Port's fishing history given a $20,000 boost

SARAH JARVIS
Last updated 05:00 04/07/2014
Port research grant
LUCKY RECIPIENTS: Ruth Low, left, and Linda Hepburn have been given a $20,000 grant to research and record the contributions of local families to Timaru’s commercial fishing industry.

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The port of Timaru has been home to a thriving fishing industry for many years and now part of its commercial history will be recorded, thanks to a $20,000 New Zealand Oral History Awards grant.

Timaru women Linda Hepburn and Ruth Low will use the grant to fund research and audio interviews with families who over the years have contributed to the industry.

"Like the Odey, Mitchell and Kenton families, and their contribution to the commercial fishing industry, rather than Sanfords," Low said.

The project is for 20 interviews; then each interview will need to be collated.

Hepburn said the original interviews will be kept in the Alexander Turnbull Library with copies in the South Canterbury Museum. The women are working on the research phase of the project, which includes getting up to speed with the fishing industry.

"We know nothing at all about it ... we both get seasick," Low laughed.

The women said issues explored will include operation of boats before and after the quota management system, the Timaru Fishermen's Co-op, the day-to-day working life of the fishermen, boats and boat building, mishaps and adventures.

Hepburn came up with the idea of delving into Timaru's commercial fishing industry after co-writing a book with Low.

The book, on the history of local trucking firm Hilton Haulage, will be launched at the company's 20th anniversary this weekend.

"During our research we realised they moved a lot of fish and that got me thinking about it. I wondered how much had been documented and found there was a bit of a gap," Hepburn said.

With Low's qualification of a Masters in History and Hepburn's background as a radio journalist, the pair said it was the ideal combination.

"A good blend, and journalism and history works well together."

Low said writing the Hilton Haulage book in a six-month period was a big ask but the women "still came out smiling and friends".

It is not the women's first grant from the New Zealand Oral History Awards, having been granted two previously.

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- The Timaru Herald

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