A collage of Mike Puru photographs
Mike Purus we have known (Image: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureSeptember 1, 2023

The sadness of Mike Puru moving to France

A collage of Mike Puru photographs
Mike Purus we have known (Image: Archi Banal)

It’s nice for him but a huge ‘sacré bleu’ for our nation, writes Alex Casey.

The “why I’m leaving New Zealand” headlines have all started to blur together. Grumble grumble lost our mojo. Grumble grumble past our peak. Grumble grumble can’t watch The Bear at the same time as everyone else. Everyone from rich listers to rugby players, fashion designers to passionate nudists appear to be fleeing our fair country, but there was a new addition to the canon this week that made me gasp Pacific’s triple star. 

Published on Now to Love, the online arm of Woman’s Day, the beloved broadcaster stands beaming in a pale pink shirt. On his left, a beautiful green tree reaches optimistically towards the sun. On his right looms a hostile looking concrete building, all sharp corners and giant glass panes. I’ve done enough NCEA art history to know what this all means: a battle of good vs evil, nature vs industry, a man trapped between a tree (France) and a hard place (New Zealand). 

The article begins by explaining why Puru left Flava back in June. “They thought moving me aside was the best plan of attack,” he told Woman’s Day. “I’ve been here before and I didn’t take it personally. I was just a player in a big puzzle and I didn’t fit in that particular square.” It is a familiar story – in 2016 he was dumped as host of The Bachelor NZ for Dominic Bowden, just one year after having his contract at The Edge scrapped after over 20 years at the station

Mike Puru hosting The Bachelor NZ in 2015

Despite these shaftings, which include the eternally crushing detail that Puru wasn’t allowed to eat the catering provided on the set of The Bachelor NZ, the broadcaster has still remained one of our most positive and prolific personalities for nearly three decades. Most recently appearing on The Traitors NZ, where he was unceremoniously banished early on (probably for eating from the wrong table), he’s basically become the Forrest Gump of New Zealand popular culture.  

Mike Puru was there for the heyday of The Edge Morning Madhouse where, for all the zany stunts and shock jock comments from his colleagues, he quietly made history after coming out on air in 2010. Mike Puru was there for Flipside, the cutting-edge youth current affairs series of the early 2000s that dared to merge the internet and TV. Mike Puru was there for the launch of New Zealand’s first shopping channel in the early 2010s, where he sold the shit out of some slap-on sunglasses.

But wait, there’s more. Mike Puru was there when Art Green and Matilda Rice fell in love in The Bachelor NZ season one in 2015, and again when Jordan Mauger flipped a coin in season two. Mike Puru was there to launch “morning television heaven” in The Cafe, and NZ Herald’s hectic new online shopping channel The Selection. He’s covered the weather on Newshub for every public holiday and last minute sickness, even when forecasting a serious case of the squits for himself

Don’t you dare blame it on the weatherman

All these remarkable achievements, without even mentioning the near four-minute long media-themed musical number he performed at the Voyager Awards this year, and yet we’ve still never given Puru the props he deserves. “I was getting bogged down in trying to prove myself in New Zealand,” he told Woman’s Day. “I thought, ‘Do I hang around here and keep trying to do radio or do I have some years in France running a little bed and breakfast?’”

Unlike Marc Ellis and Paul Henry, Puru appears to hold no resentment towards an industry and a country which has largely taken him for granted for most of his career. “I love New Zealand and everything that’s here, but I think for the first time in my life, I’m ready to take on that challenge.” It’s that Puru sunny disposition, that endless well of “joie de vivre”, which is why his departure will be a massive “sacre bleu” for our National Positivity Index. 

With plans to sell up and move to France in mid-2024, Puru’s goal is to build a home studio and launch a country music radio station. It’s a life that we can all aspire to and simply cannot begrudge but, most importantly, still leaves us time to organise a ticker tape parade, a travelling audiovisual retrospective, a collective “bon voyage” and “merci” to the man, the myth, the Mike. Perhaps someone, anyone, can even cough up for some catering this time around. 

Keep going!