16 Jun 2015

'Nothing was too big a job for Richard'

8:11 pm on 16 June 2015

The people of Ngāti Raukawa in Horowhenua, and the Māori digital community, are mourning the death of Richard Orzecki.

Richard Orzecki

Richard Orzecki Photo: LINKEDIN

Mr Orzecki, 59, died this week.

He was a member of Ngā Pū Wāea (the Māori Broadband Working Group) and pushed for marae across the country, including his own, Ngāti Wehiwehi Marae in Manakau, to get connected to the internet.

Ngā Pū Wāea chair Antony Royal said Mr Orzecki led the way in improving people's lives through digital technology.

"He's been very keen in trying to push the boundaries as much as possible. He's been involved with Internet New Zealand and with the Māori Internet Society," Mr Royal said.

"Lately he has been working with Ngā Pū Wāea as a member and he's been working on projects such as getting internet based health schemes up and running, a telehub project for Māori to participate in, particularly in rural areas to get better health care.

"He's been very interested in 'wired marae', in fact he set up the free wifi at Wehiwehi Marae, which he belongs to."

Māori Party farewells loved 'foot-soldier'

The Māori Party was in mourning today for the loss of its loved friend, champion and trail-blazer.

"Richard was one of our foot-soldiers from our earliest days," Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said.

"His commitment to the cause could not be faulted; he inspired everyone in his wake through his enthusiasm and his motivational leadership."

Mr Orzecki took on the mantle of electorate chair for Te Tai Hauāuru and immediately set out to help set the strategic direction for the Māori Party.

"Nothing was too big a job for Richard. We saw that same application to the task when he became a member of Ngā Pū Waea, the Māori Broadband Working Group," Mr Flavell said.

"Richard fully understood the power of connection for whānau and worked assiduously to link up whānau with their marae through technology. He was a staunch advocate for investing in the right communications infrastructure for marae to consolidate their role as the virtual centres of their community."

Mr Orzecki served on two district health boards, was a member of the New Zealand Māori Council and had previously been chair of his iwi, Te Rūnanga o Raukawa.

Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox said: "While he was proud of his Polish whakapapa through his father, his passion knew no end for the advancement of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Wehiwehi."

"When he returned home to Otaki in 1997 it was to ensure his children were surrounded with the strength and example of their cultural connection. For Richard, there was no better place in the world than Wehiwehi Marae in Manakau," Mrs Fox said.

Mr Flavell said Mr Orzecki did much to strengthen Ngāti Wehiwehi, including pioneering a historic meeting with Horowhenua District Council to develop a Memorandum of Understanding; creating an opportunity for a Memorandum of Partnership with Te Papa around the Ngā Mere Pounamu; and as one of the claimants in Wai 1482 of Te Kōtahitanga o te Iwi o Ngāti Wehiwehi.

"More recently, Richard has been a role model and a mentor to many through his determination to focus on healthy lifestyle, and to make his personal transformation serve as an inspiration to others," Mr Flavell said.

"This was the essence of Richard - being prepared to stand up and take a risk, to lead with courage and to do so, always in the hope of bringing others along with him.

"We will miss him dearly and know that his incredible contribution in so many spheres will leave a lasting legacy of this man we loved as our mate."

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