Great Barrier Island Fishing Industry

This page is the start of recovering the history of this era about which little has been so far gotten together. Don Armitage June 2009.

Links to various fishing vessels  
 Tryphena Wharf during the height of the fishing industry. Photo Bob Whitmore copyright-  click on the image to enlarge it.

Part of a letter written by Robert Clapham Barstow from Mulberry Grove, Tryphena on 10th December, 1850 
 " I have today tried as much of my [net?]  as I have completed, about 22 fathoms: I took 3 hauls and caught about 200 fish resembling herrings in size and appearance: I have salted half of them and intend to smoke them: I have no doubt but that when my net is larger I shall catch enough to make curing them profitable: red herrings (sic) are retailed at ld and 1½d each; half that would pay well."
The rest of the letter is here


Fishing mentioned at Great Barrier Island in 1854.

The New Zealand Fisheries

            We have been instituting diligent inquiries respecting the varieties and character of the fish to be found in our surrounding waters. In this research, we have been greatly indebted to an intelligent and practical friend, through whom we have already received  much valuable information, and have been promised still more. That which we have now to lay before our readers, if it be, as we have no reason to doubt, perfectly correct, may well be regarded  as deeply important intelligence; seeing that it conveys an assurance that herrings and cod, the grand staples of European fish curers, are not the only inhabitants of these seas, but that, in addition to many highly prized fish peculiar to our waters, many of the most choice fish of the northern hemisphere abound.

            “With regard to the New Zealand fisheries,” writes our informant, “it has lately been satisfactorily proved that we have numbers of fish hitherto supposed only to inhabit the northern hemisphere.

            “The first in value is the cod. These are chiefly to be found in deep water; on banks off the coast, and in from forty to seventy fathoms. They are caught with the hook and line.

            “The second in importance is the herring, a shoal of which was recently driven ashore at Mahurangi. They have likewise repeatedly been seen in the neighbourhood of the Great Barrier Island. Herrings are taken with a drift net; the cost of which, in England, would be about £80.


Source: Lloyds Weekly Newspaper (London, England). Sunday, January 29th, 1854.



Great Barrier Land Harbour and Mining Company, Limited.

THE Undersigned would be glad to meet with some respectable person who understands and

would be disposed to enter into the employment of taking and CURING FISH, as an experiment, for the Auckland market. The company finding boats and materials — Apply to Messrs. Owen and Graham, Queen-street Wharf. ALBERT J. ALLOM, General Manager and Agent.

Source: Daily Southern Cross 20th August 1862 p1


 Great Barrier Is Land Harbour and Mining Company propose to raise capital

Money Market and City Intelligence

At a general meeting of the Great Barrier Company (New Zealand) today it was unanimously agreed to raise £20,000 by debentures for five years at 6 per cent per annum. The objects on which it is proposed to expend this money are to improve the present farms and establish others, to considerably increase the stock of sheep and cattle, extend the fish curing establishments, purchase a suitable vessel, and to place the directors in a position to carry out the project of a special settlement, if favourable terms are offered by the Government; and also for making the necessary preparations for rendering the company’s harbour, Port Fitzroy, a fitting port for steamers and other vessels, as well as  a depot for whalers. It was stated that the sawmill is probably now at work, and that from this source a good return may henceforth be expected.

Source: The Times Wednesday, April 22, 1863, page 10 issue 24589.



Great Barrier Island Fishermans Association

On Saturday 6th March approximately twenty fishermen met at Tryphena to form the Great Barrier Fisherman's Association. The Association is affiliated to the Combined Fisherman's Association Incorporated and has been formed to give better communication between the fishermen regarding changing regulations on fishing rights and other issues affecting the fishing industry. Bob Whitmore is the President of the association and Catherine Mathews is the Secretary. Any person interested in the joining the association should contact either of the above at Tryphena.

Source: Barrier Bulletin March 1982 page 2.


Subpages (3): Kahawai Kawhai Lady Isla