Mike Puru and his mother Diana are sharing a tender moment.
“You know what? I really love you, Mum,” says the TV presenter. “Only because I make you look tall,” says Diana as they pose for the Weekly’s photographer. “Well, obviously,” Mike responds with a smile.
The pair don’t get to see very much of each other – Diana and Mike’s dad Wayne live in Timaru, while Mike is based in Auckland – but when they do get together, their strong bond and shared sense of humour is immediately obvious.
They’re quite the double act.
Diana reckons Mike, the host of The Bachelor New Zealand and The Café, has her to thank for his sense of fun.
“He gets his quick wit and smile from me, and his calm demeanour from his dad. Like Wayne, he never gets rattled. But his father is 6’ 2” (1.89m) – tall, dark and handsome. He missed out there.”
“Only on being 6’ 2”, Mum!” Mike (40) is quick to add. All joking aside, Diana (61) is clearly Mike’s biggest fan.
“We’ve always been very proud of Mike. In fact, we are proud of all of our kids and their successes,” says Diana, who is also mum to daughters Gloria (42) and Kelli (30). “It’s always a bonus when your kids don’t end up in jail!”
She has encouraged Mike throughout his broadcasting career, which has included 20 years as a DJ on The Edge. Diana and Wayne supported Mike’s decision to leave the radio station last year to focus on working in TV.
“The time had come to make some changes,” says Mike. “I had 20 great years at The Edge and, although it was hard to leave, I was ready to begin a new chapter in my life. I’m really enjoying it so far – especially not having to get up at 4.30am!”
He’s having a ball working on TV3’s new magazine show, The Café, and loved The Bachelor New Zealand. He is also back on the shopping channel YesShop.
“It’s a juggling act, but I love that I get to do lots of different things,” says Mike.
Diana, who works at a freezing works and is also a cat breeder and international cat judge, says it has come as no surprise that Mike has been so successful in his chosen career, partly because he is such a hard worker.
As a teenager growing up in Gore, Mike had three jobs – working at a radio station, a service station and delivering newspapers.
“He never needed to be pushed,” she says.But it was also predicted that he would achieve great things.
“After he was born, an old kuia picked him up and said, ‘This child will bring great honour to both Maori and Pakeha.’ But we’re still waiting!” she chuckles.
Mike believes his upbringing has played an important part in making him the person he is today.
“Mum and Dad always allowed me to be who I am, and to discover where my strengths lie. They set boundaries, but they let me be independent. I think if Mum and Dad hadn’t been the way they were, I might not have had the drive to do what I have done in my life.”
He is especially appreciative of the wonderful childhood he had considering Diana and Wayne (59) were teenagers when they started their family. The couple had no family support because their parents did not want them to be together.
“They must have been under a lot of stress both because of their age, and financially. But we always had a roof over our heads and we had everything we needed. They were young, but they were mature.”
Diana says when it came to parenting, she and Wayne just dealt with every situation that arose to the best of their abilities. That included coping with the news Mike is gay.
“I had no idea, to be honest,” tells Diana. Mike’s parents supported him when he came out publicly on the radio and say they have only heard a couple of negative comments, which they’ve ignored.
But there have been occasions when, despite the fact Mike’s more than capable of standing up for himself, Diana has wanted to step in and sort out someone who has been rude to her son. The number-one offender has been Justin Bieber.
“I was interviewing him at a showcase in Auckland, and he told me to shut up and get off stage,” recalls Mike. “Mum was not impressed!”
“I’m a very protective mother and that was just disrespectful,” says Diana. “I would have told him off.”
“She would have too,” grins Mike. “I love my mum!”
Words: Donna Fleming
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