Passing of a Poor Knights icon

It is with great sadness that I note here the death of Phil Bendle (nzwide). For decades Phil was the renown, sometimes infamous, skipper of the Norseman. The Norseman was a vessel from an bygone era, one where you had no choice but to slow down and enjoy the ride. I was fortunate to spend many hours, not as many as some, on the Norseman diving the Poor Knights and the coast north of Tutukaka. Phil's knowledge of the Knights and his naughty sense of humor always made diving with him a great pleasure, even if the occasional run in to Tuts ahead of a howling northeasterly sometimes had you wishing you were on a faster boat. Phil was a early adopter and early member of NatureWatch NZ, posting over 100 underwater images of marine life, many of them rare or at least rarely seen species. Those images, many taken by the likes of Wade Doak and Ross Armstrong, form the basis of this project.

Phil died in New Plymouth on Wednesday, 8 August 2018, aged 82 yr.

Posted on August 13, 2018 09:58 PM by clinton clinton


Sad news. It sounds like Phil was quite a character.

Posted by markmcg over 5 years ago

This is sad news.

I got to know Phil through his enthusiastic involvement in NatureWatch NZ and then iNaturalist NZ. In 2014 Phil took me along on a fun nature ramble up the Te Henui walkway in New Plymouth when I was passing through. I was amazed at his extraordinarily broad knowledge of NZ natural history. He knew about as much about Camellia cultivars as native plants.

His expertise, generosity, and good humour will be missed.

Posted by jon_sullivan over 5 years ago

Thanks, Clinton. That's a lovely post and a side of Phil I didn't know. Phil contacted me in June this year to ask permission to use photos of an Ornate Skink (Oligosoma ornatum) I had posted on iNatNZ in January 2018 ( He was creating a new page for his TERRAIN website:

When he contacted me to ask to use the photos, I told him I felt incredibly honoured as I had been using the TERRAIN page regularly for many years as a reference for information about flora & fauna. Phil was a kiwi legend and his generosity and broad knowledge will be greatly missed.

Posted by jacqui-nz over 5 years ago

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