Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): Colleagues, it’s not uncommon on these occasions of eulogy to sometimes be wondering exactly who the speaker’s talking about. The difference on this special occasion is that any words of praise and respect have a particular significance because they happen to be true. Michael Kenneth Moore’s life’s work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. Mike’s life work every day was to make things better for New Zealand and ordinary New Zealanders, to add rungs to the ladder of chance and opportunity, and enhance New Zealand’s place in the world. He truly is one of the great New Zealanders.
From the time he was elected to Parliament at the age of 23 to his final year, he was constantly thinking about how to advance New Zealand’s interests. Mike was that rare politician whose outlook was improved by his life in Parliament and he seriously grew in the job. As many of you will know, as a young man, Mike beat cancer. I can recall him walking into this room after his long sojourn away, and Rob Muldoon, the Prime Minister, went to shake his hand, and the look on Mike’s face was one of horror because he’d wished he hadn’t. As I say, Mike grew better with age.
He took to heart the idea that it was his job to learn more about the issues. You know, he was given the gift of time, and he used that gift to its fullest. He was curious and he was open to changing his mind when presented with new information. These are traits which are far too rare these days.
Many New Zealanders will have fond memories of his political career, whether it was his championing of lamb burgers, his witty turn of phrase, his restless energy, or his passion for helping New Zealanders of all walks of life. I remember his cynical doubt about expert advice. Mike would say, “Well, we know it works in practice; now let’s see if it works in theory.”
Everywhere he went, people saw the passion Mike had for New Zealand and connecting it to the world, and by the time he left Parliament, Mike was a champion of the role that free and fair trade can play in lifting people out of poverty and improving living standards.
It’s important to acknowledge his role on the international stage as the only Zealander to lead the World Trade Organization, and then as New Zealand’s ambassador to the United States. His time at the World Trade Organization coincided with momentous changes for New Zealand and the global economy. He oversaw the successful accession of countries like China to the World Trade Organization, bringing the majority of the world’s population within the rules-based trading system, and he gave particular attention to helping poor countries participate effectively in the multinational and multilateral trading system.
Truth be told, Mike attained the highest international position of any New Zealander abroad. This is a truly remarkable achievement. But through it all, Mike’s historic body of achievements, what we will remember is the warm, passionate, funny, mischievous man that we will miss. Let us also pay special tribute to Mike’s wife, Yvonne, and his family, and send our thoughts and prayers to them.
When thinking of a literary parallel for our sentiments today, there’s one tribute that stands out. It could’ve been written about Mike, but it’s advice that Rudyard Kipling gave to his son:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good or talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master,
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools
And, to close, further on:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
That was Mike Moore, the boy from Kawakawa and Moerewa who went as an orphan to secondary school and turned his life dramatically around. In the words from Hamlet, “Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”