Parliament fire victim was 'fun-loving, caring' Sid Hanzlik
The man who died after a small fire outside parliament has been described as a fun-loving and caring man, who was aggrieved at the Family Court after losing contact with his children.
Police on Tuesday named the man as 60-year-old Zdenek Hanzlik, also known as Sid. Hanzlik was taken to Wellington Hospital after the incident on Thursday afternoon, and died hours later.
Hanzlik, who was born in Czechoslovakia, had been living until recently in Rotorua.
In the days and hours before his death, Hanzlik was seen protesting with banners outside various courts in Wellington.
Lee-Ann Allerby, of Rotorua, said: "It was a massive shock because he was such a lovely guy.
"Just a big absolute shock, and just a shame that a beautiful man had gone," she said.
"I've known him over five years and he was just fun-loving, caring, always willing to have a chat, would always come into work and tell a joke to you.
"He was just normal Sid."
She did not know whether he had family in Rotorua or many close friends, and said he was reclusive and didn't talk much about himself.
But he would always ask about her children. "He would always ask how I was, and would very rarely talk about himself."
He opened F H Autoservice on Sunset Rd in Rotorua about three years ago, and lived in the workshop, she said.
Although she did not know him as a close friend, his loss has deeply affected her. "I went to the workshop [last week] and just sat out there for about half an hour.
"I am just saddened by a man who had to go through this alone ..."
Palmerston North man Karl Pearce said he spoke to Hanzlik as he was protesting with his placards outside the High Court in Molesworth St on Wednesday afternoon.
"I saw him there and I thought I would just pop over and see what it was about.
"And he talked about his family and the loss he felt, not having access to his family," Pearce said.
Hanzlik felt the Family Court was not listening to him, and he had lost complete contact with his children, who were in Japan after he separated from his ex-wife.
"[He] was feeling frustrated," Pearce said. "He didn't feel listened to, that was the big one.
"None of his signs had anything against his ex-wife."
After they spoke, Hanzlik agreed to have his photo taken and went, and got some more of his placards.
One of them read: "In Iran you stone mothers; in New Zealand fathers." Another read: "My vote No! To Family Court lawyers racket."
Hanzlik was taken from Parliament grounds to Wellington Hospital on Thursday afternoon in a critical condition and died overnight.
A placard left on the ground read: "Issue is not to take children's mother away. Enough murdering father by ..."
Another friend, Chum Hasler, who knew Hanzlik when he worked near Stratford, in Taranaki, said he spoke to him four days before his death.
"He rang me and he was talking a bit funny.
"I couldn't talk to him for very long but he said everything was going to be all right, don't worry about a thing."
He said the pair met when Hanzlik came to Toko, near Stratford, to work in the garage there.
Hanzlik had been a marine engineer, Hasler said, and he understood he had served in the Russian Navy.
"He could fix anything. If he couldn't get a part, he would make it.
"He would change a gearbox at 9pm and have the truck back on the road the next morning."
Hanzlik was also widely read, and fluent in Spanish and Russian, Hasler said.
"He had about a tonne and half of books, and he would quote Julius Caesar and those sort of people.
"But many people couldn't take his humour.
"He would be ordering a carburettor one minute, and the next talking about politics.
"When he started talking about politics, he became a little hard to follow."
Hanzlik believed New Zealand to be over-regulated. "He would say, 'Under communism there are 40 laws, under NZ law there are 40,000 laws,' and then he would laugh it off at how stupid it was."
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