Rarely in life do you meet someone so full of respect and humility.
The respect encompassed all aspects of his life, his family first, people generally and vitally important to him was the respect he held for the environment and the native species that inhabit it in this country.
Sir Robert Fenwick — Rob to all of those who knew him — was a unique individual. He won many accolades, a knighthood, induction to the Business Hall of Fame and a finalist in the New Zealander of the Year, all bestowed on him in 2016. Just a week before his death last Wednesday he was recognised by the Institute of Directors for his leadership over three decades.
He was totally unaffected by it, such was his humility. Titles and honours meant little to him, the environment meant everything.
Reflect on an article he wrote just a few weeks ago which in many ways summed up the way he thought when talking about his determination for this country to become predator-free, to save many threatened species from extinction.
"I am also facing extinction. For five years, I have danced with cancer. I refuse to call it a struggle or a battle — I am dancing with the disease. We swing, we twist, sometimes we lift, and too often we step on each other's feet. But my determined dance partner will end our dance before I'm ready. Time is running out for me, and it is with profound sadness that I consider that time is running out, too, for our precious environment.
"Although my doctor has exhausted all the options, we as a nation have not exhausted ours when it comes to saving these species. This is a crisis. Time is running out for the treasures of nature that we love, and it is worth using every last breath, all of our collective energy, to save our land and secure our future."
It's tragic that this man who had so much to live for, his loving wife and three treasured daughters, and a man who treasured everything around him, was taken so prematurely.
His beloved trees in his nurtured forest on his Waiheke Island property, which he proudly escorted visitors through, even when his strength was waning, will never be forgotten by those of us so privileged to take the walk with him.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Reflect on what he said about his favourite, the ancient pūriri tree.
"Iwi would have appreciated this tree, and Captain Cook would've seen those same towering branches as he cruised the Waiheke coastline in 1769. It's remarkable to think what this tree has lived through, how many other people have leant against it, drifted their hands across its trunk and sought its shelter. This tree, all trees, are natural historians, keepers of our past — but they are also vital guardians of our future."
The world is a lesser place without Rob, a mate of more than 40 years, but hopefully his legacy for the environment will at least be realised.