Barry and his big blue backyard

'Just an ordinary bloke'.

'Just an ordinary bloke'.

BARRY AND MARLAINE: Retired fisherman Barry Welsh with one of two loves of his life, his pleasure craft Marlaine. Picture by Mark Peters



“I’m just an ordinary bloke,” said retired fisherman and former rodeo ace Barry Welsh when asked if he would be up for a profile. “Why me?” The truth is, his first cousin once removed recommended him. “He and his brothers and sister grew up on a raw bush block in the Waitakere Ranges where they had horses and made their living clearing their land of scrub for firewood,” said the cousin in an email. “I think Barry was a bit of a rodeo star.” Reporter Mark Peters finds this a fine place to start.

The biggest part of my life has been fishing,” says Okitu resident Barry Welsh.

So we’ll start with his most recent boat, a 16.3 metre Skagen-designed launch built in Slovenia and bought from a seller in the south of France.

The boat was called Marline but New Zealand maritime authorities required a name change. Barry wanted to call the boat Marlene after the German singer/actor Marlene Dietrich who, along with Vera Lynn made the love song Lili Marlene popular during World War 2. So Barry called his pleasure boat Marlaine instead.

Barry was brought up on a small farm in West Auckland’s Waitakeres. Kauri trees grew all over the property. The family home stared into the bush but it also afforded views across Auckland, the Waitakere Ranges and Waitemata Harbour across to the extinct island volcano, Rangitoto.

A bounty was placed on possums, so as a boy Barry trapped the pest. A dried hide made up of ears and a strip from down the back of the possum was worth half a crown (two shillings and sixpence). Eight possum skins earned the young trapper one pound.

“That was a lot of money in those days. But even as a 12-year-old, you were taxed two bob (two shillings) in the pound.”

The family owned horses and Barry was 13 years old when he first broke in a horse.
“You get to know stock. Horses pick up the vibes all right.”

At 15 years old, he got into rodeo riding. He left home the following year and worked for a horse dealer.

The job was a natural fit. His job with the horse dealer involved catching wild horses and breaking them in.
“We’d get wild horses in the bush,” says Barry.
“We put snares above their tracks and herded them along the track. We had big horses that were fit and strong so we’d get on either side of the horse we’d caught, get a halter on it, tie the halter to a tree and wait for it to quieten down. It didn’t take long.”

When the two men had half a dozen horses tied up they would tie a rope to each horse’s tail and tie the other end of the rope to the halter of the horse behind.

“It was surprising. You’d think horses that never had hands on them would be wild as anything. But it didn’t take long for them to quieten down.”

As a young fullah, he didn’t mind climbing onto a wild horse, he says. He had already been involved with rodeo.
“I loved it. I’ve had plenty of bounces but I’ve never broken a bone.”

He competed in national events and between bounces “won plenty of ribbons”.

Barry joined the horse dealer on a trip to the East Coast to trade with Maori. Barry also remembers herding 80 horses along the road to Taneatua then putting them on a train to be taken to Auckland.

When a mate offered him a job breaking in horses and rodeo riding, Barry parted company with horse dealer and he and his mate went freelance.
“We jumped into his Model A truck with our gear — saddles, ropes and sugar-bags full of our clothes.
“We slept on the back of the truck on the side of the road. We spent a year breaking in horses.”

Because the men shod the horses they had broken in, Barry used this experience to work as a farrier.
“That was my livelihood for the next 10 years.”

He was 21 when he and Emily married in 1967. The couple had a home built in Makaraka and lived there opposite the showgrounds for 30 years.

In 1996, they had a house built at Okitu where they have lived since.

The couple had three sons, two of whom, Cody and Kelly, also became qualified inshore commercial skippers for Welsh Farriers Ltd. After losing their five-month-old son Stephen, Barry and Emily had the fishing vessel Stephen John built in his memory.

Barry had begun his commercial fishing career in 1973.

“I got my crayfishing licence, had a boat built and went crayfishing. I thought ‘crikey, this is easier than shoeing horses’.”

Four years later he had a bigger boat built.
“I enjoyed fishing so much I never had trouble getting out of bed. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You have to be a hunter.”

In 1994, he had another boat built with more capacity to hold his catch, then built yet another boat in 2003.
He continued commercial fishing until he retired six years ago.

Last year the former fisherman flew to France with a couple of friends to buy a second pleasure boat that he renamed Marlaine. This will be the last one, he says.
“It has everything I want.”

These days, Barry spends most of his time whittling and crafting wood items. Most of these taonga are auctioned for local and national charities.

His most treasured past-time though is recreational fishing with his Dad’s Army Boat Band of 20-25 stalwarts who cast their lines into “our big blue backyard”.



“I’m just an ordinary bloke,” said retired fisherman and former rodeo ace Barry Welsh when asked if he would be up for a profile. “Why me?” The truth is, his first cousin once removed recommended him. “He and his brothers and sister grew up on a raw bush block in the Waitakere Ranges where they had horses and made their living clearing their land of scrub for firewood,” said the cousin in an email. “I think Barry was a bit of a rodeo star.” Reporter Mark Peters finds this a fine place to start.

The biggest part of my life has been fishing,” says Okitu resident Barry Welsh.

So we’ll start with his most recent boat, a 16.3 metre Skagen-designed launch built in Slovenia and bought from a seller in the south of France.

The boat was called Marline but New Zealand maritime authorities required a name change. Barry wanted to call the boat Marlene after the German singer/actor Marlene Dietrich who, along with Vera Lynn made the love song Lili Marlene popular during World War 2. So Barry called his pleasure boat Marlaine instead.

Barry was brought up on a small farm in West Auckland’s Waitakeres. Kauri trees grew all over the property. The family home stared into the bush but it also afforded views across Auckland, the Waitakere Ranges and Waitemata Harbour across to the extinct island volcano, Rangitoto.

A bounty was placed on possums, so as a boy Barry trapped the pest. A dried hide made up of ears and a strip from down the back of the possum was worth half a crown (two shillings and sixpence). Eight possum skins earned the young trapper one pound.

“That was a lot of money in those days. But even as a 12-year-old, you were taxed two bob (two shillings) in the pound.”

The family owned horses and Barry was 13 years old when he first broke in a horse.
“You get to know stock. Horses pick up the vibes all right.”

At 15 years old, he got into rodeo riding. He left home the following year and worked for a horse dealer.

The job was a natural fit. His job with the horse dealer involved catching wild horses and breaking them in.
“We’d get wild horses in the bush,” says Barry.
“We put snares above their tracks and herded them along the track. We had big horses that were fit and strong so we’d get on either side of the horse we’d caught, get a halter on it, tie the halter to a tree and wait for it to quieten down. It didn’t take long.”

When the two men had half a dozen horses tied up they would tie a rope to each horse’s tail and tie the other end of the rope to the halter of the horse behind.

“It was surprising. You’d think horses that never had hands on them would be wild as anything. But it didn’t take long for them to quieten down.”

As a young fullah, he didn’t mind climbing onto a wild horse, he says. He had already been involved with rodeo.
“I loved it. I’ve had plenty of bounces but I’ve never broken a bone.”

He competed in national events and between bounces “won plenty of ribbons”.

Barry joined the horse dealer on a trip to the East Coast to trade with Maori. Barry also remembers herding 80 horses along the road to Taneatua then putting them on a train to be taken to Auckland.

When a mate offered him a job breaking in horses and rodeo riding, Barry parted company with horse dealer and he and his mate went freelance.
“We jumped into his Model A truck with our gear — saddles, ropes and sugar-bags full of our clothes.
“We slept on the back of the truck on the side of the road. We spent a year breaking in horses.”

Because the men shod the horses they had broken in, Barry used this experience to work as a farrier.
“That was my livelihood for the next 10 years.”

He was 21 when he and Emily married in 1967. The couple had a home built in Makaraka and lived there opposite the showgrounds for 30 years.

In 1996, they had a house built at Okitu where they have lived since.

The couple had three sons, two of whom, Cody and Kelly, also became qualified inshore commercial skippers for Welsh Farriers Ltd. After losing their five-month-old son Stephen, Barry and Emily had the fishing vessel Stephen John built in his memory.

Barry had begun his commercial fishing career in 1973.

“I got my crayfishing licence, had a boat built and went crayfishing. I thought ‘crikey, this is easier than shoeing horses’.”

Four years later he had a bigger boat built.
“I enjoyed fishing so much I never had trouble getting out of bed. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You have to be a hunter.”

In 1994, he had another boat built with more capacity to hold his catch, then built yet another boat in 2003.
He continued commercial fishing until he retired six years ago.

Last year the former fisherman flew to France with a couple of friends to buy a second pleasure boat that he renamed Marlaine. This will be the last one, he says.
“It has everything I want.”

These days, Barry spends most of his time whittling and crafting wood items. Most of these taonga are auctioned for local and national charities.

His most treasured past-time though is recreational fishing with his Dad’s Army Boat Band of 20-25 stalwarts who cast their lines into “our big blue backyard”.

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