Archive: Over one hundred years (Part 1)

From Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen; pages 7, 8. Originally published 1980. Scans of the pages are at the bottom of this article. This article shows the text from the original that relates to fishing, with some editing to help with flow.

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Over one hundred years (Part 1)

In September, 1873, Mr Henry Redwood supervised the transportation of 1,000 young trout from Christchurch, but they failed to survive despite the extreme care taken. They were to be liberated in Spring Creek and the Omaka River.

Undoubtedly trout were liberated soon after this initial failure and in February, 1878, 500 salmon were liberated in the Opawa River, by Mr Charles Goulter of Hawkesbury. The salmon were a gift from the Wellington Acclimatisation Society.

Details of the administrative side of the Acclimatisation Society are not always clear. Meetings undoubtedly took place - but in the words of the Marlborough Express, the Society went about its work "quietly". So unobtrusive was the work that in December 1873, one enthusiast wrote in a letter to the Editor:
"Mr Editor, can you inform me what is doing with respect to the above Society. I think they are in funds and according to the Auckland papers, fish are cheap in that province. Why not buy some and make a start? Our worthy secretary seems more inclined to pheasants than fish. I wish you would give a little time to the importation of the latter and leave the pheasants alone, as they will do very well by themselves."

It would seem that in 1876, 1,000 young trout were placed in the Omaka and Spring Creeks. However a shipment of 12,000 young trout failed to survive the coastal steamer journey to Marlborough, "notwithstanding the great care taken by Mr H. Redwood in trying to preserve them."

Salmon were liberated about this time and a Marlborough Express item in March 1878 stated, "A person who went up to the Omaka yesterday discovered a quantity of salmon, alive and healthy, close to the spot where they were turned out nearly a fortnight ago."

Trout liberations were still hampered by deaths in transit. Salmon were again liberated in the Opawa and Omaka Rivers, as well as the Pelorus River.

Liberations are difficult to assess accurately. It appears individuals were liberating fish and game, and a letter to the Editor of the Marlborough Express on May 8th, 1878, placed on record the introduction of salmon in the Clarence River by Mr Walter Gibson of Waipapa. "Some 300 - 400 young salmon were successfully turned out on Good Friday, 1878, into a most suitable stream situated on the Waipapa Run emptying itself into the Clarence."

In June the Society again met to authorise a sub-committee to act to obtain a lease of land from Mr Hilcy for the purpose of constructing "store and breeding ponds".

Trout liberations continued and use was made of the hatchery facilities.

32,000 ova in "a very advanced condition" had arrived and losses were minimal. Hatching of the trout was successful and in December a meeting was held to discuss liberation points.

Trout were liberated in Spring Creek and the Waihopai River. An editorial in the Marlborough Express showed admiration for the liberations of trout as "a very important work" and for the way the Society went about the task in "a quiet, unobtrusive and selfless manner".

In 1879 complaints were made that North Bank residents were guilty of dynamiting the Wairau River for native grayling, which today are extinct. Trout, and to a lesser extent, salmon, continued to be imported into Marlborough and eventually liberated in streams ranging from the Awatere area to the Avon Valley.

Page 7 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.
Page 8 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.