Bernie Haskell

Bernie Haskell grew up in the small Northland town of Warkworth in the North Island of New Zealand. His love of the outdoors was evident from an early age - hunting and anything to do with water were far more important than academic achievement.

Regular newspaper delivery routes both before and after school, weekend weeding of kumara (New Zealand sweet potato) and picking strawberries in season provided adequate cash flow to fund these activities. Later, during school holidays and long weekends, possum-trapping camps in the bush with like-minded mates were a lucrative break from the hated classroom.

After the sixth form year most of his friends went on to university, but the thought of another five or six years locked up in a classroom prompted Bernie to join the Auckland Farm Youth Settlement Scheme, which started would-be farmers off on selected farms with the eventual aim of owning a farm.

The next ten years saw a progression from farm boy to farm manager, marriage to Elizabeth, starting a family, and finally owning 300 dairy cows on a 50% share-milking contract.

On trying to buy a small farm in 1972, he was told by the bank that he was $5,000 short but if there were any Maori blood in his family, there would be no problem. Totally gutted by this injustice, he sold up everything, bought a house in town, learned to fly and started with James Aviation as a loader driver. In 1975, James Aviation trained Bernie as a pilot and the family transferred to Taupo.

Bernie and Liz live on a three acre block near the Hamilton Airport where they have been for over twenty years. Their two sons are both airline pilots, their daughter is a legal secretary, married to a school teacher, and they have nine grandchildren.

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