all that? 

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And that became your primary boat? Or your only boat?

NEWTON: Primary boat yeah. We had two. Then we had a couple of inflatables.

CRAWFORD: How long did you fish the Predator?

NEWTON: Probably through till 2000 - odd. And then I built a new boat. 

CRAWFORD: So, for about five years from the Predator? 

NEWTON: Then we built up a new boat, and put it in the water January 2001. 

CRAWFORD: How big was that?

NEWTON: It was 20 meters - 65 feet. It was called the Paragon. Built at Port Chalmers.

CRAWFORD: And you started fishing it in 2001?

NEWTON: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Same kind of regions and activities as before?

NEWTON: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: How long did you fish the Paragon?

NEWTON: Up until about two years ago, not quite two years ago. When the boys picked up in the rocks on Shoby Island in Fiordland. The insurance company wrote it off. So, we went to Australia, and bought a smaller boat but not that much smaller. It was 57 feet. 

CRAWFORD: When?

NEWTON: 18 months ago. 

CRAWFORD: I’ve heard you described as semi-retired. 

NEWTON: [laughs] 

CRAWFORD: I’m not sure I believe any of it. When did you Pāua diving start to slow down? Or was it full time, and then you went right down to zero?

NEWTON: Well what sort of started to happen was, I would get in the water for the morning, and then I’d get out and make sure everything was in the holds and the water was going.

CRAWFORD: Ok. And the boys, your mates your crew, they were all diving for the rest of the day. But you were up top, you were still on the water one way or another. 

NEWTON: Yeah. The last commercial Pāua diving I did was probably, nearly two years ago. 

CRAWFORD: When you stopped, was that really the first time you weren’t spending a lot of time on the water?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

 

2. EXPOSURE TO MĀORI/LOCAL/SCIENCE KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS

CRAWFORD: How much has Māori culture knowledge affected your knowledge of the marine ecosystems, in general? Not just White Pointers.

NEWTON: Not at all. I wouldn’t think.

CRAWFORD: Ok. In terms of science, how much has science affected your knowledge of marine ecosystems?

NEWTON: Probably a bit. By science, you mean like putting figures together from catches or what?

CRAWFORD: Sampling programs, research, any types of special investigations done by Ministry of Primary Industries or Department of Conservation or anybody like that? I mean, for a board member on the industry Pāua Management Action Committee, you probably get a lot of information coming past you. Some of that might be science, if it related to how the ecosystem is working. And even if you are hanging around scientists, maybe as advisor on committees, or maybe you chartered your boat to a scientist - any of that. But when you add all that together, how much do you reckon science has affected how you think about the marine world?

NEWTON: Yeah. Well, I probably associate it with some of those guys. Like there used to be a guy, who's still got a place here. His name’s Jeremy Prince. Well he’s a marine scientist. And he used to come over here. He had some Pāua quota, and he used to come diving with us. So, we used to talk quite a lot, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: That’s what I’m talking about. You might get science from a bunch of different ways. But overall, where would you score it?

NEWTON: Probably medium. I wouldn’t say low. And I wouldn’t say high. So, I’ll go with medium.

 

3. WHITE POINTER DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

CRAWFORD: With your experiences, did you see anything or did you hear of any places, where there was some kind of residency - some individual sharks associated with certain places over time?

NEWTON: Well, there’s also been one seen up on Banks Peninsula, for a while there. There was one there they saw. 

CRAWFORD: When was that?

NEWTON: Probably not that many years ago. In the last 15 years. 

CRAWFORD: Word trickling down from Banks Peninsula?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Again, an idea not just that there might be a region that was sharky, but that potentially that there was a shark seen repeatedly over time?

NEWTON: Yeah. Up north of here [Dunedin], there’s a place called Danger Reef. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It’s off Shag Point. Not far off shore. I was diving out there, must have been a few years ago as well, but probably not that many years ago - late 90’s early 2000’s, maybe. We dived out on this reef, and we got quite a lot of Pāuas - me and this other guy, we did pretty well. And the other guys were around over Carnagie Strait. I remember, when we got there and you were saying about sharky, the other guy got in the water and I said "This place is a bit sharky." But anyway, we dived there all day, from probably about 10 o’clock to about 2 or 3, I suppose. And then we went back round to where the other guys were. We did pretty well cos we got a ton. But I always remember my last dive. I dived down the side of this reef, and it started to get darker and darker, and I thought "Ohh, I don’t know." It just didn’t feel right you know?

CRAWFORD: Yeah. 

NEWTON: I don’t know if it’s intuition or what, and I came up and said "Come on, let’s go." Well, a week later some scuba divers had a White Pointer swimming round them. There were photos in the paper. And it was a week after we were there. Whether I felt something or not, who knows?

CRAWFORD: Was there anything that you associated with that feeling? Was it something that you saw?

NEWTON: Probably the dark or the gloom or something. Who knows? But it was weird that that a week later some divers on scuba got chased off.

CRAWFORD: Do you ever get that feeling, same kind of sharky feeling or same kind of - you know this just doesn’t feel right kind of feeling. And nothing comes of it?

NEWTON: I think you do. I think most guys would say they do. It’s like you might be off a point somewhere, and it just drops away and it doesn’t feel that right. You know?

CRAWFORD: Getting back to the Otago Peninsula for a minute. Do you remember the old-timers telling you - back when you were a kid, when you were in your 20s and you were first taking up free diving and scuba diving - did they take you aside and say you know, "Aramoana is sharky" or "St. Clair/St. Kida is sharky"? Or "Don’t be diving off of the Otago Peninsula?" Or Sandfly? Or anything like that?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: So, it wasn’t known and kind of passed along in your community, that the Otago Peninsula generally was sharky?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: What do you know, if anything, about White Pointers in the Otago Harbour?

NEWTON: I didn't ever know. Never have seen or know anyone ever to see one here.

CRAWFORD: Never heard, never saw, never heard?

NEWTON: But I did used to hear about KZ-7. But I mean, that was later after the attacks and that, as well. 

CRAWFORD: What did you hear about KZ-7?

NEWTON: Just that he used to cruise around the head of the harbour.

CRAWFORD: Did you get the sense that it was resident there, over years?

NEWTON: Yeah. That it come back on a regular basis.

CRAWFORD: Why the heck would KZ-7 be hanging around the mouth of the Otago Harbour?

NEWTON: I don’t know. Because I think they stopped putting the offal in there by then, as well. 

CRAWFORD: What offal specifically are you talking about?

NEWTON: Off Taiaroa Heads. The old fish offal and stuff that they used to chuck out there. 

CRAWFORD: Who chucked it?

NEWTON: One of the fishing companies here. 

CRAWFORD: Here in Dunedin, or here in Otakou?

NEWTON: No, In Dunedin. I think so. I don’t know too much about it, but I know that there was an offal chute there. 

CRAWFORD: Do you ever remember hearing people talking about sharks coming to that offal chute?

NEWTON: Other people had said that’ s why they thought the sharks attacked. 

CRAWFORD: You mean, as in the attack at Aramoana? 

NEWTON: Because free food. Yeah, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And St. Clair/St. Kilda?

NEWTON: Yeah. But I don’t think that can be correct. because they might have come for that reason, the food. But to be even in the area, to know that the food was there, they had to be around anyway.

CRAWFORD: Around or moving by?

NEWTON: Or moving by, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: That’s an important thing. Did you ever get the sense that people said the sharks were here for a reason, or that the sharks were just moving by?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Any other recollections of White Pointers from the Otago Peninsula region?

NEWTON: Years and years and years ago, before I was a commercial diver, I saw pictures of a White Pointer from north of here.

CRAWFORD: In your 20’s? your teens?

NEWTON: Would have been probably in my teens … Or early 80’s, it would have been, actually. These guys caught a White Pointer in a net. It wasn’t a big one, but they brought the photos to me and said “What do you think this is?” And there was no doubt about it was a White Pointer. They caught that just over towards Warrington and Karitane.

CRAWFORD: And how big do you reckon that animal was?

NEWTON: It wasn’t big, but it was probably 8-10 feet, or something. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. I’m keen on any description of white pointers that are on the smaller size, because it’s one of the things that has come up with other people - and it didn’t come up yet in my discussion with you. You didn’t mention about Joe Cave’s shark nets being fished down at Halfmoon Bay on Stewart Island.

NEWTON: Yeah, I knew about that. He got about three of them or something, didn't he?

CRAWFORD: Well, depends on who you hear the story from, but two or three White Pointers anyways. What do you think about that?

NEWTON: Mother and …

CRAWFORD: Mother and a couple of offspring?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: When they caught those sharks, they brought them up on the wharf. Did you hear about that?

NEWTON: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Did you hear what happened next?

NEWTON: I’d forgotten all about that, actually. Happened years ago. 

CRAWFORD: What did you hear about when they brought them up on the wharf?

NEWTON: Nothing, really. I just heard that they brought them in

CRAWFORD: For the amount of time that you’ve spent on, around or in the waters of the Otago Peninsula, have you noticed any patterns in terms of the abundance and distribution of Seals?

NEWTON: I think there’s probably more Seals now than there used to be. But there were still lots of Seals. This place called Submarine rock out here, there used to be Seals all over it, when we dived there.

CRAWFORD: That was in the 70’s and 80’s

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: So, there had been an increase. But based on your knowledge, there were still plenty of Seals around back then?

NEWTON: Although I think there are a lot more Seals than there used to be. Like there are places now where there's lots of Seals - where there was probably next to none. Which includes just inside the harbour there. I think they get a lot more seals there now. But places like Cape Saunders had plenty of Seals. I could tell you another white pointer story there. 

CRAWFORD: Please.

NEWTON: There’s a place they call 'The Landing' at Cape Saunders, over on the peninsula. And there was a guy jumped in the water and actually jumped on a White Pointer. That’s what they said. He didn’t mean to. 

CRAWFORD: Who said?

NEWTON: This is years ago when I was just young. 

CRAWFORD: Like how old?

NEWTON: Before I was a diver. 

CRAWFORD: You were in your teens then?

NEWTON: Yeah. He was a parts guy, and we used to get the parts from this place.

CRAWFORD: You heard that he dove off some kind of ledge? Maybe 20 feet high ...

NEWTON: No. It’s not very far up. It’s just like - how far would you jump… not far out of the water. Like a meter and a half, maybe. Then you’d jump into the water. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. I get it.

NEWTON: But you could climb back out in the same place.

CRAWFORD: Right. But when he jumped in, it was on a White Pointer?

NEWTON: So they said. But I doubt whether he did that. 

CRAWFORD: But still, I think It’s important that even back then - people knew that White Pointers were around the head of the peninsula?

NEWTON: Yeah. They definitely saw one. Jack George, I think his name was. God, that comes back from a long way.

CRAWFORD: Yeah, well isn’t it amazing what comes out when you get into these interviews. 

NEWTON: [Laughs]

CRAWFORD: Getting back to the more recent years. When do you reckon the Seal population around the Otago Peninsula started to take off? Last 5 years? last 10 years? 20?

NEWTON: I don’t know. 

CRAWFORD: Have you heard about any White Pointer observations over the past 10-20 years around the Otago Peninsula?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Haven't heard about anything recently in the harbour, or off the peninsula, or St. Clair/St. Kilda, or off towards Shag Point? Nothing?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Let’s shift south. Back in the day, when you started fishing Pāua off of Stewart island - that period of time when you were day-tripping. You and Paul, and then you by yourself. Refresh my memory - roughly late 80s, early 90s?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Including the Northern Titi islands. You were Pāua diving along there.

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: You already said you haven’t seen any other White Pointers, so I’m assuming you didn’t see any White Pointers there at all.

NEWTON: And like Edwards Island ... There’s a reefy area around the middle here. We even used to dive that, and never saw any White Pointers. 

CRAWFORD: Off of a submerged shoal?

NEWTON: Right, yeah. Right down to the sand edges and stuff.

CRAWFORD: And never saw any White Pointers. Did you ever hear about people seeing White Pointers along that northeastern side of Stewart Island?

NEWTON: No. Well, once, once. A friend of mine was at Bench [Island]. Two of them, and they were spearfishing, and they had their dog on their boat. And then one of them spotted a White Pointer, so they climbed out on the rocks. His name was Pat Ray, they called him. And Nigel Lang was with him. And they just got out, and the dog was barking like hell, but eventually they had to get back in and swim out to the boat to get on to the boat. [laughs]. But that’s the only story I’ve ever heard about them. 

CRAWFORD: [Discussion about project classification levels for human encounters with White Pointers: Level 1-Observation, Level 2-Swim-By, Level 3-Interest, Level 4-Intense] And in terms of that classification system - 

NEWTON: I think it must have just been a pass-by.

CRAWFORD: So, a Level 2? Animal came, didn’t circle around, just came, they saw it, it moved on.

NEWTON: Yeah. John Hildebrand, he’s seen a White Pointer up the shore here, somewhere.

CRAWFORD: Up towards the Saddle?

NEWTON: Yeah. The thing was back of the Saddle.

CRAWFORD: When was that?

NEWTON: Two or three years ago, I suppose. And it wouldn’t let him get back to the boat. But it let him dive down, and pick up his hand net off the bottom. Because initially he didn’t realize that’s what it was. He thought it was a Hooker's Sea Lion or something. And then it came in closer out of the gloom, and he saw what it was. And he reckoned it took him a long time to get back to the boat, because it kept coming sort of between him and the boat. That’s what he told me anyway. 

CRAWFORD: At the surface? Going around, between him and the boat?

NEWTON: I presume it was at the surface, because it wouldn't have been very deep there. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. But back in the day, when you’re first doing your intensive Pāua diving, your day trips out of Halfmoon Bay, you were in those waters, fishing intensively. And not seeing White Pointers around the northern Titi Islands, or the northeast side of Stewart Island - from East Cape up to say, Bishops?

NEWTON: Right, down to Lords River

CRAWFORD: And just never saw them. But did you ever hear about them? Did the old-timers ever say don’t go out to a certain place? or don’t go out at a particular time? Or anything like that?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: If places along the northeast side of Stewart Island were known to be sharky, someone would have told you?

NEWTON: You would have thought so, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: I mean you knew them. You knew these people. Even though you were not an Islander, you would have lived on the Island, and seen these people around town or down at the pub. And nobody said anything?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: No White Pointers at Paterson Inlet?

NEWTON: No.

CRAWFORD: Did the old timers at that time, did they say there was any place in around Stewart Island or Foveaux that was sharky? White Pointers?

NEWTON: No. Although as I said that guy saw a couple over there at Escape Reefs. But, I mean you wouldn't just dive round. We’d jump in and have a look - there’s no Pāuas, it’s pretty blitzed. You know? But I believe that it gets quite dirty in here. We’ve dived a lot in here and around here. 

CRAWFORD: Dirty in what sense?

NEWTON: It can get quite dirty in the back of Riverton here. There’s a lot of reefy areas. 

CRAWFORD: Pig Island? Escape Reefs?

NEWTON: Rabbit Island, Centre Island. We’ve dived all around those. We’ve dived all the Escape Reefs. 

CRAWFORD: That was in your 20’s, moving into your 30’s, with the commercial diving. When you got up to Fiordland, when you got the bigger boats and you start fishing over a broader range - Fiordland, all the way around Stewart Island, the Catlins. I’m presuming you never saw any White Pointers all the time that you fished around Fiordlands?

NEWTON: No.

CRAWFORD: Did the old timers ever say anything about White Pointers up there?

NEWTON: Well, I was told by two people ... Vaughn Fisher, he’s a big crab fisherman out of Bluff. He told me he had a big White Pointer inside Chalky [Inlet]. It was pretty big, beside his boat. We dived there quite a bit, but we’ve never seen anything.

CRAWFORD: Did he give you any indication of when this was?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Was it like a Level 1, Level 2?

NEWTON: They were filleting fish, and chucking over the frames. So they were attracting them, basically. 

CRAWFORD: So, it wasn’t that the animal was being aggressive or anything?

NEWTON: Not that I know of. He just said it was there. 

CRAWFORD: Anything else about the old-timers talking about White Pointers?

NEWTON: Blake Scott, he saw one outside Chalky [Inlet]. Well, he didn’t see the shark but he saw the Seal that had been ... had a big bite out of it, and it was fresh. Sounded like it was almost bitten in half. 

CRAWFORD: I forgot to ask you the question about the northeast side of Stewart Island. What were the Seal colonies like over there, back in the day?

NEWTON: Ahh, millions, millions and millions of seals. 

CRAWFORD: Back when you were first Pāua diving?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And were there certain Seal hotspots around Stewart Island in general?

NEWTON: Well, Bench [Island]. Along the south side of Bench was just alive with them.

CRAWFORD: This was back in the 80’s?

NEWTON: Yeah, late 80’s. And I remember we went out to the Bunkers, there’s a channel runs through the Bunkers, and it’s pretty shallow, and it actually drops off a bit of the southern side. Well, I can remember little baby Seals swimming in amongst this. Landing all over the place, and one of the guys had his arm around one.  A baby, a puppy Seal, patting it. And there were just hundreds of them. They were probably protected there from any sharks, but if there were sharks round - they might have been waiting outside to grab them. Who knows?

CRAWFORD: Yeah. 

NEWTON: But there were lots and lots of seals there. 

CRAWFORD: Once again you’re in an area that’s known now to have a lot of White Pointers around. And you were just absolutely swimming through preferred food for White Pointers. 

NEWTON: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Especially the pups, because they’re most vulnerable and they’re just yummy-sized, from a shark’s perspective. And you never saw, and never heard, and nobody ever took you aside?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Ok.

NEWTON: One of the things that I think was that we were looking for Pāuas, and one of the observations that I’ve made when I’ve been diving is that you don’t tend to see a lot of other stuff - apart from what you’re actually looking for.

CRAWFORD: That’s a very good point. Because you’ve got a certain search image that you’re looking for. And if something is happening outside that search image, you may filter it out completely. But you’ve described in some of your encounters, that you see something at the last minute, or you see a shadow or something swimming away from you. It’s not that you are so completely fixated. There is a point where you will respond, right?

NEWTON:  Some things catch on, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Aside from a couple of encounters you described from other people in Fiordland ... based on what the old-timers said, or was your mates said, there were not a lot of White Pointers spotted up around Fiordland?

NEWTON: We’ve spent hours diving there ... and remember, it’s not just me that’s been diving. It’s the whole crew.  And when you consider that only two of us in, how many years? From 1987 through to now, only two of us ever saw them in that period of time. I saw one, and Shane saw one. Because when I saw the one up north [Shag Point], I wasn’t Pāua diving. 

CRAWFORD: Right. In terms of the Catlins, was there any indication from the old-timers, or the locals, or your mates, that there were certain areas around the Catlins that White Pointers frequented or aggregated?

NEWTON: I did hear once that they reckoned ... it was a from a cliff top, they’d seen a White Pointer off Long Point. But again, that was just hearsay. 

CRAWFORD: And people could see things. there’s even been some discussion that when people don’t know much about fish, or being around the water, they might see another kind of shark - like a Basking Shark - and not know the difference. 

NEWTON: I pushed a Tiger Shark off in Rolly Shoals when I was there. It’s out there in the Indian Ocean. Back in early 1987. 

CRAWFORD: You spent time in the tropics? Did you ever hear about White Pointers out there?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And what did you hear?

NEWTON: In 1997, I was on the New Zealand spearfishing team, and we went to New Caledonia, and I stayed with a guy in New Caledonia. It was him and this other guy. We were in the water, out on the edge of the reef, and they were there spearfishing, and this White Pointer came up. They said it wasn’t a Tiger Shark - it was definitely a White Pointer, and it came up, and went away again. And he says they had to swim back to the boat, and when they got back to the boat, they said this guy was crying, and you know - he thought he’d never go in again. But the guy I was with, he was fine with it. You know, it’s just another experience. 

CRAWFORD: I know this is somebody else’s story, but do you have any idea what time of year this would have been?

NEWTON: No, I don’t know what time of year at all. But it was out from Mia.

CRAWFORD: Ok. Let’s switch to more recent times, maybe over the past decade. What have you heard about White Pointers?  

NEWTON: Well, like I said I’ve heard that John Hildebrand saw one here, which obviously was restless.

NEWTON: And there. In the last decade, those are the only two that I’ve heard of.

CRAWFORD: Have you heard anything about the Titi islands?

NEWTON: Only because of the shark cage diving. I’ve never heard any actual divers seeing a shark there. 

CRAWFORD:  In terms of the White Pointer research programs, have you heard anything about them?

NEWTON: Only what comes thorough the Pāua guys.

CRAWFORD: What have you heard that comes through there?

NEWTON: I can’t remember.

CRAWFORD: Ok. So, it’s not something that sticks out in your mind. 

NEWTON: When Storm [Stanley] was diving at Stewart Island, back in the old days …

CRAWFORD: We’re talking late 80s? 90’s?

NEWTON: Late 80’s. He was Pāua diving before I was. He would be able to tell you if there were sharks predominant around there, but we never heard that. We never used to think too much of it you know? And as I’d say, we swam out of the sand edge because when we first started going to Stewart Island, we got there with other guys going. They were used to just going and cleaning out - going out at 11 o’clock and coming in at 3, whereas we were on the boat at 7 o’clock in the morning, and we were the new boys in the block and we were a bit more hungry. So, we would dive in places they probably didn’t even bother diving. 

CRAWFORD: And dive at times they wouldn’t?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Including what other people warned are high risk times for shark attacks? Dawn and dusk?

NEWTON: No. Another friend of mine, his wife was diving at the top of the North Island by North Cape. And she had an encounter with a White Pointer there. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly when was this?

NEWTON: A few years ago, but there was also one seen up there last year.

CRAWFORD: The tip of North Island?

NEWTON: No, more round the Bay of Plenty, I think it was. She had a swim-by, but the other one that was up there - I think it was in the papers and stuff, but it wasn’t right in close it was off-shore. But it must have hung around for a few days, by the sounds of it.

 

4. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - DIRECT EXPERIENCE

CRAWFORD: Have you yourself seen White Pointers in the wild?

NEWTON: I had one come and see me, out at Shag Point. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly when was this?

NEWTON: Well my oldest son, he’s now 47, and I think he was 12 when he was in the water ...

CRAWFORD: So about 35 years ago? About 1980?

NEWTON: Probably about then, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: You remember the time of year?

NEWTON: It was a long weekend. It would have probably been summer, because we were staying up at Camp Bull Ground up there. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Was this a shore dive?

NEWTON: Yep. 

CRAWFORD: And were you free diving or scuba diving?

NEWTON: Free diving. 

CRAWFORD: Were you harvesting Pāua? or spearfishing?

NEWTON: Well I’d swum out on this weed edge - I don’t know if you’ve been to Shag Point. Well there’s a whole lot of holiday places along the shoreline, and it drops down and there’s a big flat ledge, and you jump in and there’s gutters and stuff. If you go out a bit further, in those days, I haven’t been out in recent times - there’s a weed edge. There was a weed edge, and it went down to the edge of the rocks, and then the sand was out from it. 

CRAWFORD: Are you talking about 100 meters offshore now?

NEWTON: Yeah, at least. And there was no fish around, and I thought "Oh that’s strange, you can usually pull a Blue Cod or something outta here" you know? I was on the surface, and there was a boat just a little way from me upriver, and I look over at this boat and I look back in the water and there's this White Pointer swimming away from me. He’d already been ...

CRAWFORD: Underneath you?!

NEWTON: Yeah. He was about ... his tail was from about here to the wall away. So, he’d already been and had a look at me, and he was swimming away. 

CRAWFORD: You didn’t see the animal coming?

NEWTON: No.

CRAWFORD: You didn’t see the animal there?

NEWTON: No. If I’d looked a few seconds later, I wouldn’t have even known he’d been there.

CRAWFORD: You didn’t feel it?

NEWTON: Nope. 

CRAWFORD: And I know it’s very, very difficult to size things up when you’re in the water ...

NEWTON: He was big.  

CRAWFORD: It’s very difficult size things up ...

NEWTON: He was very wide.

CRAWFORD: You saw the tail going away. I mean that’s all you saw was the departure?

NEWTON: Yeah. Though I saw from the fin, the dorsal fin, back ... I didn’t actually see the head.

CRAWFORD: The visibility was low?

NEWTON: Yeah. It wasn’t filthy dirty. But you know, low visibility.

CRAWFORD: But he was leaving your location.

NEWTON: [laughs] And I was leaving his location, pretty much straight away. 

CRAWFORD: I’m sure that you were. Do you remember the animal's stroke? Was it a casual tail stroke, or was it a tail flick?

NEWTON: Well, I’ve seen two White Pointers ...

CRAWFORD: Hang on, we’re just dealing with this one ...

NEWTON: And both of them haven’t looked like they were even swimming.

CRAWFORD: It was more gliding?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: You didn't even see the tail really moving at all?

NEWTON: Not that I remember. 

CRAWFORD: Wow. ok. Roughly what was the time of day?

NEWTON: I think it was in the morning. Probably 10-ish or something.

CRAWFORD: And were you out by yourself?

NEWTON: Yeah, but the kids and them were right there. I got my son diving then, and he was right on the shore. 

CRAWFORD: So, you were spearfishing by yourself. Did you have any fish at the time?

NEWTON: No, because there were no fish around. 

CRAWFORD: That’s right. When you said, you thought it was odd there was no fish - roughly what was the amount of time between when you made that observation, and when you saw the shark leaving you.

NEWTON: I’d probably been in the water 20 minutes or so. This other boat, they had scuba divers and they were actually under the water, and I called out to this boat, and they came over, and I barreled straight onto their boat. Then they dashed on their boat, these guys came up and when they came up, they hadn’t seen anything. 

CRAWFORD: And then everybody just went into shore, and called it a day?

NEWTON: Yeah. My son always gave me a hard time, because I told him to get out of the water quick, but we didn’t pick him up. [laughs] 

CRAWFORD: Ok. That was the first White Pointer you had ever seen?

NEWTON: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: With regard to this encounter, what Level would you put it at?

NEWTON: Probably the Swim-By thing. It probably came up for a look, and then moved on.

CRAWFORD: A Level 2?

NEWTON: Right.

CRAWFORD: Ok. Tell me where your second incident occurred. 

NEWTON: It occurred over Seal Rocks over by Ruapuke, here.

CRAWFORD: On the east side of Ruapuke, ok. Roughly when?

NEWTON: Trying to think if I had the Predator then. But I was Pāua diving. Probably the early '90s, I’m thinking.

CRAWFORD: You were in the water, working?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Any idea roughly what time of year it would have been?

NEWTON: Actually, it would have probably been in October or November. And why I say that, a friend of mine, Pete Herbert who lives in Fedinga out in North Island, he came down. He always used to come down in October. I know he was there, because he wanted to get back in the water to see if he could see it. 

CRAWFORD: Any idea about time of day?

NEWTON: We hadn’t finished the day’s diving so I’m assuming midday maybe?

CRAWFORD: How many people were in the water?

NEWTON: I’m not sure, but probably at least six of us. But we wouldn’t have all been diving together.

CRAWFORD: Did you have dinghy boy?

NEWTON: Yeah. There were two of us. The other guy was probably, I don’t know, 20-40 meters away, I suppose. We were probably a quarter mile offshore [Seal Rocks]. Was just a shingly bottom.

CRAWFORD: So, you’re out there, exposed?

NEWTON: Yeah, we’re exposed. Nothing to climb up on. So this thing came past me on my left hand side. I was just about to dive, I was almost ...

CRAWFORD: You’re at the surface? 

NEWTON: I’m sitting there, waiting. Just getting my breath back, ready to go down for my next dive. And I was just about to go, and he came past, and I thought it was a big Dolphin for a second. Just for a split second, and then I realized what it was. And it just glided past me. It looking like he wasn’t swimming or anything. I called out to the decky, and it went straight back down again, and it went out quite a long way, and then it turned and it was coming round. And then the decky arrived, and he said "That shark’s stuck in the water?" It had stopped in the water. And it stopped about here to the couch away. 

CRAWFORD: You were at the surface, you called for the dinghy, and you reckon the animal turned?

NEWTON: And again, he didn’t look like he moved his tail or anything.

CRAWFORD: So cruising, gliding, but now it comes back? or is pointed towards you?

NEWTON: No. He came up, and he stopped out to the side about there, sort of.

CRAWFORD: But oriented away from you? Not turned towards you?

NEWTON: Well he was sort of like this [sideways], I suppose. No, he’s not facing onto me. But I’m thinking, will I swim at this thing, or what do I do? I had plenty of time to think about it. And then the dinghy arrived, and he stopped about the same distance as the shark, and I just swam to the dinghy without looking at the shark really, and went straight over to the front of the dingy. I couldn’t climb over the dingy otherwise, but I go over the front and the decky says - he was just going "Shit!" And he said when I came over the front, the shark went under. I don't know, but I reckoned it was sort of starting to get that maybe aggressive look. So, I think I was relatively lucky. 

CRAWFORD: What’s an aggressive look?

NEWTON: Sort of, fins up. Like I’ve seen other sharks, and when they get aggressive they get a bit humped up, you know?

CRAWFORD: Ok. But you said that the animal stopped?

NEWTON: Yeah. Stopped. 

CRAWFORD: As it turned, and then it just ...

NEWTON: Stopped. 

CRAWFORD: Stopped. 

NEWTON: You said about the eye ... I never once thought of that. People have said about the eye, but I never ever thought, never noticed the eye at all. The thing I noticed was the pure whiteness of the underbelly. That’s what I noticed. And we reckoned it was about a 12-footer. That was our guess, you know?

CRAWFORD: Do you have any guess, since you saw the white underside of it, whether it was a male or female?

NEWTON: No. I wouldn’t know the difference, anyway. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. 

NEWTON: And it was probably that wide, I reckon.

CRAWFORD: We’re talking about a meter?

NEWTON: Yeah, about a meter. This was years ago, now. Although I had nightmares about it for a long time, as you can probably imagine.

CRAWFORD: Yes.

NEWTON: I thought I was going to have to give up diving. But I went diving in the tropics, and you see sharks all the time there, and I came back where it’s cold. It was the colour of a Yamaha Outboard on the top - that’s what I can recall. When It went past, wasn't till it came back up, that I saw the white underneath, and that’s the thing that always stuck in my mind, was the whiteness of it. So we didn’t go back there for a while, but it was a good place to go Pāua diving. We started going back there, and the deckys would say we’d swim along side-by-side, and then we’d go like that [separate], and someone’d look up and you be back together again. We went there about three or four times, and then another guy that worked for me, Shane Fitzmorris, he had just got a new handnet off the dinghy, and the dinghy boy was driving away, and he saw the shark come right up, and he spun the dinghy round, and by the time he got round it was beside Shane, and Shane saw it and the dinghy boy reckoned Shane moved a meter sideways. He was swimming forward, but he moved sideways, and Shane said the shark charged him. Must have given it a fright. And then it was gone. 

CRAWFORD: Would that have been a Level 2? A swim-by?

NEWTON: yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Had the animal come up behind Shane?

NEWTON: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: And then Shane reacted and the animal took off?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Okay.

NEWTON: And we’ve never been back there. 

CRAWFORD: Was that at roughly the same location? The shoal off Seal Rock?

NEWTON: Same place - almost identical. 

CRAWFORD: Ok.

NEWTON: The one I last saw there, we had this other guy Steve Whitetree that used to work with us. He was a little bit across from us, he dived when we were headed back towards him, and of course he didn’t know. And as soon as we got there, I got the bailer, and I was bashing the hell out of the bottom of the boat, and he just came straight up and over the boat. He hadn’t seen the shark yet, but he knew what I meant.

CRAWFORD: I bet he did.

 

5. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS

CRAWFORD: When was the first time you either recall seeing or hearing about a White Pointer? 

NEWTON: Well, I guess I first heard about Les Jordan who got taken near St. Clair here. That’s when I first become aware. 

CRAWFORD: What do you remember from that event?

NEWTON: I heard it on the radio.

CRAWFORD: You just happened to be listening to the radio when the news came over?

NEWTON: I was working. I was an apprentice then. 

CRAWFORD: At a panel beating shop? 

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And what did you hear about that incident? 

NEWTON: I heard that his legs were shredded, and couple of guys from Christchurch pulled him out, and got him on the beach. I guess he’d pretty much bled to death. 

CRAWFORD: Do you recall the circumstances of the encounter?

NEWTON: He was training for a surf competition, and he was just swimming. They used to swim out and around White island, and back again.

CRAWFORD: What do you reckon ... is that like a 4 km swim out to White Island and back?

NEWTON: I suppose it would be.

CRAWFORD: it’s a good chunk of distance. And it was just a guy who was training. Was he swimming alone?

NEWTON: I think so, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: He wasn’t doing anything like spearfishing or anything else - just swimming?

NEWTON: Early in the morning. 

CRAWFORD: Early in the morning?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: He must have been relatively close to shore, if anybody even saw the event and knew enough to go out and get him. 

NEWTON: Well, these two guys were out on longboards or something, and they got him on the board and pulled him in. 

CRAWFORD: Did you know them?

NEWTON: No.

CRAWFORD: Do you remember the time of year?

NEWTON: Probably in the summer I would think. 

CRAWFORD: What was the response to this? How did the community respond?

NEWTON: Well, I can’t really remember. But I know I never went back to the surf club after that. 

CRAWFORD: Any training that you had done, any investment in time - you just kind of walked away from that?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: I got the impression, based on something you said earlier, that you weren't alone. Were there a lot of people that would have been involved at one level or another with the beach, and they just kind of didn't go back. 

NEWTON: That’s right. I remember diving after then, there was the guy [Bill] Black, and they think there might have been two sharks involved in that attack. 

CRAWFORD: That’s the first I’ve heard of this. Well hang on, just before we go on, with regard to the Jordan incident. Did anybody see the attack?

NEWTON: I presume they did. 

CRAWFORD: Do you have any recollection that it was known to be a White Pointer specifically that was involved? 

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: At least in terms of what you knew at the time.

NEWTON: Right. 

CRAWFORD: When I asked you what was your first recollection of hearing about or seeing a White Pointer, it's a pretty dramatic event from not being on your radar at all - to somebody just down the road being killed. 

NEWTON: Yeah. Before that, I wouldn’t have thought anything of jumping in the water and going for a swim.

CRAWFORD: You had done quite a bit of swimming in water immediately adjacent to where this happened?

NEWTON: More so after those things had happened.

CRAWFORD: Do you recall how long it was between the first attack and then the second?

NEWTON: I think it was a year. About the same time, the next year. 

CRAWFORD: How did you hear about the second incident?

NEWTON: I don’t know how I heard about that one. 

CRAWFORD: Tell me what you do recall of what you heard?

NEWTON: Well, I heard that Kevin Brown, the guy behind, swam into the blood. 

CRAWFORD: Swam behind, in the sense that there were a bunch of swimmers going out?

NEWTON: Two of them, I think there was only the two of them. 

CRAWFORD: Was this training, or a competition?

NEWTON: I don’t know if it was a competition or training. I’m not sure. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. But there were at least two of them.

NEWTON: And they had belts - you know, the belt with the big reel they used. 

CRAWFORD: Yes, a team event with one swimmer and four holding the spool of line to the belt? 

NEWTON: Could be, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did you know Kevin Brown? 

NEWTON: Yeah. But not at that time I didn’t.

CRAWFORD: Later he told you what he knew directly?

NEWTON: Yeah. This might have been few years later, I’m not sure. 

CRAWFORD: I have a feeling that whatever he told you, those memories don’t change that much. 

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What do you remember Kevin telling you?

NEWTON: Just that he swam under the blood, and that the held his hand in the air, and they hauled him in. 

CRAWFORD: Was that like a distress sign or something?

NEWTON: Yeah. And when they pulled Bill Black’s, it was just the belt, and it was shredded. I remember at some stage there was talk that it might have been two sharks, but maybe people see one fin and they see the tail, and they think it’s two sharks. 

CRAWFORD: I haven't heard of anybody who saw anything specifically with the Bill Black incident.

NEWTON: Well, I’m only guessing that that’s what happened. They definitely said that they thought it was two sharks. 

CRAWFORD: At least somebody out there not only had the impression that sharks were seen, but that at least some people thought that there were two sharks. 

NEWTON: Yeah. Like I don’t even think Kevin Brown saw anything.

CRAWFORD: And he was as close as you could be. 

NEWTON: Yeah. Well, Kevin actually said to me that he usually beat Bill Black in those races. But this time Bill Black was in front. 

CRAWFORD: Right. Just because you know Kevin, what was Kevin’s - how did it affect Kevin?

NEWTON: I don’t know. 

CRAWFORD: Okay. Do you remember anything else? Hearing anything about the circumstances?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Based on an earlier discussion, prior to us doing the interview, I think you said that there was also a connection you had with the Aramoana attack?

NEWTON: Not at that time, that came afterwards. I became really friendly with two of the guys who were actually in the water that day. 

CRAWFORD: Tell me about that, please.

NEWTON: It was by 1971, I knew Colin Wilson. We worked outside of diving about '68 or '69 or something. So I got to know him. In fact, I was at Stewart Island with Colin Wilson in 1970 actually, when I think about it. 

CRAWFORD: And what was your connection with Colin?

NEWTON: Well he was into spearfishing, and so was I. 

CRAWFORD: Tell me what you recall from Colin about the incident that happened at Aramoana. 

NEWTON: Well, Colin said to me that the shark was swimming around him, and he was just treading water - watching it, as it was swimming around. And then it just disappeared.

CRAWFORD: Did he tell you anything about how it was circling? Fast or slow, or how close? Anything like that?

NEWTON: I presume it was slow, just the way he was talking about. It was swimming round him. Colin said he was just following around like that ...

CRAWFORD: Just facing it all the time? He was turning to keep the White Pointer in front?

NEWTON: And then it disappeared. 

CRAWFORD: Was Colin spearfishing at the time?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did he have fish on a spear, or on a float, at the time?

NEWTON: I don’t know. In those days, they used to use a rubber tube with a net on it. They used to throw the fish in the net.


CRAWFORD: Right. And then tow the rubber tube with a line? So that there was some distance between them and the tube?

NEWTON: There used to be talk that Graham [Hitt] had fish on his belt. But I think Colin once told me that wasn’t correct. But I can imagine that they did have fish in a float. But you’d think that if the shark was gonna go for that, it would. And Bruce Skinner had already got out of the water. He actually jumped back in, and pulled [Graham] out. 

CRAWFORD: Do you recall hearing anything about season or time of day for that attack?

NEWTON: No. But apparently when it grabbed Graham he was on his way up. 

CRAWFORD: This was free-diving or scuba-diving?

NEWTON: Free-diving. He was on his way up, and it must have grabbed up and actually pushed him up I believe out of the water. Probably came under him. I think it got him round the hip here. And that severed the artery in his leg here. And probably if it hadn’t severed that artery, he might not have died.

CRAWFORD: Because it wasn’t the type of attack that ... Like with Bill Black, they never found the body.

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: It wasn’t the type of attack where there were huge pieces taken. It was a clampdown, and a release. Do you remember Colin ever telling you anything about the actual attack?

NEWTON: No. But John Kirkman did. He was the other guy in the water, who was down there. John said to me that he grabbed hold of Graham and said "Are you alright?" But he says, I knew he wasn’t alright. And Bruce Skinner jumped back in the water and helped pull him out. 

CRAWFORD: Had anybody seen the attack then? 

NEWTON: I think - I’m pretty sure John saw it. 

CRAWFORD: But you don’t recall any details from that?

NEWTON: Nah.

CRAWFORD: This whole thing was triggered by me asking you what was the first time you remembered hearing about or seeing a White Pointer. And it turns out that you heard in relatively quick succession about the incidences at St. Clair, St. Kilda and Aramoana. 

NEWTON: Yeah. And then there was another one after that, had you ever heard about that?

CRAWFORD: It depends, when you say another one, you mean another attack?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Tell me about it.

NEWTON: It was either St. Clair or St. Kilda. I think it was St. Clair. Around that same period, but after the one at Aramoana. It may have even been a couple of years or more, after that. There was a young guy Watkins, although he’s probably not that young anymore. I can’t think what his name was. He waved the day from school to go surfing and the shark actually bit his surf board in half. 

CRAWFORD: Yes.

NEWTON: Well, all I know really is hearsay. But I did meet the guy, and I believe he got cut down the back of his leg. He was surfing, and apparently the shark rested its head on the front of the surf board and bit him. 

CRAWFORD: Pardon me?

NEWTON: The shark put its head on the front of the surf board and looked at him. But it had already attacked the board. 

CRAWFORD: What kind of shark?

NEWTON: Well, they reckon it was a White Pointer.

CRAWFORD: Based on the teeth imprints?

NEWTON: Yeah. The only other thing that I can think of, is that it actually bit on the surf board and he saw the front of its head. Have you not heard that before? 

CRAWFORD: I Hadn't heard that the animal laid its head on the board, and was looking at him. That’s the first I’ve heard that.

NEWTON: And I mean that could be a fictitious story, for all I know.

CRAWFORD: It may not be so much a matter of fiction, as that was his perception. 

NEWTON: Right. 

CRAWFORD: That chain of incidences that you just told me about, there being 1, 2, 3, 4 different incidences of very intimate encounters, three of them lethal ...

NEWTON: Yeah. In a very short period of time.

CRAWFORD: In a very short period of time, in a relatively small geographic location.

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: For a guy who lived close by, right through that time period. Who was closely connected to the community, and would spend a hell of a lot of time in the water. Why do you think there were so many attacks in this place, in such a short period of time, in such a short geographic proximity?

NEWTON: Well, not long after that period of time, there was a White Pointer caught down at Taiaroa Heads. In a net. It was all tied up in this pic. If you can get to the Otago Underwater Club, they've got a picture of this White Pointer up there - all caught up in the net. 

CRAWFORD: Who’s a contact with the Otago Underwater Club?

NEWTON: Ted Young. Have you interviewed him yet?

CRAWFORD: Not yet, no. But that animal was caught in a setnet, a while after the other attacks?

NEWTON: It might have even been around that same. It was definitely in that period of time. And we haven’t had any attacks ever since.

CRAWFORD: Was it the case that people here in Dunedin, at least some of the people reckoned that that animal that was incidentally caught in that set net, was responsible for the other attacks?

NEWTON: Well that’s how I sort of always thought, because there were never any more attacks after that. Although they did put shark nets out here. But I don’t think ever caught a White Pointer. And I don’t think I was the only one that thought that. 

CRAWFORD: Other people interpreted it the same way?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Do you recall anything that happened with regards to the animal that was caught in that setnet? Do you know if it was ever taken into dock, and anybody dissected it or did anything as a follow up?

NEWTON: I’m not sure, but I think it might have been. Some University guy who found it.

CRAWFORD: As in Otago University guy?

NEWTON: Yeah, maybe even the Marine Department. I don’t know. It’s only just something that’s in my mind, I’m thinking - you know? 

CRAWFORD: That’s fine. You brought up the shark nets. What's your recollection of the motivation for those Dunedin City Council shark nets?

NEWTON: To protect the beaches ...

CRAWFORD: Specifically, which?

NEWTON: St. Clair, St Kilda and Brighton. But they were set in a pattern like that. They were never ... like the shark would just have to swim in between them. It’s not like they were round that particular part of the beach where the people swam. 

CRAWFORD: Did you ever see these nets?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Did you ever talk to people who had seen them? Or anybody that had fished them, or anything like that?

NEWTON: No. Although I had heard that that never got any White Pointers out of them, and very few of anything else.

CRAWFORD: Basically, that they weren’t effective?

NEWTON: Probably not. 

CRAWFORD: Anything else that you recall about those DCC nets?

NEWTON: Well one of the things that people thought was that the shark would swim along the shore, and then along the beach. And the net would be out here, so the shark wouldn’t be anywhere near them. 

CRAWFORD: That the nets were too far offshore?

NEWTON: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And that the shark was already swimming parallel to the shoreline, inside of it? As opposed to the shark nets keeping the sharks offshore?

NEWTON: The shark had to swim out to actually hit the net. So, in some ways probably made people feel better. But that was probably all. 

CRAWFORD: Okay. I want to get back to the time that you spent as a young fellow, specifically with your free diving and your scuba diving. You’ve put in hundreds of hours over the years around the Otago Peninsula. Throughout all of that time diving in this region, have you ever seen a White Pointer? 

NEWTON: Not on this coast. Not on the peninsula.

CRAWFORD: All that time, in the harbour, Aramoana, around the rocky side of the peninsula, through St. Clair, St. Kilda, you swam out and around Green Island ...

NEWTON: Yeah, many times.

CRAWFORD: Many times. All of that, and you never once saw any sharks?

NEWTON: No. 

CRAWFORD: Did you ever hear about anybody else free diving or scuba diving, who saw any White Pointers in the Otago Peninsula region during that time?

NEWTON: No. But I have heard of them, further north up Moeraki way and Shag Point. 

CRAWFORD: Any other White Pointer encounters that you can think of?

NEWTON: There was another guy, Roger Moseby lives in Wanaka. Was working for himself, Roger. He owns Pāua quota, and I’ve been catching that for a few years now. But he had one of his flippers taken off by a White Pointer there, and when he got on the boat, he thought his legs were gone.

CRAWFORD: Where did this happen?

NEWTON: The shoals off Seal Rock.

CRAWFORD: Alright. Would have been, what? Another year later?

NEWTON: That was before us, I think. I don’t know. I just know that he got attacked. 

CRAWFORD: What I’m trying to do is get a sense of over what time period all of this all happened. Within weeks or months or years of each other?

NEWTON: I would say this was in the 90’s.

CRAWFORD: But over a couple of years?

NEWTON: Well, that I don’t know. 

CRAWFORD: Any other encounters from other people that cone to mind?

NEWTON: Yeah. John Hildebrand, he’s seen a White Pointer up the shore here somewhere [northwest Stewart Island].

CRAWFORD: Up towards the Saddle?

NEWTON: Yeah. The thing was back of the Saddle.

CRAWFORD: When was that?

NEWTON: Two or three years ago, I suppose. And it wouldn’t let him get back to the boat. But it let him dive down, and pick up his hand net off the bottom. Because initially he didn’t realize that’s what it was. He thought it was a Hooker's Sea Lion or something. And then it came in closer out of the gloom, and he saw what it was. And he reckoned it took him a long time to get back to the boat, because it kept coming sort of between him and the boat. That’s what he told me anyway. 

CRAWFORD: At the surface? Going around, between him and the boat?

NEWTON: I presume it was at the surface, because it wouldn't have been very deep there. 

CRAWFORD: Any other encounters you can think of?

NEWTON: Paul Young, he was off Ruapuke, and had a big one come out of there. He was spear fishing.

CRAWFORD: Whereabouts, exactly?

NEWTON: I’m not sure exactly where - I think over the back. He was spearfishing with a hand spear, and he a shot a couple of fish, and he had one in his hand, and he had speared another one. This is what he told me. And this White Pointer came up, and it was big by the sounds of things. This thing was coming up towards him as he is going to the surface, and had a go at him. He threw his fish away. And it must have grabbed - I don’t know if it grabbed it or what - but it turned. And he hit the surface, and the last thing he saw was this thing coming up towards him, and him throwing away the spear with the other fish on it. Was just a two-hand spear And the two guys in the boat pulled him into the boat - scuba and all. 

CRAWFORD: Did the shark come up and circle the boat?

NEWTON: Not that I know of, not that I know of. 

CRAWFORD: But it was coming up. 

NEWTON: Yeah. That’s what Paul said to me. I said "How big?" And my father used to have busses, and he said "You know how big those busses that your father’s were?" He said "It was like a bus coming at me."

CRAWFORD: But it didn’t breach? And it didn’t come to the surface and circle or anything like that?

NEWTON: No. Not that I know of. 

CRAWFORD: Right. Ok. 

NEWTON: Paul’s with his brother Tim this week I think. But if you wanted to ask him about it, he might have a different perception.

CRAWFORD: Have you ever heard of any Level 4 encounters with White Pointers recently? Like that kind of aggressive, attack-level behaviour?

NEWTON: Only the guy that had his flippers taken off. 

CRAWFORD: At Seal Rock, off the back of Ruapuke?

NEWTON: Yeah.

Copyright © 2017 Ross Newton and Steve Crawford