Islands dive into fame

By Erica Donald

A new underwater adventure television series showcases the Poor Knights alongside some of the best diving spots in the world.

Descending, which airs on Sky Travel Channel 025 on August 21, is a 13-part adventure travel show which features 17 countries.

New Zealand-born Ellis Emmett, 40, co-hosts the show with Canadian Scott Wilson and said there was no question about using the Poor Knights in the New Zealand episodes.

"We couldn't come to New Zealand and not film there. The marine diversity is incredible."

The Poor Knights, off the coast of Tutukaka, holds its own quite easily amongst some of the world's best, according to Mr Emmett.

Tourism Development Group chairman and Whangarei District councillor Jeroen Jongejans said the Poor Knights were like "the lifeblood" of Tutukaka and an increase in publicity would be beneficial to Northland.

"It's about that person in New York waking up and saying 'I saw this amazing place in New Zealand, I want to go there'," Mr Jongejans said.

"It's the food, the cafes, the charter fees, transport, accommodation ... Everything will add up in significance to our economic well-being."

He hopes that exposure of the islands as a total marine reserve, which began in 1998, means the idea will catch on elsewhere.

"People will be able to see it's a great idea. Marine reserves are the only place that the area gets fully protected from other influences, as well being as being fantastic for the economy and based on a sustainable model."

Mr Jongejans said the next step is for the Poor Knights to get World Heritage Status.

The Poor Knights were declared tapu by Maori 140-years ago after a dramatic massacre by the Hikutu tribe occurred on the islands as revenge on the Ngatiwai tribe.

Mr Emmett said the "incredible and tragic story" of the islands was another aspect which drew him and his team there.

Mr Jongejans is the director of Dive! Tutukaka, the company which took the Descending team out to film at the Poor Knights around two years ago.

"They were an interesting bunch of guys. It's going to be a great show," Mr Jongejans said.

The Poor Knights feature alongside other exotic locations including a World War II wreck in Sudan, shark-filled waters in South Africa and the Raja Ampat reserve in Indonesia.

- Northern Advocate

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