Announcing his death, NZNO acting chief executive Mairi Lucas said he was remembered for his kindness, passion and commitment as a staunch trade unionist. NZNO corporate services manager David Woltman said Lea had led NZNO’s corporate administration across the South Island and lower North Island and was sorely missed. “Andy was very well liked by staff,” he said.
Lea began his union career in 1972 with the Clerical Workers’ Union as a delegate, then executive member and finally as a field officer. He worked for a range of unions, including as the South Island organiser for the Food and Chemical Workers’ Union; for the Dairy Workers’ Union; as South Island secretary of the National Distribution Union; and was a lead organiser with the Service and Food Workers’ Union.
He was also involved in politics, originally with the Values Party and later with the Labour Party. Lea was a JP for 36 years, a Civil Defence volunteer for many years and involved in a range of other community activities. Speaking at his memorial service, Christchurch Mayor Leanne Dalziel said Lea had given a lifetime of service to his community. He is survived by his wife Judy and three adult children.