Mike Hosking: Why Mike Moore was my favourite politician

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Feb 2020, 1:42PM
Former PM Mike Moore passed away after a lengthy health battle. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Mike Hosking: Why Mike Moore was my favourite politician

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Feb 2020, 1:42PM

I think on balance Mike Moore was my favourite politician.

I had a not unreasonable amount to do with him. Last time we talked at length was in the TVNZ green room for a programme I was hosting that, in all honesty, I can't remember the name of.

But it was one of those forays into half hour interview shows at a time interview shows on TV were going out of fashion. But the good thing was it solved one of the great Mike Moore dilemmas you faced as a broadcaster.

It gave him time to talk and the interviewer the freedom from the panic that normally ensued in a more constrained timeslot. To fill the commercial 22 minute half hour, all you really needed to do was say "Mike Moore good evening, so what do you reckon then?"

His stories off air were even longer and more florid, and occasionally lurid. He knew everyone, had been everywhere, remembered everything, and loved filling you in on every single detail.

He always struck me as a slightly uncomfortable combination of ill health and mad passion. He had, of course, several bouts of cancer, but fought back each time. And I wondered if his love for life and work and deals didn’t help him, but also hinder him.

But as we sat in the green room with the red wine flowing and yarns being told, I'd wonder if staying up this late all the time, for these hours for years on end was good for you. But then they say if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life, and he loved what he did.

I dealt with him a bit as local MP for what would become the Waimakariri seat in Christchurch when I was working there. He introduced me to the word apparatchik. I was interviewing him on Newstalk ZB's local morning show when he dropped it, and I didn’t have a clue what it meant.  

And in an odd little way, that was the beauty of Mike Moore, and one of the reasons I admired him most. He left school young, at 15, worked at the freezing works, and was blue collar. He was the living breathing example of how graft, dedication, passion, and a positive outlook could get you places. And if you read and absorbed detail, you'd end up doing trade deals, running your country and using the word apparatchik.

His wife, Yvonne, said he's probably going to be our last blue collar Prime Minister, which is most likely true, and quite sad. Because he had the gift so few do. He was grassroots, but comfortable with Presidents. He was happy at home in the most basic of pubs, but happy in Washington at the Ambassador's Residence. That’s a gift.

The great sadness I always felt was he only got to lead the country for a couple of months, they stuck him in there too late.

Lange and Douglas had blown it, and the rest is history.

I think it always sort of rankled with him. He was old school Labour, and some of the change in the party wasn’t to his taste.

But he did enough for us. The Doha round, the WTO, Washington, lamb burgers, and all the while a brilliantly nice, entertaining, and erudite man.

He only made you nervous when you had two minutes left and he'd just started the answer.