Richard was central to bringing Te Tau Ihu iwi Ngāti Apa Ki Te Ra To, Ngāti Kuia and Rangitāne o Wairau together to form the Kurahaupo Trust for the purpose of jointly negotiating a Treaty Settlement for all their historical claims. As Chair of the Kurahaupo Trust he then led negotiations for their settlement which was signed in 2010.
According to his nephew Keelan Walker, Richard had a love of aviation history. “He was the only treaty negotiator that ever negotiated a Skyhawk into a settlement. He knew they were going to be sold to the States for their top gun pilots, so he got one for Rangitāne, arguing it had a place in Marlborough’s history, and it was gifted to Omaka, where it is today,” he says.
Richard was committed to upholding the history of Te Tau Ihu (the top of the South Island). He challenged the allocation of aquiculture space in the Marlborough Sounds which led to a Court of Appeal finding that the Māori Land Court could determine whether areas of foreshore and seabed was customary land.
Richard was part of the group which oversaw the return of ancestor remains, removed from the Wairau Bar and held by the Canterbury Museum for 70 years.
A statement released by Rangitāne o Wairau noted ‘He will be remembered for his commitment to Rangitāne, his leadership and his passion for our whanau.’
Richard was Development Manager at Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne o Wairau and a director of the Rangitāne commercial board.
He was appointed to the Māori Heritage Council on 12 August 2014 for a three-year term during which he also served on the Rārangi Kōrero/New Zealand Heritage List Committee.
Makere Rika-Heke Kaiwhakahaere Tautiaki Wahi Taonga – Director Māori Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga recalls that for many years Richard was also a White Ribbon rider and Ambassador; reaching out to make a difference in communities using his motorcycle as a vehicle for discussion.
According to Makere, Richard was “a true gentleman, father and grandfather, an awesome White Ribbon Rider, speaker, and organiser. Your mauri and guidance will be missed.”