Barry Maister Born 1948
Barry Maister was steeped in hockey. His grandfather, Havilah Down, was a giant of New Zealand hockey for much of the 20th century – he was a representative player and umpire and was secretary of the national association from 1924-59. Barry’s father, Gerald, was a test goalkeeper in the early 1950s. And Barry’s two brothers, Selwyn and Chris, played alongside him in the New Zealand team.
Soon after leaving Christchurch Boys’ High School, Barry made his international debut, against Australia at Christchurch’s Addington Showgrounds in 1967, joining brother Selwyn, older by two years, in the side. Barry was a centre forward, Selwyn a centre half.
The brothers were to be selected for four successive Olympic Games teams. Their first Olympics was at Mexico City in 1968, when New Zealand, after opening with an exciting win over the favoured Indians, fell away and eventually finished seventh. At Munich in 1972, the team could manage only a disappointing ninth.
By the 1976 Montreal Olympics, there was a vast reservoir of experience in the New Zealand side. Several players were from the champion University club in Christchurch, where they had been well-tutored by one of New Zealand hockey’s best coaches, Cyril Walter.
Of the team that went to Montreal, Paul Ackerley, Tur Borren, John Christensen and Tony Ineson, besides the Maister brothers, played for the University club.
Besides the core of Christchurch players, others in the team with previous Olympic experience were Alan McIntyre, Trevor Manning, Greg Dayman, Ramesh Patel, Jeff Archibald and Arthur Parkin. The third Maister brother, Chris, who played on the left wing, narrowly missed selection.
The New Zealanders, coached by Ross Gillespie, caused a shock at Montreal by beating Australia 1-0 to win the gold medal.
It was not a triumph easily achieved - they won a thrilling play-off match against Spain 1-0 just to squeeze into the semi-finals. There they caused an upset by beating the impressive Netherlands side 2-1 in the third period of extra time. The final, a torrid affair, tipped New Zealand’s way when their captain, Ineson, smashed home a penalty corner shortly after halftime.
“I felt we had a chance before the tournament,” said Maister. “We had a lot of experience in the side, we were well-drilled and very fit. And the fact that the tournament was being played on Astroturf for the first time was an advantage to us. It was a relatively foreign surface for everyone, a leveller.
“Those of us from Christchurch were used to practising on the lightning-fast indoor concrete at Canterbury Court. It was a really hard surface and our bodies took a pounding, but in a way it prepared us for the artificial surface at Montreal.”
Barry and Selwyn Maister remained senior members of the New Zealand team and were named in the side to defend its title at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. They missed the trip when the New Zealand team was withdrawn in support of the American-led boycott.
After ending his playing career, Barry remained close to the game. He and Archibald were heavily involved in the New Zealand junior academy and Barry and Selwyn Maister took charge of the national junior boys team for a time.
Barry Maister was a teacher for nearly 30 years. From 1972-86 he taught at Christchurch Boys’ High School, where he became deputy head. Then he had eight years as principal at Riccarton High School and another six as rector at St Andrew’s College.
He resigned at the end of 2000 and moved to Wellington to take up the position of secretary-general of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, replacing Michael Hooper.
Maister worked hard to bring about cohesiveness among the country’s major sports bodies and succeeded in forging close ties with Sparc. In 2010, Maister stood down after a successful decade of running the Olympic Committee, and became the IOC’s representative in New Zealand. Shortly after, he was appointed to its Entourage Commission.
He and his wife Cheryl had three children. Both their sons played hockey for Canterbury at representative age level.
The 1976 Olympic hockey team was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.