An Amazing Old Movie
A good Kiwi friend of mine, John Burland, lives in Germany and sent me the link to todays story. John was mooching around the web and found reference to my wife’s uncle – Jock Bleakley. Jock appears in this 1950 b/w film (from the New Zealand National Film Unit) titled ‘Rock Bottom At Waikaremoana’ that tells the story of a group of divers that sealed leaks in the lake bed. At the time approx 50% of the water capacity was being lost before it could be used in the hydro-electric dam / generator.
A team of ‘special’ divers with explosive skills that had learnt their skills in WWII (use your imagination) were contracted to fix the problem, which they did, and were rewarded very well. Great footage also of the special diving helmet designed to film the exercise. It was a high risk operation – one worker fell into a hooper > into lake and was never found.
Photo below shows Jock, aged 29 at the time, and wife Querida aboard Jock’s launch at Kaitawa on the shores of Lake Waikaremoana. The photo comes to us from Maurice Alan Quinn’s fb page. Maurice was 9 years old at the time the film was made. The caption for the photo reads – pictured (from left) Angela Quin (Maurice’s sister), John Quinn (brother), Querida Bleakley, Jock Bleakley and stand Maurice’s father – Charley Quinn. The child kneeling in the front is Maurice. Maurice’s mother, Caroline Quinn took the photo. The Quinn’s were good friends of the Bleakleys. Amazingly Querida is still alive today, I attended a significant birthday party 2 months ago.
13-02-2021 UPDATE: Just spoke to Jock Bleakley’s son Warwick who told me the launch was named – Wanderer, and Jock had raised her from the bottom of the lake, her owner was so grateful to have her back, he gave Jock and Querida unlimited use of the boat. Another snippet – Jock also found a very old Maori Waka (canoe) that had been buried with a chieftain inside – at some stage over time the Waka had broken free from its earth grave as the result of an earthquake and ultimately came to rest on the bottom of newly formed lake. The local tribe transported the Waka to higher ground and reburied it. The Bleakley’s were invited to the ceremony – a very rare occurrence for non Maori’s at the time.