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A taste of the ocean

Pirinoa School pupils Polly Telford (left), Kala Baird and Charlotte Jephson are among the dozens of schoolchildren hosted on fishing trips over the years by the Pukemanu Boating and Fishing Club. PHOTO/SUPPLIED.

By Gerald Ford

A social Wairarapa fishing club is giving schoolchildren a taste of the ocean.

For the past 12 years or so the Pukemanu Boating and Fishing Club has organised fishing trips for kids who might not otherwise get a chance to experience them.

Commodore Mark Telford, who finds the temporary title amusing, is just coming to end of his three-year term of supervising these trips, which in recent years have involved fishing charters at Mana, Wellington.

He has been helped by other club members including club captain Tony Kerr.

In earlier years, the group took fishing excursions as far as the Marlborough Sounds, staying in cabins along the shoreline, but “the fishing got depleted” and trips began to be organized out of Ngawi.

“Initially, we would set a date and individual members with boats would take groups of kids out for a morning or day fish out of Ngawi,” Mr Kerr said.

Unfortunately, the changeable Wairarapa weather became a factor and organizers “had to cancel that many trips”.

Of those that did go ahead, the combination of small boats and Wairarapa swell were not always easy on young novice fishermen, so the action moved to Mana, where club members pay for a charter.

“Mana’s good, if we can get out there, they catch the odd blue cod or terakihi”

“On a big boat they feel safe, and the kids relax, and we can show them how to fish properly,” Mr Telford said.

To find passengers, organisers “contact schools and get them to pick kids that had never experienced boating or fishing” Mr Telford said.

They take up to 15 children from three or four or different schools.

“We pay for the Charter, plus we have a big barbeque lunch on board, the kids take all fish caught home,

(filleted of course).”

“The looks on these kids’ faces when they catch their first fish … worth every dollar we spend.”

Schools hosted in the past include Pirinoa School (most recently), Kahutara, Greytown, Whareama, Tuturumuri, Martinborough and South Featherston.

Mr Telford is a keen fisherman himself and enjoys the odd dive, not so much for paua now but spear-fishing.

“We’re so blessed with our coast here. Even though it can be a real bastard, when it’s on it’s really hard to beat.”

Schools hosted in the past include Pirinoa, Kahutara, Greytown, Whareama, Tuturumuri, Martinborough and South Featherston.

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