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Why Mike Puru cancelled his move to France

The radio star’s put his French fantasy on hold, but ooh la la, it’ll be worth it!

By Nicky Pellegrino
This was the year that broadcaster Mike Puru was meant to be changing his life. He and his partner of 10 years, Anton Chartier, were full of plans to sell up and move to south-west France, which is where Anton's family comes from.
But if you've listened to radio station The Breeze recently, you may have noticed that's not quite how things have worked out. Instead of swotting up on his French and putting his Auckland home on the market, Mike is now the station's new breakfast show host.
"The timing just wasn't right for France," he explains. "We decided to go after I left my last job and my career was in a bit of a lull. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a break. But by the end of last year, a couple of things had happened. I got the offer to join The Breeze, which was fantastic. But also, my dad's not well, so it's not the right time to disappear."
Learning te reo is next on the busy broadcaster's to-do list. "I didn't even use to pronounce Puru correctly!"
Mike's work schedule has meant he hasn't always been able to spend much time with his parents, Wayne and Diana, who live in Timaru, but this year he's determined to see them more often.
"Dad's a great music lover and he likes going to gigs, so I want to make sure I go to some with him and we have a few beers before he gets too sick or it's too late."
When Mike was born, his dad was only 17 and his mum not very much older. They may have been very young parents, but he says they've always been amazing.
"They've gone through some ups and downs in life – like in 1984, our house burned to the ground and there was nothing left, which was heartbreaking. So things haven't always been easy, but all they ever wanted was for us kids to have opportunities and they've always been really supportive of me."
For Mike, one of the nice things about being back on the radio is that he knows, down in Southland, his family's tuning in. "The first morning, I got a message from Mum to say she was listening."
The cheeky chap aged seven!
Mike's also on TV every weekend presenting the weather for Newshub and he has a regular country music show for online station Southern Cross Country. All of this means he's working seven days a week.
"If you love it, then it doesn't feel like work," he says. "And I'm lucky to have such amazing opportunities."
For mental clarity, Mike tries to make sure he has time for exercise, whether that's taking his cocker spaniel Rufus for a walk or heading out for a run.
"Being on television definitely helps motivate you," he says. "One viewer sent an email saying my suits were getting a bit tight and I needed either to lose some weight or get bigger clothes!"
Next year, Mike turns 50. "Which scares the hell out of me," he admits. "I used to look at people in their fifties and think they must have their life in order and be ready for retirement, but now I'm getting close to 50 myself, I'm realising that, actually, I need to ramp up my life a little more."
Parents Wayne and Diana with kids (from left) Mike, Kelli (front) and Gloria.
One his goals this year is to learn te reo Māori.
"I thought I'd left it too late and had passed the point where I could learn it, but then I watched Mike McRoberts' documentary Kia Ora, Good Evening about his journey and it gave me hope that it's never too late."
Growing up in Gore meant that Mike didn't get to connect very often with Wayne's whānau in Ōpōtiki.
"So that's something I really want to do. I still feel a bit awkward about not knowing the protocol and getting pronunciation wrong – I didn't even use to pronounce Puru correctly! I've got a lot of learning to do, but I want to embrace it.
"With Dad unwell, it feels important to acknowledge the Māori side and make sure I don't lose that connection. It'll make me feel a bit more complete."
Mike also wants to make sure the dream of France stays alive. Later in the year, he and Anton will be heading over there for a break and will take the opportunity to start scouting a few properties.
"I'd love to find an 800-year-old house or a little piece of land so I can start building towards my French future," says Mike. "Even though there are sure to be challenges ahead, I'm determined to make the most of this year."

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