Dear Richard, your passion for India will continue to inspire us

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Venkat Raman
Auckland, May 13, 2022

We have lost a dear friend: Dr Richard Worth (3.07.1948-10.05.2022)

Dr Richard Worth, who passed away in Auckland on Tuesday, April 10, 2022, after an illness, will be remembered by the Indian community in New Zealand for his passion to bring about a long and sustained economic and commercial relationship between the two countries.

He will also be remembered by several friends in New Delhi and Mumbai, the two cities that we visited almost 16 years ago.

Although he retired from active politics on June 2, 2009, under unpleasant circumstances, he continued to evince interest in the India-New Zealand relations and his services to the Indian community will continue to be recognised. He was considered an ‘ideal candidate to represent India in New Zealand’ but held the posts of Honorary Consul of Columbia and Monaco.

As an old friend, I convey our sincere condolences to his wife Lynn and daughter Virginia. We pray for his soul to rest in peace.

A Memorial Service will be held at 11 am on Monday, May 16, 2022, at St Mary’s-in-Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, Auckland. All communications should be sent to P O Box 246, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.

Dr Richard Worth speaking at the Indian Merchants Chamber, Mumbai on September 26, 2006 (INL File Photo)

Distinguished New Zealander

Dr Richard was decorated by Queen Elizabeth II with the OBE (the Most Excellent Honour of the British Empire- Military Division), VRD (The Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve), KStJ (Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem or The Order of St John).

He was one of the founders and Chairman of the ‘India Trade Group’ (ITG) a not-for-profit organisation aimed at building trade relations between the two countries and the ‘India Trade Alliance’ (ITA), a commercial venture to promote sound investments in both countries.

He later joined the New Zealand India Trade Alliance (NZTA) as Deputy Chairman along with Dr Don Brash (former Governor of Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Leader of the National Party and ACT Party), with Giri Gupta, a prominent businessman and original Founder-Managing Director of Indian Weekender, a community newspaper as the Chairman

Writing in August 15, 2006, Independence Day Special of Indian Newslink, he said, “We should be actively investigating direct air-links with India; we should be reinvigorating the Joint Trade Commission which has been meeting only spasmodically and we should be revamping the India New Zealand Business Council so it can perform its role to work closely with its India-based counterpart organisation to generate new business opportunities.”

ITG had organised several meetings involving businesses representing members of the Indian and Kiwi communities, including a Trade Exhibition and the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of India’s Independence in 2007.

Dr Richard was a heart-warming person and always tried to create an environment of amity and friendliness even while discussing issues that stirred the politically inclined and the apolitical at gatherings.

Dr Richard Worth with (from left) Mumbai businessmen Roosi Modi, Ramesh Daswani and KC College principal Manju Nichani at a meeting held at the R C College Mumbai on September 25, 2022 (INL File Photo)

Visit to India

Had India and New Zealand signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), he would have gone with a deep sense of satisfaction. At least two years before the Labour government launched a study (2008) to consider the possibility of a Free-Trade Agreement with India (which continues to elude any progress) he wanted to visit India- a rarity those days among Members of Parliament.

It was in September 2006 that he announced his decision to visit New Delhi and Mumbai. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (he was not an MP then) arranged meetings and visits to people and places of importance in New Delhi, while I organised his meetings with business and professional organisations and film personalities in Mumbai.

Returning to New Zealand brimming with ideas, he decided to launch ‘India Trade Group’ along with Tim Groser (who was a National MP then), National Party Board Member the late Alan Towers, Mr Bakshi, Mr Gupta, me and a few others. He also formed a commercial venture called, ‘India Trade Alliance’ which was later wound up.

“There is no organisation in New Zealand which is serious about promoting trade with India. Let us move sincerely and make things happen,” he said and with the help of Ramesh Daswani, a Mumbai based businessman, we set up an office of ITG in India’s commercial capital.

Dr Richard became a Minister of the Crown after the spectacular victory of the National Party in the November 2008 general election and hence had to divest his interests in ITG and ITA, along with Mr Groser (who was appointed Trade Minister) and Mr Bakshi who became a List MP.

The Bollywood Connection: Dr Richard Worth with (from left) Bollywood actor Dalip Tahil, Pheroza Modi, Marianne Rao, Randhir Kapoor and Roosi Modi at the Modi residence in Mumbai on September 26, 2006 (INL File Photo)

It was his vision and passion that encouraged ITG to organise several meetings and facilitate the visit of corporate chiefs from India- one of the most significant of which was that of Dr Anil Kumar Khandelwal in May 2007, which led to the establishment of the Bank of Baroda (New Zealand) Limited. Dr Richard and the ITG assisted Dr Khandelwal with his initial inquiries and appointments with RBNZ and the resident business communities.

Impressive career

Born in Auckland on July 3, 1948, Richard Westwood Worth obtained an LLB (Hons) and Master of Jurisprudence (First Class) from the University of Auckland, a Master of Business Administration (Distinction) from Massey University and a PhD from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with a thesis on ‘The Closer Economic Relationship between Australia and New Zealand: The choices other than quiescence or withdrawal in the face of conflict?

Dr Richard was a prominent lawyer and held several positions of significance in law and administration. He was the Executive Chairman of Simpson Grierson, a large law firm with branches all over New Zealand.

Earlier, he was in the service of the New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserves, became a Captain and held the role of the Chief of Naval Reserves for four years.

Political and Ministerial roles

He entered politics in the late 1990s and became a Member of Parliament, winning the electorate seat of Epsom in Auckland in 1999 and 2002. Following an agreement with the ACT Party, the National Party nominated him in the 2005 general election as a List MP, a role that he undertook until his resignation on June 2, 2009. His strong campaign earned him the reward of polling the largest number of Party Votes for National in that year’s general election.

His roles in government included Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Land Information, and Associate Minister of Justice. He opposed the Civil Union Act 2004, which granted recognition to same-sex couples, proposed the creation of a National Day to replace Waitangi Day, and put forward a Private Members Bill to address miscarriages of justice. As Minister for Land Information, Dr Richard introduced the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill in 2008 which sought to correct historic errors relating to land status.

He also served on the Regulations Review Committee and Law and Order Committee and had appointments as the National Party spokesperson for Defence, Veterans’ Affairs and Justice.

I am aware of the circumstances that led to his resignation as a Minister of the Crown.  He decided to retire from politics and pursue his legal profession, especially Dispute Resolution. He also pursued interests in building India-New Zealand relations.

In homage to our friendship and as a tribute to his vision for Indo-Kiwi relations, we will reproduce an open-ed that he wrote for us in our August 15, 2006 in our May 15, 2022 Digital Edition Editorial.

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