Marae service for Eric and Kathy Hertz (with VIDEO)

ABOVE: 2degrees director and Hautaki Trust representative Bill Osborne speaks at today's memorial.

UPDATE: April 11: A service for Eric and Kathy Hertz will be held at the marae on AUT University's central Auckland campus at 11am today.

A 2degrees spokeswoman says the the memorial a private event for the couple’s friends, family and work colleagues.

Media have been asked to keep their distance.

2degrees has a minority iwi shareholder (the Hautaki Trust, which was given spectrum by the last Labour government on behalf of all iwi) and the Hertz's formed close associations with Maori.

The couple died after their small plane crashed off the Raglan Coast on Saturday March 30. There bodies, and most of the wreckage, were recovered on Sunday.

The plane is now at Auckland's Devonport Naval Base awaiting a Civil Aviation Authority investigation.

The CAA says the investigation could take up to a year, with parts of the plane likely to be sent overseas. The couple's twin-engine Beechcraft Baron aircraft was registered in the United State. The CAA says two US agencies, The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, have offered to assist.

2degrees has created a memorial message page for Eric and Kathy Hertz here.

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April 2: 2degrees has joined political and industry leaders in paying tribute to CEO Eric Hertz, and offering condolences to his family.

Mr Hertz and his wife Kathy died after their small plane reported engined trouble, then ditched in 60m of water off the Waikato coat near Raglan.

"The 2degrees team is shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of its CEO Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy," corporate affairs director Mat Bolland said.

Among 2degrees staff there is shock at the loss of someone who would always greet you with a smile, while constantly encouraging you to do things differently and delight customers.

“We are going to miss Eric’s leadership, friendship and dry sense of humour. He was our ‘honorary Kiwi’ and greatly respected by our 760 staff,” Mr Bolland said.

Respected competitor
Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter said, "We are all deeply saddened by this news. In his time at 2degrees, Eric has built the company into a respected competitor and his passing is a tremendous loss to the industry.  Our thoughts are with his family at this time."

Huge legacy in leadership
“We were deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Eric leaves a huge legacy in his leadership of what must be the most successful new mobile entrant that the world has ever seen. His loss will be felt not only by his team at 2degrees but across the entire mobile industry. We send our heartfelt wishes to his family during this incredibly difficult time,” said Vodafone external affairs director Tom Chignell.

True gentleman
ICT Minister Amy Adams has also paid tribute, saying “Eric was one of the true gentleman of the sector and it was a pleasure to work with him.

“He often spoke of how much he loved living in New Zealand. Only recently I ran into him at the Waimakariri Gorge while he was competing in this year’s Coast to Coast.”

“He has been an integral part of the creation and growth of 2degrees, and there are hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who are today benefiting from Eric’s vision and commitment."

Drove real change 
Arthur Zhang, Chief Executive of Huawei New Zealand, says he is deeply saddened by the loss of Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy.

“Eric was a huge figure in our industry who drove real change for the sector. His vision and leadership will be greatly missed," Mr Zhang says.

“Our thoughts at this time are with Eric and Kathy’s family, friends and colleagues."

(Huawei is 2degrees main mobile infrastructure partner, and also extended $100 million in vendor financing toward the $500 million total 2degrees has spent over the past few years).

Huge loss
Bryony Hilless, a former member of 2degrees management team who worked closely with Mr Hertz during as the company launched, told NBR, "Eric was a very affable man and passionate about the 'brand 2degrees'.  He was 100% focused on making 2degrees a success and in giving Kiwis a fairer deal with their mobile phone services. His passing is a huge loss for the telecommunications industry,"

Couple lived as NZ locals
Telecommunications Users Association head Paul Brislen said, "It's not overblown to say Eric has lead 2degrees to make dramatic changes to the New Zealand telecommunications space. We as an industry are all the more poorer for today's news."

The Tuanz boss said while many from the US were more serious than you might expect, "Eric Hertz was not that kind of American. Instead, he drove a Chevy Camaro in Bumblebee Yellow that looked like it came from the Transformer movie.

"And he and his wife Kathy had become permanent residents, living life to the full in New Zealand as locals, not as temporary visitors.

"Eric and Kathy could have come in, done the job and left for a life 'back home' in North America. Instead, they'd become New Zealanders and made it a mission to travel and see as much of New Zealand as they could. They were as New Zealand as they could be."

Courage and determination
Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran said Eric Hertz led the country’s newest telco with courage and determination during a time of great change in the telecommunications industry.

“Eric Hertz was widely respected in the sector. The loss of his expertise will be keenly felt in the telecommunications industry," Ms Curran said.

“2degrees has only been running for a few years but has transformed the mobile industry with more competition and innovation for New Zealanders.

“Eric Hertz tenacity and foresight  allowed the company to succeed in our hotly contested mobile market.

“2degrees led the charge on a campaign to ensure fair competition through mobile termination rates, a campaign which attracted support across the board from the rural community, farmers and consumer groups. In just three and a half years 2degrees has gained more than one million customers and is embarking on new strategic priorities into 4G and even the fixed line market.

“Our thoughts are with both Eric and Kathy Hertz’ family, especially their daughter, and also with the team at 2degrees who we know are hard hit by this news,” Clare Curran said.

From the US to NZ
Mr Hertz - an American who had previously worked with 2degrees' majority investor, Seattle-based Trilogy International Partners - came to New Zealand to take up the CEO role in July 2009, shortly before the carrier's commercial launch.

It was not his first time in the country. Mr Hertz and his wife spent a month on a cycling holiday around New Zealand in 1985, shortly after he completed an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Management.

He held senior roles at telecommunications companies including AT&T, BellSouth and Western Wireless (the company that became Trilogy) before moving from Seattle to Auckland to head 2degrees.

With Western Wireless, the Mr Hertz (who spoke both English and Spanish) worked on developing the company's Central and South American business.

He was softly spoken, but pushed 2degrees hard, and surprised analysts and rivals as it hit the million customer mark within three years of launch - although the time was also marked by a rocky relationship and legal standoff with 2degrees founder Tex Edwards (settled in November).

NBR remembers Eric Hertz as a straight talker; an effective manager who was more likely to be found rolling up his sleeves and getting on with the job rather than bragging about numbers. His passion for New Zealand was genuine and broad ranging. Offline he would often talk about he and his wife's extensive travels around the country, and quizzed NBR about the history of NZ politics - a growing area of interest for the 2degrees leader.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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16 Comments & Questions

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Eric was a wonderful man and a true dream to work with! He was honest and open, cared about his staff and I am proud to count myself in with them. When he was with WWC he called me over here in Bismarck ND to tell me "Fred how would you like to meet me in Hawaii?" I thought it was a joke but less than 6 month later my husband and I were in Maui learning about the new "hello" logo for Cellular ONE. This was and forever will be my favourite company and group of wonder CEOs and VP and Pres to work for. God Bless you Eric and Kathy! Prayers are with you and your family. Fred Strand

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Mr. Hertz will be sadly missed. I was fortunate to meet him and work with him briefly in 1993 at Bell South's Cellular One in Madison, Wisconsin. Mr. Hertz was not only a kind, compassionate and articulate leader, but also one of those special individuals who knew every employee's name, greeted him/her warmly, and made every person feel like a VIP. In many ways, Mr. Hertz was the epitome of servant leadership. My sincere condolences to his family during this tragic time. The legacy he leaves behind professionally, with the thousands of people he has mentored, will live on.

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I had the pleasure of working with Eric off and on over the last 20 years at multiple companies. I last communicated with him after he landed in NZ and can honestly say he was thrilled about the job, the challenge, and about being in the beautiful country I once had the pleasure to work in. It is not an exaggeration to say that, through knowing him, I am working where I am today -- and this is a good thing. Eric, you touched my life for the better, were a good person and you will be missed. There are wet eyes in Atlanta today. May God welcome you and Kathy with open arms.

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Such an awful thing to happen.

Eric and Kathy were special people and this is just a huge loss on so many levels.

Feeling for Ari right now.

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So sad. He was a wonderful man.

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Eric. While you hired 'n' let me go within new legislation, never told me why. It was a lesson you taught me and you made me reflect and improve. You are (still) a charismatic person who inspired many and broke the duopoly and kept everyone honest. I hope your passion for changing the market and making things fair for consumers, competitors and cultural awareness continues in your name Mr n Mrs Hertz. A great import to NZ and a likable couple, even if only met them once. The corporate culture from top down was good. I hope your legacy continues. Lots of love to your family.

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It goes without saying the tragic loss of Eric and his wife Kathy will hit many people very hard and will continue to do so for some time. My thoughts and condolences go to the Hertz family.
Eric was an inspirational leader and grounded CEO whom I and many other members of staff in 2 degrees had a great working relationship with. He wanted to be there with you, encouraging yet not above you.
Keeping all focused to drive the vision along with inspiration. Eric gave that gift to all at 2 degrees. Nobody will ever match the leaps in which he progressed the NZ mobile telecommunications industry and gave fair service and price to consumers.

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I am deeply saddened to learn that Eric and Kathy have perished. I knew Eric from High School where he played the trombone in our HS band. I played the tuba. He sat near me in band and we were high school chums through band. I am greatly proud to see how he has grown professionally, and having known him as a youth, assuredly in a personal way too. I'd like to pass on my condolences to his family, friends, professional associates and the people of New Zealand who lost two very good people.

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Dear Hertz Family, and 2degrees Company:

Eric was my boss in Bellsouth Ecuador, South America, many years ago. At that time he was the CEO of the company, in my job role as legal and compliance manager, I was very close to management decisions and Eric´s way to work. He worked with passion and he was very honestly, also a happy person.... always positive.

I just found the sadly news, and I want to present my respectful and sincere condolences to their daughter, family, friends and colleagues.

Eric and Kathy, rest in peace.

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I had the pleasure of working with Eric while he was the CEO at Zumobi. He was kind, respectful and worthy of admiration. I am deeply saddened by the terrible news. My sincere condolences to his family.

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We met Eric and kathy for the first time, by chance, on Good Friday when they landed their beautifully restored bergundy coloured Beechcraft air plane (not the one they have been lost in) at Waihi Beach airstrip after having visited Pauanui. We found them to be absolutely delightful and friendly people, and after a a really nice chat about their plane, we shook hands and they climbed into their aircraft and we waved to them as they took off down the airstrip and onto Ardmore. We did not know at that time of whom they really were, as no surname was mentioned in our introductions. Then to learn the next day of the tragedy was devastating and hard to grapple with. That brief encounter has left an impact, due to the type of people they were. Our thoughts and condolences go to their families.

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Eric and I worked together at BellSouth in the 90's. I always admired Eric's willingness to freely speak his mind, even when he had something to controversial to say. He was an advocate for our customers and employees first and foremost. Eric was bright and offered a positive outlook on the business and life. I am deeply saddened by this loss and I will miss him.

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It is with great sadness that we have learned of the tragic accident that took the life of our next door neighbors in Kirkland, Washington. To Ari, our most heartfelt condolences. They will be missed.

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A sad affair and may they rest in peace.

However, who paid for this very expensive body recovery?

And why hasn't the Key government kept its promise about retrieving the sons, husbands and brothers of the Pike River mining folk?

This is a disgraceful business. If our supposedly cash-strapped government can afford to throw hundreds of millions of dollars ($200,000.00 alone Key promised to one northern tribe on Waitangi Day!) it can keep its promise to these West Coast mining families to bring these men's bodies back to them.

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Just so innapropriate, Cassandra.

RIP to this couple - nice to read of people's respectful thoughts and memories.

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Sad to see some people bringing their political causes at a time when people are mourning and celebrating the departed.
Understand you may not be unhappy with the Government - however, ask your questions in the appropriate forums. There are people still grieving in this situation. Your comments and questions at this time do not help your cause in any way.

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