Real Life

Mike Hosking and Kate Hawkesby: Our perfect love

After keeping their relationship under wraps for so long, Mike Hosking and Kate Hawkesby reveal their true love at last - and the story of their engagement is more romantic than we ever imagined!

For a private couple, it was the most public marriage proposal imaginable. Two weeks ago, top radio and TV broadcaster Mike Hosking got down on one knee on a bridge crowded with Sunday morning shoppers and asked partner and colleague Kate Hawkesby to be his wife.

“I felt so bad for him,” recalls Kate (37). “I know how shy he is, so for him to do this in front of so many people… I just wanted him to stop! So while he’s declaring his love for me, all he’s hearing me say is, ‘Get up, get up, get up!'”

“It was important to me that for once, I did this out in the open,” says Mike (45). “Anyone can propose in private, but I wanted to make this gesture for Katie.”

Yet right up until the bended-knee-on-the-bridge moment, Kate had absolutely no idea what was coming.”We had talked about marriage,” she explains, “but my feeling was that the commitment we had made by living together and blending our five kids was enough so, as far as I was concerned, that was where we had left it.”

But Mike had other ideas. “I don’t think I’m a ‘have to get married’ sort of person,” says the Newstalk ZB radio host, “but I think it’s a lovely, permanent, committed thing to do.

“It had been bubbling away with me for some time so I just started planning and sorting out the ring, then when I realised we were going to have a few days without the kids in the school holidays, I booked a last-minute trip to Melbourne.”

The couple had their first official date two years ago, when Mike invited Kate over to Melbourne for dinner while he was filming the TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

“He booked first-class air tickets, rang me up and said, ‘Just get on the plane.’ We went out to dinner and during the day we’d cross this little bridge over the Yarra River from the Langham Hotel to the city and go shopping,” says Kate.

“I love taking photos so I kept making him stop to pose on the bridge. It became a bit of a joke for us. “And so when Mike booked their latest Melbourne trip, he had one thing on his mind – that bridge across the Yarra.

“I thought proposing in a hotel room would be naff and in a restaurant is even more naff because people start clapping, and then I remembered the bridge and how important it was to us at the very beginning. I reasoned that being Sunday morning, it would be fairly quiet,” he says.

But he had to get Kate out of bed and onto that bridge, which proved to be a bit of a problem. She recalls, “We got in late the night before and it was such a thrill to be on holiday because we hadn’t had a break from the kids for a long time, so I was planning to take it easy before hitting the shops at 10am. But we woke up really early because we were still on New Zealand time and Mike kept rushing me. We ended up at breakfast with me stuffing my face and him not eating a thing, and I thought, ‘Why can’t he just relax?'”

Finally, Mike persuaded a slightly grumpy Kate to go out into the freezing Melbourne morning, well before the shops were open, for a “walk”. All he had to do now was get her to stop at the top of the bridge.

“And, luckily, I played right into his hands,” recalls Kate. “I said, ‘We’re on our special bridge – we have to take our bridge photo.'” The next thing she knew, Mike handed her a card to read. Kate says, “He is really romantic and is always giving me cards with beautiful words written in them.”

In fact, Mike had already given her a card on the plane, then another when they arrived at their hotel, but Kate still didn’t twig that something was up. “To be honest, that’s fairly standard behaviour for Mike,” she laughs.

“He writes lovely things to me about how I’m the love of his life, blah, blah, blah…” But this card was a little different. “It had the usual wonderful romantic things but it finished with a beautiful quote from an Italian poet, Cesare Pavese, which says, ‘We do not remember days, we remember moments,’ and then hehad written ‘and this is the moment I want you to remember forever…’

“I closed the card and said ‘how lovely’ or something and then he’s down on his knees, fumbling in his jacket pocket and shaking so much that I thought he must be having a heart attack,” she smiles.Kate tried to get him to stand up but Mike resolutely remained on the ground, telling her that he was determined to do it properly, and launched into his proposal.

“Meanwhile,” recalls Kate, “all these people appeared as if from nowhere and started staring and pointing, and all I could think of was how to make him get up and stop.” Mike laughs, “If she had just shut up for amoment, instead of shouting ‘get up, get up’ over and over, the speech would have been much longer and much more romantic.”

But instead he opted to thrust the ring on her finger before waiting to hear whether she would accept him or not. Kate continues, “I looked at this gorgeous ring as he explained that each of the five carats represented each of our five children, and I was overcome. I think I said yes at some stage. Then I grabbed a couple of students who were passing by and asked them to take our picture.”

Kate says the proposal was so unexpected it took days for it to sink in. “We just existed in a bubble together – we didn’t tell a soul and kept saying to each other, ‘oh, my gosh! I can’t believe this is happening.'”

Kate rang her parents, John and Joyce Hawkesby, to tell them the good news. “And they said, ‘We know!'” In a remarkably old-fashioned romantic gesture, Mike had called Kate’s parents to ask for permission to marry their daughter.

“I thought it was a gracious, humbling, jolly decent thing to do,” says John of his future son-in-law’s phone call. Although, being John, he couldn’t resist giving Mike a bit of a hard time.”He asked me for my daughter’s hand in marriage and I said, ‘To be honest, Mike, we were hoping for someone a bit taller,'” laughs John.

And when Mike spoke to Joyce, she told him that she couldn’t be sure Kate would say yes. John explains, “Kate had said she wasn’t especially keen on getting married again and she was happy with the way things were, so we didn’t feel we could speak for her.”

But John couldn’t be more delighted to have Mike as the husband of his daughter and stepfather to his grandchildren. “I don’t really consider him to be much younger than me, actually. He’s always been old,” jokes the former TV anchor. “I don’t think he had any teenage years. He just came into the world aged 28 and working at National Radio. But when he met Kate, a whole reversal thing happened. He started buying Ed Hardy designer gear and wearing jeans with diamantes on the bum. My daughter was going out with one of the Village People!”

But John says that, from the start, he thought Mike was the right man for Kate. “He made Kate exceedingly happy, was absolutely outstanding with her kids and turned himself inside out with his genuine sense of care and consideration.”

As he was planning his proposal, Mike also rang his mother Anne and sister Joanne to share the good news andtold them the one thing they both already knew, “This one’s forever.” The happily engaged couple came home from Melbourne and held a celebratory dinner for their five children – Mike’s twins, Bella and Ruby (9), and Kate’s three kids, Jackson (11), Josh (9) and Marley (3).

Kate says, “We lit candles, put flowers on the table, we had champagne and the kids had fizzy drinks in champagne flutes, and then Mike said, ‘I’ve got a very special, very exciting announcement to make.’ “Jackson got up to do a toast, there were high fives all over the place and immediate questions about flower girl possibilities. Then they started composing songs about love and romance for the wedding. one jumped on her piano and another on the guitar and the arguments over who would be performing first at the wedding began.”

She says when it happens, their big day will be all about the kids. “Nothing much changes for them as we’re so established now. We’re already living together and we have done the hard yards of blending our family so it’s not a big deal for them, really. It’s more about a big party and new outfits as far as they’re concerned.

For Mike and Kate, the engagement not only solidifies their relationship but is also a chance to break what has been a long silence about their lives. “When we became friends 13 years ago at TVNZ, it was really down to our similar sense of humour,” says Kate. “We laughed the whole time so everyone just assumed we must be sleeping together because we found each other so funny.”Mike adds, “A lot of people found us annoying – too funny, too clever and too cliquey.”

“He’s not a very inclusive person, not a team player,” explains Kate. “He thought that because one person got him, that was all he needed, and that didn’t go down too well.” “That’s it in a nutshell,” Mike agrees. So the two became the subject of many rumours over the years, which they decided to ignore as best they could. “When you’re hounded by people making allegations and assertions that are not accurate, it becomes very difficult to navigate and your natural defence is to close down and shut up shop, otherwise the whole thing becomes a runaway train,” says Kate.

“The important thing is we don’t see us as being a big deal to other people,” says Mike. “To me, it’s my life and I can barely breathe with excitement – but I’ve been through enough now with people ringing me up and chasing me and boring me witless, to know it’s better just to get it out. There it is, we’re getting married, bang, let’s all get on with our lives.”

Kate comments, “People can be so off-target. We’ve learned some will say what they want anyway, but this time we wanted to make sure this was a celebration that’s positive and that the news came from us.” But when they first began their relationship it was a different story, especially for Kate. She says, “Mike has always been in my corner and he’s such a good and decent person. The hardest thing for me with all the stuff that went down about his supposed mid-life crisis and being a crazy weirdo was that it just wasn’t true. He’s a very conservative, traditional person who is always focused on doing the right thing.

I found those traits so solidifying for me and he grounded me quite spectacularly.” So when it came to taking the relationship further than friendship, she had concerns. Mike recalls, “She was worried about what might happen if it didn’t work. What if we ruined a great friendship? Could we ever go back to what we had?”

“And,” says Kate, “this is where Mike is such a cool, big-picture person. He promised me on his life that he’d love me as his best friend for the rest of his days and he’d never be bitter or twisted or upset or miserable. of course, deep down he knew it would work – he’s always been ahead of me on that.”

Because she was so concerned for their friendship, Kate nearly didn’t get on the plane for that first date in Melbourne – but her mum gave her the push she needed. “Then I totally freaked out,” laughs Kate. “I wanted to wear a hat and a wig and dark glasses, but Mike was totally calm. I saw a different side to him.”

Mike says, “She’s in the airport after our first date, going, ‘They are all looking at me. They know!’ I had to tell her to get over it.” His persistence paid off and Mike now has a partner who he says rounds him out completely. “She’s all the things I’d like to be but am not” he says.

“She has kindness about her, she deals with people better than I do. She makes me more human.”But, more importantly, she puts up with my extraordinary amount of crap. I’m well aware that I’m an unusual person. once you crack through that, I’m highly lovable,” he jokes, “but so few have done so!”

“That’s why it’s a privilege,” adds Kate, “to be one of the few who’ve done so.” “The trick to me,” laughs Mike, “is to put up with the weirdness because that’s who I am!” He’s referring to his passion for house cleaning, something he has taken a lot of teasing for over the years.

“It’s become a running joke at home,” smiles Kate. “The kids will ask where he is and I’ll say, ‘Where do you think?’ and there he is – outside, happy as anything with his little sponge washing the car, talking to himself and working it through.”

She says that living with Mike means a lot of vacuuming goes on and you have a clean car every day. “That’s just the way it is; all six of us accept it. We get it.” But Mike says he’s not alone in having unusual habits. Kate is a list-maker. “There are 1800 lists in our house. There are lists about lists and that’s something I find really hard, but I put up with it,” he says. “She tends to sweat the small stuff – but she’s getting better at letting some of that go.”

“And the house runs like clockwork with five kids, which is no mean feat,” points out Kate. “Clean cars, a well-run house – and she’s a brilliant mum,” says Mike. “It’s perfect.” With Kate’s well-known attention to detail, Mike took a risk designing and commissioning her engagement ring without any of his stylish partner’s input.

She smiles, “The cool thing I love about Mike is that he looked at the diamond ring I wear all the time, which is made up of my first engagement and wedding rings, plus my mother’s and both my grandmothers’ engagement rings. I had them made into one ring and it’s very sentimental for me.

“Mike looked at that and had our ring designed along the same lines so it would blend in with it. Some men might have felt threatened that I wear my ring from my first marriage, but he doesn’t care.” “To be fair,” adds Mike, “if she hadn’t liked it, I wouldn’t have minded. We could have changed it.

“It couldn’t be more perfect,” smiles Kate, leaning over and kissing her new husband-to-be.

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