• NZ Booklovers

Fish of the Day by Clarke Gayford and Mike Bhana


As the country’s first man, Clarke Gayford’s story is well-known to most readers and also to viewers of his numerous television series, including the eponymous series Fish of the Day. So, let’s return to Clarke and some less well-known aspects of his early life later on, and begin this review with a focus on Clarke’s long-term collaborator, co-author and man-behind-the-scene, Mike Bhana.


Mike has had around 25 years of television and documentary experience, specialising in natural history for international clients including National Geographic, Discovery and Animal Planet. He’s made 25 films on sharks, alone, and in 2009 Mike was a co-creator of Planet Shark, the largest shark exhibition in the world, which was established to promote the conservation and understanding of sharks and oceans. He specialises in socially-responsible television, dedicating much of his time to charities. He has travelled widely with Red Cross to perilous places to promote the charity’s causes.


But for every one who is more comfortable behind the camera, is someone who was made to be in front of it. Bhana’s 15-year collaboration with Clarke Gayford – the affable, easy-on-the-eye fiancée of prime minister, Jacinda Ardern - has provided the perfect pairing.


Like his long-time collaborator, Bhana, Gayford has a life-long passion for the ocean and the environment. As a child, Gayford admits he was “obsessed” with fish and fishing. By the age of 10 he had memorised all the names of fish in Maori, Latin and English. At school he drew fish and wrote stories about them. In his spare-time he made lures and spears. Later he began missing school to surf, and eventually his parents sent him to an inland school.


He followed up with a career in radio and on C4 television before returning once again to his first love fishing with the creation of the TV series, Fish of the Day, which marries Bhana’s spectacular photography of Clarke – spearfish or rod at the ready - with shots of numerous coastal paradises throughout New Zealand and its neighbouring Pacific islands. And let’s not forget the chef du jour who later whips up Clarke’s catch into a delectable meal.


Following the same formula, the book visits 25 locations, provides stunning shots of them all, and follows up with the recipe. Of course, there’s also an emphasis on ocean conservation, as you would expect from these two passionate gentlemen.


It’s a winning formula. Therefore, it will not be a surprise to many to learn that Fish of the Day was shortlisted for our very own NZ Booklover’s 2022 Book Awards.

Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Penguin