Tributes flow at funeral for former PM Mike Moore

Mike Moore's casket is carried into the service in Auckland. Photo: RNZ
Mike Moore's casket is carried into the service in Auckland. Photo: RNZ
Politicians joined family, friends and the public to farewell former Prime Minister Mike Moore.

Mike Moore became Prime Minister in 1990, just 59 days before the election. Photo: NZ Herald
Mike Moore became Prime Minister in 1990, just 59 days before the election. Photo: NZ Herald

​Moore, the country's 34th leader 1990, a long-serving MP in Christchurch, and who later led the World Trade Organisation, died on February 2. He was 71.

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.

Moore's funeral was held at the school chapel at Dilworth Senior Campus in Epsom, where dozens of students performed a haka.

Tributes flowed from across the political spectrum: an incredible thinker, a Labour Party stalwart, international diplomat, and a man who cared deeply about the lives of New Zealanders.

Former political colleagues, government ministers, family and a range of dignitaries - including many from Australia - attended the service. A cousin of Moore's, Mark Goodall, said the turnout was testament to his life's achievements.

Speakers included Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Western Australia governor Kim Beazley and former Labour Minister Bill Jeffries.

Ardern told mourners she was often inspired by Moore, who knew politics could be tough and unforgiving.

"He had his share of tough times, and sometimes they were tough too for the party that he served and loved," said Ardern, who visited Moore days before he died.

She said he asked her at the time to look after those who had looked after him.

Clayton Cosgrove, a close friend of Moore and his Labour Party protege, said those who described the former Prime Minister as bitter did not know the man.

"I remember on many an occasion working for him, when he was Labour leader when someone had done him over, those of around him would be gnashing our teeth in condemnation, and Mike would say 'hang on', and then proceed to defend the perpetrator and welcome them back into the circle with kind words, gestures and opportunities."

From left: Michael Macklin, Yvonne Moore and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ
From left: Michael Macklin, Yvonne Moore and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ

Before the service Cosgrove said it would be a hard day for Moore's widow, Yvonne.

"As one would expect of her, been a power of strength," he said.

"It's been very rough and devastating on her, but she is an exceptionally strong woman who stood by every facet of his life whether it was on a street corner meeting, a campaign, taking the sort of slings and arrows of politics right to the point where she stood by his bedside as he passed."

Former Labour Party MP and long time friend Bill Jeffries described Moore as "the physicially disabled boy who laid the financial foundations for sport in New Zealand, the boy who left school in his teens but wrote a dozen thoughtful books."

Dilworth School students perform a haka. Photo: RNZ
Dilworth School students perform a haka. Photo: RNZ
War veterans also turned out to remember Moore. Auckland Returned and Services Association president Graham Gibson said he was a real Kiwi bloke.

"Mike had a respect for the veterans and the men and women that served, he held them in high regard and it's by being here today we're also acknowledging him and we hold him in high regard too."

Flags at all public and government buildings will fly at half mast today.