Richard Michael Noonan

25 September 1961 - 25 February 1992
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From the stories folder that accompanies The Quilt to displays:

Richard was born three months after his older sister, Geraldine had passed way, which made him very special to his family. He was educated at St. Patricks Convent School, Kaponga, a town with about 500 people on the south side of Mt Taranaki, New Zealand.He was a very studious young man and wanted to go to New Plymouth Frances Douglas College run by the De La Salle Brothers. He enjoyed his school years.

On leaving school he worked at the Hawera Taranaki Savings Bank for four years and lived in a flat. As he wanted nice things for his home, he also worked as a barman at the then Central Hotel, two nights a week and at the T.A.B. on Saturdays. He wasn’t afraid of work. But banking wasn’t to be his career.

He left New Zealand for the big smoke Sydney, where he started out in Foreign Exchange then joined Thomas Cook Travel at Centre Point. Travel is what he loved and was very popular with his clients. This was a young man who always cared about others.

After four years he decided home and family were calling, which was to the delight of his family and friends. He came back to New Plymouth, working as a travel consultant for Thomas Cook by day, and Maitre D of the then Devon Motor Lodge by night. He was very good at restaurant work. Also, when needed, he would work with I.H.C. people at the Waitara residence and at New Plymouth so it was not often that he took time out for himself.

His family loved having him living so near. Family always came first with Richard, especially his grandparents whom he loved dearly. His sister, Michelle and Richard were very close and were always able to confide in each other. There was only a year between them and they were very good mates.

Michelle married Dwane and their three children, Dyllan, Sarah and Emma loved him dearly. He was like Father Christmas, always bringing home presents and taking them to parks etc to do interesting things.

Richard’s brother Willy and his wife Judi-Anne have four children, but only the oldest, Johnathan remembers his uncle. We tell them all about him and they say he is that bright light in the sky. Richard and Willy were just getting to know each other again when Richard was diagnosed as having HIV. This made Michelle and Willy very angry. This wonderful brother was going to die.

For Richard to tell his parents that he had the Virus, and that he may only have 18 months to live was the most stressful thing he’d ever had to do. He actually came home three days before he could do it. It was after he had almost lost his life to pneumonia, unbeknown to his family, that he felt he could put it off no longer.

He taught us so much about his sickness, and educated us all in how to cope and understand others with the virus. He started public speaking in Auckland at lots of meetings ‘living with AIDS’, which helped so many people. He also spoke on death and dying.

This man was a prince among men and wanted people to know this disease is out there and that it kills.

When he was diagnosed with the virus he was working with Jet Set Travel in Auckland. He knew his sight was deteriorating and he was getting so tired, he finally had to leave his job. Richard wasn’t going to give up though, he said with all his knowledge there must be someone out there who would employ him. He met a lady who was opening a restaurant and as he had the experience she gave him a job at Beauchamps Restaurant. Richard was so grateful to his boss for giving him this chance to continue leading a useful life for what time he had left.

He set himself a goal to work until the week before Christmas. He would stay in bed all day, then get up and shower and dress. His Aunty Teresa and his mother would beg him not to go, but if you knew Richard, come hell or high water, he would reach his goal. We don’t know how he even got to work, let alone got through the night, but he did. On the final night he was so pleased he had succeeded, I guess it was self-satisfaction.

In a couple of days he packed his car and went home for his last Christmas with his nieces and nephews. He brought out present after present. I think he was making up for not being around to see them grow up.

His flatmates in Auckland were so supportive, his mother would go to Auckland every time he became ill and lived in his room and helped nurse him. Then he would go back to Takapuna to his Aunty Teresa, Uncle Phil and Adriane who always had the time to care for him (it was his home as long as he needed it). Richard and his mum would have much trouble managing. It’s these kind of people that are hard to find. Uncle Phil even used to wash and clean his car while Richard would sit and watch, unable to help.

Aunty Paula would have him at her flat and would care for him for which he was so grateful. Since Richard’s death his Aunt was killed tragically in a car accident.

This man was special to his Aunts and Uncles, cousins and extended families (very numerous).

It was probably harder for Richard’s dad, sister and brother as they had to stay in Taranaki and couldn’t be there for him (it wasn’t possible to all be in Auckland). However, they did make it within Richard’s last few days and he died in peace with so much love. His friends kept a vigil at Mercy Hospital around the clock which meant he was never alone.

After reading this I hope you look at his Quilt and feel you know this young man,

The Mountain represents Taranaki, where Richard spent most of his life.

The Goldie photographs are his Maori heritage, of which Richard was very proud. He was from the Ngati-Tama tribe.

The racing car modified 10s is well known throughout the country. Richard always attended Waikaraka Park when Willy was racing, even when he was ill. He knew Willy would become a New Zealand Champion, and the year after Richards death Willy became New Zealand Sportsman of the year.

The fuchsias are his mother’s love, around the family home you will always find these flowers.

Photo of Richard’s mother with his panel for the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt

Mikki-tae has this to say about Richard:

Untie was his name to us, it was given as a mark of respect. Untie treated us like his own, he was caring and very generous always giving good advice and ready with a cuppa tea or a welcoming karanga when we came to visit him at his Sydney, Oxford street Paddington flatette. Just enough room for his fold out bed but always enough room for all of us to crash the night after a night out.

Some Sunday afternoons we would meet for lunch at his whare, enjoy a few drinks and waiata and when we got too loud he would muster us up and we would walk down to the Aubury Hotel singing waiata’s; you can picture Untie the tall fair curly hair one and myself, Greg, Joe, Brendon and Trash. We knew we were always safe around Untie.

I remember two of his dearest friends, James, who was a hairdresser for the rich and famous and Polly, who was so theatrical I’m sure Untie wanted to murder him at times, but they all got on like a house on fire.

I missed Untie when he decided to return home; we all knew that he was HIV positive. I was happy he did return to his whanau because they were everything to him.

Thank you my darling Untie, I have made you proud, my life is all I have wanted and I have been with my Tane for 27 years, we recently had our civil union and have been living back in Aotearoa for a while.I always think of you when any thing that associates Taranaki comes to mind. Greg & Don are well and very happy in Dublin; you will be proud of them both. Trash is happily coupled now with Clyde for over 15 years. Thank you for your generosity aroha be forever embedded in us your nieces.

Moe moe ra, haere atu ra haere atu ra………

Added July 2013

Memory from Michael

Added July 4, 2021

Never has he been forgotten, my friends and I still remember him. He lives in our hearts and minds.

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