Can you help keep Patriotrealm on line?



User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

Back in December 2019, White Island erupted. My heart reached out to those who were caught up in that very frightening and dangerous situation.  

A place that used to be known for tourists taking selfies and the harvesting of sulfur suddenly gained worldwide attention as a scene of horror and terrible suffering. 

Tomorrow. we will have an article about that terrible day.  But for now, I would like to share my memories of the time my parents, Redhead and my late Dad, went fishing. Off White Island. 

It might be a family failing that we always try and see the good in bad situations but that is the way we are. For me, just because a place is now remembered as the home of tragedy, I cannot help but remember when it was a place where my Dad could have ruined a perfectly good fishing trip. 

I remember when, nearly 50 years ago in about 1975,  my parents went fishing off White Island with my Uncle – my Mum’s brother.

Now, in its own right, this sounds like a very strange thing to remember.  Unless you knew what happened on that fateful fishing trip and what led my Dad to being " invited " to spend the afternoon on this volcanic Island, about 50 km off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand, on the beach, basking in the pleasures that only an afternoon on White Island could bring.


You see, Dad had an attack of kidney stones while out fishing. It was agreed by two of the three people on board that it was most inconsiderate of him to choose this day of all days to deliberately pass a few kidney stones. After all, the trip had been planned for some time and was being eagerly anticipated by the three keen fishermen concerned.



Some people can be so inconsiderate. Surely he could have waited?

A few hours into the trip, the lurgy struck and Dad was buckled over in agony and this was obviously not what was part of the enjoyable day out.

What to do? There were only two alternatives, I am told by my Mum:

to keep him on board or to put him ashore. The prospect of heading back to Whakatane simply didn’t enter their minds…. Any keen fisherman would know that!


As the moaning and groaning increased in volume and severity, the decision became easier to make.

Dump him on White Island and at least enjoy what was left of the day, or put up with his howls and his pain ravaged face????

The only humane thing to do was pop him ashore, in the surf,  let him have the dignity of moaning in private and pick him up later.


It must have been a trifle difficult for him to wade ashore – given that he found it hard to stand upright – but Dad was always a resilient sort of fellow and would no doubt stay vertical long enough to make landfall before having to revert to the horizontal 4 legged position – so it was that Dad was left on White Island for the afternoon and would no doubt be very relieved not to have ruined their day’s fishing with his constant bleating and moaning. …. Not least because my Dad couldn’t swim….

Any keen fisherman would agree that it is very bad form to do anything to wreck a day on the boat and so it was that my Mum and her brother enjoyed the afternoon, happy in the knowledge that they had made the right decision.

As the afternoon came to a close and evening was upon them, they returned to White Island and my father waded out to the boat and managed to clamber on board – much like a woman in labour would climb a mountain to get a shot of painkillers.


His ability to get onto the boat was astounding: there are rumours that he was saying “ don’t leave me here... give me drugs.... get me to hospital...  “ but whether or not that was true or he said “ Thanks chaps! I knew I could count on you. Now. tell me, how many fish did you get? “ no one can remember. Though Mum assures me it was the latter. 

As they headed back to Whakatane, they told my father what a shame it was that he had “ not been up to it “ and had wasted the afternoon simply enjoying the tranquillity of a deserted beach – what a shame he hadn’t had a good book.

To all of you fishermen out there I am sure that you will agree with my Mum and my Uncle that a good day’s fishing is something that should never be interrupted.

From anyone who has suffered kidney pain, I can think of nothing worse than an afternoon on White Island, alone, on a beach…………… without a book.


Yep, I think a book would have made all the difference.

Now Dad, on the other hand, might think very differently.

 Footnote: The person in this article was dropped off at the hospital in Whakatane and the woman and brother in law enjoyed a very pleasant fish dinner.

Tomorrow's article is about a day, nearly 50 years later, when the outcome was vastly different and far more tragic. This piece is not intended to trivialise the horror that occurred on 9th of December 2019, but to serve as a reminder that,being in the same place at a different time can have such an impact on what the true meaning of " wrong place, wrong time " really means. . 


Donate to keep us online

Please donate to 

Swiftcode METWAU4B

BSB 484799



Reference PR

Please email me so I can thank you.

Responsive Grid for Articles patriotrealm
Clear filters