Love of the sea a big part of fisherman's life

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Third generation Whakatane fisherman Steve Haddock.  PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
Third generation Whakatane fisherman Steve Haddock. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

This week's Newsmaker is Steve Haddock, a Whakatane fisherman involved in the rescue of 60 people from tour boat PeeJay V that caught fire and sank off Whakatane on Monday.

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I'm part of the second generation of three generations of Haddock fisherman. My father Dave has been part of Coastguard Whakatane since its inception and, in 2008, he was included in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to the maritime industry and the community.

My brother Goose Haddock was a long-serving Whakatane Sport Fishing Club president, so much so I think he may have equalled the record of the longest time in the role. I currently own and sometimes operate two commercial tuna and swordfish vessels out of Port Whakatane.

I am married to Meagan and we live at Thornton at a property we named Anchorage. The Thornton property boasts a house built around the design of a boat that sits amid award-winning gardens that have slowly become home to a number of objects used to being immersed in salt water.

The grounds are home to carved dolphins, a wooden replica of the Whale Rider, a surfboard, a buoy garden and metre upon metre of heavy rope. For me, putting down the anchor brings with it a feeling of safety and that's what Meagan and I have created at our home-a safe haven. There's also about 40 anchors throughout the grounds ranging in size from one that fits around Meagan's neck to one that weighs about five tonne.

I have three children who live locally.

What was the first thing you thought when you saw the PeeJay V in flames?
To be honest I was shocked when I first saw the flames on PeeJay V. As we left the Whakatane Harbour the smoke and then the flames were clearly visible.

Why do you think this situation did not end up in disaster?
I believe the actions of the PeeJay V skipper played a huge part in the successful rescue of its 60 passengers and crew. He put down the anchor and that made a huge difference. It stopped the boat from drifting, stopped it listing.

It also turned it into the wind, pushing the flames away from the bow and the people leaving the boat. Those are the things that made for a good evacuation. I also have to praise the entire White Island [Tours] crew who were involved in the rescue and also all of the local boaties who turned up to help.

You've been a fisherman for almost all of your life. What attracts you to the sea?
I've always loved fishing. Because of dad's love of the sea, we grew up around the water - I'm pretty sure I've spent equal amounts of time on the land and on the sea in my lifetime. I've been a fisherman for the past 37 years and can't imagine doing anything else.

I love the open spaces and the swell. And while the enthusiasm and excitement still remains, the body is telling me I need to take a step back from the boats and spend a few more nights on shore. It's time to let my young skippers have a go while I take on more of a management role.

Tell us three things that most people would not know about you.
My favourite place to fish is a stream - I love catching trout. In 2011 Meagan and I won the best overall garden in the Whakatane Garden Competition and last year, we won the most prestigious garden.

Last weekend I won the seafood section of the inaugural Wild Food Challenge held in Whakatane.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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