Great white sharks are such a hot topic a friend asked, "Ever seen one at your place?" while we were riding horses high on hills and far from sea.

The question was inspired by the young surfer mauled at Baylys Beach.

I hadn't seen a great white but did have stories to tell. Word is that last year someone walking on the west side of Pahi peninsula spotted a great white cruising not far from where their dog was wading.

Pahi's further towards Baylys than our place at Batley on the edge of the Kaipara Harbour which is now known to be a seething mass of young great whites.


Till now it has been more famous as a nursery for the humble snapper, a more appealing fish in every way. They're smaller, don't have a jot of desire to bite humans or surfboards (I've snorkelled with a large one and can vouch for this), are fun to catch and taste delectable.

Still, if the harbour's nurturing sharks and people are still catching snapper and netting mullet, it must be teeming with aquatic life.

The farmer once encountered a great white while cruising up the harbour towards home. The outboard kicked up and there was the shark swimming with haste in the opposite direction. He reckons it was three metres long.

Earlier this year a local newspaper reported that a Tinopai man fishing from Great White, his six-metre runabout, peered over the stern – and down the throat of a great white he guessed was about five metres long. It rammed his outboard, chewed the prop then swam away.

Perhaps he should rename his boat to, say, Sprat.

The injured surfer was treated by medics outside a Baylys Beach takeaway called Sharkeys. A coincidence? Perhaps not.

There's often gossip about great whites spotted or caught in the Kaipara. One of the most famous has its jaw in The Kauri Museum at Matakohe. Caught by the Weber brothers, it was big but not massive. Females can grow to almost 2000kg, about four times the size of my solid pony.

Then another shark made the news in Northland. A bronze whaler was seen snacking on dumped fish guts at Langs Cove, a safe beach for families and holidaymakers. However, an observer reported that someone hefted fish remains far into the briny which tempted it back to shore. Fun to watch, but it could have deadly repercussions.

Shark scientist Riley Elliott made the logical comment that this was unwise (at best) given Langs' popularity with swimmers. The shark's next snack might not be fish guts because, like humans and animals, sharks quickly hook on to the location of food and return for more.


"That's a recipe for disaster," said the farmer who's raising a bull calf which lost its mother.

Between meals the calf ventures through my sophisticated electric fence set-up which stops both the horse and big bulls and heads far across the paddock.

At mealtimes I could call it forever and it would merely watch. However, when the farmer shows up with its giant bottle of warm milk and gives the calf a shout, it's up like a shot and trotting for its tucker.

Let's hope the bronze whaler at Langs doesn't develop the same habit. Except, of course, it wouldn't trot.