SALVATORE (CHARLIE) ZAME
SALVATORE (CHARLIE) ZAME
From Stromboli in the North to Gisborne in the East
Bartolo Zame, paternal grandfather of Gisborne Fisheries’ General Manager Salve Zame and Factory Manager Antony Zame, was sent to New Zealand by his father to work with his uncles Antonio and Salvatore (Charlie) in 1926.
Bartolo’s uncles had left Stromboli, a volcanic island off northern Sicily, and spent time in Australia before arriving in Island Bay. While the fishing there was good, there was less competition in Napier so they moved.
In Napier, the brothers operated steam trawlers and their Greek employer encouraged Salvatore to take a boat to Gisborne to look for better fishing grounds. Antonio went with him and they ended up running a fish shop on the Esplanade. Soon after, they persuaded their older brother, Domenico, to send his son Bartolo to make his way in the world.
Fourteen-year-old Bartolo took the four-month journey and served a two-year apprenticeship at the Zame fish depot, before working with Greek brothers Theodore and Dimitrios Nicholas who ran the De Luxe Café.
Bartolo learned to cook and became fluent in Greek. With his co-workers he established the Regent Café and Fish Shop on Gladstone Road, and formed Gisborne Fish Supply Limited. The fish came from Bartolo’s uncles and as the business grew, a small processing plant was built.
The company was renamed Gisborne Fisheries Ltd in 1936 and the young entrepreneurs bought the De Luxe Café and Antonio Zame’s business and plant. Antonio and the Nicholas brothers joined them; Antonio managed the Regent and Bartolo looked after wholesale fish supply.
1940's and 50's
In 1946, Salvatore and his son Robert built what was then Gisborne’s largest trawler, the Dorothy May, which the company used until 1996. In 1950 Antonio traded fish for grapes and worked at the Capri Vineyards he had been developing on the Poverty Bay Flats.
1955 was a big year for the company, which bought the Gisborne depot of Napier-based Direct Fish Supply in Peel Street and separated the wholesale business into Gisborne Fisheries Ltd and Gisborne Fish Retailers Ltd. The Peel Street factory was modernised and has been continually updated over the years – Gisborne Fisheries is still there today.
1960's and 70's
In 1962 Salvatore bought the 40-foot crayfishing and longline boat, The Janet. Bartolo bought out the Nicholas brothers and his son Antonio (Tony) Zame acquired the Regent. Today, Tony is a director and adviser.
The ‘60s also saw the company purchase the Scottish trawler Golden Grain. It was a bustling time for Gisborne, whose port was the second only to Auckland. In 1968 Bartolo died and Tony’s uncle Joe Cincotta took over. Under his watch three trawlers were built for the company – the Stromboli in 1970 and in 1978 the iconic red Bartolo Zame and Giovannina vessels. The company supplied fish all over the North Island and exported to Australia.
1980's and 1990's
The heady Orange Roughy days. The boom period lasted a decade and through that time Gisborne Fisheries continued with its mainstay Tarakihi and other inshore species.
Joe Cincotta retired in 1987 and Tony Zame became Managing Director. In 1994 the Tasmanian trawler Markana was bought and renamed Stromboli, replacing the smaller vessel. Salve Zame joined Tony as Business Manager in 1997 and when the Orange Roughy quota was reduced, the focus turned to Tuna and the Stromboli was converted for surface longlining.
The late ‘90s saw us purchasing a lobster quota and establishing strategic relationships with companies like Lee Lobster and local crayfishermen. To do this properly we had to improve our infrastructure so, in 2003, a modern facility was built on the adjoining site.
Tony Zame & Salve Zame
Our focus continues to be on fishing the coastline that has provided for our family and many others for decades, in a way that will ensure our grandchildren will be able to do the same.
Salve Zame & Antony Zame