Eric Hertz

Americans tend not to have a sense of humour, I've found. They take it all too seriously and don't enjoy life as much as you'd 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. He laughed when I offered to lease him space on my iPhone charger during a Commerce Commission conference on termination rates. And he and his wife Kathy had become permanent residents, living life to the full in New Zealand as locals, not as temporary visitors.

If the news from today is borne out, Eric and Kathy are missing after their plane crashed in the sea off the west coast of the North Island. Searchers have returned to base for the night - they'll resume in the morning but barring a miracle, this is a recovery mission, not a rescue.

It's not overblown to say that Eric has lead 2Degrees to make dramatic changes to the New Zealand telecommunications space. Without 2Degrees we would be facing a duopoly in mobile telecommunications and wouldn't have rollover minutes, shared data or any of the other innovations 2Degrees has brought to market.

The company has changed the landscape of competition for the New Zealand telecommunications market in an incredibly positive way and we as an industry are all the more poorer for today's news.

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.

Our sympathies and thoughts are with Eric and Kathy's family and with the team at 2Degrees.