Tributes are flowing for the chief executive of New Zealand mobile network operator 2 Degrees, Eric Hertz who together with wife Kathy died when their small plane crashed into the sea off Raglan last Saturday.
Mat Bolland, 2 Degrees director of corporate affairs, confirmed the fatal plane accident and said the company is providing support to the Hertz's daughter.
The country's communications and information minister Amy Adams said in her tribute to Hertz that he had "made a substantial difference to the telecommunications scene in New Zealand."
“Eric was one of the true gentleman of the sector and it was a pleasure to work with him," Adams said.
Opposition party Labour also sent condolences to the family colleagues of Eric and Kathy Hertz.
“Eric Hertz was widely respected in the sector. The loss of his expertise will be keenly felt in the telecommunications industry," Labour's ICT and telecommunications spokesperson Clare Curran said.
The main technology partner of 2 Degrees, Huawei, also expressed its condolences. Huawei chief executive of New Zealand, Arthur Zhang, called Hertz a "dear friend" and said "I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing."
Paul Brislen, chief executive of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand said that under Hertz' leadership, 2 Degrees made "dramatic changes" to the NZ mobile phone market. The market was a duopoly prior to the third mobile operator setting up shop, with some of the highest calling and data rates in the world.
As of last year, 2 Degrees was thought to have around one million customers and a quarter of the New Zealand market, which is dominated by global giant Vodafone and local incumbent Telecom.
An American, Hertz was born in 1954 and enjoyed a thirty-year long career in several countries with many telcos, including AT&T, McCaw Cellular, and BellSouth before joining 2 Degrees in July 2009.