Young Ocean Explorers and NZAEE Seaweek Contest

We all know kids are the future, and the sooner we encourage them to learn about and love our underwater world, the more equipped they’ll be to protect it.

Since 2012, PADI AmbassaDivers Young Ocean Explorers have been on a mission to inspire kids to love our ocean through entertaining education – and now they’ve taken it to the next level.

Their new interactive website is home to countless games, quizzes and videos that highlight the importance of caring for our oceans.

Together with NZAEE Seaweek, Young Ocean Explorers is offering students and their teachers the chance to win over $20K worth of prizes for themselves, their classroom and their school.

Entering the contest is easy – simply visit their website and sign up! Not only will you have the chance to win one of five incredible prize packages but you you’ll get access to hours of educational fun.

Entry is only open to teachers and students in New Zealand, so if you’re not eligible, feel free to pass the opportunity on to someone who is. Even if you’re not eligible, you can still sign up to access the incredible resources.

For more information, visit

Dive! Tutukaka – Role Model Commitment to Standards and Compliance


The New Zealand ACC Workplace Safety Award goes to Dive! Tutukaka.

As a company, Dive! Tutukaka, a PADI 5 Star IDC facility based in the beautiful north of New Zealand, won the Westpac Supreme Northland Business of the Year Award in 2009.

Between then and now, the legislative and audit driven regulatory landscape in which they operate has changed dramatically. The Adventure Activities Regulations were introduced in late 2014 in New Zealand, with all operators who provide adventure activities required to undergo an annual safety audit or surveillance audit and become registered with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The legislative requirements of the new Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) under Maritime NZ also came into force in 2014, as well as the new Health and Safety Act in 2015.

In a business whose very intent is deliver defining moments, and once-in-a-lifetime memories, the challenge for Dive! Tutukaka became how to maintain a great experience that was not so sanitised it became meaningless; both for both staff and customers. Their goal remained to deliver excitement, and moments to remember, whilst being safe, accountable, looking after each other, and remaining passionate and having integrity.

Who they are, why they do what they do, and what they do it for.

Dive! Tutukaka Poor Knights Islands

The strategy was to do the very best they can, search for excellence, go beyond simply compliance or ticking a box, but aim for the next highest level – and all the while not losing the essence of the core company culture, and maintaining their passion.

In a company that has a triple bottom line mentality in-grained, Dive! Tutukaka had to search for excellence beyond compliance. That drive echoes the passion of staff and their drive as people, to be the best they can be.

Achieving the ACC Workplace Safety Award is recognition of the hard work that has gone into the last nine years, of aiming high, and not settling for less.

We are grateful, honoured, and humbled, and extremely proud of this award.

Looking after their people, and ensuring that safety is not the competitive advantage, means sharing learnings, and being open and inclusive. Total staff buy-in means engaging them in every step of a systems process, from inception to delivery.

It always was, and it always will be, about out people.

We are still Searching for Excellence Beyond Compliance, it is that passion that will drive our selves, our people, our company, our region, and our sector forward.

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei

Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain

This whakatauki is about aiming high or for what is truly valuable, but its real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.


PADI exhibits at TecFestNZ 2016

Tecfest NZ ran its 4th annual event over the weekend of May 6th-8th in Taupo, New Zealand. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for the event with beautiful calm, warm and sunny conditions topside and great visibility and a balmy 17 degree water temperature.

Stunning conditions for the 4th annual TecFestNZ
Stunning conditions for the 4th annual TecFestNZ
The Beach set-up & dive site
The Beach set-up & dive site

For the first time this year PADI got involved in the annual TecFest NZ in Taupo to promote PADI TecRec programmes. A unique event in which the main objective of the event is actually go diving, rather than talk about it. 120 interested divers from all around the country attended this year’s event with many saying it was the best one yet.

Another big draw card was the high caliber of guest speakers:

Dr Simon Mitchell is a passionate diver and recognised as a leading international authority on diving and hyperbaric medicine. Simon conducted 2 presentations, the first on “Decompression Planning: how it works and current controversies” and the second on “Breathing Underwater: the respiratory challenges of deep compressed gas dives.” If you have ever had the pleasure of listening to Simon present you will know these were extremely interesting and very well attended.

Dr Simon Mitchel presenting

Pete Mesley inspired us all with his presentations on “Are Rebreathers Really the way to go in Technical Diving?” and ”So you have just done your initial Tech course – What next? Opportunities for Today’s Technical Diver” After a recent trip to the Great Lakes and photos from both there and Truk Lagoon included in his presentation Pete ignited everyone’s ‘Lust for Rust‘!

Matt Carter – marine archaeologist and  presenter from Coast NZ gave 2 great talks on the “Exploration of the final frontier: maritime archaeology, tech diving and the deep shipwreck resource” along with “Maritime archaeology in New Zealand, an untapped historical treasure.”

Matt Carter

Tom Crisp has a passion for cave diving like no other! His ‘The Push For More’ presentation all about his cave exploration in New Zealand was fascinating – who knew we had so many untapped cave systems to discover and explore.

Andrew from Global Dive introducing 2 divers to diving on twins
Andrew from Global Dive introducing 2 divers to diving on twins
2 excited divers headed to the water on twins for the first time.
2 excited divers headed to the water on twins for the first time.

With attendees ranging in experience from newly certified  Open Water divers right the way through to experts in their field and highly regarded technical divers and Instructors it was great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals all there for the same reason…Technical Diving.

Try dives were available in Full Face Mask, Twin Sets, Scooters and Sidemount. Divers were also out boat diving around the lake, drift diving the river and just generally having a good time!

Paul Ferguson - Snr Constable with the Police National Dive Squad talking through recent statistics and reiterating the 'safe diving practices' message
Paul Ferguson – Snr Constable with the Police National Dive Squad talking through recent statistics and reiterating the ‘safe diving practices’ message

It was fantastic to have Senior Constable Paul Ferguson give a talk about life as a Police Diver, the equipment they use and areas they dive and on a more serious note, some statistics around incidents here in NZ, whats going wrong and what dive practices (or lack of) are contributing to this high incident rate – something no matter what level diver you are we all need know.

PADI Regional Training Consultant Junya Kato and PADI TecRec Instructor Andrew Simpson presenting on Rebreather Courses and training.
PADI Regional Training Consultant Junya Kato and PADI TecRec Instructor Andrew Simpson presenting on Rebreather Courses and training.

Regional Manager Jen Clent was joined at TecFest NZ by PADI Regional Training Consultant and passionate tehcnical diver Junya Kato who took everyone through the PADI TecRec Courses available including both Open Circuit and Rebreather Courses for both diver level and Instructor level.

Thanks also to Andrew Simpson from Global Dive who assisted with explaining what all is involved in the training inlcuding how he runs the PADI Tec 40 CCR programme.

NZRIDG Update at TecFestNZ

New Zealand Recreational Dive Industry Group (NZRIDG ) Chair Richard Taylor gave industry an update on the newly formed New Representative Peak Body for the Recreational Diving Industry in New Zealand  along with an overview of the new Health & Safety regulations, Adventure Activities System and Certificate of Competence.

So, overall a fantastic weekend was had by all, many newly inspired divers with a new set of diving goals to achieve left Taupo happy after 3 great days. Divers now keen to dive a new wreck, head to a new destination or assist mapping marine archaeology sites all with the knowledge of how to get there. A big thanks to TecFest NZ organisers Chris Clarke and Brent McFadden.

If you would like any further information on PADI TecRec programmes or how you can achieve that next PADI rating please contact your PADI Regional Manager or Regional Training Consultant or visit

PADI Freediver Programme comes to New Zealand

PADI Freediver Static PoolWith the PADI Freediver programmes recently launched at DEMA in November 2015, members in New Zealand were keen to jump on board and start offering PADI Freediver training to their customers.

PADI enlisted the assistance of 2 time Australian record holder, professional freediver and PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer Adam Stern to train a group of Freediver Instructors here in New Zealand.

The training was aimed at PADI Instructors who were already competent Freedivers. Adam fine-tuned their skills but focused mainly on teaching techniques, demonstrations of performance requirements, commonly encountered problems and emphasized ensuring all training was done in a relaxed and comfortable manner.

PADI Freediver Dynamic PoolThe training included knowledge development via the PADI Freediver digital product along with several Confined Water workshops covering Static Apnea, Dynamic Apnea and rescues. Open Water workshops went over Weighting and Free Immersion, Constant Weight Freedives and open water rescues.

PADI Freediver Rescue Open Water

Congratulations to all the new PADI Freediver Instructors – Bevan Blunden, Bryan Bailey, JJ Spiers, Josh Cochrane, Kelly Weeds, Ryan Hansen and Stuart Hofstetter.

Here’s what some of the new PADI Freediver Instructors had to say about the programme:

Bryan Bailey – Blenheim Dive Centre
“The new PADI freediver program is a great extension to the PADI range of courses, the theory and practical content is world class, attending the instructor course was inspiring and confidence building, this program has a big future, Adam Stern is a great asset to PADI.”

Ryan Hansen – Dive Zone Whitianga
“I found the PADI Freedive
r Instructor training very worthwhile, it was clear that the instructor trainer was extremely knowledgeable and was able to pass on that knowledge effectively. What I learnt during the course surpassed my expectations.”

Bevan Blunden – Splash Waikato
“The PADI Freediver Instructor course was amazing. Adam Stern provided such a great learning atmosphere with his dubious amounts of enthusiasm towards the sport. The PADI Freediver Instructor training fine-tuned my own skills and knowledge which has made me a better diver than ever before.”

JJ Spiers – Dive Zone Bay of Islands
“The PADI freediving Instructor course was awesome, truly a breathtaking experience! I was amazed at the depths we achieved during the course & the ease of doing so, learning new relaxation and breathing techniques made it possible to dive on one of New Zealand’s famous ship wrecks the HMS Canterbury. Gliding down through schools of travelly and kingfish on one breathe. Amazing. The study part of the course was fun too, it’s laid out in an interactive touch format which has some stunning photography and videos as well as that important information. Overall I really enjoyed the PADI Freediver Instructor course both in water & out. The course has made me much more confident in my free diving and rescue skills which I believe down the road when I begin teaching the course myself these skills will be invaluable!

Adam Stern – PADI Instructor Trainer
“I was so impressed with the skill level of the instructor candidates. They were so smooth and comfortable in the water that instead of teaching new technique I was simply tweaking existing technique which made it such a pleasure to be out diving in New Zealand waters. New Zealand now has 7 experienced Freediving instructors and the freediving community there is about to become a whole lot safer.”

Stuart Hofstetter – Paihia Dive
“I found the course excellent. Learning the science behind freediving and the correct way to teach, train and progress safely was a real eye opener. I’m hooked and can’t wait to start teaching!”
PADI Freediver Descending Open Water

Recognition Awards for Valued PADI Members

As PADI Regional Manager it’s always great to meet members all over my region. So many have been in this industry for a long time and their experience and knowledge is invaluable. The stories they have to tell about their life as PADI Pro’s could entertain divers for hours!

It was an absolute pleasure to recently present awards and certificates to the PADI Members below in New Zealand and Fiji. These PADI Professionals have invested at least 20 years into the dive industry.

It is a great part of the job where as Regional Manager I get to say thanks on behalf of PADI.

Ray Dolman celebrating 25 years of PADI membership
Ray Dolman celebrating 25 years of PADI Membership


Andrew Redfern celebrating 25 years of PADI membership
Andrew Redfern celebrating 25 years of PADI Membership


Tony Wolland celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Tony Wolland celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Mateo Tawake celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Mateo Tawake celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Gordon Wakeham celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Gordon Wakeham celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Jean Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji celebrating 20 years of Outstanding service
Jean Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji celebrating 20 years of Outstanding service


Marc McElrath celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Marc McElrath celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Once again we thank all PADI members for their contribution to the dive industry and wish everyone a fantastic year to come in 2016.

Helping change the view of sharks…

As divers we have the unique opportunity to have a voice for marine creatures who don’t have one. Most of us do our part for marine conservation but not many are as committed as the Friends for Sharks crew.

Shark enthusiasts Kathryn and Nicholas took a year off from their day to day routine and created Friends for Sharks which is a marine conservation cause working to support charities Project Aware and Shark Trust and increase worldwide awareness of the plight of sharks.

Kathryn and Nicholas decided to spend one year on the road and have recently spent 6 months in New Zealand where they spoke to approximately 6500 people across 78 events. New Zealand PADI Regional Manager Jen Clent recently interviewed them about their trip so far.

Their aim:

  • Use our voices to promote marine conservation and increase worldwide awareness of the threats to sharks and rays
  • Educate and encourage people to become Friends for Sharks themselves and protect the oceans around them
  • Inspire people to be the change they want to see in the world
  • Reach audiences worldwide, including people of all ages and social backgrounds
  • Raise money for nominated charities
  • Conduct voluntary work across the globe to contribute to the local communities we visit

06-Tauranga-03 Shark Papanui

  1. When did you decide to pack up and spend a year on the road?

Friends for Sharks was born on August 28th 2014. Kathryn had just suffered a split disk earlier in the month and was confined to bed. Our work was seasonal and on a boat, so not only was Kathryn unable to work, but my work was also ending soon. Kathryn came up with the idea of us spending a year travelling to promote shark conservation as a way to employ our time productively as she recovered from her back injury.

  1. What did you set out to achieve?

The aim of Friends for Sharks is two-fold. Firstly and most importantly in our mind, to educate people as to the importance and plights of sharks and to encourage a desire to help sharks by developing an emotional connection through story telling. Secondly we raise money throughout the Tour in support of two charities: The Shark Trust and Project AWARE. 

  1. Where does your passion for sharks come from?

K: I’ve loved sharks for as long as I can remember. I took a shark book in to school for show-and-tell at the age of four. It was a classic 80’s book: shark attacks, teeth, blood etc. It made the rest of the children cry for which I was made to stand in the corner! I’ve always stood up for the underdog and at that moment sharks really seemed to have few friends.

N: Sharks have been a growing passion since I developed a love of the oceans at a young age. They’re an iconic group of creatures with fearsome reputations that from my experiences are entirely unfounded. As a diver, the more sharks I saw, the more I appreciated their grace and beauty. I don’t think there are many people who can spend much time with sharks and not develop a passion for them to some extent.

  1. Where have you spent your time on the road so far?

We started around Cornwall in the UK at the start of 2015. The trip really got going after 6 days in London at the end of February when we then flew to Vancouver for a week. This was followed by two weeks in Rarotonga the first of which was spent doing events, then enjoying a week off to recover from the previous 6 months of planning and organising. The bulk of our tour has been spent in New Zealand – 3.5 months travelling around the South Island, then 2.5 months working our way up from Wellington to Auckland.

  1. Where to after New Zealand?

We are currently in Melbourne, Australia, for 2 weeks where we have a couple of events, but are also enjoying a break with family. The next portion of our tour takes us to Fiji, Cambodia and Thailand. We have teemed up with a group called Projects Abroad who have invited us to spend time with them to share our knowledge and skills with their marine projects and local communities in those three countries. This will take us up to just before Christmas and the end of our Tour.

  1. What has been the thing that surprised you most on your trip so far?

We have talked to all ages from kindergarten through to retirement homes and what we’ve found fascinating is that the youngest children have the greatest love and fascination with sharks. There is almost no fear at all. From around the age of 6 onwards, more people mention being scared of sharks despite the fact that next to none of those people have seen sharks in the wild. While we did expect that to be the case to an extent, we were surprised by just how little fear was expressed by the youngest children and it is clear that as children grow up, the media they encounter – and no doubt warnings from parents and others – has a huge impact on how they view sharks. We are in essence bringing up another ‘Jaws generation’. 

  1. How many people have you delivered your message to?

While we’ve had to guesstimate numbers at our larger events, our current figure stands at approximately 6500 people across 78 events. We have also raised close to £8000 so far!

  1. What do you believe are the top 3 misconceptions people have about sharks?

I think the most common ‘I had no idea sharks…’ comment we’ve received from our talks has been about how calm and characterful they are.

Close in line would be beliefs around shark attacks and how they’re out to get us when really all they do is ignore us or occasionally come close to see what we are.

Finally, a common misconception is linking old to stupid. Sharks have been around for hundreds of millions of years and many people equate old to primitive, and that to stupidity. They tend to believe that sharks are essentially tubes with teeth, governed by their sense of smell and will eat anything they can get hold of. The reality is that they have considerable intelligence and often surprise with their adaptability.

  1. What advice would you give to the Dive professionals to assist in changing the publics opinion of sharks?

Share stories. We’ve found that the best way to engage people’s interest is by describing our encounters with sharks. Not only does this educate and correct the misconceptions listed above, but it’s the stories that people will remember. I would also hope that any business fortunate enough to operate where sharks are common, uses them as a draw not for ‘high adrenaline, scary shark encounters’, but promotes the grace, calm and beauty of these animals and takes the chance to educate their clients as to the true nature of sharks. It’s these people sharing their experiences with their friends who will spread the message still further. 

  1. Would you do it again?

No. The experience has been incredible but also very tough. If we were taken back to where we were just over a year ago knowing how we feel about it, we would definitely do it all again due to the huge amounts we’ve learned both about ourselves and new skills, but we won’t be doing a second World Tour.

  1. Where to next?

Once the tour is complete Friends for Sharks will likely go in to hibernation for a short while. We’re moving from the UK to New Zealand and have to find jobs and set up new lives. Once we’re settled though we aim to continue the shark work with schools and similar in our local area. We’d also like to develop some trips combining shark diving with evening lectures so if you might be interested in joining us for those in the future, join our newsletter and social media to keep up to date!

If you would like to donate to their cause or get involved in any conservation events there are always many things we as divers can do, simply check out Project Aware or contact your Regional Manager or local Dive Centre to find out how.

Finathon Team has their very own Great White Shark named in their honour!

Team TomahawkDown in the South Island of New Zealand are a group of enthusiastic PADI Dive Instructors with a huge passion for sharks. Every year they get on board and promote awareness and raise money for their protection and conservation as part of Dive Otago Ltd’s annual Project Aware Finathon. Their Finathon team name is Team Tomahawk.

Having recently spent a day diving with majestic Great White Sharks, the team were even more in awe of these creatures and began a campaign in the build up to their Finathon to spread the love of these animals to anyone who would listen.

Using their creative side the team made a series of hilarious short videos to enlighten folk as well as educating people about shark statistics and facts. They also spoke with various groups to educate them on the plight of sharks both in New Zealand and globally.

OW Students get Shark Awareness info

I recently asked Chris Zinsli (PADI Staff Instructor and one might say the driving force behind Team Tomahawk) for a brief history of how there came to be a Great White Shark now named Tomahawk. Here is what he said:

“Team Tomahawk is no stranger to Project AWARE’s Finathon, & has been participating since the ideas inception in 2013. This was the third event for myself and the lads, & we completed our challenges after raising over $800 U.S dollars at the end of a legendary fun filled campaign to help the sharks of the world. As promised we completed a one minute breath hold for every $10 raised and clocked up some personal best breath hold times in the event as follows . Chris 3:33 . Bernie 3:12 . Levi 3:08 .

We’ve achieved so much this year in terms of raising awareness for the plight of sharks in our small town of Dunedin, New Zealand … a town that still has a sense of anxiety regarding sharks given its large surfer population & even an ancient shark warning bell at one of our more popular beaches that was installed in the 1970’s after a series of shark sightings, when shark hysteria had peaked in the post “Jaws” years.

Educating Scouts on the plight of sharks

Our videos have given countless people a good laugh but with a solid environmental message (even though some lurk the fringe of sanity and sensibility), we have also shown sensible conversational movies such as Rob Stewarts “Sharkwater” to all our friends and family.
Team Tomahawk has been in the local paper, been interviewed on the local TV channels, made scientist and tv documentarian Riley Elliot laugh at our ridiculous “AWAREness” videos and also got some great news from the shark gurus (Warrick Lyon and Malcolm Francis) from NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere) about NZ shark statistics based on their studies, which turned out to not be the fire and brimstone reports the rest of the world’s shark populations are facing.

I would say our a crowning achievement was not the video where a lonely shark ends up dating a gorilla, but an even more special outcome for our efforts. We provided a lot of raw images and videos of Great White Sharks from the deep south of New Zealand to NIWA in the hope to help them with their research, and only asked one thing in return… If there was an unidentified shark within the footage, could it be called “Tomahawk” in recognition of the work we were trying to do in raising awareness for these amazing creatures.

Instructor Chris dressed as a shark

NIWA passed the footage and my request on to lead White Shark expert Clinton Duffy from the Department of Conservation who is in charge of cataloguing these amazing Apex predators. As fate would have it, Clinton contacted me mere hours before the Finathon to confirm that we had witnessed 10 individual Great Whites the day we spent with them. He also informed me that there was one mature male, an estimated 3.7m long who was unidentified, and had been given the alphanumeric code STWI-1435 … and was now officially named “Tomahawk”. Epic!  

Pictured here is Tomahawk. A permanent legacy of our Finathon campaign, and hopefully the start of an idea that a small group of individuals can make a difference that can benefit the oceans. Team Tomahawk has proven that no idea to help the oceans is a silly idea… and trust me.. we’ve still got plenty of silly ideas to convey our message to help our majestic ocean comrades. Watch this space :)”

Great White Shark Tomahawk

I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks Chris Zinsli, Bernard Lloyd and Levi Healey for their hard work and dedication to educating the public about why we should protect sharks and look forward to the next ‘silly’ idea from the team in the far south. Well done Team Tomahawk and Dive Otago!

If you would like to donate the team you can do so by visiting either of the pages below: or