Picton Fishers Memorial


On Saturday 29 September the Picton Professional Fishers Association Inc held a consecration ceremony for their new memorial dedicated to fishers who have lost their lives at sea in the Marlborough side of Cook Strait since 1950. The idea was born more than 15 years ago when, in the late 1990's, a paua diver located an anchor where the City of Newcastle had sunk on 14 November 1872 with the loss of two lives. The anchor was retrieved by the Heberley family making the idea a reality.

Relatives of the fishermen commemorated by the memorial. Image supplied by author
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The anchor seemed a fitting tribute to honour those lost in the Strait, but it took many years of working through red tape, and the gradual decline of the local Fishers Association, before it came to fruition. When the Marlborough District Council began beautifying the Picton foreshore a site was given for the memorial, on the town side of the coat-hanger bridge, and the project was able to be completed. There are eight names on the memorial.

John Sime. FV Gaye-B. 2 September 1971

Malcolm Kirk. FV Tory 10 June 1974

Kevin Wilson & Kevin Verry. FV Shendoah 2 October 1975

Robbie Taylor. FV Reaper 4 October 1981

Don Bourke. FV Tara 27 March 1982

Mark Phillipson & Michael Cassidy. FV Chance 1 June 1996

Blessing of the Fleet at the ceremony. Image supplied by author
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Every single person named had a relative at the very moving ceremony which was opened by ex-fisherman Dick Hall, followed by an address by Mayor Alistair Sowman. His concluding words were fitting for the occasion.

"Our coastal waters may seem benign, but any seafarer knows that even our sheltered sounds can cut up wild as we sit on the edge of Cook Strait - a stretch of water treacherous in storms."

A glance around those gathered brought home the depth of emotions that were being felt. Tears ran freely as the names were unveiled and read out. After the Karanga by Ngaro Aldridge she led the procession to the wharf, with Ted Collins and Joe Heberley carrying a wreath, followed by the family member. At the wharf, twelve of Picton's fishing fleet were berthed.  Reverend Richard Dyer and Father Joe Keegan then blessed all the boats. As Ted and Joe placed the wreath into the water a ship's bell rang out eight times to recognise the eight names on the memorial. The service concluded with the haunting sound of a waiata sung by the Aldridge family. 

The memorial can be seen in the car park at Picton's marina, adjacent the Coathanger Bridge.

2012. Updated May 2020

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  • Being an ex fisherman from Greymouth, it's so heart warming to know the families and friends haven't forgotten about the people who we have lost at sea. May God bless you all.

    Posted by Timoti Shepherd , 20/07/2016 10:27am (7 years ago)

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