Dive Pacific 171 Oct- Nov 2019




Knights. Wade had been searching

for months to film this now rare

fish at the Knights.

Fortunately, Wade’s son Brady was

able to vent the fish’s air bladder

and return it to the sea.”

Wade’s first feature article

appeared in the April/May 1991

Issue #3. Titled: “Crazy Yellow Sub,”

an hilarious account of Wade’s

first dive in Dr Walt Starck, a 1,400

pound sub that was aboard Walt

Starck’s research vessel El Torito.

In all Wade contributed over 50


As the years thundered by, I

got to know Wade and Jan and

considered them very good friends.

Wade’s love of writing started

before he became a member of the

Canterbury Underwater Club at the

Club’s inaugural meeting in the

1950s. Christchurch was a breeding

ground of divers who sure had an

adventurous spirit. The late Kelly

Tarlton and veteran diver Keith

Gordon were some of Wade’s close

diving buddies.

The club started a magazine, with

the first issue called Bulletin; the

second issue was changed to DIVE

Underwater magazine.

Wade already had an interest in

writing when he joined up with his

mate Keith Gordon and took on the

publication with the 3rd issue in

July 1959 (60 years ago) and started

distribution nationwide at one

shilling a copy.

(Keith Gordon tells me that, also

in the 1950s, the first New Zealand

dive magazine to be produced for

public sale cost of one shilling -

Underwater was published by DW

& ER Lynch who were members of

the Auckland Underwater Club.)

Wade, a schoolteacher, and his

wife Jan, a nurse, headed north to

Wellsford around 1963 where Wade

took up a teaching job at the local

high school.

Kelly Tarlton was living in

Matapouri and encouraged Wade

and Jan to join him and his wife

Rosemary nearby. So began the

ever-increasing love affair with

the Poor Knights Islands right at

their front door.

He and Jan continued publishing

DIVE Underwater magazine. They

changed the title to Dive South

Pacific Underwater magazine with

the March 1966 Issue: Vol 5 No 5;

price: 2 shillings.

Through the magazine he was

instrumental in bringing new

diving technology/equipment

and photography equipment to

light. But most importantly, they

inspired divers to get out there

with adventurous articles. The

expedition adventures of Wade are


He has published over 20 books,

the most recent being e-books.

Some tell tales of sunken treasure,

or meeting witch doctors in remote

Pacific islands and, of course, the

love he shared with Jan for marine

mammals and all life in the sea.

I guess he may be most proud of

being involved (based information

he provided and his passion) in

having his beloved Poor Knights

Islands declared a partial Marine

Reserve in 1981 (only 5%!) and

finally a full Reserve – including

the Principals being legislated

totally a NO fishing reserve – in

1998. It was not an easy time

as there were many interests

against the islands becoming fully

protected. Some of that strong

resentment lingers today!

Wade received numerous

recognitions for his

conservation work.

A few that spring to mind:

2006: Wyland Foundation -

Dive New Zealand Magazine

Recognition Award: One person

can make a difference. The advocate

for marine conservation in New


2012: Queen’s Service Medal.

2016: Life Member, New Zealand

Underwater Association.

July 2019: The New Zealand Marine

Science Society’s John Morton


To finish here’s a little from one of

2012: Wade Doak received his Queen’s Service Medal

from then-Governor General Jerry Mateparae

his last e-books: Bring Back the Bird


It shows how his and Jan’s

love of nature continued when

diving became difficult. They

strengthened their love of the bush

around their Ngunguru home and


He and Jan have spent years

exploring the shoreline and estuaries,

walking cliff-top paths, studying

the mangroves and roaming the

forest. Wade’s engaging text tells a

remarkable story, illustrated with

an incredible photographic archive

of trees, shrubs, vines, orchids,

ferns, birds, and attendant wildlife,

displaying an area rich in diversity.

Many of you would have been

friends on Facebook with Wade

– we will all miss his regular


He his has left a huge legacy.

Recorded via millions of typed

words, our history of diving,

marine life and conservation


I’ll miss our long phone

conversations. The “shifting

baseline” was always a hot topic.

Rest in peace my friend – you

achieved so much – time to rest.

Wade is survived by his wife Jan,

his son Brady, daughter Karla and

their three grandchildren. Our

thoughts are with his family. Jan is

an amazing person. Her support for

Wade is too huge to measure. From

typing up book manuscripts and

endless documents to providing

his dinner. Being his loveable

diving, sailing and tramping buddy.

She is a true saint.

- Dave Moran Editor at Large

www.dive-pacific.com 9

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