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‘I can’t imagine my life without her’ Mike McRoberts on what inspired his romantic proposal

Reconnecting with his culture prompted the popular broadcaster to propose

As far as storytellers go, Kiwi broadcasting legend Mike McRoberts is one of this country’s best. In his 30 years of journalism, he’s covered war zones, politics, pandemics and everything in between.

Now, though, he’s lifting the lid on a wonderful tale of his own – an epic love story the 56-year-old never knew was waiting for him. Introducing his partner Heidi Ettema in an exclusive interview, Mike is excited to share their amazing news – the loved-up pair are getting married!

“It’s very exciting,” he says, a huge smile spreading across his face. “You only have one life, so to have stumbled upon this relationship with Heidi at this stage feels so fortunate. As soon as we got engaged, I had this wonderful feeling of completeness. We’re solidifying what we have and making a very special commitment to each other.”

Until now, the Newshub Live at 6pm anchor and his music publicist partner Heidi, 37, have kept their relationship largely under wraps. But with a wedding in the works, they’re thrilled to finally share their news, and as they welcome us into their stunning mid-century home in bush-clad West Auckland, it’s clear they have something very special.

Mike says Heidi isn’t fazed by his high-profile, seen here with Samantha Hayes on the Newshub news desk. “She’s taken it in her stride.”

While they share many interests – the outdoors, a vegan lifestyle, music, running and hiking – in many ways they’re yin and yang.

“I’m a massive stresser and Mike is totally chill,” says Heidi. “He’s a very calming influence on me. We never argue and right from the start it’s just been easy. There’s no drama with us.”

The pair first met back in 2017 after being introduced by mutual friends at a gig. While they immediately hit it off, they were friends first and it wasn’t till two years later that they finally got together. Mike’s eyes fill with tears as he tells us what he loves about his wife-to-be.

“She has absolutely made me a better person,” he says. “She has such a wonderful way with people and is so engaging, but she also knows herself so well. She’s more extroverted than I am, which is nice, but we share the same key value and that is the importance of being good to others. She’s loyal and caring, but she’s also got an incredible sense of humour. From the first time I met her, she made me laugh.”

Heidi has also been instrumental in Mike’s recent journey to reconnect with his Māori language and culture. The broadcaster, whose whakapapa is Ngāti Kahungunu, has a Pākehā mum and Māori dad, and like many others at the time, was raised in an English-speaking environment, largely disconnected from his culture.

Several years ago, however, he resolved to learn te reo and immerse himself in te ao Māori, with his deeply personal journey made into a documentary called Kia Ora, Good Evening, airing on Three on September 13.

“It’s been an incredible thing to go through,” tells Mike, who allowed cameras to film as he got a tā moko tattoo representing his whānau and tūpuna (ancestors). “It was a big thing for me because I’ve had to be vulnerable and let go of a lot of things. I really am a different person now because of it – it’s been life-changing.”

Dad-of-two Mike adds that it’s this reconnection to his culture that eventually led to his decision to propose to Heidi. In fact, on the day he popped the question, he’d spent hours working on his whaikōrero – a highly emotional speech he was to deliver on his marae all in te reo.

“I know who I am now and I think about the future a lot more. And in that future, Heidi had to be part of it because I simply couldn’t imagine a life without her. I thought I better make it official because I don’t want her shooting off to anyone else!” he laughs.

They describe their engagement on their local beach on a wet July day as “very low-key and totally us”. While Mike wasn’t planning to pop the question then and there, the pair found themselves looking into each other’s eyes, telling each other how much they loved each other, and Mike realised the time was right.

“It was a beautiful moment,” recalls Mike, “So I said, ‘Will you marry me?'”

The pair are happily counting down to their wedding day. “It’s going to be very special,” says Mike.

It took Heidi a moment to realise what was happening, she says. “We had talked a bit about marriage before, so when he asked, I thought he was just checking in to see that I was still keen!” laughs Heidi. “I was like, ‘Really? Are you for real?’ It took me about 10 seconds to realise it was really happening. Of course then it was a huge yes from me.”

“We were both crying our eyes out,” tells Mike, who happily admits he’s a highly emotional person. “It felt totally right.”

Heidi was touched to learn Mike, a self-confessed traditionalist, had phoned her dad Howard in Hamilton several days earlier to give him the heads up.

“Weddings aren’t just for the couple getting married, they’re for the whole whānau, so I knew how much it would mean to Heidi’s dad,” explains Mike. “It wasn’t so much a case of asking his permission, but telling him what I planned to do. He was thrilled.”

The couple returned home and phoned their closest family to share the news, before heading out to a Drax Project concert where Heidi was working. Mike’s daughter Maia, 20, was there, delighted to hear her dad was getting married again. The couple’s families have welcomed them with open arms, they say. Mike’s brother, a signwriter, had t-shirts made with HEIDI MAI on the front and HEIDI RA on the back, and his children, Maia and 22-year-old Ben, are regular visitors to the couple’s home.

“I’ve been so lucky with Ben and Maia, because they’ve welcomed me from the very start,” Heidi shares. “They are just such great humans. I genuinely find it really fun to hang out with them.”

Mike says his kids, who are both studying at university and living in flats, can see the difference Heidi has made to his life, but he jokes that when they all get together, Ben, Maia and his fiancée love nothing more than taking the mickey out of him.

During lockdown, when Ben was living with them, he and Heidi took great delight in pranking Mike, driving him mad by secretly placing road cones on the driveway and attempting to set his toothbrush in jelly. “It’s just an incredible pile-on when Heidi and the kids get together, but I love it. It’s great fun.”

Mike and Heidi both follow a vegan diet, and while Mike has the odd drink, Heidi hasn’t touched alcohol for years.

She is also certain she doesn’t want children of her own, perfectly content with being a stepmum. “I am happy the way we are,” she smiles.

Adds Mike, “She is her own person and I really admire that. She’s not someone who bends to peer pressure.” Mike also notes it’s not easy being with someone in the public eye, and he’s grateful to Heidi for giving him a chance.

“There is no anonymity at all,” he confesses. “You can’t go anywhere without people turning around and looking at us, but Heidi has handled it amazingly. She’s taken it in her stride.”

While Mike didn’t have an engagement ring when he proposed, he and Heidi wear stunning matching pounamu pendants, and they have commissioned a replica of Heidi’s beloved grandmother May’s engagement ring – a large diamond surrounded

by a cluster of smaller ones. It’s a special tribute to a very special family member.

“My grandmother is 98 and she’s my favourite person in the whole wide world,” tells Heidi. “I’ve always loved her ring, which she still wears every day, so to be getting the same one makes me so happy.”

Sweet touch: Heidi’s engagement ring is a replica of her gran May’s.

And the joining of two whānau will be celebrated in a big way when they say their vows early next year. Heidi has chosen a dress, the venue is booked and now they just can’t wait to make it official.

Babies aren’t on the horizon for the couple. “I am happy the way we are,” says Heidi.

Tells Heidi, “I have never been one of those people who dreams of their wedding day. But now that it’s happening, I’m so excited. The novelty of getting to be someone’s wife isn’t lost on me. Even saying I have a fiancé makes me so happy.”

And Mike can’t wait to say “I do” to the woman he loves. “It’s going to be very special.”

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