Last of the Whalers: Charlie Heberley's Story - Heather Heberley

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 Charlie Heberley was the last of that band of rugged NZ men who went out to sea in search of whales. Ironically, in the years before his death in 2000 Charlie became a passionate conservationist, critical of those nations that insisted on continued whaling. This story is, however, built around the final whaling ventures in NZ, with Charlie working from stations in the Tory Channel and on Great Barrier Island. The Heberley family had an affinity with the sea, so it was probably inevitable that Charlie would continue the association. He first became active in the whaling trade in 1941, on-shore at the new station of the Perano family in Tory Channel, By 1943 he had become one of the gunners, taking over on the chaser Awatea from a predecessor killed when the harpoon gun breech exploded. These Marlborough Sounds whalers operated from small, fast motorboats capable of 30mph on 300/400 hp motors. The catchers were supported by the mothership Tuatea. By the 1950s whales were becoming scarce in Tory Channel waters and as the catch decreased so did Charlie's income. The book is redolent with, in addition to great whaling stories and anecdotes, Marlborough Sounds history, its personalities, the life style of people living largely in isolation, with farming and its associated activities, plus fishing, to provide employment between whaling seasons. In the late 1950s Charlie was invited to manage a new whaling station established by an Australian company on Great Barrier Island, in the Hauraki Gulf. So in 1959 Charlie and family moved north. It was Charlie's expertise in operating fast motor boat catchers that impressed the directiors of Barrier Whalers and in the first year of operations (1960) 104 whales were taken, but the whaling revival was to be short-lived and the Great Barrier station was closed in 1963 and the last NZ whaling station, the Perano's in Tory Channel, followed in 1964. By then Charlie and close family were back in the Sounds where he died in 2000, a man who had once hunted whales and in later life championed the cause of whale protection and conservation. Heather Heberley, Charlie's daughter-in-law, has provided a fascinating story, recalling the last days of NZ whaling.

Published in 2002 by Cape Catley. 

Condition: very good. This book has been withdrawn from a library. Paperback.