North Shore Times : January 9th 2014
www.northshoretimes.co.nz SPORT NORTH SHORE TIMES, JANUARY 9, 2014 Spearfishing Shields family By MARYKE PENMAN The Shields clan must have salt water running through their veins. The Torbay family shares a passion for spearfishing that spans three generations. Darren Shields, 48, is a six-time national spearfishing champion, international representative and world record holder. The whopping 48.2kg yellowfin tuna he speared at Whale Island 14 years ago still stands as a New Zealand record. His passion has branched into successful spearfishing and diving retail business Wettie based in Rosedale. Daughter Gemma, 24, and son Jackson, 21, both have a hand in the day-to-day operations. Darren is also a published author, underwater photographer and features in a new fishing and hunting television series airing on TV One on Saturday afternoons. If he is not in the water chasing the family’s next seafood dinner then you can guarantee he’s thinking about it. But you can’t blame him. Learn- ing to spearfish followed not long after Darren learned to walk. Father Dave Shields, 70, says he threw his only son into the big blue yonder at just five years old. ‘‘We’d chuck him in on a few camping trips to get a feed. It came pretty naturally.’’ While most his age would be set- tling down for a quiet retirement, Dave continues to spearfish. It would seem the years of saltwater have had some sort of preservative effect. At age 49 Dave survived a mass- ive heart attack and contrary to doctor’s orders to ‘‘take it easy’’ he was back in the water shortly after a triple bypass. Grandchildren Gemma and Jack- son still look to their grandfather for the tricks of the trade only a man of his experience can offer. On a trip to The Noises I watched Dave spend hours spearfishing alongside Darren and Gemma in 10 to 20 metres. Considered a modest catch on Shields terms, the group collected 120 scallops, three snapper, two trevally, five parore for the dog and a few horse mussels as big as your foot which Darren and Dave ate fresh from the shell. It was 1960 when a teenage Dave first took up diving. ‘‘We all made our own spear guns back then. We’d make triggers and handles out of wood and attach a bit of rubber. I speared the biggest fish I ever caught on those guns,’’ he says. In 1971 he won the New Zealand title at Stewart Island spearing 22 different species of fish in just six Suiting up: Gemma, left, and Darren Shields prepare to go spearfishing with friend Kent Remihana, right, in 10 to 15 metre waters at The Noises. hours. ‘‘We used to see fish in large schools. Acres and acres of snapper on the surface. ‘‘I think the amount of activity on the water these days, more boats and people, the fish are on alert all the time.’’ And changes in water quality have impacted on fish stocks, Dave says. But New Zealand waters have faired better than most and are touted as among the best for spearfishing in the world. Great Barrier Island is a clear family favourite, Darren says. While the ocean is his playground, it is a playground Darren has the utmost respect for. The new government fishing quota of seven per person needs to go further, Darren says. ‘‘It should be cut back to three. Humans are greedy. Can you imagine if we all came back with seven fish each? ‘‘That’s just over the top, nobody needs that much.’’ Dual catch: Darren Shields with two Trevally speared at The Noises. Photos:MARYKEPENMAN ‘‘I don’t like to be shown up by trip to The Noises with Darren, Gemma and Dave Shields, plusa short documentary featuring underwater footage of Darren and Gemma diving in Queensland at the Interpacific Spearfishing Championships this year. Spearfishing is proven to leave the smallest carbon footprint of any ocean water sport. ‘‘It is the most selective fishing there is,’’ Darren says. Spearos shoot only fish that make good eating or are large enough to consider trophy catches. A firm appreciation of the ocean seems inherent in Darren’s children. New Zealand Women’s Spearfishing Champion Gemma says: ‘‘There’s a lot more to it than just hunting for the kill. ‘‘It can be really beautiful down there. Spending time to take it all in is a big part of it for me.’’ Despite suffering sea sickness and a susceptibility to the cold, Gemma holds 12 national women’s spearfishing records, including a 2.12kg john dory and a 2.2kg butterfish. and click on Latest Edition to see more photos from a spearfishing Go to northshoretimes.co.nz the boys. Because it is a male dominated sport a lot of people assume I must be a tom boy, but I’m actually a real girly girl.’’ Sibling rivalry is fierce between Gemma and her younger brother Jackson, 21, also a member of the New Zealand Spearfishing Team and holder of six national junior records including a 126.2kg striped marlin. ‘‘To be honest he would clean me up any day, he’s a much better spearfisher,’’ Gemma says. Perhaps the only family member not to have the spearfishing bug is Darren’s wife Alison. Instead she holds the fort while her brood is at sea. ‘‘Mum is not into it at all. She’s just become really good at cooking fish 101 different ways,’’ she says. Tahitian raw fish salad is Darren’s favourite dish. February to March is prime spearfishing season, when Dave, Darren, Gemma and Jackson get close to growing gills given the amount of time they spend in the water. Together they have more than a century’s worth of spearfishing experience, but Darren says there is still one fish that has eluded him. ‘‘I would love to get a southern bluefin tuna.’’ 15 Father son: Darren, left, and Dave Shields sharing a raw horse mussel snack while spearfishing at The Noises. Count:GemmaShields, 24, counts the day’s catch on board the family boat.
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