By Adam Hollingworth
The visionary marine conservationist Kelly Tarlton is to be inducted in the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame this week.
Mr Tarlton died soon after his waterfront aquarium opened in Auckland in 1985, but he's been recognised for his work promoting awareness and conservation of the underwater world.
Mr Tarlton crammed a lot into his 47 years – not just diving, but archaeology, conservation and the building of an aquarium out of unused sewage tanks.
Mr Tarlton died seven weeks after his beloved aquarium's opening, after putting in 18-hour days to realise his vision.
But 27 years later he still inspires his daughters and grandson Tane – a young ambassador for the aquarium.
“I'm really, really proud of him and I love the aquarium,” says his grandson. “I think it's amazing.”
Now Mr Tarlton's widow will be in the Caymans when he's inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of fame there this week.
The Hall of Fame's citation says Mr Tarlton's concept has been emulated internationally and his innovative techniques such as curving the acrylic tunnels are still used today more than a quarter of a century on.
In fact, the tunnels exemplified number eight wire ingenuity. They went to a soap factory in South Auckland, used the old ovens there and bent the acrylic themselves, because the Japanese said it was going to cost $2 million.
In the end, Kelly Tarlton's was built for $2 million total, but remains one of our top tourist attractions.