Deep Dive: Dave Moran & Sea Tech

The heart and soul of Sea Tech is Dave Moran, a beloved figure in New Zealand’s diving world, and a key figure in New Zealand diving history.

Dave after his 2017 induction into the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show Hall of Fame.

Dave moved to New Zealand from Australia in the ‘70s, and immediately dug in and helped organise New Zealand’s Oceans Expos. The Expos were a big deal; speakers like Jean-Michel Cousteau and Joe McInnis appeared, alongside local speakers, film viewings and the highly-anticipated Oceans Photographic Competition. The Expos took place across four decades, from 1976–2003!


The Tarlton Years

As a young electrician in the early 1980s, Dave was a competitive spearfisher of some renown – he could freedive around 25–30m deep on a single breath! His spearfishing reputation and his day job as an electrician led to his acquaintance with Kelly Tarlton, who was operating a shipwreck museum in Waitangi at the time, and needed some help with Power Board regulations around the museum’s wiring. Kelly and Dave became close friends, particularly after the death of Dave’s three-year-old son Damien, who was tragically hit by a motorbike.

This friendship meant that as Kelly planned and organised the mold-breaking Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, getting Dave and Moran Electrical involved was a no-brainer. What no one anticipated was Kelly’s death in 1985, at 47 years of age, only seven weeks after the aquarium opened. Dave found himself grieving his friend and suddenly the General Manager of the aquarium, all in one fell swoop.

Aquariums were big business at the time, and eventually Dave became Operations Manager for the umbrella company that owned Kelly Tarlton’s – travelling overseas and helping design and build aquariums in San Francisco, Melbourne and London. Black Monday, the ‘80s financial crisis, finally put an end to this, and in 1988 he found himself without a job for the first time in years.

The Magazine

A friend suggested Dave start a diving magazine – after all, he knew the industry and he knew everyone involved. Having been convinced it would be easy (ha!) Dave dove right in and started Dive Log New Zealand – even though he’s the worst speller in the world (which you’ll know if you’ve ever received an email from him). With the help of his wife, Petal, he ran the magazine for 28 years until 2017.

Dave and Petal photographed in 2020.


Ikelite in NZ

Around this time, he was offered the opportunity to start selling Ikelite underwater camera gear in New Zealand. This really resonated with him, since diving and underwater photography had been his passion for years, since he’d started doing it in the mid-sixties. As a partner to the magazine, Sea Tech made lots of sense too. Mostly though, Dave was keen on having someone run the agency who cared about underwater photography so they could back up the products with passion & expertise.

The name Sea Tech came from Kelly’s businesses, which traded as Tarlton’s Sea Tech, and Kelly’s wife Rosemary gifted to Dave following Kelly’s death.

Sea Tech was born out of a desire to challenge people to get out there and do it the way Dave has been his whole life! We love the challenge of solving your problems. We love supporting people’s creativity and seeing them develop their skills! And we want to help our customers get the gear they need to get the shot they want.

We have a passion for the ocean – just like you!