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Kelly Tarlton

Local Biography
by

Alyssandra Lim-Yip

on 18 April 2013

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Transcript of Kelly Tarlton

Kelly Tarlton Birth name: Kelvin Tarlton
Date of Birth: 31 October 1937
Place of Birth: Dargaville
Died: 1985 (age 47) What makes this person special or interesting? He spent a significant amount of his life diving down to shipwrecks and recovering artefacts before he built -what he's most famous for - Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World.
At age 15, he started working at a telephone company, learning to repair electronics.
He once became trapped on Mount Aspiring for a week and survived by digging as ice cave.
He once became stranded on a tropical island and had to live on rice and sea snakes as well as enduring a cyclone while he was there. What kind of effect did he have on the world? Other people? He set up a museum of shipwrecks on Tui and filled it up with treasures and historical artefacts from his diving excursions. Tourists and locals visited it and learned about their history and where they came from.
He also built Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World to educate kids and adults about marine life and for them to see and experience and see underwater life like he did. What are the adjectives you would most use to describe this person and what examples from their life illustrate those qualities? Hard working- He worked 8 hours a day, 7 days a week diving into shipwrecks.
Self-motivated- Kelly taught himself how to dive and then dived with the Canterbury Underwater Club.
Innovative-He built several of his own underwater housing for his cameras. He designed and created a great amount of the equipment in his Underwater World. His Aquarium was made out of an old sewage holding tank. What events shaped or changed his life? Did he overcome obstacles? Take risks? Get lucky? He set the New Zealand free-diving record in 1962 at 34.7m in one breath.
He saw a Jaques Costeau movie that inspired him to get into diving at age 18.
While on diving trips, he would catch sea creatures and place them in a small aquarium. He dreamed to one day create his own life-size aquarium.

He was fortunate to buy a mast and rigging from a wrecked ship to improve the outside of the museum on Tui. He did not know how to attach the masts and rigging but by a stroke of luck, a master boat-builder: Ian Barrett (originally from England) supervised the whole rigging of the museum.
He discovered over 3000 pieces of jewellery and tracked down the rightful owner, fortunately for him, she had no interest in them, so he displayed them on the Tui. Would the world be better or worse if he hadn't lived? How and Why? I think the world would be worse if Kelly Tarlton hadn't lived in this world. Kelly provided New Zealand with the most greatest Sea life aquarium in the world. He gave his life to create one of the most amazing wonders in New Zealand. Timeline: 1937 Kelly Tarlton was born in Dargaville on the 31st of October 1962 Kelly sets New Zealand free-dive record at age 25 1967-1969 Finds treasure on Elingamite at age 30 1970 Sets up Museum on Shipwrecks on Tui at age 33 1974-1976 Finds Rothschild jewels in Tasmania at age 37 1985 Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World opens at age 48 1985 Kelly Tarlton died at the age of 47 Trophy board NZ free dive records x2
NZ champion spear fisherman
Won the Monso Sommerso magazine photography contest
'Sara Bronze STar' underwater colour photography awards
Premio Maurizia Sarra Italian Photography Award NZ Tourism Award for Museum of Shipwrecks
British Tourism Award for Best New Attraction Worldwide
NZ Tourism Award 1996 Best Visitor Attraction
British Tourism Award "We thought how wonderful it would be if the public could experience the thing we were experiencing when diving."
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