Kate Hawkesby and Mike Hosking’s wake-up call

The broadcasting duo is thrilled to be working together on air again. But while Kate is relishing the chance to go back to work, the feedback hasn't all been positive.
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The year has only just begun and already there have been big changes for Woman’s Day columnist Kate Hawkesby and her husband Mike Hosking. For a start, they’ve both fallen madly in love. In fact, their whole household is besotted with the new addition to the family – a tiny Maltese puppy called Lulu.

The adorable fluffball was a surprise gift for daughter Marley’s 11th birthday, but Kate admits her arrival was also quite a surprise to Mike, who had been firm about not getting another dog.

“Marley has wanted a puppy forever, but Mike was very against it,” tells Kate. “So I just quietly, without telling him, put us on a waiting list with a view that it would probably never happen because it’s hard to get a purebred Maltese.

“Then the breeder rang and said there was a puppy for us within days of Marley’s birthday and I thought it was so serendipitous. At that point, I had to tell Mike. He took it much better than I thought.”

“Because it’s not the first example of skullduggerous behaviour,” Mike points out with a resigned air.

Kate employed pretty much the same technique when the family adopted their last dog, golden Labrador Indie. And of course, the moment Lulu arrived on the scene, there was no resisting her charms.

“She’s stolen everybody’s hearts,” says Kate. “I keep finding her sitting on Mike’s lap, licking his chin. She loves him to death.”

In a way, this wasn’t the ideal time to be adding to the household. After stepping away from her broadcasting career for several years so she could devote herself to their blended family of five children, 44-year-old Kate has taken on a new job.

That means both she and Mike are now getting out of bed at 3am every weekday and heading to the Newstalk ZB studio, where Kate is presenting the Early Edition programme for an hour from 5am, before her husband takes over with his regular slot on The Mike Hosking Breakfast.

“I did freak out momentarily in the middle of the night,” admits Kate.

“I woke Mike up and asked, ‘What was I thinking taking on a puppy and a new job?’ And he was like, ‘It’s just life, babe. You can do it, but if you want to make it a drama, then it will be.’ So he talked me off that ledge!”

Kate has had some butterflies about resuming her career.

“I’m very nervous about it. For any woman who’s been out of the workforce for a while, it’s an incredibly daunting thing to go back in. I worry that I won’t do a good job – I want to do well by the show and the audience. And I want to make sure I’m getting up at 3am for the right reasons! So all of those things have been weighing on me a little bit and I’ve been feeling a mix of nerves and excitement.”

While she has no regrets about choosing to be a stay-at-home mum, the kids are now growing up and becoming more independent – Jackson is 18, Bella, Ruby and Josh are all 16, and Marley starts at intermediate school this year – so from that perspective, this is a good time for a new challenge.

“At some point, you have to do something for yourself that stimulates you,” says Kate.

“As women we’re really quick to put everybody else first, but it’s important to remember that you need to feed yourself as well.

“I love the hustle and grind of daily news, the fast-paced turnaround, and being able to ask questions and dig deeper – it’s what attracted me to journalism in the first place.

It really feeds my soul being able to sink into news and politics. It’s stuff that I’m interested in and would be talking about anyway at home.

“I suppose I’ve been driving Mike nuts because he’d come home from work having been deep in it all day, and I’d want to talk and dissect the latest news with him.”

Kate’s fortunate to have a husband who backs her 100%.

“I’ve always been supportive of what she wants to do,” shares Mike. “So I’m supportive of this – going back to work. And I’m supportive of her not working. Whatever she wants, I’m into it as well.”

He doesn’t think she has any reason to feel nervous as she takes up the Early Edition slot and neither does Kate’s father, legendary broadcaster John Hawkesby. “He’s super-proud,” says Mike.

“He’s her biggest fan apart from me, so he’ll have the alarm set and be tuning in.”

Not everyone has been so positive about Kate’s return to work, though. When her new role was announced, she received a handful of critical messages, from women as well as men, saying she ought to stay home to look after her kids.

“It shocks me that in 2018, we still have those kinds of views,” she states.

“It’s so antiquated. Women today can do anything and everything they want, and so they should.”

Kate finds it odd that strangers feel it’s OK to get so personal. But it’s nothing compared to the criticism that is targeted at Mike on a regular basis.

At times, people are really horrible about her husband, but he shrugs it off, saying it doesn’t bother him.

“Not even slightly, couldn’t care less – it makes no difference to me. Some people love me, some hate me and that’s what you want,” declares Mike, who points out that good broadcasting is not about being bland and trying to please everyone, so some criticism is inevitable.

“It’s more upsetting for his family – for his kids and me,” reveals Kate. “I want to suit up and kill people, but he says that if it doesn’t bother him, then it shouldn’t bother me.”

Mike’s entire approach to life is based on positivity – on his fridge, there’s a magnet that reads, “Proceed as if success is inevitable.”

It’s an attitude that has so far paid off. He’s the king of breakfast radio, with ratings for his show climbing. And with co-host Toni Street, he helped make TVNZ 1 current affairs show Seven Sharp a success.

Then late last year, Mike, 52, made a tearful farewell to the programme – a move that may have stunned viewers but didn’t come as much of a surprise to his wife of six years.

“If we’re honest, he was desperate to get out of there for a long time,” tells Kate.

Mike enjoyed the challenge of helping turn the show’s ratings around and he had a blast fronting last year’s election coverage. But having done all that, he was running out of reasons to carry on in television.

When Toni announced she was leaving, Mike realised the show was over for him too. So this year, instead of spending the usual time over the summer holidays debating whether he should stick with Seven Sharp or not, the family has had a lovely, chilled-out break, which included a trip to Los Angeles and being able to look forward to reshaping their lives in the new year.

Kate isn’t exactly thrilled about her alarm blaring at 3am, but her years presenting breakfast television mean she’s no stranger to an early wake-up.

“And our schedules will be in sync now, which is good,” she says.

“I got woken by Mike a lot of the time anyway and the older you are, the harder it is to get back to sleep, so once he’d gone, I’d spend a lot of time tossing and turning.”

Kate will be finished on air at 6am, so back in time to take Marley to school. And she’s going to enjoy having Mike home to spend the evenings catching up on some of those moments they’ve missed out on.

“Like going for walks and the family eating dinner together,” smiles Kate.

Both are excited about heading to the UK in May to cover Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. And they’re looking forward to working together on air again, even if it’s just for a few moments when Kate hands over the microphone to Mike.

“It’ll be lively for sure,” Kate promises. “There’s so much humour in our relationship. We basically just take the piss out of each other every day.”

They’re also a deeply romantic couple, with Mike in the habit of leaving Kate a note – either handwritten or texted – every day, telling her what he loves about her.

“A girlfriend actually asked me, ‘Doesn’t that get predictable and boring? Doesn’t he always have to recycle material?’ But that’s what astounds me. He always comes up with something new,” reveals Kate, who admits to not being so great at writing back.

“I really need to up my game. That might be my resolution for 2018!”

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