Mike Moore is gone, having lived a wonderfully full life. So much so indeed, his last five years of relentless health deterioration were particularly painful for both him and his friends.
I treasure the memory of his friendship, of his unrelenting decency, his honesty, curiosity and relentless energy but most of all, of numerous hilarious incidents with him which would justify a small book. Perhaps I might knock it out. I’ll wait awhile and chat with his wife Yvonne who knowing her delight in humour, will probably give the go-ahead.
Here’s a sample. After a relentless 3 year effort, travelling the world to secure support for the highest office ever achieved by a New Zealander, it all turned to dust in the last 6 months with a stand-off for the role against the other candidate. Of the circa 150 nations with voting power, none could be budged and the vote remained 50/50. Eventually Mike decided to give it a final grand push in Wellington with Foreign Affairs, as it transpired in vain. He rang me glumly about 5pm one day to advise he’d got nowhere and thus would announce he was pulling stumps the next day.
“You’d like to come out for dinner?” I queried and half an hour later he arrived.
I tried to cheer him up talking about future possible activities, understandably to no avail. Anyway, we returned to the kitchen to top up, having left the wine bottle there, whereupon the most ludicrously improbable event in my life immediately occurred to which Mike and I were speechless bystanders. 5 minutes later, Mike, now in a dazed state, was the incoming World Trade boss.
I never publicised it for after chatting to Yvonne one day when I mentioned it, she replied, “The bugger never told me that”. I’ve often thought about that and sort of understand his silence, given the absurdly improbable circumstances.
But so many similarly funny memories, particularly after he lost the Party leadership whereupon frequently Mike, Winston and I would drink too much then dine together later. Winston’s public condolences were certainly heartfelt as he more than most was acutely aware of Mike’s sheer decency and attributes.
I’ve known all of our Prime Ministers to varying degrees since Nash, only Kirk excepted, that for a very amusing albeit telling (about his short comings) reason. Muldoon and Lange, were the standout characters but Mike was the warmest and the best of friends.
Having been a life long National (or ACT) voter the only time I have ever voted Labour was when Mike Moore was the leader. The decency that you spoke of just oozed from him.
More talent and decency in that bloke than the whole of the present Labour caucus.
Sincere condolences to you, Sir Bob, and through you, to Mike Moore’s friends and loved ones.
If I may, I’d like to share my memories related to three items of correspondence from Mike Moore which spoke volumes about the decency and generosity of the man.
Firstly, over the past twenty plus years especially, I have found myself the first port of call for people wishing to invest in/do business in/promote their work in New Zealand. As a private citizen, this process has led to bemusement and even resentment from some public figures/officials I have consulted about these queries, to advance the propositions therein.
Not so with the Rt Hon Mike Moore.
When the Coventry City Council produced a video “A View from the Inside” about community care for people with disabilities (early 1990’s), I approached Mike Moore. He was very happy to hear that the video had found its way to New Zealand, via Palmerston North, thanked me for letting him know, asked if he could see it, while mentioning that he had once been a social worker at Oakley Hospital but “we can all learn.” When the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) publicised and arranged a public viewing in which a large amount of people turned up – civic leaders, MPs, community leaders in the sector, government officials etc -the then president of the DPA asked me to take over the chairing of the meeting at the last minute. When I encountered a senior government official making a discrete exit at the end of the meeting, she testily told me that the department concerned “does know all about that video, I hope you realise.” Mike Moore was, in the meantime, delighted to receive the video and, although busy, wanted to view it quickly so that it could be returned with haste as a valuable resource for the DPA Library.
Secondly, as one is no longer young, I still have moments when I wonder if I really should have pursued the production of a bi-lingual Manawatu-Wellington musical tribute to Leonardo da Vinci, from 1993-1998. I was warned by a prominent local that doing so would alienate me from the workforce and result in me being roundly vilified, which indeed happened, although that project has continued to open doors offshore to this day. Mike Moore, the only New Zealander who received a copy of the cassette and booklet as a token of international peace and goodwill, wrote in reply, “I appreciate the trouble you went to to send it to me.”
Finally, upon Mike Moore’s appointment to “the highest office ever achieved by a New Zealander”, he wrote to me thanking me for my letter of congratulations, even though he’d had “many hundreds of letters from friends, foes, villains, heroes, and ghosts from my past.” He kindly sent me a copy of a speech he gave about the World Trade Organisation before he “got the job”, writing “I hope I can live up to its ideals.” Mike Moore certainly did live up to the ideal, as that speech revealed, yet again how much kindness and altruism were hardwired into his being.
May Mike Moore’s decency, generosity, goodness, kindness and great energy for life continue to shine on through people like you who knew him well and loved him.
My condolences to all those that knew him.
For those of us not there in the kitchen, it would be interesting to know what the ludicrously improbably even was that propelled Mike to his WTO job.