HUNDREDS of people have gathered in Auckland for a memorial service for Eric and Kathy Hertz, who died when their plane crashed into the sea off the coast of Kawhia nearly two weeks ago.
Mr Hertz was the chief executive of the 2degrees mobile phone company.
The couple had been traveling to Timaru to see their daughter when their Beechcraft Baron, which Mr Hertz was piloting, plunged into the sea following reports it was suffering engine trouble.
2degrees director Bill Osborne paid tribute to the couple, and the affection they had for their daughter Ari.
“We love her through the voice of her father and her mother, who have portrayed the great pride and love they had for Ari,” APNZ reported him saying.
“Ari is now part of the 2degrees family, because Eric and Kathy live through her.”
Mr Osborne said he and his wife had become close with the couple, who had moved from America to New Zealand.
“My wife Pia said to Kathy across the table ‘Kathy, when do you think you’ll go home…’. Kathy turned and said ‘Here, I’m home’. And Eric endorsed that.
“That’s how these two people were to us in New Zealand. They’ve crafted a mixture of different people in 2degrees, of different cultures, from different places, speaking different languages, wanting different things. Eric has created a family culture.”
Mrs Hertz helped young people prepare for work through a role at the Auckland University of Technology.
2degrees corporate affairs manager Matthew Bolland said Mr Hertz had an “infectious confidence” about the growing company.
“When they arrived, we knew we were getting a seasoned, international mobile expert. But Kathy was a bonus. A real bonus.”
Mrs Hertz had been vital when they were developing a plan to get Maori into the mobile phone industry.
“Kathy helped us strike a balance on what corporate wants, and what public groups need,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Authority is examining the plane wreckage to determine the cause of the crash.
Both bodies have been recovered.
IMAGE: Royal New Zealand Navy