Now this really is a fish

Paihia has a new tourist attraction.
Paihia has a new tourist attraction.

Gore has a leaping trout, Ohakune its giant carrot, Taihape a gumboot. And now Paihia has joined the list, thanks to the Fuller family, who have donated a life-size leaping marlin to the town.

The four-metre marlin was unveiled on Saturday by donors Snooks and Lola Fuller, on a new section of wharf built especially for the cast bronze sculpture.

Mr Fuller, a grandson of Albert Fuller, who started the family marine transport business in 1886, and his wife had been looking for a way of giving something back to the Bay of Islands community for several years.

They eventually settled on a marlin statue, which they believed would enhance the wharf, be a popular subject for photos, and pay homage to the Bay of Islands' beginnings as a tourist Mecca.

The Bay's first tourism boom was sparked by American writer and fisherman Zane Grey, who in 1926 described it as an "Angler's Eldorado," boasting the world's biggest striped marlins.

The couple met with Focus Paihia in 2015 to discuss the project. A survey followed to ensure it had the town's support.

The Fullers were keen for the statue to be as life-like as possible, but that proved more complicated than they anticipated.

They enlisted the help of daughter Sam Fuller and her partner Pieter, who decided the best way to get the proportions right was to arrange a 3D scan of a mounted striped marlin on display at the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club.

They eventually found a company, Axia Design, in Napier, which was intrigued by the project and the technical challenged it posed.

Once the marlin had been scanned the digital model was manipulated to give the fish a jumping posture, and a full-size model was made in tooling board using a computer-controlled cutter.

The model was used to make a mould, and the statue was cast in sections from molten bronze. Finally the pieces were welded together and a patina applied to give the bronze its colour, including the marlin's stripes.

Saturday's unveiling was attended by three generations of the Fuller family and more than 100 members of the Bay of Islands community.

Speeches were made by Mr Fuller, his granddaughters, deputy Mayor Tania McInnes, and Grant Harnish, of Focus Paihia, which built the new section of wharf. Refreshments afterwards at the Swordfish Club included (what else?) smoked marlin.

* A plaque on the statue's base records the Fuller family history in the Bay, starting with Albert Fuller's coal deliveries to the islands in 1886. The business expanded into mail deliveries, the famous Cream Trip and a Paihia-Russell car ferry.

* The family sold up in 1967. Fuller's GreatSights Bay of Islands is owned by the InterCity Group.

- Northland Age

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