Waugh awarded for aviation work

Rev Dr Richard Waugh at the November 2018 launch of his book, Shot Over into the Shotover – Lessons from a New Zealand Air Accident. Times photo

Aviation chaplain, historian and author Howick’s Rev Dr Richard Waugh has been recognised by the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Waugh, a long-time east Auckland church leader and spokesperson for the Erebus National Memorial, has been awarded the society’s Meritorious Gold Service Award.

The Royal Aeronautical Society said the award recognises that Waugh’s contribution to New Zealand civil aviation “has been considerable and has had direct benefit to several aspects of the industry”.

“He is one of New Zealand’s foremost civil aviation historians, undertaking extensive research and publishing New Zealand aviation books,” the society said in its summation in the latest issue of NZ Aviation News.

“He initiated and led a 17-year project to erect permanent memorials honouring the 73 New Zealanders killed in early airliner accidents from the 1930s to the 1960s.

“Richard pastorally contacted families, raised finance, wrote newspaper articles, conducted the services and was the media spokesman for the nine memorial projects.”

In his capacity as a voluntary aviation historian, Waugh has researched, authored and co-authored 13 books on many aspects of New Zealand civil aviation history, nationally and internationally with New Zealand’s involvement in the Southwest Pacific.

“The book provide a lasting record of history, written and visual – many books including photographs from private collections, many not published before, making a significant contribution to New Zealand transport and social history,” the society said.

“More recently, Richard worked tirelessly from early 2016 to advocate for a national memorial for the 257 victims of the Erebus tragedy, the worst aviation accident in the southern hemisphere.

“Richard’s work was done out of pastoral concern that there was no public venue where all the victims’ names could be displayed and respected.”

Final landowner approval for the Erebus National Memorial to be built at Parnell’s Dove Myer Robinson Park was given by the Waitemata Local Board on November 17, 2020.

The site faces Judges Bay and takes a small portion of grass area and step bank with the TePaerangi Ataata – Sky Song design.

Since 1998, Waugh has worked as Honorary Chaplain to the Honourable Company of Air Pilots (NZ Region).

As the only civil aviation chaplain in New Zealand, he has conducted and organised a wide range of aviation-related services and events.

Waugh, who was unable to attend the awards night in Wellington late last year, was this month to be recognised at an Auckland event however that was postponed due to the recent pandemic lockdown.