Vivid Publishing - Book Publishers Australia

Once Upon a Time,
When We Were Kings

Barry Russ

The history of the West Coast fishing industry
1886 to 2020

As the gold rushes of the 1860s petered out on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, prospectors diversified into primary industries such as coal, timber, farming, and fishing.

This book documents the history of the fishing industry through the fishermen’s own eyes and photographs recording their joy, hardship, and tragedy, fishing the most treacherous coastline in New Zealand.

Beginning in 1868, hand lining out of river mouths, to trawling in 1907, crayfishing 1948, albacore trolling in 1973, deepwater longlining 1976, deepwater trawling 1976 and bluefin tuna 1980.

All these fisheries are documented within these pages. Included are the personal profiles of over 85 prominent people within the West Coast fishing industry from 1905.

Click here to visit the official 'Once Upon a Time, When We Were Kings' website for more information and how to purchase:



About the Author


Barry Russ was born in Greymouth and spent his early years in Cameron’s, 6 miles south of Greymouth out on the farm. By the time he was eight (1962) his father, who was a logging contractor, had moved the family to Blaketown where he bought the house a 12 Reid Street for the princely sum of £3000. This move coincided with the major harbour board works in the Blaketown lagoon which culminated in the new fishermen’s wharf being built in 1967. Every boy in Blaketown walked that wharf at some time and many were destined to fish on one of the fishing boats moored there. Barry was one of these unfortunates. There was one block in Blaketown between Robinson Street and Collins Street, less than half a square mile, that must have produced near a hundred fishermen alone up to 2020
After completing an apprenticeship at New Zealand railways in 1974, he followed many of his neighbours and some relatives onto the fishing boats, starting with Albert Kroening on the Canopus, doing 6 months in South Westland crayfishing. Over the next 4 years he done lining, tuna fishing and trawling on various local boats as a deck hand until purchasing the Corolu from Huey Nash.
Fishing took him to Adelaide Australia in 1986, trawling from the Great Australian Bight then further North into the Timor Sea. He also did a 4-year stint as a lecturer in an Australian maritime college. After 20 years in the fishing game, he went to the Americas as a marine engineer working from Brazil to Alaska, returning to Australia in 2004 as a Chief Engineer on offshore oil construction vessels. Since retiring in 2014 he has pursued several interests including a 2 ½ year 10600nm solo circumnavigation of Australia and boat deliveries along the Australian Coast. He is still known by his fishing’ nick name’, The ’Cookie Monster’ and remains a well-known identity amongst all the fishermen on the coast.



ISBN: 978-1-922788931
Format: Hardcover
Extent: 432 pages Full Colour
Publisher: Vivid Publishing
Category: Fishing Industry -- New Zealand