The “Squax” Squires Memorial award is named after the late Peter Richard “Squax” Squires, a skipper from Te Anau who lost his life on the notorious Greymouth Bar in 2000.
Crewman Roy Connor, 26, of Nelson, also drowned when their fishing boat Koromiko was rolled over by a wave and swamped while attempting to cross the bar.
The Koromiko was washed ashore and Squires’ family donated it to the NMIT New Zealand School of Fisheries, now called the International Maritime Institute of New Zealand.
However after experts assessed the boat as being beyond repair, it was sold and the proceeds were put into a scholarship fund.
It was decided that the interest from the fund would be used to establish the annual “Squax” Squires Memorial Award, to be given to the most deserving student on the Mate Fishing Vessel Unlimited course.
At the end of each course a session is set aside where the students and their tutor discuss the qualities of a good ship’s mate and who among them exemplifies those qualities.
“The award recognises the individual’s hard work while on the course and the respect of his colleagues,” says course tutor Phil Pinniger.
“The students vote for the winner and the result is usually unanimous.”
A mounted barometer and ship’s clock is purchased and suitably engraved, a lasting award for a hard-working student in a challenging course of study.
This year the winner, and 17th mate to receive the award is 28 year old Petar Buovac from Talley’s Fisheries. Peter sails as a second mate on the purse seine Captain M J Souza.
Students on the Mate Fishing Vessel Unlimited course have been through the fishing industry from the bottom up, starting as deckhands and typically working for at least 10 years before coming to NMIT.
On completion of the 23-week intensive course, graduates emerge as Mates, valued members of the fishing fleet and holders of a highly sought after industry qualification.
After 12 months at sea, graduates can apply to complete the Skipper Fishing Vessel Unlimited qualification and take their career to the next level. This qualification allows the holder to captain any fishing vessel of any size, anywhere in the world.
For more information about NMIT's Maritime programmes.