Wednesday, 6 August 2003

Afton Hema

"The Evil that Men do lives after them; the Good is oft interred with their bones." - William Shakespeare

Let me take a break from punditocracy on the Deep and Meaningful events of the week.

I want to talk about a very ordinary - and a very extraordinary man. A good bloke who I will always remember having a dirty great big cheesy grin on his face. A Software Engineer who worked on Defence projects. A Rugby player. A Family man. A man who just dropped dead in the middle of a conversation at work on 31st July.

He'll never make the front pages of International Newspapers, unlike Uday and Osay.

Unlike Uday and Osay, he was a decent Human Being, neither a Saint nor Monster. Oh, but a Character. I'll never forget him being able to scrounge up a Rugby Training Machine one day on very short notice for the King of Tonga. A man of great integrity, friendly and possessed of a wry sense of humour.

I worked alongside him at Hollandse Signaalapparaten in Hengelo, the Netherlands for nearly a year, and for some time thereafter at HMAS Watson, the Royal Australian Naval base at Sydney's South Head. I'd lost touch with him, and was meaning to look him up. And now it's too late.

He lived, he did well by his family, and suddenly, before his friends had time to say goodbye, he's gone. And the world carries on, uncaring and without noticing.

... a very humble but highly principled man who simply did what was right and what he believed was his duty...
Yes, that describes him.

Unlike Uday and Osay, his legacy is a fine family, his son Tristan and daughter Crystal, who have requested donations to St. Vincent's Hospital in lieu of flowers. His legacy is also in the design of systems that have helped save people's lives, and have measureably increased the safety of Australians and others at home and overseas.

Unlike Uday and Osay, his death makes the world a poorer place in every sense.

Afton won't get a Headline in the world's press. But he will get this small memorial from a friend and colleague, and he'll always be remembered with affection by those who knew him. The Good he did lives after him, the Evil of Uday and Orsay is ended, finis.

So for once old Bill Shakespeare got it exactly wrong.

( In Memoriam : Afton Te'a Hema 5th March 1949 - 31st July 2003 )


Chicka said...

I had the pleasure of playing rugby with Afton. He was a tower of a man and literally a gentle giant, a true gentlemen and a man you could always depend on. Many a dinner after the game and words of wisdom came easy to him.
I was very sad to hear of his passing but he was/is the kind of guy that will always be with us.

Chicka said...


T J Hema said...

He would've been 66 today. A good man, much missed.

Certainly not forgotten.

T J Hema said...

He would've been 66 today. A good man, much missed.

Certainly not forgotten.

Zoe Brain said...

Tristan I presume?

You come from good stock. I miss him too.

T J Hema said...


And thank you.

Rob Wells said...

Thanks for this Zoe.

I still occasionally come back and read it to remind myself what a great bloke Afton was.

I worked alongside both you and Afton at Krupp Atlas Australia.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Afton on a large defence project. He was a large man physically, mentally and spiritutally.

I regret that I was unable to attend his funeral.

Does anyone know where he is buried so that I can say my goodbyes?

Lenny Fallon

Zoe Brain said...

I suggest you contact his son Tristan, who has a Google account.

Clicking on his name on that page will give you a hotmail address.