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Wayne Highet still going strong in his eighth decade

Updated: Sep 10, 2022

Our oldest active club member on the men's side, Wayne Highet, turned 70 recently. Wayne is a life member of ABC and maintains the highest standards on and off the field.

Club President Garry Bishop said "Wayne is an inspiration who has played with, and supported, ABC over the club's entire history. He proves you can keep playing good hockey and enjoying the game over 6+ decades! Wayne lives and by example teaches what it means to have a life long love of the game."

The ABC Division 2 Maroon is lucky to have Wayne as an on-field leader and he has helped many young players develop with some well chosen advice and leading by example. Here is his hockey story with some tributes from those who have played alongside him.

"I first started playing hockey at Tahunanui Primary School in Nelson about 1962 or 1963 - I was probably influenced to take up hockey as both my father and uncle represented Nelson at the senior level.

In 1965, while attending Nelson Intermediate, I played for Nelson in their Hatch Cup team at Napier and also represented Nelson in 1966 while at Nayland College.

Wayne holding the sticks

After our family moved to Putaruru in mid-1967, I played for the local High School and in 1970 was selected for the Waikato Secondary Schools’ side. During this time, I also played senior hockey in the Waikato competition in 1969 and 1970.

Wayne middle of the front row

1971 saw me playing for the Waikato University second side but after a few games I broke two fingers in an industrial accident which put me out for rest of that season.

Between 1973 – 1977 I played very little hockey but in 1978 I resumed with the Takapuna Club at the time when men’s hockey on the North Shore was played under the auspices of the Auckland Hockey Association.

When the local competition was split from Auckland in 1989, the Takapuna Club was also split up due to the large number of teams it had under it’s colours and a number of other clubs were formed at the same time. One of these new clubs was ABC – Albany Bays Collegiate, later to combine with the Birkenhead Ladies and become Albany Birkenhead Combined. I was one of the players who transferred to the new club as a foundation member in 1989.

Around 2001, after realising that my little legs weren’t keeping up with 20-year olds anymore, I began to show an interest in the Masters side of the game and have represented Harbour in various age grades ever since. Masters has probably been the most enjoyable time of my hockey and hopefully I still have some years to go. I have been lucky enough to travel to a number of tournaments, both at home and overseas, with a great bunch of people.

Some of these include:

  • 2002 - Pac Rim Tournament Auckland - For some reason, the Korean 50+ side were short of players and a number of locals were roped in the fill the gaps, so as well as having represented New Zealand as I played three tests for Korea.

  • 2002, 2017 - World Masters Games held at Melbourne and Auckland respectively.

  • 2010, 2015, 2017 - Trans-Tasman Series held at Newcastle, Melbourne and Whangarei respectively.

  • 2012, 2014, 2018 Grand Masters Hockey World Cups – held at Oxford, England, The Hague, Netherlands and Newcastle, Australia respectively.

  • 2015 - Pac Rim Tournament Malaysia - I was part of Southern Cross, one of a number of invitation teams which participated in the competition.

  • 2019 - Australian National Masters held at Busselton and Bunbury, Western Australia. The South Australia 65+ side was short of players and I received dispensation to be part of their team."

Wayne continues to be a valued member of the ABC Division 2 Maroon team offering mentoring and guidance to players 55 years younger (here with Dan McDonald in 2022).

Between 1992 and 2001 Wayne was President of ABC and has been on the North Harbour Hockey Board and the North Harbour Masters Committee. In 1999 Wayne won the Weber Trophy for most valuable club member.

Wayne has been a key part of ABC teams and is a valued an respected team member.

Senior 2 Men, 2005

Noel Hensman said: " We moved to New Zealand in 2004 and soon learned, from Darryl (CEO North Harbour) that you didn’t need to be a Black Stick to play on the beautiful turf at Rosedale. He suggested I write to any club on the website and join them to play.

ABC was topmost on the website and Keri put me in touch with Wayne Highet – that was my first ‘meeting’ with Wayne. After a few email exchanges, Wayne said just rock up on a Saturday and he would give me a stick to play and then decide if I wanted to play regularly or not. As promised, Wayne met me and gave me a stick and I played my first game for ABC with Wayne. I joined ABC and since then have generally played in the same team as Wayne.

Having Wayne on your team is like having the Great Wall of China defending your team! Over the years, I have learned so much about the game from Wayne. His wise team talks before a game or at half time are great not just for the youngstersy, but for all of us too. He has contributed so much to the club as a member over the years and was recognised by the club a few years back and made a life member. In recent years, he has not only represented North Harbour at Masters but has represented New Zealand in the different age groups.

2015 Senior 3 team

Graeme Moscrip said "I first played with Wayne in 1997, well into his career by then. I was new to the club, and Wayne was the manager and coach of the team. He certainly made all feel welcome and included in the team. Although it was at a more social level, he always took games seriously, with passion at team talks, on how we could win, or extend the lead. Who knows how many lessons have been learnt, by countless players from him. Win or lose, Wayne was always at the clubrooms afterwards. To me, that confirmed I had correctly chosen ABC, to play for at Harbour. His style of hockey is still characterised by his trademark, strong vertical stick hits from the back. A throwback to his early years on the grass no doubt, and a testament to a long-term class player. I was very pleased when he became a well deserved ABC life member, some years back now."

2016 Senior 3 team including current D2 Maroon players Glenn Gilbert, Tobin Blathwayt, Noel Hensman; D2 Yellow Graeme Moscrip, D2 Black Kevin Nolan, Graham Thomson and Peter Fitzsimons and Prem 3 Ethan Brook (a year 10 at the time) and Brodie Harrison (here as a year 9 who is now Prem 2 and has played some Prem hockey this year)

Tobin Blathwayt said "Wayne was one of the people who welcomed me to ABC in 2008. I had a great deal of admiration for how someone in their mid 50s could contribute so much. He has maintained the highest standards of fitness and is rarely injured and has shown remarkable resilience. I am now approaching the age Wayne was when I first met him and it has brought home to me how remarkable his contribution has been. I have the utmost admiration for him: his strength of character shines through and he remains combative in a good way and shows the bravery that he would have needed in his professional life. A true legend."

2019 D2 Black Bowl winners

Glenn Gilbert said "I am not sure where to begin. After almost 20 years of playing with him, he still continues to inspire others in his team. He has been a consummate professional in his career as a senior firefighter. Wayne is a person who enjoys life, and contributes to the wider community in a number of ways. Father and Grandfather, still active as a Brigade Support Officer for Helensville Volunteer Fire Brigade.

On the hockey field, Wayne has an endless list of accomplishments. Growing up in Nelson, I think he played his first representative hockey there. He was a fiery inside forward. Studies ended his more serious aspirations in hockey.

Wayne has an exceptional intellect and vast range of skills from his professional field as well as an amazing range of skills as a player. His insight into the game is amazing - I have never seen him lose possession in a tackle for instance. Wayne sums up situations with incredible speed - even before he tackles an opposing player, one sees him calculating where he is going to pass. He will beat one player and pass, hence his constant advice to the team - release the ball!

Maybe as a result of his profession, Wayne always appears calm under pressure, and provides a steadying influence to the rest of the team. He never chastises team members for stupid play, just takes everything on the chin. He is also "man enough" to admit to his mistakes and apologise if he has given you a rare poor pass.

With all these skills, it is no wonder that Wayne has been able to continue playing to a high standard and represent New Zealand (also Korea) as well as North Harbour for about 20 years. Wayne is the kind of player any team would want to have always playing hockey to the best of his ability. He has said he will "retire from the game when he stops enjoying it". The National Masters medals still keep coming.

The World Masters Games where his team won a Gold Medal, held in Auckland in 2017 were going to be his swansong! Wayne still has the will to travel to and from Helensville 3 times a week to play, and be part of and contribute to the Harbour Hockey family.

Long may he continue to enjoy playing."

This season Wayne has continued to be a standout in defense for the Maroon team.

June 2022 defending a PC with Todd and Ben Huntington, Neo Tunnicliffe and Tom Blathwayt. Wayne will often be second runner on PCD. This was the last play of the game against Takapuna when we pushed for a win and took off our goalkeeper. It almost backfired.

One of those who has benefited from Wayne's words of wisdom, encouragement and support has been fellow full-back Ben Huntington a Year 11 in his first year at ABC, who said "Upon joining ABC Maroon, Wayne welcomed me into the team providing me with knowledgeable, useful tips to help me improve my game. It always helps playing with Wayne, knowing he is such a rock in defense, covering all parts of the field. I hope to be still playing hockey by the time I’m his age!"

Wayne's contribution to ABC has been enormous on-and-off the field and he remains an inspiration to people of all ages.


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