Wade Doak, QSM, was the 2019 recipient of the NZMSS John Morton Medal.
Wade Doak was one of a small group that pioneered the use of SCUBA in New Zealand. He worked tirelessly in the 1960s and 70s to raise awareness for the unique marine biodiversity of the Poor Knights Islands and the need for protection of its underwater environment. Through Wade’s efforts, including getting international recognition, the Poor Knights Marine Reserve was eventually established in the 1970s.
Wade’s work showcasing the Poor Knights Islands’ unique marine biodiversity provided the platform for a tranche of marine scientists to study the marine environment there. His books, “Beneath New Zealand Seas”, published in 1971; and “Fishes of the New Zealand Region (published 1972), were important resources for researchers and students studying fishes at the Poor Knights Islands and elsewhere in Northland, at the time. Many of these researchers and students went on to carry out further research on the marine environment of the Poor Knights and Northland, themselves writing books, publishing scientific papers, and producing reports for government agencies about the marine life in this region.
Over the decades, Wade has championed marine reserves, calling them “wet libraries”.
With his wife Jan, he studied dolphin behavior and communication in Northland, writing books and articles about their findings.
He also spent decades raising awareness of the vital role that mangroves play in our coastal environment, using the mangroves near his home in Matapouri to illustrate their beauty and significance. He was also an accomplished underwater photographer with many of his photographs featuring in books he has authored/co-authored.
Sadly, Wade passed away recently and the NZMSS extends their condolences to Wade’s wife Jan and family.
At Wade’s request, the money for his award went to funding four rangatahi from PARA KORE KI TĀMAKI to attend the Experiencing Marine Reserves