History of the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society Inc 1957-2007


History of the

Hawkes Bay Aquarium Society Inc

1956 – 2007

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Hawkes Bay Aquarium Society

Hawkes Bay Aquarium Society Inc.

1957 – 2007

New Zealand

Produced by
Thinker Publications and Evolve Studios

ISBN 978-0-473-12096-2

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Mayors Message

I congratulate the Hawkes Bay Aquarium Society Inc. on completing 50 years piscatorial activity in our City. From small beginnings in 1957 beneath the Napier War Memorial Hall on the Marine Parade, the society has been the force behind a number of spin offs that are recorded in this publication.

For its first seven years, the Society controlled the Public Aquarium, but by 1964, the Aquarium had expanded to the point where the Society and Napier City Council joined forces in the Tourism business. This booklet tracks the history of what followed, our city can but marvel at the result.

This is a history of the Aquarium Society not the Aquarium, and I can appreciate the difficulty its’ compilers have had in writing it as it is inextricably linked with the Aquarium.

Members if [of] the Society are the enthusiasts who began the fish keeping hobby in Napier and my Council’s hope is that they remain ‘Friends’ of the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

Napier has much to thank those people who 50 years ago, began to keep fish in a bowl and charge 1/- and six pence for children to view.

The Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society will be remembered for its enterprise. Education, research and tourism in Napier have all benefited from the work of the Aquarium Society.

Barbara Arnott

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By Kerry Hewitt

As the current president of the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society, it is an honour to be asked to write a short introduction for this brief history of the Aquarium Society’s book. This history was compiled from the HBAS [Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society] records from the last 50 years.

I have been associated with the HBAS for the last 16 years via the close relationship between the HBAS and the National Aquarium of New Zealand formerly the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium.

Over this time I have seen so many enthusiastic individuals do a huge amount for the club and the love of the hobby (or is it the addiction to fish?). Because of the enthusiasm of the club members, the HBAS has passed the first 50 year mark and is now aiming at the next 50 years.

Thank you everyone who have and will continue to support the HBAS both at the front line and quietly behind the scenes.

Photo caption – Kerry Hewitt


This history has been written from the perspective of the H.B. Aquarium Society Inc. and its members. It is a history of the Society 1957 – 2007.

GORDON DINE has two pages to reminisce. ROB YARRALL was invited to contribute a chapter on THE AQUARIUM. Also Bruce Wells, Alan Crabbe and Doreen Smith have been invited to contribute an entry.

Club President Kerry Hewitt has the honour of an opening welcome.

I am honoured and surprised to be compiling this history 50 years after it all began. There are few of us to write the story. I am sure that the SOCIETY is in good hands and Kerry, today, leads a young team very capable of seeing out the next 50 years.

There are many people who trod this journey with us who are not mentioned in this work who I hope will get their 15 minutes of fame in future histories of the NATIONAL AQUARIUM of NZ and MARINELAND.

Ian L. Mills   2007

Editorial Panel
Gordon Dine, Alan Crabbe, Kerry Hewitt, Doreen Smith, Russ Spiller, Bruce Wells and Rob Yarrall.

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1957 – 2007

BE AWARE THE PUBLIC AQUARIUM we founded in 1957 CEASED TO BE A PART OF THE SOCIETY’S HISTORY after 1964 once a Board was set up to administer both the Dolphin Pool and our Aquarium.

The H.B. Aquarium Society built and ran the first Aquarium beneath the War Memorial Hall 1957-64. We then joined a Council Board (1964-92). The Aquarium was then administered by a Committee, consisting of 5 Councillors that included the Mayor as chairman, 4 Aquarium Society members, the Town Clerk Pat Ryan, the City Engineer John Perry and Gordon Dine Curator.

Between the years 1964 – 1992 the H.B. Aquarium Society’s various Board Members maintained an active interest in the planning and running of a new building that opened in 1976. In 1992 full control of the AQUARIUM was vested in the Council’s tourism arm, Destination Napier.

The history of the Hawke’s bay Aquarium Society Inc. (1957) includes only the first seven years of the (£500) public aquarium in the basement of the War Memorial Building on the Marine Parade. Beyond this date, the Aquarium’s proven success and finances came under the control of the Aquarium & Marineland Board. The H.B. Aquarium Society by 1964 had shown that a public aquarium could be successful. The staff and activities of THE AQUARIUM do not correctly figure in this history of the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society Inc. beyond the year 1964. Although in fairness to all those associated with the Aquarium they remained staunch members or supporters of the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society Inc. and vice versa.

This 50 year HISTORY is to record the progress of a group of enthusiasts who in 1957 revived the old Aquarium & Water Garden Society to build a public Aquarium on the Marine Parade Napier, with £500 given to them by the NAPIER 30,000 CLUB. Little did they know their efforts would lead to an $8.6 million, Aquarium. Today after 50 years our Society can look back with pride at its achievements. We are one of the stronger clubs in the country largely because of our association with the National Aquarium of New Zealand. Long may this remain so. Symbiosis is common in the fish world.

For its first 7 years 1957-64 the Aquarium was run by The H.B. Aquarium Society, a group of talented amateurs, founded by Les Mills, led by Gordon Dine QSM, Frank Logan and others.

By 1972 full control of the Public Aquarium has passed to the Napier City Council.

Henceforth our only connection is as, very very good FRIENDS of the NATIONAL AQUARIUM.

See Marineland History 1964-92

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The 2nd Aquarium designed by Len Speight, and built by Jemini Pepper, Wanganui, opened December 11th 1976.

Closed for a two year refit during March 2000 to March 2002.

The 3rd Aquarium, now known as the NATIONAL AQUARIUM of N.Z. opened March 13th 2002

Forgive us if occasionally we slip back and feature the Public Aquarium or Marineland affairs in this work.

Pre History   c1933 – 1957

The history of the hobby in New Zealand began in Wellington with the formation of the N.Z. Aquarium and Water Garden Society c1933, (President W.J. Phillipps Dominion Museum). This Wellington based Society had members throughout New Zealand until 1942 when Canterbury members formed their own club. Ten years later there were eight outlying clubs throughout New Zealand and Canterbury moved to found a Federation of New Zealand Aquarium Societies (FNZAS). Wellington, Christchurch and others then affiliated to this national body. The Wellington Aquarium & Water Garden Society’s efforts to create a public aquarium in the grounds of the Wellington Zoo in May 1950 for £8,900 meet [met] with little enthusiasm from their City Council. Now in 2007 there is great enthusiasm to build a $20 million Public Aquarium at Owhiro Bay Marine Reserve on Wellington’s exposed southern coast.

By 1951 sixty-eight species of Tropical Fish were listed as being available in New Zealand.

My first contact with tropical fish was in 1955 with three active members of the Wellington club, Dawn Stillburn, John Bowden and Roy Perritt from whom I purchased £20 worth of tropical fish to take back to Napier.

The Hawkes Bay Aquarium Society affiliated to the national body in 1958

The Letter below appeared in the AQUATIC WORLD March 1958
Vol. V. No 10


Our Aquarium in Napier Memorial Building is now an accomplished fact. It is a example if what enthusiasm can do in a short space of time. We held our opening on December 14th 1957. The Mayors of both Hastings and Napier and the Member for the District were in attendance. We received so many congratulations that we nearly needed a larger size in headgear at the end of the morning.

Swimming away in many various sized tanks are Tropical and Cold Water fishes, Axolotls, Seahorses, Octopus, also numerous salt water fish and anemones that are attracting hundreds of people to watch their antics, these fish are under ideal living conditions, the artificial lighting being placed to satisfy the most fastidious of fish.

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This is only the commencement of our work. We hope shortly to exhibit all kinds of sea fish. Local fishermen are co-operating to supply these as caught. With such a splendid sight available and being a seaport city Napier should be able to supply an attraction for young and old alike.

All proceeds are being ploughed back into securing a larger exhibit and a bigger range of unusual fish. Judging by the number of people who are paying to see this display it should not be long before we are well on our way to bigger and better things. So far in nine weeks 31,457 have paid to see the Aquarium. Members of the Aquarium Society are admitted free at all times.

In approval of our efforts our Fairy Godmother (the Napier 30,000 Club) presented us with £500 towards our initial outlay and following this up they have this week added twelve nice lounge chairs to make our premises look more comfortable and inviting.

We have had many visits from members of other North Island Societies, and very welcome they are. Please when visiting us, introduce yourselves to our Curator. He is a breeder of both cold and tropical fish and a real enthusiast. He will be delighted to meet and talk with you.

E.J. LOGAN   Publicity Officer

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Early Days
3rd April 1957   30,000 Club Rooms, Market St., Napier

In 1954 Les Mills displayed in his shoe store a 3 foot aquarium full of goldfish. A customer suggested he change these fish to tropical fish WHAT ARE THEY? said Les. I shall bring you in my husband’s fish book (Innes) said Mrs Russell. The rest is history. Les Mills and his son wasted hours talking fish for the next year until Gordon Dine and others joined their passion for these bright little fish. It just so happened that a new building with a large empty basement was under construction, next to the baths on the Marine Parade. Les Mills was an active member of the 30,000 Club and one night he suggested to the Club that the War Memorial Hall basement would be a good place to build an Aquarium. Imagine his surprise when the club agreed and said.

Right Ho! Les, here is £500 you put an Aquarium there.

The Public Notice below was inserted in the Daily Telegraph 1st April 1957 April Fools Day. This Ad brought forth 17 members of the H.B. Aquarium & Water Garden Society’ which had been in recess since 1953.

In Basement
is called for
At 8p.m.
In the 30,000 Club Rooms
Market Street Napier.
It is particularly requested that everyone in Hawke’s Bay will attend who is interested in establishing an Aquarium to contain marine, tropical, and freshwater fish, plus any other form of aquaria of general interest. We want your ideas and help.

Other early Hawkes Bay enthusiasts in 1957 were:
Gavin Black, Fred Brown, Reg Plumodley. Tony Dennis, Ron Schofield, Mr. Dine Snr., Jack Dallimore, Murray Williams, The Lathams, S. Downey, Mr. Hopkins (Hastg.), Fed [Fred] Mansfield, Ken Francis, Marg. Rutter, Alec Dobbins, Trevor Brown, Willis Dark, Noel Mears, Gaye Leach, Gordon Dine, Russ Spiller and Ian Mills.
Only those underlines are alive today.

*See appendix – H.B Aquarium & Water Garden Society. Page 38.

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Unknown to us at the time E.A. Williams a local architect had corresponded in 1938 with his son Laurie studying Architecture in London. Father and son were toying around with early plans for an Aquarium attached to the south wall of the old Municipal Baths. One of Laurie’s letters with a pen and ink plan was give to Les Mills, but not until after the basement aquarium had been built. E.A. Williams died 1962 five years after the Basement Aquarium had opened . He did not see the fruits of his bequest that 40 years later helped build the NATIONAL AQUARIUM.


10th JULY 1958

Mrs Frank Logan attached the following short history in the Minute Book. A history I am proud to include this work 49 years later.

Several Hastings Aquarists were individually Members of the N.Z. Aquarium & Water Society, prior to 1948. They meet informally and discussed hobby matters to their mutual advantage. They also organised one or two displays at Hastings Horticultural Shows. In June 1948 they formed themselves into a Hastings section of the NZA & WG Society and appointed a Chairman, Secretary and Committee… and arrange to meet monthly. Their members then included some of our present society members, namely Mrs Tong Senr., Mrs Smith, Merv Tong, J. Ogg, F. Young and B. Schofield. At that time most of their members only kept cold water fish but Mr Tong and Mr Hayes had tropical fish which hobby was just beginning to gain popularity. It is interesting to record that the Minutes of Meetings make reference to a home made immersion heater made by Mr Tong, which cause great interest and later that his Windmill Aerator was also a fine utility gadget.

In October 1948 it was suggest at a meeting that it would be a good move to interest Napier members and get them to join in and hold combined meetings. In June 1949 a combined meeting in Hastings was attended by Messrs Earle, Dine, and Logan of Napier.

It was then decided:-
1.   To form a Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Aquarium & Water Garden Society.
2.   To meet alternately in Hastings and Napier.
3   To issue our monthly cyclostyled Journal. J. Ogg was appointed Editor.

The first meeting in Napier was in July 1949 and Mr E.A. Williams Architect of Napier was appointed Patron. Messrs Earle, G. Dine and Logan of Napier were put on the Executive which included the present Hastings members, Mrs Tong, Merv Tong, J. Ogg, and B. Schofield. The Society carried on with regular meetings with short breaks in the winter until May 1953 when it adjourned to meet again in August.

After the winter in 1953 the then President and Secretary both Napier men did

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nothing more to keep the Society alive and did not convene any more meetings or hand over the records. Certain members who had for long carried the main burden of the work took the view that unless some of the others were prepared to pull their weight and take some responsibility the society as such was not of any particular value or interest.

Most of these members individually fraternized and carried on their interest in the hobby and other new and keen ones all took it up, in particular the keeping of tropical fish became very popular. There was, from time to time discussions about reviving the Society but no definite move was made until the Napier War Memorial Hall was being built in 1957.

Our present Chairman Mr Les Mills noted the large basement and decided it was an ideal place for an Aquarium. He discussed this with his son Ian Mills and others interested in the hobby and they agreed with him. Les Mills was, and still is, a keen Executive Member of the Napier 30,000 Club and he discussed the matter with Mr Fred Brown and other members of the 30,000 Club, they held a meeting and decided to support the project. An approach was then made to the City Council and after lengthy negotiations approval of the Council was obtained.

Meantime after several unofficial meetings convened by Mr Mills with various aquarists, an official meeting was convened in April 1957 and members of the original Society agreed to revive the Society. This was done and new Executive Officers were elected and the preliminary organization work was put in hand. As soon as the War Memorial Building was handed over to the City Council a start was made with the construction of the present Aquarium. This proved a magnificent community effort and the initiative, planning, and construction centred on Ian Mills, Gordon Dine, Russ Spiller, Jack Dallimore, Stuart McKenzie and W.P. McMillan. These members recruited a number of other enthusiastic helpers for the various specialised jobs with the result you are all familiar with and of which we can feel proud.

Our Society’s first efforts to display fish in the War Memorial Hall, was upstairs in the entrance foyer on the day the hall was officially opened. Two three foot aquariums, made in the style of the day, angle iron frames and putty, leaked profusely and water ‘flowed’ down the stairs to flood the floor of the ladies toilet. This episode is best forgotten, but is the first thing brought up whenever we review the past. Those of us who had contributed our best fish suffered a bad bout of White Spot, a dreaded fish disease. Never the less the public accepted our efforts with great enthusiasm.

About two months later, Russ Spiller, Gordon Dine and Ian Mills made overnight trips to Wellington and Auckland to stock the Aquarium tanks. We got Xenopsis African Clawed Toads from Auckland University Laboratory and what fish we could find from Auckland and Wellington contacts. Russ had recently left the Fleet Air arm and this was reflected in his driving. We made excellent time to

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both cities. – Two contacts in Palmerston North, The Bushell’s Tea Traveller, Ron Sharp, and Gordon Dine’s friend Arthur Twigg (“Twiggy”), were our nearest source for tropical fish in those early days, and in more recent years Jan Payne, also of Palmerston North, has been a big help.


I have included five ‘Marineland dates’ as ‘markers’ of our tandem progress. These five dates: are January 27th 1965; (1st Dolphin) January 1969 (Frank Robson resigns); November 1974 (Dr John Allen resigned); May 1977, Gary Macdonald appointed Manager of Marineland); (March 2006 Marineland now has only one Dolphin.) These markers will help establish our relative histories.

1945 – Mr Goudie of Napier had fish ?? Ref. Wellington Magazine.

1947 – Two people in Hastings had Tropical fish. Mr A.H. Hayes and Merv Tong. Perhaps these were Paradise Fish? They would not have been White Cloud Mountain minnows – not discovered until 1950.

1957 – During the nine months setting up the first aquarium we begged borrowed and stole goods and service from many local trades people, the more notable were Robert Holt & Sons. Schofield Pluming [plumbing], Hector McGregor Electrical (Stuart McKenzie and his son Neil), Bruce McConnochie, Aubrey Kirkman, Council Works Dept. Fire Dept Pumps courtesy Fire Chief Anderson, and Ray Downing, Norm MacAuslin Blacksmith, and D. Merrick, glass. So much of what went into the original aquarium was willingly donated, rent free premises, and the fresh compressed air we ‘leaked’ off the council sewerage compressor. The local fishing fleet supported the aquarium for its first ten years with exhibits. Electricity was the one thing we never got free. We are still trying.

1957 – Who will pay to see fish in a bowl for a shilling or 6 pence? This memorable comment was made by the Mayor Sir Peter Tait. It was his first public assessment of our efforts. He soon realized his error and became our staunchest promoter for the next 40 years.

Sir Peter Tait.

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Fight to get space in the basement.   The minute books do not record our battle with the City Council to get space in the basement. Council agreed to us building an aquarium, rent free, but at this time had no real idea of what area even a small aquarium would need.

This was an on going battle, which resulted in our growth over these 50 years.

Minute Book No 1

1957 – October Hobart Spiller from New Guinea donated a shell collection. This was the beginning of what has become a large shell collection. Ossie and Mardie Latham had donated shells in 1977, and in 2003 the new Aquarium was presented with shells from Henry Hill’s collection, believed to be in part, from William Colenso’s collection.

The November minutes detail last moment donations of labour and material by local trades prior to opening.

Hourly wages set for Door Attendant
5/-   Monday to Friday.
6/6   Saturday
7/6   Sunday
10/-   Statutory holidays
1/-   Admittance Price Adults
6 pence.   Children

December 5th Minutes   Appointed a management committee of Les Mills F.W. Logan, Russ Spiller, Gordon Dine, W. McMillan.

1957 December 14th   First PUBLIC AQUARIUM OPENED.

January 1958   The Secretary reported on the 9th January, that from the opening day 14th Dec 1957 to Wednesday 8th January 1958 18,659 visitors had paid £792 to view the exhibition. Shop sales £19, donations £54, subscriptions were £11.

Sundry outgoings for wages etc, totalled £57.

Cash in hand in the BNZ totalled £903.

Last item on these minutes is obsolete today. Mr Murray Williams was authorized to obtain full information and to purchase such books on the subject of ‘Marine Tanks’ as he considered necessary. We have come a long way over the past 50 years in matters of marine fish keeping.

Murray Williams   ‘LILLY PONDS ESKDALE’ was a key member in these early years. He was a mentor to many of us. He was a Big Man in all respects. His specialty was Goldfish and water plants which he cultivated amongst his potato fields at Eskdale.

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Our history is spaced with three Mr Williams (Murray, Reg and E.A.)

15th January 1958   It was decided to appoint Gordon Dine as Curator as from 1st February 1958.

Almost from this date Pat Ryan, Town Clerk, adopted the habit of a morning walk from his Council Office to the Aquarium. Most mornings about 7.30 he popped in eating a stick of celery – said hello, and went back to work.

13 February 1958   The Secretary reported that takings since opening (60 days) were 31,473 visitors, Door takings £1336.

EASTER WEEKEND saw 3456 visitors.

April   The Society decided to cease retail of heaters and associated accessories of the hobby and Russell Spiller bought out our stock to sell from his business in Tennyson Street. He later negotiated a handsome discount to Society members.

May 8th   Meeting held at Hastings. 46,496 Aquarium visitors to date. Over 5 months.

June 1958   Gordon Dine attended FNZAS Conference at Palmerston North. The first of many subsequent conferences.
Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society now affiliated to FNZAS.

June 12   Visitors to Aquarium to date 52,550
Gordon and Mrs Logan report on the Palmerston North Conference.

1958   August Minutes discuss serious plan to construct a large saltwater tank 14 x 6 and 5 foot deep. This was to be our first major local marine tank, and was ultimately taken to the 2nd Aquarium in 1976 but not before a chequered history. Ian Mills successfully managed to plug BOTH outlets one summer’s evening with two jellyfish caught at Westshore a few hours earlier. This resulted in 2 inches of water over the basement floor and an embarrassing callout from the Municipal Theatre stage for Gordon who was in the audience.

Looking back the primitive mechanics of this tank’s water system could have been dangerous to Gordon’s health. Before the days of our saltwater well Gordon had devised a system whereby he rowed out beyond the breakers in a flat-bottomed punt to anchor a hose in clear water and draw saltwater directly into the tank.

The things we did on a shoe-string budget in those days are no longer necessary today. The saltwater well when commissioned in Aug. 1962 proved very successful but had problems with midwinter storms. On more than one occasion I joined Russ Spiller and Gordon at low tide (usually about 7am) stripped to the waste [waist] shoveling shingle out of the well, or looking for the half ton concrete

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lid. The most memorable occasion was when the Napier Fire Department assisted with a portable pump driven by a Cooper Climax car engine that did in 20 minutes what would have taken four or more hours by bucket. The sound of water and shingle being sucked through the pump was both deafening and frightful.

1958 Sept. 13th   Mr Les Mills died after a brief illness, aged 56.

1958 October 9th   Club hosted a visit from Manawatu Aquarium Society.

1958 November 13th   The Aquarium was visited by the Prime minister Walter Nash and other senior Parliamentary figures.

A financial statement attached to the Annual Report November 11th 1958 Shows that the Society has assets conservatively valued at £2000. It has a very attractive, permanent and steadily growing Aquarium Exhibition, which has attracted extraordinary public interest, and because of this, the year’s working, has resulted in a surplus of over £1300. Part of this surplus had been anticipated and approximately £500 has already been spent on completion of the initial set up plus some additions and improvements. The balance of about £800 will be immediately required for the installation of a large marine tank and its accessories, which it is hoped to have completed by Christmas. Tank was commissioned late January 1959.

Mr. F.W. Browne also included in his Presidents address the following.

As public interest grows the Society hopes to have the co-operation of local authorities, Societies, Clubs and individuals to provide an AQUARIUM building specially designed and equipped to enable an attractive and up to date Hawkes Bay Aquarium to be established in Napier.

This last comment I think was directed to his friend Peter Tait.

Right from the word go we had a very strong support from the City Council particularly the Mayor Peter Tait, Town Clerk Pat Ryan and the Treasurer Bill Cormack.

Over the years 1957 to 1976 the following people manned the Aquarium ticket box.

Mrs Leila Grey was out first door attendant followed over the years with a happy band of senior citizens, Mrs Frank Logan, Mrs Robertson, Mr Bill Dine Snr, Mrs Johnstone, Madge Rutter, Rob Yarrall (weekends) and Mardie Latham & her father Joe.

It has been difficult to separate Aquarium staff out of the club’s early history. I personally think of all those involved, as enthusiasts and worthy of mention in our Society history.

1959 Sunday 22nd March   100,000th visitor, Mr J. MacNamara of Wellington.

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August 13th 1959   Attendance figure for club night is 61 members.

Mr Sid Downey replaced the late Mr F Young on the Executive Committee.

It was agreed to have a canvas trough supplied to the trawler PANIA so that fish and other marine exhibits could be kept alive in it.

October 1st 1959   The club is now settling into a period of hobby activities and is about to discuss plans for a new building with Council.

AGM 8th October 1959   Mrs L.E. Mills was made the club’s first Life Member. Subs set at   Adults 7/6   Junior 2/6

12 Nov   A letter was read out from Auckland concerned that in an earthquake a crocodile might escape and eat ‘innocent Napierites’.

We did not have a Crocodile at the time. Davy was not purchased from Roy Perritt Wellington until Nov. 1964.

February 11th 1960   HAPPY BIRTH DAY   300 baby Seahorses.

Mr W Dine, Mrs Johnstone and Mr Latham in attendance at birth.

A donation of £50 was gratefully received from the H.B. Amateur Athletic Association to be used towards our Marine tank.

The whole city is behind the AQUARIUM.

Four things have assured the success of a public aquarium on our foreshore.

Access to good clean saltwater less than 100 metres from our building.

Access to copious supplies of ‘live food’. A small shrimp-like mysis found in brackish drains near the Airport. This tiny crustacean survives for two to three weeks in holding tanks at the Aquarium and is a favourite food for both fresh and saltwater fishes.

At last but not least a hard core of enthusiast Society members.

And, the support of our City Council.

With any one of these things missing there could be no Aquarium.

1960 March 10th   All baby seahorses now dead – too tiny to feed beyond 12 days (yoke sacks used up) No saltwater infrusoria or suitable food available. We do much better now days. But we can not claim to be as successful as Craig Berge who during the years 1999-2005 held stock of 75,000 seahorses in his Awatoto fish farm.

YES that’s right 75,000. I would not believe it till I saw them.

Guest speaker Warren Walker spoke on Geckos Skinks and Lizards found in N.Z. bush.

Russ Spiller suggested sinking a 4ft diameter concrete pipe 20 feet in the shingle beach just outside, to gather clean filtered saltwater for our marine

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tanks. Some members present were very dubious, how wrong they were. Our President Gavin Black was also a Member of the County Council and through their good officers organised a specially made slotted concrete pipe from Hume Pipes Hastings.

By now Mr Logan had received useful material on possible bigger better and brighter plans for the Aquarium from Honolulu, Vancouver and Singapore.

1960 April   Reg Williams a local Naturalist and author spoke at length on marine life.

Reg Williams large collections of books is housed today in our Aquarium Library. Gordon knew Reg well and some years later oversaw his burial.
See a short biography of him page 42.

FNZAS Conference Napier 2nd June 1960

1960 June 16th   Mr Joe Latham died   Mrs Latham to become our second Life Member in honour of her husband’s contributions and assistance to our Curator. Mardi & Ossie Latham his daughter and son in law carried on the family tradition actively for many more years.

The local Dive Club seems to have adopted us. They regularly bring in fresh exhibits for which we thank them. Just another instance of the way the City has taken to the Aquarium.

1960 July 14th   Ron Schofield is welcomed as a new member. Ron brought the full weight of Schofield Plumbing with him and proved a valuable member and consultant to our Curator. Correctly Ron’s association began as a friendly plumber from the day we began fitting up the War Memorial basement. Sadly like many plumbers he was to die of asbestosis c1998.

A second Xenonpsis Clawed Toad received from Mrs Robb, Auckland University.

Today the NATIONAL AQUARIUM literally has hundreds and supplies specimens to academic researchers in laboratories.

Alec Dobbins who figured prominently in our early beginnings gave an interesting talk on his career-hobby as a scuba diver. On another occasion Alec popped a limp wet something into Ian Mills’ hands and asked could he make a plaster cast of this. A yellow and black sea snake very recently dead.

1960 July 28th   Discussions taking place with City Council (and Frazer Brunner, Singapore and Spencer Tinker, Hawaii) re planning of a new Aquarium building.

The Mayor Mr Peter Tait also said he would gather information on his forthcoming world trip.

Mr & Mrs Logan granted a month’s leave of absence to visit New Caledonia and the Noumea Aquarium

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1960 August 11th.   Our first TUATARA a fine fully grown male, has arrived. Reg Williams gave a very interesting lecture on Tuataras.

1960 August 13th   Messers A. Dobbins, P. Diack, Fred Mansfield and Mrs Johnstone new appointments to Aquarium Executive.

1960 December   it was recommended Gordon begin the new year with a daily diary in which he and any staff could jot down daily items. These diaries are a work of art but concern only day to day affairs at the Public Aquarium. They are not suitable archive material for our Social history. Later, happy banter and snide remarks from Marama Hoterini and Linda Axford remind me of Roger Halls’ play Glide Time.

These same dairies plot the salinity and temperature of the ocean outside, for the 24 years of the second building. This information could be of value to anyone researching climate change.

1960 December 29th   200,000th visitor Mrs I McBride of Hastings.


No.4 1961 January 12th   Curator asked to ‘prepare’ to display Tropical Salt Water Fish.

No.5 1961 January 25th   Whistling tree frogs received from Christchurch.

No.5 1961 March 9th   Mr A.R. Wilkie’s lawyer presented a cheque of £200 towards a ‘new’ Aquarium and a promise of a further bequest in Mr Wilkie’s will. Mr Wilkie was elected a Life Member.
He died 12th August 1965. A further £500 was bequeathed to the H.B. Aquarium Society.

No.5 1961 March 16th   Dealings with Messes Carter & Buller £104 for imported fish held on our behalf by them in Auckland.

No.5 1961 July 13th   New member Ron Morison. (City Asst Engineer)

No. 4 1961 July 14th Serious consideration given to a saltwater well on the beach. Management committee seem to be getting a little too heavy handed with out Curator.

No.5 1961 20th July   New Bank Account opened with POSB for ‘New Aquarium” funds.

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No.4 1961 August 6th   Details of a saltwater well discussed with contractor. This was not the well we finally built.

No.5 1961 August 10th   Mr & Mrs Noel Mears and family resigned from the H.B. Aquarium Society. Their resignation was accepted with regret. Noel and family had been a tower of strength to the Society.

This resignation saw six more Hastings members follow to form a new club in Hastings. This was seen as a natural progression of the hobby. We assisted them in their efforts and supported their application for affiliation to FNZAS.

No.5 1961 November 8th   Saw the beginnings of plans to reorganise the club and leave the running and management of a public aquarium to the Management Committee. This allows the Club nights to concentrate on the hobby – which is agreed will benefit us all.

This really did not come about until c 1976

No.5 1961 November   A few Fiji Marines purchased from dealer in Auckland. Most died within the month.

No.5 1962 April 12th   First mention of Peter Lloyd in minutes.

1962 May 18th   Plans for a new aquarium were submitted by Frazer Brunner, Singapore; McLachlan & Stempson Auckland; and verbal discussion with Laurie Williams. Over the following years, up to 1970, at least seven sets of plans were submitted. None of which were ever built.

1962 June 14th   E.A. Williams died.

No.4 1962 August 15th   SALT WATER WELL now installed and working. Cost £136.

This is an interesting item to this date:- Mrs Davies of Wellington stated that if we could send her some Seahorses she would later bring us some Tropical fish as payment. Our hard nosed committee replied:- Bring your tropical fish to Napier and we will pay you with seahorses.

No.5 1962 August 25th   Some Napier members attended the opening of the Masterton Aquarium in Queen Elizabeth Park.

1962 November 8th The AGM   Harold Holt appointed new Patron.

No.4 1962 November 21st   Aussie Goanna up a Hastings lamp post.

1963 February 25th   Mr Ron McLachlan Architect guest speaker.

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No.4 1963 March Sunday 17th   Marine tropical fish from Fiji privately imported by Mills Shoe Co on condition they be donated to the NAPIER AQUARIUM. Included was a Lion Fish (Volitans) It is sad but I have no clear recollection of just what else was included, but in total there were about 30 fish.

No.5 1963 June 13th   Mention made of the Australian Goanna Lizard. When finally caught by Hastings City Council staff this Goanna was housed at our aquarium. It lived for 5 years.

No.5 1963 August 8th   a second Tuatara is received.

1963 December 4th   First mention of Mr Frank Robson who at that moment in time was a busy Cray-fisherman who with his family and boat ‘BRENDA’ began to catch exhibits for our large saltwater tank, and later for the Municipal Baths. This proved to be just the beginning of a long career associated with the Aquarium and Dolphin Pool.

Frank and Alex Dobbins designed an efficient tail grab with which they later caught many Dolphins for a Marineland yet to be built and for which they both were to work. The sales table at our monthly meetings frequently benefited from freshly cooked crayfish.

From January 1964 our Minute books clearly show a separation of Aquarium management from Club activities, which made club nights more interesting for members. This was the year Public Aquarium Affairs, moved nearer to City Council control. Club meetings should have reverted to the hobbyist but the next nine years saw many hours spent over many sets of plans for a new aquarium. In 1964 McLachlan & Stempson were appointed to design a combined Aquarium & Dolphin Pool. Two pools for Dolphins were built as per their plan but the Aquarium was held over and finally rejected. McLachlan & Stempson were paid out and in 1973/76 the City Architect Len Speight was used to design a new two storied building that 24 years later was redesigned and refurbished, to become the NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF NZ. (Napier’s 3rd Aquarium Building)

Things progressed steadily from 1964 until the 1968 AGM when the club was taken over by people running a vendetta against Sir Peter Tait and the Marineland Board. This group stacked the Annual General Meeting of our Society to try to get a member on the Marineland Board. I am pleased to state they failed in this but caused much disruption and heartburn for the year 1968-9.

The Club’s control of the Public Aquarium was slowly and inevitable falling into the control of the Napier City Council. As Club President at this time it seemed to me to be the right thing to do. Now 37 years later I have no regrets. Nothing but pride in what the H.B. Aquarium Society has achieved.

Most activities at the AQUARIUM from this point forward are business activities

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instigated by the Marineland & Aquarium Board. Our club had four members on this 9 man Board and from personal knowledge I can say they did a good job.

1964 February 5th   Mr F. W. Browne died.

As President of the Napier 30,000 Club Mr Browne had acted also as ‘President’ of the H.B, Aquarium Society in our early years between 1957-64. During these same years Les Mills then Merv Tong chaired meetings. With the death of Fred Browne our close association with the 30,000 Club ceased but they never lost interest in our progress. Mr Gavin Black was appointed our new President and Ian Mills Chairman. With the death of Gavin Black March 1967 Mr Frank Logan became President until he retired in 1969 at which time the position of President/Chairman was combined.

Davy our first Crocodile bought from Roy Perritt Wellington.

Gordon negotiated the price over the telephone and had his hand smacked by the Town Clerk. Roy Perritt had no idea what his Crocodile was worth so Gordon suggested one Pound an inch. The Croc measured 31 inches. He (THE CROCODILE) lived another 19 years and grew to be 2.1 metres long.

From March 1964 onwards the Minutes show a decidedly more social activity. Mention is recorded here of the Aquarium’s 28 Marine Tropical Fish received from Harold Storck, Giji which included one Lion Fish.

1964 April 9th   Our skin diver friends led by Alex Dobbins mounted a successful catching expedition to Mahia Peninsula. They returned with a small brightly coloured little fish that Dr Morland of the Dominion Museum identified as a juvenile Black Angelfish. Its juvenile colours are the equal of any tropical from Fiji. (see middle of back cover) Sadly as the fish matures it changes to a jet black fish about 180mm. We have since had more over the years, one from a rock pool just south of Aramoana Beach.

Worth a mention is a 5cm juvenile fish caught by Gordon Dine on the outer rocky coast at Mahia Peninsula. Basically silver with a strong yellow hue and medium sized dark spots – never identified. We have called the fish Mahiaus dineli. (see lower back cover) Our Aquarium Library holds a life size coloured drawing of this fish.

1964 May 14th   First mention of converting the Municipal Baths to hold sharks and fish. This venture certainly became part of our club history all-be-it unsuccessfully.

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Councillor George Townsend saw an opportunity to exhibit sharks in the disused swimming pool. The term saltwater baths proved to be a little inaccurate as the salt content was a bare 50% of seawater. This was to cause all sorts of problems. Large fish and small sharks, even a sun fish and a pigmy sperm whale were displayed with partial success by boosting the salinity with a jerry rigged pipeline from the Aquarium saltwater well close by. Technicalities over the Crown Lease of the beachfront, an outcry from early Greenies, poor water, and trouble servicing petrol driven pumps throughout the night, forced the closure of this scheme. But it was the forerunner of a Dolphin Pool. This little episode in[is] covered more fully in the history of the Aquarium & Marineland Board 1992.

Salinity is an important matter for Marine aquarists so the observation below is pertinent. I have included it here for no good reason other than it may prove useful to fellow aquarist.

We have found that with a salinity of 19 points, sharks are first to become distressed (like the canary in the coal mine) and the intake of water must be turned off. Local Marine fishes are comfortable between 20-22 points. And most any fish or shark will take up to 23.5 points salinity until things come right again. Normal salinity is between 21-22 but Hawke’s Bay has three rivers that in flood conditions can drop coastal waters to 18 points.

TEMPERATURE of our local seawater varies between 11° in July to 21° for a few days in February. Temperature and salinity records were charted for the years 1976 to 2000.

1964 June   A party of eight citizens soon took off to Australia to the Coolangata [Coolangatta] Dolphin Pool. We were soon to loose [lose] control of the Aquarium to the Aquarium & Marineland Board. Whose aim was to build a Dolphin Pool, not a new and better Aquarium. For the next nine years we fought with Sir Peter Tait to focus on our Aquarium. It was not until 1973 that Council began to think seriously about a bigger and brighter aquarium. The history of “THE AQUARIUM” is not our business, but the drive to get it built was.

The Finance and development of aquatic activities along the Marine Parade were such that only Council could legitimately control them.

This historical record must now low key ‘the Aquarium’ and confine itself to our hobby. This is difficult for me to do.

The Aquarium had by now become too big and too successful.


1964 June 11th   Mrs Logan reported on the FNZAS Conference Queens Birthday just past. And requested our members contribute articles for the Journal. This hardy annual crops up every Conference. The Federation’s

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AQUATIC WORLD Journal is the first point of contact with fellow fish keepers and needs input from all clubs.

1964 July 9th   An agreement between the Council and the Aquarium Society regarding the new Aquarium and Marineland project was being set up, which required the Society be Incorporated, to give it legal status.

This next period covers the set up procedures of Marineland and as has been stated is not truly Society history.

1964 August 13th   The Society gives one thousand £ towards the cost of the first Dolphin Pool plus Fifty £ towards Alex Dobbins’s trip to Australia. For the next 10 years (1964-74) profits made from the Public Aquarium were used to support Marineland. Society members continually pestered the Mayor ‘When are we going to get a new Aquarium’. When plans for a new Aquarium were finally completed in 1973, and a contract signed with Jemini Pepper the Mayor ask [asked] Gordon Dine & Ian Mills “Are you boys happy” and when asked “What if we fail?” Peter Tait leaned back in his chair, shrugged his shoulders and said “You’ll still have the building”.

A most pragmatic statement. Fortunately the future smiled on us.

MINUTE BOOK NO. 5 1964   Control of the Aquarium passed over to the City Council.

By now a number of things were happening. We had proved the success of a public aquarium, the NCC were right behind us, particularly the Mayor Peter Tait and the Town Clerk Pat Ryan.

It was obvious the Aquarium was bigger than the Society.

1964 December 29th   500,000th Visitor Mr D.F. Wilson of Christchurch.

1965 January 27th   Marineland received it [its] first dolphins caught locally by Frank Robson and Alex Dobbins, just two days after Sir Winston Churchill died. It is questionable just who got the greatest headlines in our local papers.

1965 February 10th   Coloured ‘Aquarium Guide Book’ produced by Phil Moore.

1965 March 10th   Mr Frank Logan retires as Secretary to take up a similar position with the Dolphin Pool.

1965 June   New Minute book No. 6

1966 May.   Rich Marshall and Ron Sang as quest speakers.
Cos’ (Agnes Costello) appointed Secretary 1966 to 1986.

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1967 February   New members welcomed Mr & Mrs Whitlock and Dennis King.

1967 March 4th   Mr Gavin Black dies.

1967 AGM October 12th   Mrs Gavin unanimously elected Life Member. At this same meeting The Mayor Mr Peter Tait presented Mr & Mrs Logan tickets for a holiday in New Caledonia at the Marineland Board’s expense.

WEETBIX CARDS   250,000 sheets of fish, photographed at the Aquarium by Phil Moore, Gordon & Ian, for NZ wide distribution.

1968 February 8th   Attached to this minute is a letter addressed to the Aquarium & Marineland Board requesting then [them] to devote more time and effort to building a new Aquarium building.

1968 April – June   Ian Mills visits nine major Aquariums, and Stonehenge, during a world trip.

1968 August 30th   Angry letter from Ian Mills to the Aquarium & Marineland Board stirring them up to get their priorities right and start planning for a new Aquarium building. This did not make Ian many friends as will be seen at the AGM in October.

1968 September 11th   New member Bill MacKay, who during his short time with the Society led the charge to raise funds for Gordon Dine’s first overseas trip to study Aquariums in the USA.

Bill Mackay worked as an Artificial Insemination Technician for the Dept. of Ag. He died relatively young in 1973.

No. 6 SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENED at the AGM Oct. 17th 1968   The meeting was stacked with people trying to get a member onto the Marineland Board. Ian Mills was left as President but DUMPED as a Board Member. Replaced by Trevor Brown. The people involved were friends of the Robsons and Logans such as lawyers Peach and Sturm, and commercial fisherman, Fin and Jens Jenssen, plus various staff of Marineland, and others.

This led to many adjustments over the next five months,


No. 6 Minute Book was in the hands of “Lawyers” for the next 9 months. (See Book No 7 that follows).

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The above Minute Book should be read in tandem with MINUTE BOOK No. 8 which records the troubled years 1968-69.

Minute Book No. 8 is available for further research at the Aquarium Library. As I (Ian Mills) the compiler of this history, figure in this dispute I have chosen not to detail it here. All I wish to say is to thank my friends (all-be-it 39 years late) for their loyal support. Minute Book No. 7 is almost entirely devoted to progressing the planning of a New Aquarium. Looking back most of what is recorded during the years 1968-73 never came to pass.

New minute book No. 8 starts 1968 October 31st

1968 October 31st   Special General meeting called by Russell Spiller. The 46 members present had been called to discuss the validity of the AGM meeting October 17th. This resulted in the AGM election of officers being confirmed. From this date forward our 4 Board Members are to be appointed by the Executive Committee’s first meeting after the AGM. Also for the next few years all new members had first to be approved at monthly meetings. This last ominous provision has since been discontinued.

1968 November 14th   This meeting confirmed Ian Mils as Chairman for the ensuring 12 months.

A 200 Club Raffle was set up to raise funds to send Gordon Dine to USA.

The December meeting was a happy social occasion.

1969 January 20th   By this date the Robsons & Logans had resigned from Marineland.

No.8 1969 March 10th   One of my better moments. I can’t recall being so brave. It seems I saved the day with my Chairman’s casting vote. The Jenssen clan had proposed a motion of no confidence in the Chairman. The motion was lost.

1969 June   FNZAS Conference to be held in Napier this Queens Birthday weekend 1969.

1969 July   Hastings, and a few Napier members made a visit to Ted Gradwell Taupo to meet up with members from Rotorua and Taupo.

No. 9 1969 Aug 14th   Discussion on amendments to Rules of the Society (Requested by Jenssen, Peach and Sturm) See also Minutes of the following two months.

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No.8 1969 September 11th   Life Membership Badges presented to Mr. & Mrs Frank Logan.

1969 November   Election of Board Members; Trevor Brown, Rich Marshall, Ian Mills and Ron Schofield.

Russ Spiller retires after 7 years service. It was never stated but I feel he stepped down to allow Ian Mills back on the Marineland Board. Russ was re-appointed 2/5/72

New Building Committee to be the whole Executive Committee.

No.8 1970 November 12th   The Annual Report records Ivan Dobson now Gordon’s assistant. This Annual Report sums up the Societies 13 years and is well worth perusal but is too long to be included here.

Only 15 people attended this AGM indicating that the strife of the previous 18 months had taken its toll.

Further years of strife at the Dolphin Pool lay ahead for the Marineland Board, most of which will not be recorded in our history. We remain a hobby group on a lower plane.

1971 March 6th   Discussion on a Geothodic Dome to replace the Soundshell and house a new aquarium. Thank goodness this was thrown out.

August 1971   1,000,000 Visitor

1972 August 25th   Cos goes to Mexico City etc, for 39 days.

1972   The import of Goldfish now banned.

No.8 1972 March 9th   Ian Crooke a Tuatara expert from the Department of Internal Affairs lectures on Tuataras from St Stephen Island Cook Strait.

No.6 1973 April 12th   Another small AGM of 14 members.

At long last we have a new aquarium in sight. Plans and a model by the City Architect Len Speight’s were tabled at this meeting.

November 1976 saw thee plans a reality. The battle had been won.

No.8 1973   May Dr John Allan from Hawaii appointed head of the Marineland only to resign in 1974 November 21st.

No.8 1974 May 18th   Newspaper headlines “Tender approved for $500,000 City AQUARIUM”. It finished up as $800,000.

Rob Yarrall and Warren Walker were first employed part-time to assist Gordon prepare for the move to the new Aquarium and were soon working full time. Winston Taylor from Bel Vue Aquarium, UK and Professor Spenser Tinker of the Hawaii Aquarium, were, each guest speakers during this year.

1974 November 21st   Dr Allen resigned from Marineland.

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1974   Peter Tait now Sir Peter thanks in no small manner to his ‘piscatorial’ activities.

No.8 1975 November 17th   Trevor Brown farewelled to Australia.

I would like to put on record my personal friendship and respect for Trevor Brown. He was an excellent Board Member. As manager of a Medical Laboratory he had skills the Board found useful. It is not known where Trevor is today but perhaps he will come across this history in his retirement years.

Much display work done this year by Terry Whitelegge, Don McNab and Gordon Dine, creating the Oceanarium Reef, the Crocodile Pool and Stream in the new building. It should be recorded here that during the years 1975-76 each weekend we had the services of 10 to 12 happy workers on loan from the Probation Dept. I have happy memories of some, but not all, of these young men. For years afterwards, occasionally young family men were prone to come to the building and boast to their wives and kids that they built this or that. I am still occasionally stopped in the street by someone recalling these days.

1976 AGM April 26th.

1976 June 21st   MID WINTER’S Night. First ever Club meeting in the new aquarium. Wet, cold and frosty.

1976 11 December   NEW AQUARIUM Opened.

AGM 1977 April 16th   Ian Mills stood down as President, his job was done. New President Rich Marshall.

Napier Lions Club donated $500 towards books for our Library.

1977 May   Gary Macdonald appointed Head of Marineland and is still there today. It is people like Gordon Dine, Gary Macdonald and Rob Yarrall, who have made our activities run so smoothly.

Gordon and Ian went to Huntly to get some Brown Bullhead Catfish from the Rangireri ell [Rangiriri eel] processor. Six Catfish and 12inch Giant Kokopu were soon on display at the Aquarium.

No.8 1977   Queens Birthday   FNZAS CONFERENCE at the Wool Exchange a big success and included a FIRE! and Earthquake.

H.B. LAPIDARY CLUB   (Rock hounds) install a popular display of cut stone.

This is an instance of the popularity of the Aquarium. There were a number of areas in the building that needed prettying up or disguising – how better than a display of cut and polished rock. This work was led by Ossie and

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Mardie Latham with the local Lapidary Club and was always a popular display. I do not know what became of this valuable display when the Aquarium was refurbished.

No.8 1978   Mr Chris Bean appointed Secretary/Manager of the Marineland Board.

1978 April   New club member Trevor Jones an active scuba diver. New Board Members appointed for the year were Rich Marshall, Stuart McKenzie, Willis Dark, and Agnes Costello.

1979 May 21st   Alan Crabbe a new member, a scuba diver, who was to become a force in the Society and our President 1986-93.

July 22nd   We hosted a visit by the Wellington Fish Fanciers Club.

August   CAMERA OBSCURA to be erected in top of Aquarium.

August 20th   Life Members badge presented to Mr Harold Holt.

November 19th   Our President Rich Marshall visits the South Pole. This must be a first for any Aquarium Society. But it must be confessed his visit was in line with his occupation as a Newspaper photographer.

No. 8 1980 March 11th   Weekend spent at Russ Spiller’s batch Mahia Peninsula fossicking in rock pools bumped into Kelly Tarlton.

No. 8 1980 April AGM   Subs now Adults $6.50   Family $10   Junior $2   Senior Citizen $4  $5 double. It was suggested that Len Speight (City Architect who has spent three years designing the second Aquarium) be put up for Life Membership. Unfortunately this never happened. He did however win an architectural award for the building; to be followed by a Tourist Award given to the Aquarium Board. I found him an interesting character who, could be bloody impossible at times. As so often happens I learnt much more about him at his funeral service. He would have been a worthy Life Member.


Pearl Scales Bubble Eye Black-backed Red Dragon Oranda Nymphs Lion Heads Calico Pom Poms Red Cap Tosca Curf Tail etc.
Napier has a sister city arrangement with the pulp and paper city of Tomokomai in Japan and while visiting our Aquarium late 1979 the Mayor of Tomokomai asked Gordon Dine. “Was there anything his city could do to assist the Napier Aquarium?” Gordon just happened to remark that quality goldfish were hard to get in New Zealand. On returning to Japan the mayor put out the word that

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their Sister City would like some top quality goldfish. A few moths later some 55 goldfish consisting of 15 varieties of top qaulity fish arrived at Napier. They included varieties that we had never seen nor dreamed of. None of these were ever bred, but lived on for many years.

Recently while researching this history, Doreen Smith who had worked at the Pan Pac Paper Pulp Mill office, showed me a note in fractured English from the Japanese Company Director which detailed his efforts to complete this transaction. All I can say is that the Japanese went to enormous trouble and expense. The Society is glad to have this opportunity to acknowledge and thank them.

1981 March 8th   A most successful Field Trip to Aramoana Beach some 30 miles south of  Cape Kidnappers. A hard lesson was learned. It is better to bring back a few choice specimens, than 200 stressed fish. Our enthusiasm got the better of us. It is a fascinating catching area that we occasionally return to.

No. 8 1981 April 13th AGM   Terry Sale from Nelson joins our Society. Terry is a Past President FNZAS (1977-79) and became our Club President 1995 Gordon Dine is nominated for Life Membership.

1981 October 31st   25th Anniversary Dinner
Guest speaker, Quentin Bennett   Venue, Old Basement Aquarium.
Catering $700, hall hire NCC $69   Liquor $182.98

With the NEW AQUARIUM now up and running the fire has gone our in our bellies. The next 10 year’s Minutes, are extremely quiet.

MINUTE BOOK NO. 9   The last bound Minutes

No. 9 1981 June 15th
Gordon reported on the FNZAS conference at Wanganui at which he received the ‘Tail Ender’s’ Spoon for being the last person to register.

Electricity bill for new Aquarium is $1000 per week.

1982   Rich Marshall retired after 8 years as President. New President Willis Dark. COS retires as Secretary after 19 years service. John Hart new Secretary served for two years to be followed by John Dodds and Lynda Cushing.

Rich Marshall

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October 1982   it was suggested our club contribute funds to a boat for the Aquarium and Marineland. ‘AQUARIUM ONE’ was commissioned 21st June 1984. Our Society contributed $2500.

Over the years sums from the E.A Williams Masson House fund have also been granted for an Air Compressor, and Photo Copiers.

No.7 1983 May 23rd Minutes   discuss money received as interest, and conditions of E.A Williams Bequest.

1984 AUGUST   National Fish Show Wanganui.
1984 October 27th   Club hosted a visit by New Plymouth, Wanganui and Fielding Societies.

1985 March   Kelly Tarlton died six months after opening his Auckland Aquarium.

April 16th AGM   Alan Crabbe elected President.
Club subscription now   Family $15   Senior $10   Junior $5

1985 August 19th   John & Anita Dodds from Wellington.

See Presidents Report 16/9/85 too much business NOT ENOUGH hobby interest. Change of emphasis. Hastings Breakaway Society. Rich Marshall’s wife Beryl died.

Rich Marshall, Russ Spiller, Graham Kavanagh, Rod Able – head of Marineland, Gordon, Ivan Dobson and Ian, mounted a hunt for a hissing fork tongue lizard above the coastal cliffs at McHardy’s Blackhead Station. While mustering sheep Mr McHardy’s horse reared up when startled by a five-foot lizard. We had a great day out in the Hawke’s Bay sun, we rescued a cattle beast firmly stuck in a bog but saw no lizard (Tuatara, Goannas or what-ever)

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1986 – 1993?

Secretary – Lynda Cushing

1986 May 16th   It was suggested one or two Fishy motifs would highlight the Aquarium building. Gordon and Ian to look into this.

Photo caption – Alan Crabbe


One of Alan’s more memorable achievements was to get the Aquarium Society to purchase a $900 three metre advertising Blimp which he and Tracey Hambrook with a team of workers, converted into a huge octopus mounted on a trailer. This, much photographed float was paraded in Blossom and Xmas parades and all appropriate occasions until our puncture repair kit could not keep up with the task. This mighty beast had two of its eight arms adapted to a pressurized water tank and could squirt water at the unsuspecting crowd.

Alan during his term mounted many catching expeditions in ‘AQUARIUM ONE’ our 18ft boat. This resulted in a large variety of reef fish displayed in the Oceanarium.

The years from 1986 have been peaceful and fruitful from a hobby point of view. Club meetings average about 20-30 persons occasionally much larger. Meetings are held in the Aquarium on the third Wednesday each month. It is hoped that future development of the Aquarium will provide a purpose built home for its Very, Very Good Friends, such as an enlarged library-cum-lecture room.

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1987 April 27th AGM Cos retired to be replaced by John Hart.

Subs   Family $18   Senior $12   Junior $6

Mardie Latham retires as Treasurer after 13 years. Our President Alan Crabbe paid a tribute to Sir Peter Tait who recently retired from the Aquarium & Marineland Board. Sir Peter was behind the Aquarium Society right from 1957 and during his long association with us fought many battles and at times took much abuse. I would like to add my personal thanks to Sir Peter who died, January 1996.

Another member of the Napier City Council who supported us from our earliest beginnings was Pat Ryan (Town Clerk). Without these two people we would never have progressed beyond the basement Aquarium. Few people realise the work and support we had from the Town Clerk and I am glad to be able to record his major contributions. One such item the CAMERA OBSCURA on the roof of the building was the direct result of his friendship with the maker Barns Optical of Paremata, Wellington.

Photo caption – Agnes Costello (Cos)

No. 9 1987 May 20th   Not truly the Societies concern but of interest for a variety of reasons – not the least Ian’s picture.

Orange Roughy on display. Fisheries Dept. asked the Aquarium whether they could display Orange Roughys. Of course we could. You catch them for us 60 miles out at sea in 850 metres of cold water, and we will refrigerate a display tank. As a result Gordon and Rob Yarrall joined the ‘Captain Cook’ Fisheries Research vessel for three days and two nights, and pigged out on scampi, prawns, and Orange Roughy etc. the galley was open 24 hours…

For eight days the Aquarium displayed seven ‘comatosed’ LIVE Orange Roughys. During those 8 days Ian Mills painted an illustration of these fish – he states he is the only artist ever to paint an Orange Roughy from life.
See back cover.

Ref. Also to Cos’s rough Minute Book (No number- slim black indexed book)

1987 Queens Birthday   FNZAS CONFERENCE AT NAPIER.

1987 APRIL   Doreen Smith our new Secretary

Doreen was a hard taskmaster just what we needed at the time during the planning of the National Aquarium. Doreen served us well for 8 and a half years 1987 – 1995.

When Mrs Costello (‘COS’) retired in 1987 after 19 years we went through a time of short-term Secretaries until Doreen Smith was ‘headhunted’ by our President Alan Crabbe. Doreen had been PA to management at Pan Pac Pulp

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Mill and was well used to managing big business. She joined us at a crucial time in our history. A new Aquarium seemed to be just around the corner. Or so we thought.

Doreen fought for the next 9 years as our Secretary and as our Marineland Board Member. We did not always agree with her but she got things done. By the time she retired in 1999 planning of the NATIONAL AQUARIUM was well under way.

By 1976 the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium had achieved its object.

For the next twenty- four years the Aquarium proved its worth as a tourist attraction. As stated the H.B. Aquarium Society did not controlled [control] the AQUARIUM. We act only as ‘Friends of the Aquarium’. Amongst our membership enthusiasts were always available to assist Gordon Dine when called upon. It has been said the Aquarium was tired and run down. This was not the case. Council would not allow necessary maintenance, with the excuse that they were planning a ‘new’ Aquarium. We waited patiently.

As a club or Society we had no input into the National Aquarium.

We were never consulted. The drive behind the National Aquarium was the Mayor Allan Dick who, like Peter Tait 40 years earlier fought with his City Council to bring the Aquarium into the 21st Century. Planning was overseen by Mike Murphy of the City Engineers Dept. Architects were Warren & Mahony Christchurch, the builders were Alexander & Son Napier – Fibre glass rocks, trees and reefs, made by ‘MACO’ Auckland.

Dioramas and displays contracted to Marine Scape Ltd.

The H.B. Aquarium Society could not think in these $millions.

I personally could not think beyond $3 million. Doreen seemed unfazed with what she and the Board were about to do.


People may say this is not part of our history but our Society influenced the policy and direction of piscatorial affairs in Napier from the year 1957. It is now time to step back and enjoy the future, which I am sure is in competent hands.

1987 NOVEMBER   Gordon Dine retired after 30 years as Curator.

During the 13 months before he retired, Gordon and I built three fibre glass motifs, a 22ft shark, a 14ft seahorse and 9ft stingray which were erected on the exterior of Aquarium building. These became surplus to our requirements and were sold by auction April 2007, with the money being donated to our society.

The original cost was a little less than $6,000. They distinguished and dignified the building for 13 years. There was no longer doubt that this plain round building was an Aquarium.

Stuart McKenzie died. A long time Board Member, first from Council and later an Aquarium representative on the Board.

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Now, on Secretaries PC’s.   NOT a good idea.

We must ‘WING IT’ for the next eight year’s of history.

The absence of the Minute Books requires that we must recall from memory aspects of our history from this point on.

Minutes were kept and a metal cabinet bought to house them. We have not been able to locate the cabinet!


Secretary:- Doreen Smith. The Society has been blessed with strong Presidents throughout its lifetime and it would not be fair to single out one from another, but Kelly Rennell rates highly. He held office at National level as Keeper of FNZAS’s Fish Breeders Records. He was a prolific breeder of Tropical Fish and of Red Eared Terrapins.

Kelly’s working life saw him on a weather station on Raul Island c1970? And in more recent times a fitter and turner, Engineer. It is amazing what useful trades we have amongst our Society members.

2004 Kelly Rennell and family emigrated south to Invercargill.

The price of Red eared Terrapins will now go up in Hawke’s Bay.

It is rumored that Kelly has given up on Turtles and tropical fish, in favour of something edible. He now devotes his energy towards catching Brown and Rainbow Trout and hunting Southland deer.

Photo caption – Kelly Rennell

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Secretaries- Jeannie Sale, Patricia Fanin 1999 & Lisa Gugich 2001.

Terry Sale and Herman Baarspull took us through the stable years to the opening of the National Aquarium. Terry’s wife Jeannie acted as Secretary for 5 years. Herman served for the 2 years leading to the opening of a new Aquarium. Incidentally Terry had been a member of the Nelson Aquarium Society in the 1970’s, and FNZAS President in 1977-79

1999 November 23/24   Collecting trip over night to Mahia to Mahanga Beach and Happy Jacks. Nothing caught until 2pm Sunday after we left Mahanga to try our luck in the rock pools on the outer side of the Peninsula. We lived well and feed [fed] well and brought back four bins rock pool critters.

2002 14th March   NATIONAL AQUARIUM of NEW ZEALAND Opens

MAY 2002 – MAY 2004

Secretaries – Lisa Gugich & Trish Fryer

Another strong and well respected President.

His working career was with Ericcson Electronics, another skill we found useful. Bruce and his wife Julie enjoyed the fish hobby so well they opened the Deco City Pet Shop in Napier City.

During his term as our President, the FNZAS Conference was in FIJI, the first offshore Federation Conference. Bruce and Julie attended this conference along with Warren Stillwell (Napier) who is currently President of FNZAS.

CRAIG BERGE YEARS 2004 – 2005?

Secretary Jennifer Atonavich [Antunovich?] & Mekhaela Sweatman.

Craig’s term as President was short but most interesting. He was manager of an Aqua-farm just outside the city boundary and cultured paua, crabs crayfish and 75,000 seahorses (for Asian medicinal purposes)

A National Fish Show was held Labour Weekend 2004 in the premises of Craig’s industrial complex at Awatoto. This was most successful and a credit to all concerned.

2005 Rich Marshall died.

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2007 MARCH 14TH

It is fifty years since the HAWKE’S BAY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Inc. began the Aquarium, and five years since the present ‘new’ National Aquarium was opened. It is not PC of me to bring this up, but I, and many others were present at public addresses where the public was assured the new building would not be allowed to run down like the previous building, and, that each five year cycle, $500,000 would be invested in a major new attraction.

I am pleased to report that the board room, library and education room facilities are to be enlarged this year.

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By Doreen Smith.

IAN HAS ASKED ME TO CONTRIBUTE TO THIS HISTORY of the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society Inc. He has also suggested that there should be a definite division between “The Aquarium’ and the Society. However, although I understand his direction I personally find it difficult to separate the two. During my involvement with the Society, the Society was an integral part of the Aquarium. My observation was that the Society contributed greatly in many ways which probably are forgotten. When an institution, such as the Aquarium, grows commercially and successfully, the work of the enthusiasts and volunteers who went before are sometimes set aside.

I was asked to be Secretary/Treasurer of the Society sometime in 1988. I said I had no knowledge of fish other that which came from a shop together with chips. However I had held positions of that kind in business and in the administration of sport.

Ian comments that I was a hard taskmaster and I know there were times when he did not agree with me, but my main aim was to tidy up the records and look after the finances. I also gained a great admiration and respect for the work done by the people of the Society and how they helped to develop a personal hobby into a quite amazing concern. Here I will hear people say – yes but it was not only the society, it was the Mayors, the Councils, etc. but lets face it where did the original idea come from?

Soon after I took over the Secretary’s position I found that the Society had received something between $73-$78,000 from the Masson House Trust. At the time of writing these notes I have not seen minute books and am unable to remember the exact amount. The story is that Mr E.A. Williams, the architect, had bequeathed a third of Masson House, Dalton Street to the Aquarium Society with the request that an Aquarium be built for the people of Napier. Unfortunately he was not alive to see his dream become a reality as the second Aquarium was built in 1976 and he died in 1962. The Directors of the Trust decided to sell the building in the 1980’s and a third of the sale came to the Society.

Interest received during this time appeared to have been banked in various places, so I co-ordinate the various amounts and invested them in what I

Photo caption – Doreen Smith

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considered safe areas. The will was very explicit, as Bill Willis reminded me (when someone had a bright idea on how the money should be spent) the money was to be spent on the Aquarium and Aquarium only. So during the period I acted as Secretary of the Society we spent $50,000 on fish, on safety equipment for the Aquarium boat, an air compressor, and office equipment. When I left some $130,000 was still invested.

I understand that $100,000 of that was donated to the extension and rebuilding of what has now become the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

Stuart McKenzie, one of the mainstays of the Society and a well respected resident of Napier, died suddenly and I was asked to take his place on the Aquarium and Marineland Board. At that time the Board consisted of 4 members of our Society and 6 Councillors.

The Society members were enthusiastic and loyal to the future of both Marineland and the Aquarium although I cannot say the same for some of the councillors. The Chairman, Deputy etc., were keen to care for the facilities but progress was slow.

In 1992 the Board was disbanded and Destination Napier was born.

This Board consisted of two Councillors, Anne Tolley and Arthur Spence, two businessmen Ken Gilligan and Neville Smith and myself.

The Mayor and CEO were ex-officio. The Council was insistent that there should be a representation of our Society on the Board and I suspect I was nominated as I was retired and had time to go to meetings!!

Our overall charges were the Aquarium, Marineland, Kiwi House, Putt Putt, CanAm Cars and Kennedy Park.

Kit Nixon was appointed General Manager. This was an excellent appointment as he had a lengthy tourism experience and management skills. Anne and Arthur were keen participants and Ken and Neville bought business expertise to the Board. I enjoyed my time with this group of people and saw far more progress than previously.

To go into this part of the story would take even more space and although it is very much part of the Society’s inclusion in the future of the Aquarium and the progress of tourism in Napier, it is something I must leave for another time.

I think I have proved my point that the Society is so much part of the Aquarium that it cannot be separated. The time and expertise given by Society members to the Aquarium is immeasurable. Although I left the Society some years ago I have always been aware of the work continuing and may there always be that great partnership between the Society and the National Aquarium.


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Curator 1978 –

Rob was appointed Curator of th [the] Aquarium in 1987 to replace Gordon Dine and has served in this capacity for twenty years. He served along with Warren Walker and Bevan Kerr each of whom have since changed careers. Rob guided the growth and change to the National Aquarium. Like other staff at the AQUARIUM, he is active in the Aquarium Society, our first choice of Auctioneer at Club auctions; and frequently attends FNZAS Conferences as our delegate. In his capacity of Curator he attends bi-annual conferences of ARAZPA. Rob Yarrall is a Life Member of our Aquarium Society. Just another instance, where it is hard to separate the Society from ‘The Aquarium’. The history of the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society would not be complete without acknowledging Rob’s extensive contributions. We are pleased to include his portrait in the history.

Photo caption – Rob Yarrall


Secretary – Kerry Anne Lester.

Kerry came first to the AQUARIUM aged 18 years in 1980, full of enthusiasm and his career took off. Like so many of the staff over our 50 year history of exhibiting fish, turtle, crocodiles (and Dolphins), not to mention handling the public, or his work mates, he is a natural. Today Kerry is assistant Curator of the National Aquarium and President of our Society.

Subscriptions now   Ordinary Member   $22.50
Family Member   $27.50
Junior Member   $10.00
Senior Citizen   $10.00

Currently 123,000 people per year visit the National Aquarium.

Over our 50 year history 6.3 million people have paid to view the AQUARIUM.

2007 14TH APRIL   50th Anniversary DINNER.

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Hawke’s Bay Aquarium & Water Garden Society
(Went into recess 1953)

Eleven Members present at the 30,000 Club Rooms 3rd April 1957

PATRON:- E.A. Williams, Architect. Nor present.
Colin Manson   Secretary
Mrs Peacock
Mrs Smith
Mr Young
Mr & Mrs Frank Logan
Mr & Mrs Merv Tong
Murray Williams   Eskdale
Jack Dallimore
Gordon Dine
Others present that night were:
Mr Downy   Cyril Eagle   Les Mills   Ian Mills   Gavin Black   Ken Francis   Mr Hopkins   Mac McMillan   Russ Spiller   Fred Brown

Plus six others not named in the minute book, three of whom may have been Fred Mansfield, Ron Schofield and Stuart McKenzie.

Soon to be followed by Ross Bickerstaff, Trevor Brown, ‘Cos’   Willis Dark, Alex Dobbins, Mrs ‘Potty’ Foster, Dennis King, Peter Lloyd, Rich & Beryl Marshall, Noel Mears, Mrs Nightingale Mardie & Ossie Latham   John Perry, City Engineer, (Sir) Peter Tait, Pat Ryan (Town Clerk)   George Townshend.

Black   Gavin   Chairman
Brown   Fred
Dallimore   Jack
Dennis   Tony
Dine   Gordon
Francis   Ken
Latham   Joe
Latham   Ossie
Latham   Mardie
Logan   Mr & Mrs Frank
Mansfield   Fred
Mills   Ian
Mills   Les   d Oct 1958
McMillan   Mac

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Peacock   Mrs.   Chaucer Road
Plumodley   Reg
Schofield   Ron
Spiller   Russ
Tong   Merv
Williams   Murray

E.A. Williams   1957-1962
Harold Holt   1962-1977
Allan Crabbe   1995-1999
Ian Mills   1999-2002
Gordon Dine   2002-

Fred Brown   1957-58
Gavin Black   1958-66   Chairman d4/3/67
Frank Logan   1966

Les Mills   1957-58   Chairman
Gavin Black   1958
Merv Tong   c1960-64   Chairman
Ian Mills   1965
Rich Marshall   1976
Willis Dark   1983
Allan Crabbe   1985
Kelly Rennell   1993
Terry Sale   1995
Herman Baarspul   1999
Bruce Wells   2002
Craig Berge   2004
Kerry Hewitt   2005

Colin Manson   1953-54   Water Garden society   d 10.06.2006
Frank Logan   1957   d 3. 4. 1984
Mardi Latham   Treasurer for c13years?
Agnes Costello   1963 19 years   d 2006
John Hart   1982
John Dodds   1985
Lynda Cushing   1986
Doreen Smith   1988
Jeannie Sale   1995
Pat Fannin   1999 –
Lisa Gugich   2001

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Trish Fryer   2004
Jennifer Atonavich   2004
Mekhaela Sweetman   2005
Kerry Ann Lester   2006

Life Members
Mrs Les Smith   1959
Mrs Joe Latham   1960?
*Mr A.R. Wilkie   1961 Dec. 14th   Minutes No 5
Mr Bill Dine Snr.   1962
Mrs Fred Browne   1965 December 9th   Minutes No. 5
Mrs Gavin Black   1967 October 12th   Minutes No. 6
Mr & Mrs Frank Logan   1969 Sept 11th   Minutes No. 8
Harold Holt   1978 July 23rd   Minutes No. 7
Ian Mills   1980 April 21st   Minutes No. 8
Gordon Dine   1981 October 31st
Mardi Latham   AGM 1988 18th April   Minutes No. 9
‘Cos’ Agnes Costello   AGM 1988 18th April   Minutes No. 9
Willis Dark   1992
Rich Marshall   1992
Alan Crabbe   2000
Rod Yarrall   2002
Kelly Rennell   2002
Russ. Spiller   2002

NOTE   Mr A.R. Wilkie gave two donations £200 + £500, I believe it was some of this money that paid for Alex Dobbins trip to Coolongatta. The Minute 1961 13th Dec put him up for Life Membership

Recipe for Terrapin Mince
500 gm Ox Heart 2tsp Granulated yeast
500 gm Raw Fish 1 cup Greens (not silverbeet)
½ cup Rabbit pellets (optional) 2 tsp Olive oil
2 tsp Calcium 2 tsp Cod liver oil
½ tsp Ascorbic acid 1tsp Vi-Daylin (Multi vitamins)
Mix all ingredients through a mincer and pat out onto SHALLOW trays and freeze.
Break off bite-sized pieces while still frozen, feed out while still solid
Supplement above with Puha, oxygen weed of chopped lettuce

Steak, fish (including bones) worms snails, slaters, slugs, fresh tubiflex worms, tinned dog food, tadpoles and the occasional dried shrimps.

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Price List of Fish 1957 and 2007

Guppy   2/6   $6.90
Platy   4/-   $5.50
Swordtail   4/-   $6.90
Angelfish   20/-   $12.00
Discus   200/-   $150.00
Pearl Gourami   10/-   $12.30
Blue Gourami   7/6   $11.20
Dwarf Gurami   25/-   $13.50
Neon Tetra   40/-   $2.90
Siamese Fighter   15/- to 30/-   $16.20
Tiger Barb   12/6   $6.20
Red Ruby Barb   17/6   $5.50
Oscars   very rare   45/-   $36.50
Malawi cichlids   n/a   $19.50
Bronze Corydorus   10/-   $7.40
Clown Loach   15/- to 30/-   $19.90
White Cloud Mountain Minnows   5/-   $4.10
Paradise fish   7/6

The above ‘old prices’ are an educated guess. The 2007 prices are an average from local pet shops.

Price Lists of plants 1957 and 2007

Ambulia   $2 80
Anubias   9.80
Cabomba   6.50
Elodia   swap meetings#   3.80
Echinodorus spp.   8.60
Hygrophila   2.80
Hornwort   n/a
Java Fern   9.80
Myriophyllum   n/a
Sword Plant   9.90
Vallisneria   n/a
# In these early days plants were scarce. You swapped amongst fellow aquarists, usually for free of nominal cost. Varieties were limited to Vallisneria , Indian Water Fern, Cabomba, Elodia, Ludwigia, Hygrophila, a few Crypts or Amason swords.

A survey of aquatic plants available in NZ compiled by FNZAS in 1997 pictures 151 plants. Six of which are listed as noxious plants. New Zealand natives number 23. The Plant Survey is available from the Secretary of FNZAS.

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Mr. E.A. Williams

Born in London, (1875-1962)

Mr Williams came to New Zealand in 1907 ages 32 and settled first in Christchurch. He moved to Napier the following year and went into the employ of the Napier Architect Mr. W.P. Finch. Some time later he joined the engineering staff of the Napier Borough Council as Clerk of Works and was in that position during the building of the Napier Municipal Baths on the Marine Parade. During the First World War he was appointed Borough Engineer. In 1921 he resumed business on his own account as an architect. During 1927-28 he drew up a large scheme for the development for the Marine Parade, that included an all glass Winter Garden sited opposite Albion Lane. The Museum hold those plans. The depression years of the early 30s defeated this scheme.

He was responsible for many well known Napier buildings such as the Criterion Hotel, Central Hotel, Dalgety & Co building on the corner of Dalton Street, Masson House Dalton Street and the Daily Telegraph, Harston House, Azopadi [Azzopardi] & Holland two storey high but only 10 foot wide, the Napier Harbour Board Offices and many of the Ahuriri Wool Stores. He was joined in business, by his son Laurie in 1939.

Photo caption – E.A. Williams

Mr. Williams was patron of the early H.B. Water Garden Society and first Patron of the reformed Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society. He had always been imbued with the idea of an Aquarium on the Parade, but his efforts in 1938 failed because of lack of public interest. However when a move was made for an Aquarium in 1957 he lent his whole-hearted support to the project, as is evidenced by the large bequest ($78,000) he made to our Society.

The first two aquariums had been built before his bequest became available, the money that by now had grown to $143,000 was wisely invested and grants have been made at various times for equipment for the Aquarium’s boat “AQUARIUM ONE”, an air compressor and Office Equipment. $100.000 was given to help plan the National Aquarium.

Reg Williams

Reg Williams was well known about Napier from the late 1940s. He came to New Zealand in 1990 age 18 and later became part of a trapeze act with a travelling circus. During the First World War Reg faced prison as a pacifist. Later as a keen naturalist, he occupied himself, with establishing travelling aquariums in Wellington and Auckland, then later at Napier, first in Dickens

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Street near the old Catholic Church and later on the Marine Parade opposite Par2 Golf Course. In 1951 a fall from a trapeze and a broken back caused him to leave circus life. For many years he was employed in the office of the old Napier Gas Works. A keen naturalist Reg wrote and illustrated a Nature Column published in the Napier Daily Telegraph and occasionally in National Papers. He broadcast a popular ‘Crosby Morrison’ style Nature Programme on our local commercial radio. In later life his main interest was the Gannet colony and he formed the Junior Wild Life Wardens to guard the Gannet Sanctuary at Cape Kidnappers. His tanned face and red beret was to become a familiar sight to visitors. In pre DOC days these young people studied and patrolled the area of Cape Kidnappers. Despite his disability Reg regularly walked from Clifton to the nesting area.

He was greatly interested in the development of the Aquarium in the War Memorial basement and also Marineland.

By 1967 Reg was getting old and finally went into a rest home opposite the McLean Park gates. By this time his Wild Life Wardens had disbanded. He died in 1976 a lonely old man aged 85. His funeral and headstone were paid for by public donation.

He left many books of which are today housed in our Aquarium Library. Two typescripts on the Pacific Islands, which he had visited are also housed in our collection. A third manuscript “Two Hundred Year History of the Cape Kidnappers’, a study of the geology, Maori occupation, and the Gannets, was given to Ken Hunt about 1988 and is now housed at D.O.C. Marine Parade Napier. I am sure Reg will rest in peace and take pride in the status of our Aquarium Library.

Ref . Hawke’s Bay for THE HAPPY WANDERER by Sheila Cunningham.

Les Mills

Born London 1902

Within the sound of Bow Bells

Arrived New Zealand 1925 and settled at Whakatane and worked for the Edgecumbe Dairy Factory. Married 1926 and moved to Invercargill where three of his four children were born. Dec 1938 Les Mills and family came to Napier first to manage and then buy Stephenson’s Shoe Co. This business was relocated 1954 to Hastings Street under the Masonic Hotel. In this new shop Les Mills had installed a three foot aquarium of goldfish. The rest of this story is explained in the early pages of this history.

Les Mills.

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He was indirectly responsible for the revitalization of the earlier Water Garden Society but sadly died 18 months later of lung cancer. At the meeting 3rd April 1957 he told members of the earlier society what he was hoping to do with the support of the 30,000 Club, and asked do you want to join us.

Mr & Mrs Frank Logan.

Mr and Mrs Logan were senior members of the Aquarium & Water Garden Society, sixteen of whom attended the founding meeting held at the 30,000 Club Rooms 3rd April 1957. A meeting convened by Les Mills.

Once the new Hawke’s Bay Aquarium Society was set up Mr Logan was appointed Secretary and his wife, Librarian and Publicity Officer. When Mr Gavin Black/Mr Fred Brown died Mr Logan was appointed President, a position he held until Sept 1969 when he retired, and he and his wife were made Life Members of our Society.

Frank Logan died in a motor accident 1978.

Gordon Dine QSM

Born Napier 1927 Curator 1957 – 1988

It is difficult to separate Gordon’s story from that of the Society. The Aquarium was his life. Up to sixty hours a week for thirty years.

His interest in piscaculture began when he was quite young; he built ponds in his father’s large aviary where his fish were protected from cats and predatory birds. The fish thrived and became a source of pocket money. He also bred Gambusia for the Reserves Dept. who used them to control mosquitoes in local drains and waterways. When still very young, encouraged by Mr Logan, he joined the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium and Water Garden Society and attended meetings in Hastings after the Napier Club went into recess.

Gordon served a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship. He built his own home and more outside ponds were constructed. Built in tanks for livebearers either side of the lounge fireplace and others in his hall-way, started his experience with tropicals. Late night toll calls to Arthur Twigg who worked at the Palmerston North toll exchange and ‘Scottie’ in Christchurch gave him much practical

Photo caption – Gordon Dine QSM

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advice and soon fin rot and cloudy tanks were a thing of the past.

He quickly progressed to more exotic breeds acquiring knowledge and expertise that he willingly shared with other enthusiasts. At this stage Barbara recalls soggy carpets and fish that invariably spawned as the Sunday roast was being served.

Gordon’s woodworking skills were invaluable during the construction of the basement Aquarium. This venture was expected to be run entirely by volunteers opening weekends and holidays but attendance numbers quickly showed that longer hours could be supported. Gordon now a foreman joiner was offered the job (volunteered) of curator at £900 p.a. His boss tried to dissuade him, ‘Don’t bother taking your tools. You’ll be back within a month’ he said.

Much of the trial and error of early days is recorded elsewhere in the Society’s Minutes but Gordon has recorded a few other items below.

Barricading the door when high seas threatened, and the following clean up.

Dolphin performances at Marineland on Alex Dobbins’s days off.

Inebriated seahorses following a supper held in the basement. Some supper guests found the seahorse tank convenient to pour their unwanted gin or whisky.

Practical help from his father Bill Dine. Sometimes referred to as ‘the Shark at the door’

Raffles and fund raising by the Society members, and the generosity of Air New Zealand which enabled Gordon to travel to USA in 1969. He visited 28 Public Aquariums and Marinelands in 28 days bringing back ideas for displaying exhibits. And contacts for exchange of specimens.

Cleaning oil from Blue Penguins who then refused to return to sea. They enjoyed a trip to the fish sheds in the car, and then they would waddle in here to be feed [fed], a practice that would be frowned upon today.

The Aquarium management forbid him to continue selling tropical fish from his home.

The use of his own boat (and petrol) to catch marine specimens, and fish for fed (this situation went on for many years until the Aquarium purchased its own boat. See page 29   Edt]

Collecting ‘ live’ food, daphnia, fairy shrimps, and tubiflex worms.

Persuading Davy the Crocodile to move along a race leading to a larger enclosure. DID HE RUN!……….. eventually.

The women who balanced a baby on Davy’s enclosure fence, and the record breaking dash by the ticket seller on duty.

The schoolteacher who climbed over Davy’s fence and discovered that the Croc wasn’t stuffed after all. Gordon found a new use for the broom that day.

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A thirteen hour round trip to Auckland to collect and save a shipment of Fiji Marine Fishes. Depart Napier at sunset 5.30pm to reach Auckland in time for a cup of tea and fill the water bottles. Back home 6am tired, eyes bloodshot, but all fish alive and well. Incidentally we picked up a Honeymoon couple just out of Napier who snuggled under blankets and hot water bottles we had stowed on the back seat.

1974 Another trip to USA. This time accompanied by Barbara. The reason or this trip was to gain ideas for the new Aquarium then being built.

Experiments with polystyrene and fiberglass for the tanks in the new building. AND TEN MONTHS ON THEIR CONSTRUCTION PRIOR TO SHIFTING IN. (Anyone wanting more details should contact Gordon Dine)

A highlight of Gordon’s career was catching a 2.5 metre swordfish by hand. He reluctantly answered a call to save a sick Dolphin flopping about inshore waters at Westshore Beach. He waded out in his boxer shorts – reached across the Dolphins head, and felt his fingers slip into gills. “Cripes Gills”

Once he had his catch ashore it was stuffed (figuratively) and mounted.

There were fewer mishaps at the new Aquarium but Gordon’s work was still mainly ‘hands on’. Each day started with a visual check of all tanks – water temperature – salinity – dead fish, etc.

Other aspects included:-

Power cuts, usually at night, which meant a trip out to recoat the diatomatious earth filters – about 1 ½ hours work each time.

Other call outs occurred, when, the burglar alarm was set off by the wind or an escaped lizard. Which then had to be found.

We are now an A Class Zoo and exhibits were forbidden to leave the building, unless transferring to a similar category zoo.

We had weekend help from P.D. Boys some of whom became interested and returned later voluntarily.

A photographer, who shall remain nameless placed his thousand watt light next to a 12 x 4 ft window of the Oceanarium and cracked it. Fortunately a spare sheet was held but the Oceanarium had to be lowered, the glass replaced and two weeks allowed for the sealant to cure, which closed the Aquarium for two weeks. When the Oceanaruim was topped up we had two plump looking Grouper and no Blue Cod.

The thirty years covered by this resume resulted in a well-earned QSM for Gordon for services to Tourism..

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Russell Spiller

Born 5 Kennedy Road 1921 – still there

Grew up in Napier. Saw service in the Fleet Air Arm trained in Canada and in the USA but missed the 2nd WW   Served as a pilot in Korea c1954

As a candid photographer Russ has been to more Napier Weddings and Christenings than anyone I know. He is a well-known identity in Napier. He was one of the small core of workers that joined Gordon in setting up the basement aquarium in 1957. He is usually behind the scenes, not hiding, influencing aquarium progress, first as an Aquarium Society appointee, on the Board and later as a City Council appointee of the ‘Board’ – occasionally writing letters to the Editor.

Photo caption – Russell Spiller

There are members of our Society who have asked me who is this guy Russ Spiller figures all through the text of this 50 year history.

Ian L. Mills

Born Invercargill 1928

First job 1947 – 50 was a commercial artist with Coull Somerville & Wilkie a firm of National printers based in Christchurch, which indirectly influenced his entire lifetime. Moved to Wellington 1951-54 as a Window dresser. Returned to Napier to join the family Footwear business at the time it was relocated to Hastings Street.

1955 was given £20 by his father and sent to Beremphore [Berhampore] Wellington to buy Tropical Fish for the fish tank in the new shop.

Looking back after 78 years Ian’s life has followed four diverging paths.

44 years   Footwear retailer Retired 1990
50 years   Aquarist   Rising to FNZAS President 1993-5
Lifetime   Artist   Montana Art Award 1983 etc….
50 years   Author   History of the Aquarium & Marineland Board 1993
FNZAS Plant Survey 1999
Streets of Napier 2000
Daylight on Stonehenge 2001
Aquarium History 2007
Four Aquarium Guide Books.

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Over the 50 years of a public aquarium on the Parade Ian has illustrated something like 450 coloured fish on the light-frames above display tanks and produced 4 illustrated Guide Books of line drawings. Much of this work is still used in the National Aquarium.

Life Member Marineland Board 1977
H.B. Aquarium Society 1980
FNZAS 1997


This trust began in 1962 with a bequest from Mr E.A. Williams of a one third interest in his building ‘Masson House’ Dalton St. Napier. In 1973 when the building was finally sold the Society received $78,000. This money was bequeathed to the HB Aquarium Society Inc. to assist and promote the building of a public aquarium on the Marine Parade Napier, but by this time the 2nd Aquarium building was already built. During the years between 1973 and 2000 the money was wisely invested, thanks to Mardie Latham and Doreen Smith, and grew to about $143,000.

Grants from this money assisted the Public Aquarium to buy an air compressor, equipment for our boat and a photocopier. Only capital assets are financed by the Williams money. When the time came to raise finances for the present Aquarium the Masson House Trust gave $100,000. A more modest residue remains which continues to assist capital additions to the Aquarium.


One of the things the Society has done over the past 50 years is maintain and part-fund the library with small book grant of c$300 a year. The library at the time of writing is located in the Board Room, top floor National Aquarium.

The time will come in a few years when we will need more space, a bigger room or a new Board Room. This collection of books began with about 20 books from the H.B. Water Garden & Pond Society to which the H.B. Aquarium Society and individual members have added to over the years, along with a considerable collection from the estate of Reg Williams. We hold copies of TFH 1965-2001 and FAMA 1978-2007 and many other publications, all of which are catalogued on the computer (with a hard copy also available). The library is the most used room in the building. By all staff, by students, by DOC, by Massey and our local EIT. This is something I hope future Club members will continue to support.

It is the writer’s hope that in another 50 years our library will have doubled in size and prestige.

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The Society is pleased to use this opportunity to record the progress over 50 years, of the ‘AQUARIUM’S’ four Education Officers, Adrian Leak, Amanda Milne, Carol Robertson and Carol Larsen each during their tenure have created active courses and work sheets, lectures and our very popular children’s sleep overs. School visits today are a major aspect of the Aquarium, averaging 14,000 students a year, many of them from well outside Hawke’s Bay.

We welcome this opportunity to acknowledge the educational activities of the National Aquarium’s various Educational Officers. Over the last fifteen years this side of things has expanded greatly and points clearly where the future lies.

The following material is included in this publication because it has a bearing on our background and purpose in life? Our club’s progress has been entwined with the New Zealand Federation of Aquarium Societies over the years. Much detail in our history has to be found in NZFAS records. For this reason I felt it convenient to include the summary below. There are currently 13 member clubs in NZFAS listed in their National Year book.

Birth of FNZAS

Wellington founded the country’s first fish club 24th Oct 1933 and gathered up members from throughout NZ. And was then known as the NZ Aquarium and Water Garden Society. The first issue of the NZ Aquarium Bulletin was produced by Wellington in 1938. We hold 16 early copies in our library (1948-5)

During NZAWGS’ first eight years the Wellington Club’s members were enrolled from outlying towns and districts in both the North and South Island, until Christchurch formed their few members into a separate Canterbury branch of NZAWGS 18th July 1941. Application was then made to incorporate the NZ Aquarium & Water Garden Society.

Official approval was received 1943. (Mr Hayes of Hastings was at this time a paid up country member of the Wellington Club.)

In 1952 Negotiations were started by Christchurch to form a NZ Federation of Aquarium Societies at which time Wellington changed its name to Wellington Aquarium & Water Garden Society (later to Wellington Fish and Pond Keeper?) and affiliated with the new New Zealand Federation. By which time there were 8 Clubs.

A number of clubs have come and gone over the years. Others like Wellington, Palmerston North, Waikato, Gisborne and Tokoroa, have resigned only to rejoin when their circumstances improved. The membership in 2006 was 13 clubs affiliated to FNZAS.

Auckland Fishkeepers Association
Canterbury Aquarium & Pond Society
North Shore aquarium Society
Palmerston North Aquarium Society

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Dunedin Aquarium and Pond Society
H.B. Aquarium Society (Inc)
Kapi-Mana Aquarium Club
Malborough [Marlborough] Aquarium Club
N.Z. Killifish Association
South Auckland Aquarium Society
Taranaki Aquarium & Pond Soc.
Waikato Aquarium Society (Inc)
Wairarapa Aquarium & Pond Society

Hawke’s Bay affiliated to FNZAS in 1958

First issue of Aquatic World was 1954, the title was changed in 2001 to Aquarium World. Our Library has an almost complete set of journals from 1954.

FNZAS Presidents 1953 – 2006
1953 – 54   L.D. Roberts   Christchurch
1955 – 58   M.E. North   Timaru
1959 – 61   Douglas G. Dyer   Gisborne
1961 – 62   J.H. Groundsell   Lower Hutt
1963 – 63   Peter E. Wilson   New Plymouth
1965 – 66   Mrs Margie E. Down   Palmerston North
1967 – 68   F.R. Scott   Christchurch
1969 – 70   Noel Mears   Hastings
1971 – 72   Peter Nation   Palmerston North
1973 – 73   John Gilliland   Masterton
1975 – 76   Warwick Jost   Auckland
1977 – 78   Terry Sale   Nelson – Napier
1979 – 81   Ross Nunn   Wanganui
1981 – 82   Colin Wilson/William?   Nelson
1982 – 84   Dave Campbell   New Plymouth
1984 – 86   F.R. Scott   Christchurch
1986 – 88   Peter Smith   Palmerston North.
1988 – 89   Brian Rowe   Wellington
1989 – 91   Logan Fow   Killifish Hamilton
1991 – 93   Bruce King   Timaru
1993 – 95   Ian L Mills   Napier
1995 – 97   Dominic Hawinklel   Tawa
1997 – 98   Mike Northncott [Northcott]  North Shore
1999 – 01   Roy Jessep   Taranaki
2001 – 03   Dave Dalziel   Hamilton
2003 – 05   Dave Dalziel   Hamilton
2005 – 07   Warren Stilwell   Napier

Page 51

For FNZAS Conferences
1953 to 1993

Refer to “Aquatic World’ March 1993


Hawke’s Bay   1960
Hastings   1967
Napier   1969
Napier   1977
Napier   1987
Napier   2001
Napier   2002
Napier   2004
Napier   2007

Photo caption – Warren Stilwell
President of NZ Aquarium Society Inc.


Wellington Aquarium & Water Garden Society 50yr History   1984
N.Z. Aquarium “BULLETIN’ 1984 -53   (16 Copies File Box 20A)
AQUATIC WORLD   March 1993
FNZAS First Fifty years 1953 – 2002 F.R. Scott   2002
FNZAS Year Books   I would have been lost without these
FNZAS Plant Survey   1997
History of Marineland & Aquarium Board Napier   1992
Minute Book H.B. Water Garden Society   1949 – 54
Minute Book H.B.. Aquarium Society 1957 – 86
From 1986 individual Secretaries kept minutes on their personal computers
It has not been possible to access these minutes.
CLUB NEWS LETTER   1987 – 2006 in Library ‘Stack Room’ Boxes ? ?
WORK DIARIES   Not applicable to Society history   1969 – 2000

After 50 years three friends who first meet [met] in 1956 are here today.
With a little less spring in their step and a lot less hair.

Affiliated to the

Back Cover:   Top left- Orange Roughy, Right- Scorpionfish
Middle:   Juvenile Black, Angel Fish
Bottom:   Mahiarus Dineii – Live (left), Dead (right)
Cover design and printing by Tania Boshier-Jones, Evolve Studios Napier.

ISBN 978-0-473-12096-2

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Surnames in this book –
Able, Allan, Allen, Arnott, Atonavich, Axford, Baarspul, Bean, Bennett, Berge, Bickerstaff, Black, Bowden, Brown, Browne, Brunner, Buller, Campbell, Carter, Churchill, Colenso, Cormack, Costello, Crabbe, Crooke, Cushing, Dallimore, Dalziel, Dark, Davies, Dennis, Diack, Dick, Dine, Dobbins, Dobson, Dodds, Down, Downey, Downing, Downy, Dyer, Eagle, Earle, Fanin/Fannin, Finch, Foster, Fow, Francis, Fryer, Gilligan, Gilliland, Goudie, Gradwell, Grey, Groundsell, Gugich, Hall, Hambrook, Hart, Hawinkel, Hayes, Hewitt, Holt, Hopkins, Hoterini, Hunt, Jenssen, Jessep, Johnstone, Jones, Jost, Kavanagh, Kerr, King, Kirkman, Larsen, Latham, Leach, Leak, Lester, Lloyd, Logan, MacAuslin, Macdonald, MacKay, MacNamara, Mansfield, Manson, Marshall, McBride, McConnochie, McHardy, McKenzie, McLachlan, McMillan, McNabb, Mears, Merrick, Mills, Milne, Moore, Morison, Morland, Murphy, Nash, Nation, Nixon, North, Northcott, Nunn, Ogg, Payne, Peacock, Pepper, Perritt, Perry, Phillipps, Plumodley, Rennell, Robb, Roberts, Robertson, Robson, Rowe, Rutter, Ryan, Sale, Sang, Schofield, Scott, Sharp, Smith, Speight, Spence, Spiller, Stillburn, Stilwell, Storck, Sweatman, Tait, Tarlton, Taylor, Tinker, Tolley, Tong, Townshend, Twigg, Walker, Wells, Whitelegge, Whitlock, Wilkie, Williams, Willis, Wilson, Yarrall, Young

Business / Organisation

Hawke's Bay Aquarium Society Incorporated

Format of the original


Date published


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Thinker Publications and Evolve Studios

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