Wellington Warden’s 2009 Report

Captain Ron Palmer’s Report to Wellington AGM 13 May 2009 


During the past year the regular monthly meetings have had a variety of speakers providing interesting topics. The Bay Plaza Hotel has remained as the meeting headquarters and its central location with free parking facilities makes it an attractive venue.



A steady number of members attended the regular monthly meetings held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. However, there is room for improvement and those members who do not or cannot attend miss out on some very good speakers with interesting and at time controversial topics. Obviously maritime topics create much interest and in particular the direction that modern thinking is taking the industry with respect to the requirements and qualifications required for deck officer certification, one topic that created some concern among members.


It is easy for those with influence and authority responsible for introducing new policy requirements for seafarers and qualifications for deck officers to write off the views of members of the NZ Company of Master Mariners as being retired ex seagoing dinosaurs living in a past era. Nonetheless to argue that a person can join a Cook Strait ferry as a Cadet and eventually obtain a Foreign Going Masters certificate without leaving the confines of Cook Strait and the ferries that the end product will be an experienced sailor, deck officer and a competent ships master, gives cause for concern.



It is not advocated that foreign going sea service be a prerequisite for obtaining foreign going certificates. Surely a system could be developed where a cadet who joins the Cook Strait ferries must do a certain amount of time on other NZ merchant vessels such as LPG and octane tankers, bulk cement vessels, container vessels and break bulk vessels. (one has a regularly run to the Chatham Islands). Tug and barge should also be included. Such experience would help to produce a well rounded and competent mariner.



Those suggestions will be considered by the boffins as the utterances of a mariner from the dinosaur era not an ex mariner albeit as current experience confirms that there is a significant drop in the standard of seamanship of modern day seafarers. Regardless there is currently consideration by people in influential positions to allow six months sea service as sufficient time for a person to sit for a Second Mates Foreign Going certificate.


Regretfully the NZ Merchant Marine has been in decline for many years and the prospects of its merchant fleet increasing in the future are not good. Obviously the long term future for the NZ Company of Master Mariners is not encouraging and no doubt the day will come when it will fade away completely and may become only a memory in New Zealand’s maritime history. Time can be extended if those master mariners who seem reluctant to participate in the Company do so and encourage fellow master mariners to become members and attend the monthly meetings. 


The total number of members is 73. This is a decrease of 2 from the membership last year. The membership comprise of 28 Full members; 23 Retired 11 Country; 3 Life; 3 Honorary; 5 Friends.

New members who joined during the year were Nick Campbell, a country member, and 2 friends, namely Howard Lange and Peter Cagney.

One possible resignation is Captain Eric Irons who has shifted to Australia.



Regretfully it is reported that 3 members passed away during the year. They were; A past Harbour Master of Wellington and an Officer of the Barque “Pamir” Captain Alan Jenkins; An ex Master in Shaw Savill and well known in shipping circles, Captain John Sayers; A well known friend of the Company and also an ex “Pamir” crew and Cape Horner, Murray Henderson.



A matter worthy of note was that Captain Peter Attwood, representing the Merchant Navy, laid a wreath at the Hall of Memories on Armistice Day. Also we again joined forces with the “Durham” Association in hosting the “Otaki” scholar in August. In November ladies night was held at the Bay Plaza. This is developing into a very enjoyable social event and the number of members and their wives/partners who remain for dinner afterwards is growing. Again members from Waikanae and one from Taupo took advantage of the Bay Plaza and stayed overnight.


The Committee has functioned well during the year and has been helpful in its deliberations and assistance towards the smooth running of the Company. Special thanks must go the Honorary Secretary, Captain Graham Williams who carries out the major tasks of organising the monthly meetings and more importantly the speakers for those meetings. The Treasurer, Captain Cor Van Kesteren also does a diligent job and takes good care of the financial side of the Company. The Auditor, Ross Seaton continues to be an asset and least but not last Captain Warwick Thomson, compiler and editor of our Branch Newsletter. Warwick does a very professional job of editing our Wellington Branch Maritime Notes. He has relinquished the editorship of “On Deck”, the reinstated annual publication of the New Zealand Company, and a replacement is now being sought.


Finally it is mentioned that Captain Brown, Master of the NZ Company intends to stand down at the August AGM of the NZ Company. Also the General Secretary, Captain Ken Watt is standing down. Both have held these positions for 5 years and have done a very efficient and diligent job in promoting the NZ Company of Master Mariners whenever possible. The Wellington Branch extends its gratitude to both of these members.



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