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Bill Schroeder

Bill Schroeder – From Nigeria to New Zealand.

I had been thinking of coming to New Zealand before Nigeria XIII and the training days at UCLA. In Nigeria I applied to

the New Zealand Department of Education for a teaching position. One requirement was a police check. A police check in

Owerri for entry to New Zealand seemed odd, not least because at the time Biafra had declared itself an independent

state.

Back home and hopefully on my way to New Zealand, another piece of bureaucracy was getting clearance from the local

Draft Board to leave the country. I was invited to meet the Board. When I did I found myself talking with four or five

men, the youngest of whom appeared to be about 80. I was told I could leave the country if I produced a copy of my

teaching contract. I explained that New Zealand teachers did not have a contract, they only had a position. I have a

memory of them looking at each other with great doubt; clearly a teaching position without a contract was outside their

world view. To resolve their problem they again asked for my contract. I explained again. After going around this

loop a few times I was told I could go to New Zealand providing I sent a copy of my contract back to them. Within a few

days at the school I asked my Headmaster to write to the Draft Board explaining the situation. They wrote back to him

asking for a copy of my contract. The Headmaster was capable of great rudeness. He gave heart and soul to his reply

and we didn’t hear from them again.

The school was on the West Coast of the South Island. If it isn’t raining it is going to rain; the average annual

rainfall is around thirteen feet. It is a mining area with a history of industrial relations thick enough to cut with a

knife. It was a superb place to enter New Zealand.

After six years my career of teaching fourteen year-olds to solve quadratic equations had come to a merciful end. At

the same time I felt called to explore ministry in the Anglican church. I was accepted for training and spent two years

in an Auckland seminary, my only North Island experience. Since ordination I have had positions in parishes as far

north as one can go in the South Island, an isolated area of exquisite beauty, and a parish almost as far south as one

can go.

After fifteen years of inner-city ministry in Christchurch I was completely exhausted. I was asked to look after a

rural parish for a short time. The short time became three years and was a wonderful, restoring time. I still do a

bit of work for the church but more as an interest than a job.

I have two children, a daughter living near Christchurch and a son in Melbourne, Australia. My wife Val-mai and I live

on the shore of Otago Harbour, about ten kilometres from the city of Dunedin. Sometimes I stand and watch the ships in

the harbour channel. Those ships seem a long way from a Minneapolis Draft Board.

I grew up in Nigeria, entering as a socially ill at ease young man and leaving as a more or less reasonable adult. The

mentor for this change was the Headmaster at my school, an Irish Catholic priest – one of the most influential people in

my life. But all that is a story for another day.

The bike has grown, the clothes have shrunk, the hairline has certainly moved but I am still on two wheels.
The bike has grown, the clothes have shrunk, the hairline has certainly moved but I am still on two wheels.

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