Three wāhine on what diving and spearfishing in Aotearoa gives them.

Moments before slipping into the depths of the Pacific, speargun in hand, Renee Taylor will check her breathing. It should be steady and deep, relaxed to slow her heart rate right down. Rhythmic like the sea. The mind needs to quiet itself before she dives below to spear. Below the water’s surface she’ll search for kelp forests and flickers of fish parties.


It’s been just over a year since Renee (31) first dived with a speargun in tow. With a passion for freediving, learning to spearfish was a natural next step. “I started out by going free diving with mates, but it was always the dudes who spearfished. I thought I’d never do it, but I started learning with a friend of mine, who was just the most calm and patient person.” 


Renee finds peace in stretching her lungs beneath the sea’s surface. She’s based between Auckland and Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula’s east coast and works as a speech and language therapist in a private practice. Specialising in aged and palliative care, working alongside patients with progressive neurological diseases and cancers, it can be a difficult job mentally. The water has always offered an escape. “Under water is the only place I've ever experienced genuine freedom from the world in my head, and the world above. No other place does that. It’s not just the spearfishing either, it’s the breathing techniques and the mindfulness that comes with it.”


Spearfishing is an elemental and ancient activity, one that requires plenty of patience. Renee’s battle to get her first kingfish...


Want to keep reading? Find the full story, Everything Under, in Womenclan magazine available here.