Turtle Fever Rarotonga

Turtle Fever..

Years down the track when I’m old and gray I would kick myself if I didn’t say anything about what is happening here in Rarotonga in regards to the turtles and the Ava’avaroa passage.

The Ava’avaroa passage is the largest passage through the reef in Rarotonga and is home to an amazing array of sea life. I have been lucky enough to work in, and take images of the incredible array of marine life that inhabit this space. I love it and it has now become one of my favorite places in the world. I am so looking forward to showing my kids because it is truly beautiful.

Obviously the turtles and the eagle rays love it too. You can swim with them and see them in their natural habitat, and this is what is drawing crowds of people a day to this one small passage.


It’s not a large area and competition is fierce between the operators for space to give their clients the “Best Experience” so that they can leave a glowing review on social media. Tourists come and go so I thought I would share a part of the bigger picture (or at least my observations from the past couple of months).

The passage isn’t very big and sometimes when I’m sitting out there it feels like the Auckland harbour bridge with a constant stream of visitors flowing in and out, the majority of them glowing with turtle fever.

As a photographer, I’ve taken pictures of lots of smiling happy people interacting with the marine life and I can see the elation of their experience and I totally get it. Its pretty magical.

However, there’s also the photos of the totally destroyed coral beds that get stomped on for access, touching of the turtles, rubbish and not to mention all the stuff that you can’t see like tons of sunscreen and pollutants introduced to the area.

I see the impact on the area and this is what makes me incredibly sad, even though I’m not a Cook Islander (and I worry that it might not be my place to comment). Though it’s not my treasure it still makes me really sad, so here’s my voice.

At the moment there are four operators working this passage and maybe more starting up. Everyone has their unique selling point and pushes their brand. Yes, they all operate in the same area and all see the same marine life.

There is also a loose understanding that no tours are to be run during the weekend, to give the turtles and the passage a rest. (with increasing tourist pressure. I see some operators are now booking trips on the weekends.

Also, there is meant to be an understanding that no more than 14pax for each group goes out, this is to keep the pressure off the turtles when they come up for air and prevent them being surrounded by people jostling for a photo or gopro footage. Sadly “turtling” is a big money maker and with tourist pressure I see this maximum number changing for some. (which puts more pressure on the whole area).

Another really interesting point is how the passage works in regards to currents and rips, for the adventurous who are thinking about having a go for themselves this next bit is worth paying attention to. In NZ, when the tide comes in it goes up the estuary or inlet or bay etc so the current is pushing in on the incoming tide. Then when the tide changes and is on the way out, the current pushes out. However, in the passages through the reef here, the only thing that changes is the speed and power of the current; it is always a one way trip out. This is due to the fact that the waves break over the reef, filling up the lagoon and then the water has to find a way back out again. This happens through the passages. So remember one way trip out. (That’s why if you have been here you will see all the danger signs on the beach by each passage).

So that’s why the turtle tours/trips are run around low tide, this is a safety issue that has been agreed to by most of the operators, and also good intel for tourists to know. Low is the safest time. and you also get to see more as there’s less water.

The kicker is at this stage there are no official laws or regulations in place, so it’s a free for all and is definitely not sustainable in the long term.

There are some amazing operators who have been calling for governmental intervention to protect this area and to provide better research, limiting operator numbers and putting a cap on the size of the groups that can be in the passage at any one time. This could take a long time unless it’s given a voice.

What can you do?

That’s a really easy answer, use your head, ask the right questions and make the best decisions when visiting.

Here’s a few questions to try out..

How long has the operator been in business? Safety record?

Are their activities based on good solid expert research and knowledge about turtle behaviour, habits, needs etc..

Do they contribute to any conservational initiatives that give back to the passage and the marine life?

What are their safety ratios in the water, do they have suitable qualified and experienced staff?

What size groups do they take out? Is there an educational component or is it a free for all?

How do they get in and out of the passage, do they impact on the coral?

It’s simple really, vote with your voice and choice, this will lift the awareness of the need for legislation and regulations towards a sustainable operation in this incredible area.

Meitaki Ma’ata


Change Fish

Had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about how as you get older (or wiser) your reasons to fish change.
When I first started it was for food, as money was always tight in our family.
Then, as I got better at fishing it was about the amount of fish caught. This was how I showed off my fishing skills, then as I got better and better I started targeting bigger and bigger fish. I guess these stages were about letting people know what an amazing angler I was and that I had something to prove by catching the trophies.
Then as the years go by I started fishing for enjoyment, as I realised its never really been about the fish, it’s about your time with the planet, and fishing is one of the ways I connect with nature. This connection is about being there on the sea, lake, rivers and beaches, and soaking all the sun, air and scenery into your being.
Then I came to the realisation that I never wanted this to end and how incredible it would be to save what we have here and share it with our children and their children.
Maybe the last stage is about fishing for tomorrow, sustainability, conservation with a huge dash of enjoyment and a feed of fresh fish once in a while…


Restaurant Indonesia Napier New Zealand

If you are ever in Napier there is one restaurant I would over all others – the people are fantastic and the food amazing.

Restaurant Indonesia is located on the seafront on Marine Parade…and as with all good things this recommendation starts with a story.

Looking for a job during my uni break the summer of 93/94, student job search only had a waitering job that they said I didn’t have a hope of getting because the restaurant owner thought all male students were lazy.

I rang up and talked to the owner, Harry, who didn’t seem that enthusiastic but agreed to give me a go; “just show up in black and whites”.

Of course I didn’t have black and whites so showed up in brown and whites. He rolled his eyes, we weren’t off to a good start.

It was my first time waitering and for some reason it was a crazy busy night with was only myself, the chef and the owner on.

The main dish on the menu was (and still is) the Rijsttafel, a huge array of Indonesian dishes consisting of all sorts meats and flavours. Some guests starve themselves the whole day and then take several hours to make their way through them, going for a walk and a smoke midway, then coming back to finish.

That first night was total chaos, with Harry yelling at me, the chef screaming and me doing a million different things, all very badly. We were so rushed off our feet there wasn’t a single clean item left by the end of the night, and we had to stack dishes and pots on the lawn outside. At the end of the night Harry didn’t say much, other than to come back the next night.

To be honest I was having serious doubts about returning at all! Waitering, I thought, was bloody hard work.

However, I ended up spending my whole my summer holiday and learnt so much. Harry became a close friend not just of me but my whole family. Both my sisters and my brother ended up working there for many years.

It is also where Belinda and I met (she came for a trial and stayed as well!), so we have a lot of great memories and history imbedded into the walls of the restaurant. This summer we had the wonderful opportunity to go back again, meet the new owners and enjoy an amazing dinner. It was a belated celebration of 26 years together – and where better to have it than where it all began!

You will love it too, from the authentic carvings to the candle warmers and the INCREDIBLE food, Restaurant Indonesia on Marine Parade is iconic.

And now I hear they are giving away meals through this covid lockdown to families that are in need, how cool is that, if you are in Napier you need to visit..


I f**king hate cancer..a candid view from a support person.

I f**king hate cancer, it claimed both my parents, uncle, dear friends and recently my wife has been walking the breast cancer path. I hate it.
After walking alongside my wife through her journey I realized that cancer and what surrounds it is really awful.
On a social level it carries such a negative stigma that people are still afraid to reach out or talk to those affected.
They don’t know what to say or how to help, the downside is that this then looks cold and uncaring.

I call this silence “cancer awkwardness” – when people don’t know to talk to someone going through cancer so they don’t. They avoid or ignore the subject or resort to meaningless lines like “how are you going?”, “just let me know if you ever need anything”, or even “it’s like a new rebirth for you” or cry and want to hug. (Word of advice, hugging someone going through chemo is NOT a good idea, their immune systems are shot, the drugs kill white blood cells so hugging them exposes them to potential infection).
The other thing about hugs I’ve noticed is that some hugs make the sick person feel better, it’s like a transfer of aroha, and it’s amazing. Then there’s the other type intended to make the hugger feel good about themselves..so for someone that’s sick, ask first (don’t be offended if it’s a no) and hug like you mean it.
I really hate cancer…, the crippling waits and uncertainty. Waiting for test results, waiting for appointments, waiting for surgery, waiting for phone calls, doctors, lab results, in hospital rooms, all the bloody waiting gives you way too much time to dwell on all the negatives. Add this to the lack of transparent information and a wheel barrow load of uncertainty and it’s a one way beating.
Then there’s all the pain, buckets of it, only differing in intensity when the multitude of drugs kick in. When the one drug doesn’t work they try another one, oh and then there are the side effects of the drugs! When they rare their ugly heads they give you more drugs. The side effects encyclopedia is the size of an old fashioned phonebook!

Cancer not only destroys the person physically but completely drains any mental resilience they may have left but for me, watching from close, it’s the soul wrenching loneliness that comes with trying to cope and for people going through it alone it must be unbearable. This loneliness crushes both the person going through the cancer, and the support person or caregivers.
As they sit there with the weight of cancer they watch the world carry on without them and feel like it’s just them going through it alone. This is when their world gets smaller and smaller and the confidence totally disappears.
Here’s an insight to the cancer walk.
When you get the “bad” news a million uncertainties cram through your head, as you come to reconcile some of them you start letting close family know and after a mental struggle you let a few close friends know.
Then there’s this mad rush of sympathy from family and friends, ( you get phone calls, messages, even food!) Because its news and its exciting for everyone.
However as time goes on and the roller coaster of chemo, radiation treatment and surgery gets rolling cancer becomes old news and people trail off…a little loneliness starts.
Then as hair falls out, eyebrows disappear, coughing, skin loses it colour people start to notice again and a little more sympathy trickles in. You may even get a visit or two.
At this point the person going through treatment feels like shit, looks strange and is usually in pain. Ironically, this is when you get the “how’s it going” or even “you’re looking well ” and hugs.
It kills me to see this point as they are usually putting on a brave face through the pain, while exchanging pleasantries.
This part is hard, it’s a long, slow, agonizing slog, filled with drugs, treatments, doubts, financial hardship and relationships are stretched thin and the loneliness is real.
This stage, sadly, you really know who your friends are as the rest have moved on with their own lives. If you still have friends that come around, just to chat or visit now, you have found gold, cherish them forever.

As the chemotherapy, radiation treatments or surgery finishes there’s a dreadful wait for the results. It can go either way here, good luck.
If you are fortunate, you start getting better but it still takes a long time to recover, especially from the chemo drugs and you even get a few side effects as souvenirs. Basically, no one is ever the same as when they started, physically or emotionally.
I really really hate cancer, its hideous and anyone telling you it’s not, they have no fucking idea.
If I was to take anything away from supporting someone going through this and talking with others, is that the human spirit is incredible, true friendship is very rare, (cherish it ) and love..well cancer redefines what love is.

Keep it real, honest, don’t glamorise it because there’s nothing glamorous about it at all. It’s a long slow painful fight, but you can do it, as others before have done and most off all you don’t need to do it alone.
If you are struggling, either as a support person or someone fighting cancer drop me a message. Sharing the load or a coffee really does help, and there is help available..


Targeting Kingfish Taranaki

I’ve been fairly lucky with catching and spearing kingfish in Taranaki and a lot of people have asked what I do to target these freight trains that give you a run for your money and can feed a family for weeks.

Taranaki has some incredible pinnacles and drop offs that these fish hunt and its just a matter of finding them.

The only way you are going to be able to do this successfully is to USE YOUR SOUNDER!

Our first sounder was an old Furuno that took up most of the room in our little boat but boy oh boy it lit up like a Christmas tree when we went over some kingfish. It took me a good 3 months to learn how to use it properly. I really recommend you take time and learn to use what you have, they are all a little different.

When I locate some interesting reef structure, I am able to drop down with the diving gear and have a good look around. This helps me identify what is shown on the sounder and what is actually underneath the boat, makes a big difference to my fishing.

Pretty much all the spots where we dive for crayfish have fish life and kingfish circling.

Once I locate the kingfish then it is a matter of what time of day and how deep they are, this will make a difference to what technique you use.

In shallow water use lures that look like yellow tail mackerel or have colors that are similar i.e. yellow, greens, blues, silver and troll FAST over the top of them, I think this annoys them and activates their chase reflex. In deep water drift over them and work the jigs.

Kingfish on Catch Fishing stick baits

For me time of day counts big time, in the morning they will pretty much take anything, lunch time they are full and usually hard to catch, then the evenings they are actively hunting again.

Some locations I recommend in and around Taranaki are..

When leaving the port take your time and tow a couple of lures around the end of the break water, kayakers always do this and its really effective.

Around the back of Motumahanga, use a pusher type lure and troll fast enough that the lure is making a splash and long bubble trail, deadly when the blue water is in.

Behind the Bell Block Reef and Ahu Ahu reef off Oakura (around the 20 metre mark,) early in the season I have dived with huge packs of kingfish here.

Oakura New Plymouth Taranaki

Off Fort Saint Gorge if you manage to get down that far, but troll from 12m out to 25m.

Once you hook the kingfish get the spearos get ready, when the hooked kingfish gets reeled up the rest of the pack will come up and see what is going on. Keep the fish on the lure and play it slowly and the schools of kingfish will stay around longer. This lets the spearos have fun as well.

Drop us a line if you have any questions about what types of lures, speeds, or any other queries.

Thanks Tran



I’m from a culture where hospitality is very important and when we invite friends or guests its really important that we provide enough food, that they feel welcome and enjoy themselves.

When I was little I used to think, whats all the fuss? Why is mum making such a big deal about these people, she hardly knows them, and she has spent all day in the kitchen cooking. I would resent all the time and effort she would put in for them, all the while thinking that they bloody well better appreciate it.

Our guest would arrive and there would be an selection of food and drink for everybody, and because mum was such an amazing cook the food was always incredible. Our guests would always have a great time, eat till they couldn’t move and leave raving about how mum was such a great cook and the food was amazing. Then we would help tidy up and mum would spend the next couple of hours cleaning dishes! The only good thing I could see was that we would have yummy left overs or the few days for school lunches. As far as I could remember my parents rarely ever got invited to others for dinner, even though through the years they put on incredible feasts for hundreds of people. I said to myself – I’m never going to do that!

Thinking about it now, with a few more grey hairs I guess, we were trying to fit into a culture where hospitality was novel and only those of certain backgrounds would really understand it or be able to reciprocate. My parent put in so much effort to stay true to our culture, and I guess they were puzzled when that hospitality was not returned. As the years passed I think they invited fewer and fewer people and ended up just cooking for family.

Somewhere along the line I picked up this itch to feed people and its always been a bone of contention between myself and my wife. She sees me going through all the time and effort to feed guests, and the pressure I put myself under, and thinks exactly the way I used to think. Why bother?

Tonight, we have friends coming for dinner and I thought I would outline how the day went for myself and a few of my own thoughts.

First was, do we have anything in the freezer? Then I think – no I couldn’t serve anything that wasn’t as fresh as possible, it isn’t right. I looked outside and the wind was calm and the sea was flat so I thought I would go out and catch something for dinner. We are pretty fortunate to live in a pretty cool place next to the sea, and it is summer, so its warm and catching dinner is something that is possible.

I loaded up my small kayak which doubles as a float boat and grabbed my free diving stuff and in a few minutes was paddling out into the sea. The water was still dirty from wind and swell so I had to find the edge of the reef, hoping for a little clear water to be able to see.

Its been a while and the kayak is rather small so it takes a bit of balancing while getting gear on. The good news was I could see enough to catch some thing.

With the limited visibility spearing a fish wasn’t really going to be an option, so I searched around and was lucky enough to find a mussel bed with some beautiful green lipped mussels. These are delicious fresh and won’t have sand in them as they were further out from the beach.

I was also lucky enough to stumble over a patch of paua, these are absolutely delicious, and opens up some great opportunities for recipes.


I was also able to find some crayfish (rock lobsters) to top it all off, so a very fruitful gathering session. After giving thanks to the sea and Tangaroa, both for the harvest and keeping me safe, I head back in.

Rock Lobster (Crayfish)

So dinner was coming together nicely.

The paua I minced, using an old fashioned hand mincer, and the added some of the mussels. The crayfish was split up and grilled with a glaze of parmesan, thyme and sweet Thai chilli.

Its a lot of effort, but its something that is important to me and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do this for friends. So why all the effort…its taken a bit of staring at the ocean to figure is out but essentially, for me, this act of hospitality comes down to love.

In offering hospitality I anchor myself to my culture, honour my dad and his love for the sea and mum with her love for cooking. It also lets friends and guests know that they are valued, welcomed and loved in our home. Sharing food, for me, is as important as breathing. It is not the reciprocation that is important, I do this because this is who I am.

What if “home” was where you are now?

Well its been almost 6 months living in our motor home exploring New Zealand.. and to be honest its been amazing. The most difficult part was making the commitment to do it, as there’s always reasons not to. New Zealand is probably one of the easiest country’s to explore, from the roads to free camping areas it really has it all.

We were lucky enough to spend time in the far north of NZ and naturally we fell in love with it, not just the amazing scenery but also the “laid backness” of it all, bring your redbands and a chill outlook and you’re in.

Inner roads

Part 1 of 2 – Inner roads

It’s been a crazy couple of years, and in between emergency helicopter flights, A&E, surgeries, lockdowns, tests, scans, injections, tubes, drains, and sitting in hospital rooms watching people I found myself wondering what the term “road to recovery” really means.

I can’t really speak for anyone else but here’s my take.

Most people think of recovery as the physical side of things, especially when you are spending a lot of time in the health system. 

The physical side of things are what you can see, the stitches, scars, functionality and the ultimate goal of being able to do the things you used to be able to. 

I think this is actually the easy part because the body does this naturally, others can see it, you can see it and the world can see it, so everyone makes the assumption that you are doing ok and everything’s fine…

The next corner is much much harder, the mental grind.

After a serious injury or sickness, sooner or later you start to physically look ok again. And that’s when all the invisible demons come a calling; loss of confidence, isolation, fear, uncertainty, lack of pride, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and the feeling that the world doesn’t care.

All invisible and usually undetectable as the person tries to put on a brave face for the world and soldier on.

There are so many reasons for this, because they don’t want to seem more of a burden, because they are embarrassed, they can’t get their shit together, they do it for their family, they put others first.

This is a very very long stretch of road and incredibly difficult, it’s also a time when you need family, friends and kindness the most. So, watch out for it if you have loved ones recovering, because no matter what they say they will need you. Love them harder, be better friends, be that person when it’s over, keep walking alongside even when they seem ‘fine’; this is when it is really needed. 

My last insight I think is like coming home..

After the physical healing, and the mental grind comes the part that you don’t know you need until someone close sees it, points it out and trust me, it’s often not a well-received observation.

This has been the hardest part because it’s easy to brush off as just needing time and space. But for me, I had to accept; I had lost my spark, my drive, my joy, my hustle, my mojo, my space in the world…

I don’t really have the answer to this but what I find helps is to keep busy, focus on doing the things you love, spend time with good people, find things that bring you joy and follow your passions…

Maybe we are all Kryptonians..

I know covid is hitting some of us pretty hard, and it’s great seeing what people posts from their happy bucket in happier times, but remember take a moment to welcome spring! Its natures way of celebrating new beginnings, So no matter where you are open a window, or sit outside, get some sunshine, take a moment to breathe and get some vitamin D on those pastie white limbs!

I think maybe the creators of superman maybe right, we all need sunshine to feel better and its amazing how everyone is much happier when the sun is out. So get out there and recharge all those mental health batteries!

#covid #spring #life #takeamoment #new #vitamind #Kryptonians

A broken down firefighter, a 5 way heart bypass and a camera..

Unlike most stories that involve a heart attack this one turned out pretty good, and I’m very grateful for that.

After almost 10 years ten years as a fire fighter, it was time to do something new, but out of all the things I could have done, open heart surgery wasn’t big on the list.

I was out surfing with friends one evening an I was thinking to myself wow this is such an incredible evening and things couldn’t get better than this.

I caught a wave and came off awkwardly and was winded, I crawled onto my board and laid across it trying to get my breath back, couldn’t get a breath and my chest felt really heavy. I was trying to shake it off but was struggling and my friends where quite a way out.

I decided to coast back on the waves and head up the beach, it was an effort to stumble up the beach and I laid there looking at the sky for a while.

I did a quick assessment, I’m 45, eat well, fit and have a great lifestyle what the hell was happening, heart attack wasn’t on the list, I wrote it off as a bad fall or angina.

My friends came in and we sat on the beach for a while, I didn’t say anything because it was passing and I could move again and we headed up to the car to get change.

Getting out of the wetsuit was a crazy effort, once I got home I thought a shower might help but didn’t get there as the pain in the chest got really bad.

The ambulance was called and it seemed a very long painful wait time..

Later on, the paramedics told me they were really worried when they heard my name over the call as they knew I was young and fit, it must be something serious.

It was a pretty painful experience as I was cold and the paramedics had a hard time getting a drip into me to start the thrombolysis process. At one stage the paramedic was about to get the power drill to drill into my shin bone to administer the drugs, I looked at him and said hey mate, (we’ve worked together before on a few occasions as emergency responders) “I would really appreciate if you didn’t do that while I was still conscious” we both laughed and redoubled his efforts at the drip. Finally, after and hour a drip was put in and I was thrombosed…tbc

Creativity for mental health

Took me an hour to build this bird house, it not perfect and its not the prettiest, but a lucky bird family won’t care about that.

This little birdhouse made me smile because I was so focused on it that an hour disappeared in a blink of an eye.
I really enjoyed that hour because I wasn’t distracted by anything and I was creating something, something useful, something tangible, that when I look at it will bring me a little joy.
It got me thinking when was the last time you created something?
Something that wasn’t about making money, something that wasn’t about likes on social media but something as simple as bringing you a little joy and allowing you to be creative again.
As kids we used to sing, dance, make daisy chains, paint, bake mud cakes, and sandcastles not because it was going to bring us wealth and fame but because we enjoyed it, we created things just for ourselves.
Could allowing ourselves to be creative, be a strategy to improve our mental health is this chaotic world?
There’s a lot of emphasis on exercise, and nutrition for mental health…but maybe unleashing our creative side might also be a way for us to combat the stress of our busy lives.
So, think of all the things you used to do as a child, and relook at what brought you joy, don’t let the pressures of society dull your sense of creativity; paint, sing, draw, just create!

Continue reading “Creativity for mental health”


Not sure if I’m a fisherman with a photography problem, or a photographer with a fishing problem..Taranaki turning on the charm.. actually there’s a story to this one. I hauled the fish up and it was a beauty, I handed my fishing rod to my mate and said ” hold, I’m just going to get my camera”, to which he replied “WTF! it’s a huge fish – just get the thing in the boat!” After I had finished taking the photos we pulled the fish on board, and my mate turned around and said “don’t ever do that again that was bloody stressful, I was freaking out about losing the fish the whole time!” 😂😂

Fishing for Snapper with Mt Taranaki as a back drop

Selfish can be good..

Talked to a lot of people who have been unwell lately and it got me thinking…..there’s so much pressure to be amazing for everyone else, whether it’s in the workplace, family or on social media. There’s constant pressure to try to keep everyone one else happy.
Where I’m starting to think maybe we should be amazing to ourselves. There is a stigma about being selfish but I think being a little selfish can be a good thing. Maybe allow yourself the chance to breathe, recover and look at all the good things in life, without feeling guilty. Put yourself first once in a while and tell the world to get lost, find things that bring you joy and happiness and indulge, this is not a bad thing, the world can wait. Life is short, forgive yourself the time to find things that make your heart sing. If you are at peace with yourself everyone around you will benefit.