What is the “Squax” Squires Award?

On the 7th March 2000, Richard “Squax” Squires, a well-loved and respected fisherman from Te Anau, lost his life on the notorious Greymouth River bar. Both he and his crewman Roy Connor, 26, of Nelson, died when their fishing boat Koromiko was rolled over by a wave and swamped while attempting to cross the bar.

The vessel washed ashore and was declared a total loss and the Squires family offered it to Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology’s School of Fisheries. However, after experts had decided the boat was beyond repair, it was sold and the proceeds put into a scholarship fund. It was decided that the interest from this fund would be used to pay for an annual “Squax” Squires Memorial Award which would 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 students vote for the winner and the result is usually unanimous.

These students have generally advanced through the fishing industry from the bottom up, starting as deck hands and gaining experience before coming to NMIT to study on the 34-week block` course after which they emerge as Fishing Vessel Mates (Unlimited), valued members of the fishing fleet and holders of a highly sought-after industry qualification.

A suitable prize is engraved and presented to the winner and their name is engraved on a plaque which is fixed to the shield containing the names of previous winners.

This year’s winner (and twentieth mate to win the award) is Leon White from Australian Longline Fishing.