Experience: Surf Boarder, Scuba Diver, Boater, Commercial Fisherman
Regions: Fiordland, Stewart Island, North Island
Interview Location: Awarua/Big Bay, NZ
Interview Date: 31 October 2015
Post Date: 01 December 2017; Copyright © 2017 Warrick Mitchell and Steve Crawford
1. EXPERIENCE IN AOTEAROA/NZ COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS
CRAWFORD: Ok, Warrick - let's start at the beginning. Where and when were you born?
MITCHELL: Auckland, in 1978.
CRAWFORD: How old were you when you first started spending time down here in Awarua/Big Bay?
MITCHELL: About 1 month old.
CRAWFORD: Was your family here on a seasonal basis, or full-time?
MITCHELL: The first of my life, for the first nine years, it was full-time. And after that it was on a seasonal basis.
CRAWFORD: 'Seasonal' as in being here for the summers?
MITCHELL: Being here for the springs. I would come for about two months a year.
CRAWFORD: Ok. Full-time at Big Bay till nine, then increasing Spring seasonal two month phases. It was this way until when?
MITCHELL: Till about 20 years old. Since then I've been coming here between three and six months a year.
CRAWFORD: For each of those periods, what were your major activities on coastal waters, as opposed to being up here on the river.
MITCHELL: Gathering seafood.
CRAWFORD: Specifically, what kinds of food?
MITCHELL: Mussels. Diving for Crayfish. Diving for Abalone [Pāua], and fishing off the rocks.
CRAWFORD: OK. Harvesting food was a major activity.
MITCHELL: Recreational water craft, surfing, free diving, kayaking. Which progressed to having rubber duckies, which progressed to having bigger boats.
CRAWFORD: 'Rubber duckies' as in dinghies?
MITCHELL: Inflatable boats.
CRAWFORD: Well, that's a pretty diverse set of coastal activities. Some boating, some swimming/diving, some harvesting. In addition to those experiences here in northern Fiordland, did you have experiences elsewhere in New Zealand coastal waters?
MITCHELL: Yeah, for sure. I've worked on the Barrier Reef, and sailed most of the islands in the south Pacific: Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Wallis and Fatuna, Tahiti, and Hawaii.
CRAWFORD: What was the reason for all that sailing? What group were you with?
MITCHELL: Crewing onboard recreational fishing boats.
CRAWFORD: 'Recreational' meaning that there were tourists, and you were contracted as crew?
MITCHELL: As crew, yeah.
CRAWFORD: When did that start?
MITCHELL: In 2000.
CRAWFORD: And has continued pretty much every year since?
MITCHELL: Yeah. Give or take a couple of years.
CRAWFORD: So, that’s part of your normal annual routine now?
MITCHELL: Oh, very much so. Yeah.
CRAWFORD: How many trips would it be normal for you to do per year?
MITCHELL: I’d do four or five trips per year.
CRAWFORD: And these can be fairly big trips. Seems it would be fair to say that you spend the majority of your time on and around the water.
MITCHELL: A significant portion of the year would be spent on the water, thankfully.
CRAWFORD: What other kinds of marine experience do you have, in different regions of New Zealand?
MITCHELL: I’ve commercially fished in the Coromandel for Snapper. Long-lining, bottom long-lining. When was that? 2010 I think.
CRAWFORD: For one season?
CRAWFORD: You were crewing on somebody’s fishing boat?
MITCHELL: Yeah. The Happy One, I think it was called.
CRAWFORD: Where did it sail out of?
MITCHELL: Whitianga. Fishing Great Barrier Island and the Mercurys. Bottom long-lining for Snapper and Gurnard. I’ve done some crewing on Blue Cod boats on Stewart Island, but only as an assistant, only for short times. But I’ve done some crewing. I’ve been out to the South Traps, which is out off Stewart Island down there. And been around Stewart Island a few times.
CRAWFORD: Ok. What other types of activities in other New Zealand waters?
CRAWFORD: Personal sailing or sailing for work?
MITCHELL: Sailing for work. Plus, I’ve taken my own boat from Bluff across to Stewart Island.
CRAWFORD: OK. But for most of the time that you were sailing, you were crewing for other people?
CRAWFORD: And if I remember correctly, that started roughly 2000?
MITCHELL: Going through to today, yeah.
CRAWFORD: Very good. Do you have any other marine experiences around New Zealand coastal waters?
MITCHELL: In regards to this, no.
Copyright © 2017 Warrick Mitchell and Steve Crawford