Pilot grew up in Ruatoria

Pilot was ‘a really good fella’ and 'had the cheekiest smile'

Pilot was ‘a really good fella’ and 'had the cheekiest smile'

HERO AND ADVENTURER: Chopper pilot Steve Askin lost his life on Tuesday when his aircraft crashed during fire fighting operations in Christchurch. The ex-SAS soldier grew up in Ruatoria and his friends there remember him as "a good fella, who was always smiling". Picture supplied

THE helicopter pilot who lost his life when his chopper crashed in firefighting operations in Christchurch spent some of his youth in the Ruatoria district with his family — a family who were loved and respected by the Ruatoria community. Ex-SAS operative David Steven Askin, known as Steve, aged 37, died on Tuesday afternoon when his Squirrel helicopter crashed near the Sugarloaf carpark in the Port Hills.

“Steve’s death has come as a sad shock for many people in the Ruatoria area,” said Bill Hughes who was the principal at Makarika Primary School in the late ’80s and early ’90s, which the Askin children attended.

Mr Askin’s father Paul taught at Ngata College and the family lived at the end of Makarika Valley on Waingakia Station. Paul Askin was also the minister at the Ruatoria Gospel Hall during that time. The family moved away from Ruatoria in the early 1990s.

“Steve’s father married my wife Jan and I, and I knew Steve, his older brother Peter and his two sisters Amy and Erin well,” Mr Hughes said. “Steve was a very lively young man who loved adventure and loved the outdoors."

Mr Hughes said Steve Askin and his brother Peter loved hunting and the freedom of the wide open spaces.

“One time they asked their mother if they could go out on to the station to catch some geese. They came home with plucked geese slung over their shoulders. They probably ran those geese down for hours and hours to get them.”

Steve Askin was 11 at the time.

“He was a boy who had courage and they were a wonderful Christian family,” Mr Hughes said. “The children were brought up with fine Christian values and their father Paul taught them to serve their community. They were a family who were loved and respected by the Ruatoria community.”

Ned Te Rauna went to school with Steve Askin.

'Good friend, adventurous and got stuck into his classwork'

“He was in my class. I remember Steve and Piwi Tuapawa from Tolaga Bay were selected for a television advertisement in 1990 about a meeting between a Maori boy and a Pakeha boy. It was about the coming together of Maori and Pakeha. We got along well. He was a good friend, adventurous and he got stuck into his classwork,” Mr Te Rauna said.

“Steve was always smiling and happy and he could give a bit of cheek back to the Maori boys. He was a good fella, a really good fella.”

Mr Hughes and Mr Te Rauna have offered condolences to the Askin family.

Rev Pane Kawhia is an Anglican priest based near Ruatoria who also knows the Askin family well. She has gone to be with them at their home in the South Island.

Steve Askin’s father Paul has written books on pig hunting, including the New Zealand Pig Hunters Handbook.

NZ Defence Force tribute

The New Zealand Defence Force has paid tribute to Steve Askin, who was wounded in a five-hour battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2011. He lost an ear in the gun and grenade battle. He was awarded the New Zealand Gallantry Star, the second-highest military honour a Kiwi serviceman can receive.

“Corporal Askin, as he was ranked when he was in the SAS, lived up to the finest traditions of the New Zealand Army,” said New Zealand Defence Force chief of army Major General Peter Kelly.

He left the army in 2013 but remained an active member of the SAS reserves.

“Steve was an outstanding soldier who served his country with bravery and commitment — the same bravery and commitment he showed in helping his community fight these fires.”

Support for wife and children

A Givealittle page has been set up to help meet funeral costs and to support Mr Askin’s wife Elizabeth and their two children, aged 7 and 4. It has so far raised around $50,000.

His father Paul told the Christchurch Star they were all struggling to come to terms with his death.

“My son was the kind of person it was very easy to be proud of — I always thought that if I was a hostage held somewhere, I would want SAS boys like him coming to my rescue. Somebody’s kid has got to do it. Steve always said he wanted to do something worthwhile with his life,” Mr Askin said.

“He was courageous, generous, a great storyteller, an adventurer, a mischief-maker and had the cheekiest smile. The best way we as a family can pay tribute to him is to love his kids and his wife.”

THE helicopter pilot who lost his life when his chopper crashed in firefighting operations in Christchurch spent some of his youth in the Ruatoria district with his family — a family who were loved and respected by the Ruatoria community. Ex-SAS operative David Steven Askin, known as Steve, aged 37, died on Tuesday afternoon when his Squirrel helicopter crashed near the Sugarloaf carpark in the Port Hills.

“Steve’s death has come as a sad shock for many people in the Ruatoria area,” said Bill Hughes who was the principal at Makarika Primary School in the late ’80s and early ’90s, which the Askin children attended.

Mr Askin’s father Paul taught at Ngata College and the family lived at the end of Makarika Valley on Waingakia Station. Paul Askin was also the minister at the Ruatoria Gospel Hall during that time. The family moved away from Ruatoria in the early 1990s.

“Steve’s father married my wife Jan and I, and I knew Steve, his older brother Peter and his two sisters Amy and Erin well,” Mr Hughes said. “Steve was a very lively young man who loved adventure and loved the outdoors."

Mr Hughes said Steve Askin and his brother Peter loved hunting and the freedom of the wide open spaces.

“One time they asked their mother if they could go out on to the station to catch some geese. They came home with plucked geese slung over their shoulders. They probably ran those geese down for hours and hours to get them.”

Steve Askin was 11 at the time.

“He was a boy who had courage and they were a wonderful Christian family,” Mr Hughes said. “The children were brought up with fine Christian values and their father Paul taught them to serve their community. They were a family who were loved and respected by the Ruatoria community.”

Ned Te Rauna went to school with Steve Askin.

'Good friend, adventurous and got stuck into his classwork'

“He was in my class. I remember Steve and Piwi Tuapawa from Tolaga Bay were selected for a television advertisement in 1990 about a meeting between a Maori boy and a Pakeha boy. It was about the coming together of Maori and Pakeha. We got along well. He was a good friend, adventurous and he got stuck into his classwork,” Mr Te Rauna said.

“Steve was always smiling and happy and he could give a bit of cheek back to the Maori boys. He was a good fella, a really good fella.”

Mr Hughes and Mr Te Rauna have offered condolences to the Askin family.

Rev Pane Kawhia is an Anglican priest based near Ruatoria who also knows the Askin family well. She has gone to be with them at their home in the South Island.

Steve Askin’s father Paul has written books on pig hunting, including the New Zealand Pig Hunters Handbook.

NZ Defence Force tribute

The New Zealand Defence Force has paid tribute to Steve Askin, who was wounded in a five-hour battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2011. He lost an ear in the gun and grenade battle. He was awarded the New Zealand Gallantry Star, the second-highest military honour a Kiwi serviceman can receive.

“Corporal Askin, as he was ranked when he was in the SAS, lived up to the finest traditions of the New Zealand Army,” said New Zealand Defence Force chief of army Major General Peter Kelly.

He left the army in 2013 but remained an active member of the SAS reserves.

“Steve was an outstanding soldier who served his country with bravery and commitment — the same bravery and commitment he showed in helping his community fight these fires.”

Support for wife and children

A Givealittle page has been set up to help meet funeral costs and to support Mr Askin’s wife Elizabeth and their two children, aged 7 and 4. It has so far raised around $50,000.

His father Paul told the Christchurch Star they were all struggling to come to terms with his death.

“My son was the kind of person it was very easy to be proud of — I always thought that if I was a hostage held somewhere, I would want SAS boys like him coming to my rescue. Somebody’s kid has got to do it. Steve always said he wanted to do something worthwhile with his life,” Mr Askin said.

“He was courageous, generous, a great storyteller, an adventurer, a mischief-maker and had the cheekiest smile. The best way we as a family can pay tribute to him is to love his kids and his wife.”

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