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Meet Jason Ruawai


Commercial Pāua Fisherman/Electrician

Job description: 

Dive for paua within the Pau3 Quota Management Area.

Work background: 

Dad was a fisherman/diver. I became a Marine Engineer after school, worked on large container ships, gas and oil tankers and factory fishing vessels. Tired of spending my time away I moved home took over the diving operation whilst doing an adult apprenticeship as an electrician.

Favourite part of job: 

Hard to pick, maybe the adventure side of the diving. Finding good populations of paua in new areas. I’ve been diving on and off since I was 16, so about 22 years, run the business for 10 years now. I still can’t say that I’ve totally explored all the available dive area. Now the Kaikoura area is unchartered, when the closure is lifted it will be so exciting to dive it again. Really looking forward to that time.

Least favourite part of job: 

Winter diving is tough. Getting changed in the frost and diving the day with numb fingers and toes.

What I am working on now: 

Plenty. Lots of research diving in Kaikoura. Doing reseeding projects with community stakeholders.

A quick story about a job well done: 

The Kaikoura high school have run an interesting syllabus this year based on the paua resource. The course was for year 9 and 10 students and covered topics from paua lifecycle – anatomy/dissection – habitat – effects of the earthquake – enhancement/reseeding – even cooking.

We have been working with the school providing teaching aid material and resources. It has been a real success.

Interests outside work: 
  • White water kayaking with Kate
  • Diving
  • fishing
  • hunting
  • biking
  • camping with the kids
  • Hobby farming – Cattle and sheep
  • Wood cutting
  • Cricket

Jason Ruawai is a commercial paua fisherman/electrician and part of Te Korowai. Image: LEARNZ.