CHB ‘legend’ mourned
Sport and education figure lost too soon
Michael John Lewis
28-10-62 – 06-09-16
Tributes are flowing for Ongaonga principal Mike Lewis, who died suddenly last week, rocking the school and community who had come to know him well over the years.
Lewis joined Ongaonga School in his first stint as principal in 1999 having previously taught at Hereworth School.
Deputy Principal Karen Barkle said Lewis had been honoured last week as a generous, positive and big-hearted leader and friend – a legend.
“He is remembered by staff as a person who was always prepared to take risks, offering many of them their first opportunity to join the teaching staff,” Barkle said.
“His message to visitors to the school that he was so proud of would be ‘you’re here once as a visitor, the second time, you’re family.”
Lewis was widely known for his passion for sport and was recognised in 2014 at the CHB Sports Awards where he picked up a Sloans Saddlery/CHB Party Hire Service to Sport gong for his services to cricket and the annual Onga 7s tournament that attracted hundreds of visitors.
A cricket fanatic, he was at that time the lead facilitator of the interschool cricket competition, the chairman of the CHB Cricket Club and a willing volunteer in cricket skills programmes and trainings.
His own sporting achievements included playing Central League football and making the trials for New Zealand teams at under-16 and under-19 levels. But it was cricket that received the benefit of his mentoring.
A news item from 2011 noted he was a New Zealand Cricket level two qualified coach and also achieved a level two qualification as a football coach.
CHB cricket stalwart Colin Schaw said Lewis had served the club for 17 years as chairman and coach.
“You name it, he did it,” Schaw said of a man who multitasked on summer weekends, scoring games while providing media with premier men’s scoreboards.
“He was huge on junior cricket. He and I did some Hawke’s Bay under-11s and under-15s coaching together.
“He’s going to leave a big hole in CHB I can tell you.”
Schaw said Lewis could be hard to please during selections because he wanted every player to have the opportunity to play.
“He’ll be sorely missed with all sport in CHB because he took part in anything and everything,” he said.
In CHB he was recognised as one of the voices of the Central FM Saturday morning radio sport segment.
Station owner Simon Law said Lewis had co-hosted the Centralines Sports Show since April 2009 and had been a constant, working with several hosts including himself and John Swinburne.
Current co-host Tim Ewen and Lewis had been together as a team for three years as “The Coach” and “The Principal”.
“Mike was incredibly passionate about sport, particularly soccer and cricket. If he could get a cricket story and interview in during the winter, he considered it a personal triumph,” Law said.
“It took dedication and passion to get up every Saturday to co-host a radio show but Mike told me as late as last week how much he enjoyed being part of it all.”
He said Lewis would be sadly missed, a view a devastated Ewen echoed.
On a Facebook tribute page set up last week, a contributor described Lewis in this way:
“When we honestly ask ourselves what did Mike mean in our lives, I believe we will look back, not on a man who gave advice or direction as a leader or coach, but as a man who genuinely cared for his staff, students, players and people in general.”
A service to farewell Lewis will be held at the CHB Municipal Theatre in Waipawa today from 1.30pm.
He is survived by his wife, Racquel MacDonald and son Hamish, 22, a cricketer who last Christmas returned from a playing stint in England.
Photo caption – SORELY MISSED: Mike Lewis had a great rapport with children, notably in sport. Here he is with Waipawa golfer Lucy Owen. PHOTO/SUPPLIED