Home' The Wellingtonian : May 19th 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, MAY 19, 2011
ACT List MP
Hon Heather Roy
Out of Parliament O ce
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Hockey, cricket and a UFO
Joseph Romanos talks to teacher and
representative sportsman Wilf Haskell about
growing up in Karachi, coaching Marc Ellis and
spotting a UFO.
Wilf Haskell: ''There's so much talk about assessment [in schools] these days. It's wrong.'' Photo: JOSEPH ROMANOS
You spent your early life in
Yes, my father was an Anglican
missionary in the Sindh province.
At that time, Karachi was part of
India. He really got into the life
there and learned a lot of Indian
dialects. He was there well over
20 years and ended up head-
master of Karachi Grammar
How long did you live there?
Until I was nine.
What do you remember of it?
It was hot, dry and barren. Kids
were into sport, especially hockey
and cricket. But mainly informal --
a lot of cricket was played in the
streets. We'd go for holidays into
the hills up north, where it was
cooler. I remember long train
journeys. There'd be huge blocks
of ice in the carriages, to cool them
Was it dangerous at that
It was a time of unrest. People
knew the British would be pulling
out and were unsure what the
future would hold. There were
Then you moved to Nelson.
My mother's parents lived
there. What struck me when me
moved was how much greenery
there was, and how it was cooler.
You did well in hockey and
I was fortunate. At Nelson Col-
lege I had very good coaching.
Graham Botting, a Central Dis-
tricts wicketkeeper, was on staff.
He was great. And Bernie Brown,
the French and history teacher,
coached cricket, too. He was a
natural teacher, a real personality
who really looked at the students
There's a lesson there.
Yes. There's so much talk about
assessment these days. It's wrong.
It's trying to hone in on students'
individual abilities that matters.
How did you go at cricket?
I represented Nelson at cricket
and hockey while I was still at
college. I was proud of that.
You played cricket for Wel-
lington for nearly 15 years, but
didn't play that many games.
It was hard to cement a spot if
you were a pace bowler. I did well
for University in club cricket but
Wellington had Bob Blair, Bruce
Morrison, John Reid, Rodney
Read, Neville Huxford, Harry
Morgan, Arch Taylor and others,
good pace bowlers.
But you had one golden day,
when you took 6-6 against
Otago at the Basin.
We bowled them out for under
100. I wouldn't have minded a few
more days like that.
I started off at centre forward in
Nelson, moved to the left wing
while in Christchurch and in Wel-
lington I was at inside right. I was
very fortunate in Christchurch to
be coached by Cyril Walter. He
was brilliant. It was ridiculous he
wasn't the New Zealand coach --
he produced so many of the
country's best players.
You had a stint as a journal-
ist, then retrained to be a
Yes, I taught at Hutt Valley
High School, Scots College,
Wainuiomata College and, from
1980 till 1998, Wellington College.
And you coached Marc Ellis
I made him captain of the First
XI. He was a bit of a skylarker. I
sent him home one day when he
kept bowling bouncers in the nets.
However, if you looked at Marc a
bit deeper, he had a lot of quality,
an inner strength. He was very
good at cricket, but by then it was
virtually impossible to play two
sports to a high level, and he went
I've heard you once saw a
I was driving around Oriental
Bay one Sunday afternoon when I
saw an extraordinarily bright
light over the Tinakori hills. It
was so bright I stopped to watch
it. It wasn't moving. Eventually I
went into Freyberg Pool and used
their phone to ring the Carter
Observatory. I was told I was
probably seeing Jupiter.
Not at all. People who know me
would say I was anything but
that. I was very concerned with
facts. But this light was amazing.
I carried on to Melrose, to visit
friends. On the way I saw the
light again. It had become much,
much brighter and was pulsing. It
seemed to have got bigger. I went
to my friends' place and asked
them to take a look. We watched
as the light changed to more like a
football shape, and moved to
within probably 200 metres of us.
It was moving very quickly, but
never made a sound. Then it
drifted over the hills behind us.
We were left looking at each other
wondering what we'd seen.
Did you feel uneasy
reporting your UFO sighting?
I did, actually. People were
sceptical. The kids at school liked
the story. It did spark my interest
in UFOs and I've read more since.
I still don't know what I saw that
You've written several
I co-wrote Seasons of Honour,
the history of New Zealand
hockey, and also wrote a history of
the Victoria University hockey
club. I'm just completing Faster,
Stronger Higher, about our Olym-
pic gold medallists. The first vol-
ume goes from 1912 to 1968.
Why that subject?
I really admired these people.
They were amateurs and had jobs
and trained on their own. They
made sacrifices to play sport. It's a
long way from today's professional
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