In September 1990, just weeks from an election Labour seemed certain to lose, the caucus made Mike Moore New Zealand’s third PM in 13 months. Opposition Leader Jim Bolger quipped that a ‘caretaker Prime Minister’ had been replaced by an ‘undertaker Prime Minister’.
Moore was an authentic working class battler. He came into Parliament in 1972 as its youngest-ever MP. Dumped three years later in the Robert Muldoon landslide, he battled cancer, studied economic and trade issues, and returned in 1978. An early supporter of David Lange, the man with the panda bear circles around his eyes threw his boundless energy into promoting tourism and trade, pushing everything from lamb burgers to the America’s Cup.
Helen Clark took the leadership from Moore in December 1993 after National squeaked back in. It was a painful blow. Six years later Moore left Parliament to be director-general of the World Trade Organisation (1999-2002). An enthusiastic, energetic (some said erratic) thinker, Moore continued to publish, lecture and consult widely. In 2010 he was appointed ambassador to the United States.
Written by Gavin McLean