Nicky Sinden and Natalie Maybury have lived, socialised and fished together, but recently they took their friendship one step further, with an unusual gift that reflects their bond and hobby.
Nicky, the host of Prime TV's new show ADOS Addicted to Fishing, purchased Natalie the middle name "Kingfish" as a Christmas present.
The gift came following Natalie's disheartenment at discovering she did not have an official middle name.
Up until she was 13, she thought it was Maree, but discovered her father had, in fact, forgotten to add her middle name to her birth certificate. A discussion with self-confessed fishing addict Nicky (29) prompted her to adopt her favourite fish's name.
"I always called myself Natalie Maree but when I found out it wasn't official, I felt like I was having an identity crisis!
"When I told Nicky, she said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if you gave yourself a middle name after something you love? You love kingfish – Natalie Kingfish Maybury!' I thought, 'That has a nice ring to it!'"
Nicky, who started her own TV show to encourage more women into fishing, is impressed that an Auckland University study estimated 34% of Kiwi women cast a line into the ocean each year. She hopes more will follow suit.
"Buy a fishing rod, go to the wharf, beach or jump on a boat and give it a go – it's not that hard! It previously was the domain of men but not any more," advises Nicky.
When the bubbly blonde bought her first boat three years ago, she invited friend Natalie on a fishing excursion.
"She'd done a bit, but never really fished. I got her catching kingfish and she was addicted!"
Natalie hasn't looked back since reeling in her first catch and has gone on to claim many more, including a 12kg snapper.
"Fishing is like a workout," Natalie (27) explains. "The first kingfish I caught, Nicky was talking me through it because I was overwhelmed at the strength I needed. It sounded like Nicky was talking me through childbirth! She was saying, 'Just breathe, you can do it. You're almost there, come on!' When I am actually having a baby, I hope she gives me that same support!"
Natalie was so hooked on fishing that she followed Nicky's lead and gave up her bank job to work on a charter boat. She also began studying to become a qualified yoga teacher.
"It was Nicky who inspired me to leave my job and do what I love. Fishing brings a sense of achievement; you want to have your line in so you don't miss an opportunity to catch a fish."
From the tender age of three, when Nicky first cast a line, she's been influenced by her father Paul and Uncle Don, and fishes with them on her family's farm on Motiti Island, 20km off the coast of Mount Maunganui.
"I'm one of three girls but I've always been a bit of a tomboy, I was always collecting cicada shells and climbing trees when I was a kid. Fishing was a good learning experience as a child."
After Nicky was the last girl standing on Matt Watson's The ITM Fishing Show last year, in a televised quest to become his apprentice, Nicky received requests from parents to teach their girls to fish.
She then quit her day job in marketing and sales to tackle the biggest project of her life to date – to create, produce and host Addicted to Fishing.
The result is a 13-episode series that follows Nicky around New Zealand as she meets Kiwi fishing legends, with season two already in the pipeline.
But she's never without her hair done and manicured fingers – Nicky believes women can be glamorous when they fish. "My motto is, 'Paint your nails, gut a fish and give anything a go,'" says Nicky.
"Gone are the days when fishing was just for men. I think guys love that, because if they can get their girlfriend or wife into fishing, it gives them access to buy a boat!"
Nicky's keen to highlight fishing as a sport women can enjoy and, with tongue in cheek, named her boat "The Kitchen".
"Apparently that's a woman's place," she laughs, refusing to subscribe to stereotypes.
But while the duo find plenty of time to go fishing, there's often not much left for men.
"I don't know if [fishing] attracts or intimidates them," admits Natalie.
"I'm hoping the guy I marry will accept my middle name. He'd better be a fisherman!" she adds with a laugh.
Words by: Linda Shackelford
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