Welcome to our summer edition of the Society’s newsletter. We hope you have all had a safe and enjoyable Christmas and looking forward to the challenges of 2018.
Regrettably our past editors, Cheryl and Chris Billings had to step down from producing the newsletter so the two of us are pooling our talents to bring out this edition. We hope we can maintain the high standard of the previous editions.
Peter Baldwin & Kim Miles
It is sad to start a newsletter with an obituary but we want to acknowledge the passing of our longest serving foundation member and president, John Milner.
John started his career as a chartered accountant and held executive roles in LD Nathan, Waikato Breweries and other companies in the drinks and hospitality industry. Although he was successful in the corporate world he wanted a better life style so moved to the Turangi area and bought the Anglers’ Paradise motel.
In the early 1980s discussions were held between the Conservator of Wildlife and interested parties with a view off starting up a Trust to finance and run the facilities present and proposed at the Tongariro Hatchery complex. This was the genesis of the later Tongariro National Trout Centre Society and John was one of its foundation members. Funds were raised for constructing the underwater viewing chamber with a small museum and lounge above. The hatchery settling pond became the children’s fishing pond where volunteer anglers began the quickly popular fish-outs where children between the ages of 6 and 16 were taught how to hook and land a trout.
In 1987 John became the chairman of the Trust and began plans for improving the trout centre resulting in a sealed parking lot, more internal roads, toilets and an expanded museum. In 2000 the Trust was replaced by the present incorporated society.
John was passionate about the Society and through his efforts it acquired an old machinery shed from DOC in 2002 for the purposes of an interpretive visitors centre.
In 2003 because of the increasing numbers of visitors and the increasing complexity of running the centre he convinced the committee to hire a part time manager. This successful concept of managing the Centre with a combination of volunteers and salaried staff has continued to today.
In 2005 John retired as President and passed the reins to Eddie Tonks. In recognition of his work the Society awarded him Life Membership. But this did not end his interest in the Society. He put his talents to work during the major renovation of 2006 pushing very strongly for a library dedicated to fresh water fishing and the history of trout fishing in the Taupo area.
John continued to contribute to the Society as late as 2017 when he joined
Eddie Tonks in a major review of the Society and its procedures. This far reaching review resulting in a detailed procedures manual, improved financial accountability and processes necessary for running a modern organisation.
John was always a straight, no-nonsense person not hesitating to express strong opinions whether you wanted them or not! He had knack to get to the hub of a problem and offer a solution. Although his views were not always shared, his motivations were always for the best interests of the Society. Arguably, no other person has done so much for the organisation that we enjoy today.
Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his wife Val, and his family in this sad time.
2018 Whio Season
The last 7 juvenile birds are now in our hardening avairies. They are the last birds for what has been one of the most successful breeding years to date. This years season will end in March so pop in and see these beautiful birds up close.
The following is an editorial piece we received from Bob South, former editor of Fish & Game magazine and former member of the Society’s committee. We are grateful for his contribution as it encapsulates much of how we feel about kids and fishing.
A generation of kids has done it before, and doubtless a generation will do it in future. But in these modern, ever-changing, technological times, not all kids dream passionately of ‘fur and scales’ as they once did ‘way back when’. Pity that. More kids should have those dreams, particularly of ‘scales’ — and see them turned into reality. Why? For starters, kids rarely remember their best day of watching television, nor do their parents ever frame photos of them playing video games. No, the fondest childhood memories and favourite photos more often extend to that…well…that first fish – chuffed kid holding it aloft, looking indecently happy. And there’s a darn good reason for that: the prospect of matching wits with a trout, big or small, first or last, draws kids to fishing – all kids — like a magnet and excites them – universally — well beyond the mere act of catching it. Fishing provides children with an unforgettable silvery element of real life that undoubtedly helps fire their imaginations. Such youthful corruption is not only acceptable, laudable even, it soon becomes total and, best of all, is undeniably healthy in a world full of so many other inane, worthless distractions that are not.
If children are to keep an inborn sense of wonder and mystery about the world they live in, they can do much, much worse than go fishing. Many a youngster, after a fishing outing comes away thinking moving water and the trout that live in it are one of life’s greatest gifts.
As David Benjamin wrote in The Last Kid Picked: “There is nothing like fishing to express the fullness of being a kid. It is steeped in filth…fish slime and entrails between your fingers. It has machismo, the hooking of the wild, struggling quarry, the yanking and landing, the subduing of the thing with bare hands, the bloody retrieval of the lethal barb…and the fish themselves, masculine to the throes of death…but also in fishing there is the effable female side, the delicate craft of tying hook to silken line, the guile of searching the impassive water’s surface for hungry furtive life beneath, and the itchy patience of watching, waiting, teasing, until roused beyond prudence, it opens wide, gobbles whole and snags itself on the irresistible.”
So why else is fishing such a big deal when it comes to kids? Arguably most notably, there’s a valuable lesson in every experience, something that can’t be said about all paths young kids travel these days. But perhaps more than anything, it remains a sport, above most if not all others, which best gratifies our innate craving for an intimacy with forces of which we all know so little.
In December the Visitor Centre had a visit from the Rangipo prison manager and one of their work supervisors. One of their inmates had made a carving of a Rainbow trout and wanted to donate it to the centre. We received the carving from their team and it is now displayed in our library area. It is encouraging to see craft like this coming through from the prison and we expressed our appreciation for the donation.
2017 Volunteers Video
Heres a snapshot of a day in the life of our International volunteers.
2017 ACVE Volunteers
Last year we had two intakes of international volunteers through a recognised volunteer organisation called ACVE. These young people mainly come from the Northern hemisphere and are usually on their gap year. They are accommodated by DOC onsite and we give them a fortnightly New World voucher. They are rostered 35 hours a week on both DOC duties and Visitor Centre work and have proved to be a great assistance to managing the workload. For four weeks over the Christmas holidays they travel around the country so for that period we managed to pick up a young man from Sweden who loves fly fishing and has helped with our Adhoc summer fishing programme. The Len Reynolds Trust from the Waikato gave us funding to help with their food costs and have also given us funding for the next intake which starts at the end of January. Our two new volunteers are from Germany and Taiwan.
Public Kids Fishing Day
Sunday 1st April.
Bookings online at www.troutcentre.com
Book now to avoid disappointment.
The Major Jones Pool on the Tongariro River
MAJOR RHYS WYKEHAM JONES
1863 – 1922
This is the story of Major Jones, after whom one of the most famous fishing pools on the Tongariro River is named. This article is from research conducted by the late Arthur Parish a local historian.
At the time of Rhys Jones’ birth Queen Victoria was on the throne and although the British Empire was in the ascendency, the Industrial Revolution was making many people unemployed. By good fortunehowever, Rhys and his brother who were orphaned at an early age taken in by a neighbouring family, the Massey family, the head of the household being a surgeon.
It was from this location that the boys grew into their teens, attending Ingham College in Surrey. Rhys, at 18, opted to ‘take the Kings shilling’ by enlisting in the Royal Sussex Regiment of Foot, the famous Thirty-Fifth.
After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, a French-British joint venture negotiated the right to operate the Suez Canal. Although Egypt at that timewere part of the Ottoman Empire it became clear that it was London and Paris not Turkey, that called the shots. In principle, the economy of the country should have benefitted from the Canal, but under Khedive Ismail, the Egyptian Government was chaotic and relied on finance from oppressive taxes imposed on the peasants cultivating the rich soil in the Nile Delta. To ensure Egypt had the benefit of all the income from the Canal the Egyptian ruler was all for privatising the Canal – eliminating both the French and English from the deal. Trouble soon began and 35,000 British, and Indian troops were sent to Egypt to quell the uprising. This included the First and Second Battalions of the Royal Sussex in which Rhys Jones was serving, by now a lieutenant.
These two battalions were initially stationed at Alexandria, as part of General Wolseley’s Expedition and in 1884 became part of the Nile Expedition, an unsuccessful attempt to save General Gordon at Khartoum in Sudan.
Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1876 and the stationing of British troops – to protect British interests and the local population from the renegade Black Mountain hill tribes of the North West Frontier – seemed quite justified.
Thus Lieutenant Rhys Jones returned from Egypt in 1885 with the 1st Battalion, but shortly thereafter left with the 2nd Battalion for India as a forerunner of the Black Mountain Expedition (1888) serving at both Rawalpindi and Gharial. On the 13th of April 1892 (aged 29) he was promoted to Captain.
The records show that Captain Jones was serving in the 3rd Battalion Border and eventually reached the rank of major. In 1906 he would have been 43, having served in the army for 25 years, and it is at this point that he resigned his commission and returned to England.
How Major Jones discovered the fishing potential of New Zealand is unclear. There were books published in the early 1900’s regarding the excellent fishing to be had here, and it is recorded that Indian Army Officers were seen fishing in the Tongariro/Tokaanu area, soon after. No doubt word of their success would have rapidlytravelled through military ranks. In addition the Major would have been aware that ova had been collected some years before from the rivers Wey, Weycombe and Itchen for transportation to Tasmania and New Zealand to establish new trout fisheries.
Major Jones left England and arrived here in 1910 and either stayed at one or other of the Fishing Camps established on the banks of the Tongariro, or the Tokaanu Hotel which catered for peopletravelling North or South.
Now, how did the Major Jones Pool get its name? In those days, by gentlemen’s agreement, the first one to begin fishing in a pool each day had the right to remain there undisturbed till midday when someone else could move in. But the Major had an advantage – in that he had a motorbike – which would have enabled him to travel over the rough tracks and reach stretches of the river much quicker than anyone else! It is said that the Major, who stood 6’2” or 6’3” and weighed some 20 stone would bellow like a bull if anyone dared to enter HIS pool uninvited.
Major Jones befriended Joe Frost who was an ex English Corporal from the first world war running a tackle shop in Taupehi Rd – later to become Geoff Sanderson’s. Taupehi Road was the main highway to Auckland in those days, just a dirt road with very little traffic. A survey conducted in 1922 recorded an average ten cars a day passing through ‘Taupehi Village’ as it was then known.
Joe, who by now would have been here a while, having moved from Wellington, would have acquainted the Major with all of the local fishing spots whilst acting as both guide and gillie. And it was Joe (a ‘dry Fly’ purist) who related to Vice Admiral Hickling (of ‘Freshwater Admiral’ fame) that “ the Major landed all of his fish with the subtlety of a Warship weighing anchor and leaving in a hurry.” In hisdefence the AVERAGE Rainbow caught in the Major Jones Pool in those days was recorded at 11 and a half lbs, so perhaps this was only to be expected! The Major hated brown trout, and would pay small boys to catch fieldmice during the daytime, which were then floated down-stream at night in order to catch these leviathans.
Regrettably, Major Jones became unwell and returned to England in 1922 where he died (aged 59yrs) at the Church Street Surgical Home (in the City of Bath) on the second of August 1922.
Joseph Colston Frost was wounded in the Dardanelles and was sent to a New Zealand army hospital in Malta, where a recuperating New Zealand soldier, from Hawkes Bay, lying in the next bed, regaled him with stories of the trout fishing to be had on the Tongariro. Cpl. Frost was born in 1894 and died in 1983 aged 89yrs.
School visits at TNTC
by Krysia Nowak
Your school is visiting Tongariro National Trout Centre. You’re not sure what to expect, but you’re pretty excited anyway. An educator meets you at the top carpark, greeting you in te reo and English, and you learn how to keep yourself safe on-site. Walking down the path you gawk at the enormous fish in the stream, somebody yells “snapper!” and you roll your eyes.
Starting at the front of the visitor centre the educator starts to talk. Despite yourself, you’re surprised to learn how much of your life relies on water. In the museum, you learn some new facts, and giggle at the weird mannikins, but you’re too excited to read for long – the aquarium is next!
You never knew all of these cool fish were living in our rivers, streams and lakes. You certainly didn’t know that some of them are whitebait as babies! In the hatchery you see thousands of baby trout, and wonder why they need so many! You laugh as they scatter away from your shadows.
Outside a DOC ranger shows you how they learn about wild trout in Taupō. You think working for DOC might be pretty cool. Down a pretty bush path you are shown to a window looking Into the stream! You identify a jack and a hen, and hope you can catch a fish that big!
Finally at the classroom, you’re ready for the best part of the day. You can see thousands of fish in the pond, and you’re so excited for your turn to catch one! You’re given a licence, and learn some fly-fishing basics from an expert. When you finally catch your fish you have to steel yourself to hit it on the head. Your teacher takes your photo, you look pretty pleased with yourself!On the way out with your freshly-gutted trout, you see some whio in an enclosure. You learn that most people never see whio, and they’re rarer than some kiwi! You see them playing in the water, learning to fly and live in the wild. You’re definitely telling your parents when you get home.
At home, your mum helps you cook your trout. You aren’t sure you want to eat it, it smells pretty weird but your parents convince you to try one bite. It’s delicious.
Fly fishing Museum, Livingston, Montana
by Graeme Nahkies
On a recent fishing trip to Montana and Wyoming I was able to visit the museum maintained as part of the Fly Fishers International organisation (www.flyfishersinternational.org). FFI (previously known as the International Federation of Fly Fishers) is one of the two large membership organisations for fly fishers in the US (the other being Trout Unlimited).
One of the objectives of FFI is to preserve the history of the sport and the organisation by maintaining a fly fishing museum at its headquarters in Livingston, Montana. The collection contains many artefacts including fishing rods, reels, lines, flies (and tying materials) and other tools that have been used in the sport over time. I found some of the early flotation devices particularly interesting.
The museum also profiles some of the most important personalities in the sport both domestically and internationally. One of those whose name is well known in this part of the world is the late Lee Wulff. Lee Wulff is considered one of the founding fathers of modern fly fishing. He was responsible for many innovative ideas in product design, fly design, and fishing ethics. Lee has given his name to flies we know well like the Royal Wulff but is also said to have invented the first fly fishing vest years ago, which he sewed it by hand.
In addition, the museum facility contains an impressive reference library of books and magazines related to fly-fishing.
Like our much smaller version, it would be easy to lose yourself for hours in the artefacts and materials on display. On our visit we found the FFI staff on site very knowledgeable and helpful guides. I also met with the FFI board member responsible for oversight of the museum and have undertaken to follow that up. There is some interest in maintaining contact between the two museums on the chance there may be some mutual benefit.
The FFI also holds an annual fly fishing ‘fair’ which is held at different locations around the US. This combines classes and demonstrations in fishing and fly tying techniques (suitable for all skill levels right through to advanced instructor) along with lectures on related topics and an associated trade show. With the forbearance of my wife I have also now been able to attend two of these festivals and can confirm they are well worth the time if your travel plans allow. They are usually held in early August. Incidentally, Joan Wulff, Lee’s widow, famous in her own right as a casting instructor and identity in the sport, is still an active contributor to these occasions.
Tuwharetoa Treaty Settlement Update
The treaty settlement is progressing steadily with the initial legislation being introduced into Parliament in early December.
This has confirmed the following:A deed of Trust is being tabled under the title of TONGARIRO TROUT HATCHERY AND FRESHWATER ECOLOGY TRUST. This will be incorporated as a charitable trust with 7 Trustees, ie three from Tuwharetoa ( including one from the Downs whanau) and two from each of DOC and The National Trout Centre Society.
The Trust will come into being legally when the legislation for the settlement is finally passed (maybe towards the end of this year)
Two of the main objectives of the Trust will be to develop and promote the Centre and to administer, control and manage the recreation reserves associated with the Centre.
Under the settlement a significant part of the whole site will be vested in a reserve, but owned by Tuwharetoa and governed by the Trust.
The Trust will provide the Crown a licence to occupy the land at the Centre and the National Trout Centre Society with a lease of the land where our buildings are situated, a licence to occupy the buildings and an easement to allow us access to our buildings.
The “Transitional Governance Group” mirrors the Trust in its make up and is in effect governing the site through until the legislation is finally passed.
This Group meets regularly and recently undertook a day long strategic planning exercise facilitated by Sharon Mariu who led us through some soul searching to arrive at an initial determination of vision, values and strategy for the Centre. We will now develop this into a working strategic plan.
The Tongariro National Trout Centre Society will continue to be the main “operator” of the site during this transitional period and beyond.
A very significant amount of work has been done to arrive at the point where we were happy with the raft of documents that were produced to legalise occupancy, and activity on the site . Special mention here should be given to Eddie Tonks, Paul Green and Peter Baldwin.
Kim Miles. Interim Chair,Transitional Governance Group
We hope you have enjoyed reading this newsletter. Feel free to pass it on to others. We are largely dependent on material from our members so if you have a story to tell, a fishing joke, photos or a great trout recipe, let us know.Tight lines!