MPs pay tribute to Mike Moore

Mike Moore became the Prime Minister for 59 days before the October 1990 general election. Photo:...
Mike Moore became the Prime Minister for 59 days before the October 1990 general election. Photo: NZ Herald
Leaders across the political spectrum have paid tribute to former Prime Minister Mike Moore in Parliament's first sitting day of the year.

Moore, who was the country's 34th leader and a long-serving MP in Christchurch, died on February 2.

He suffered a stroke in 2015 when he was New Zealand's ambassador in Washington DC and had been in declining health in recent years.

Today MPs told the story of his humble beginnings to becoming a major player on the world stage - all while throwing in a few humorous anecdotes along the way.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quoted Moore in her opening speech.

"[He] said quote 'it is nice to see so many people here at my farewell and funeral, if only people had said such supportive things when I was alive.'

"I'm sorry Mike you are having to watch this chamber once again set aside time to commend your many achievements," she said.

Ardern told the House that Moore was a true working class Prime Minister, who was a kind, caring and humble man.

"Mike left school at the age of 15 for a job in the freezing works, but he was a avid reader. That he made his way to Parliament just eight years later is a testament to his work ethic, his dedication and his intellect."

National Party leader Simon Bridges said New Zealand had lost one of its staunchest advocates for free trade, who spent his entire life fighting for what he believed in.

"One of the things Mike said in one of his interviews that stuck with me was 'the greatest betrayal we can make of our people is to not care'. No-one could say Mike didn't care and courageously so about the people that he served."

Bridges said Moore's leadership at the World Trade Organisation was short but significant, spreading free trade to the far flung reaches of the world.

"As (journalist) Jane Clifton noted, Mike Moore was like the opposite of L&P, world famous - just not in New Zealand. Mike never lacked courage and was a great parliamentarian," he said.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters had fond memories of Moore's championing of lamb burgers, witty turn of phrase and helping New Zealanders in all walks of life.

He remembered some of Mike Moore's more personal successes, too.

"As many of you know as a young man Mike beat cancer, I can recall him walking into this room after his long sojourn away and Robert Muldoon, the Prime Minister, went to shake his hand and the look on Mike's face was one of horror, because he wished he hadn't," Peters said - gaining some laughs in the House.

ACT Party leader David Seymour said Moore was a giant on the world stage, who was solely responsible for the belief and mantra that New Zealand is a trading nation.

"He was responsible for seeing that the Labour Party became supporters of closer economic relations in 1983, without that sort of consensus in this house, we couldn't have made that relationship with our nearest neighbours a model for the world in trade relationships."

Seymour said that theme of cross partisanship would come to punctuate Moore's career.

That ability to bridge the gap between the political parties was once again evident in the House today.

Mike Moore's public funeral service will be held in Auckland on Friday.

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