When he finished his spell as Head Boy at St Peter’s in 1993, Mike Puru wrote a piece for the his fellow pupils in “The Rock”. Intending to inspire them, he wrote “YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN”. And then he did.
Story continues below.
Pictured with Mike Puru following the 2014 Sports and Cultural Blues Assembly are (back row left to right): Hope Glover, Kirby Cleland, Celia Dickie, John MacKenzie, Mike, Pita Naruma, Bradley Pearce, Nicole Reed and Troy Collins. Front row: Bridget Hurrell, Kirsten Roughan, Brooke Pennicott, Erica Burdon, Eveline Levett, Sarah, Martin and Sian Davis.
Brought up in the countryside, he enjoyed the laid back kind of childhood that Southland offers – going eeling, helping out at local farms and doing a paper round.
Life wasn’t all straightforward though, when Mike was nine and living at Waikoikoi, the Puru house burned down. While the family and bystanders waited for the fire brigade to arrive, fate took an odd turn when Martin Thyne, deputy principal of St Peter’s drove past. Stopping to see if he could help, he spoke to Mrs Puru and finding that Mike’s elder sister was due to start secondary school, he promised that St Peter’s would assist in any way possible. As a result of that encounter, Mike and his two sisters became pupils at St Peter’s and Mike’s journey into radio and TV had begun.
By chance his new form teacher was Lindy Cavanagh, who was involved in the local operatic society’s production of The Wizard of Oz and encouraged her class to audition for Munchkin parts in the chorus. Mike so enjoyed the experience that the following year his “you can make it happen” philosophy prompted him to audition for a leading role. He didn’t get it, but did move up from the chorus and his love of performing grew.
At school he took part in Eisteddfods and won both duet and solo prizes. Under the headship of John Boyle, the emphasis at St Peter’s had recently changed from sports, which had traditionally dominated, to more cultural pursuits, like music and debating. In this environment Mike flourished.
As well as his interest in music and performance, he was fascinated by technology and in particular, radio, which was his subject in an assignment about a career. Mike set up St Peter’s own radio show, where he was able to present the week’s events in school in a one hour slot from Invercargill. A studio and engineer were provided but Mike needed sponsorship to fund the project. Making it happen involved writing to the Lottery Commission and being awarded $5000 to cover costs. From this followed a day working at Hokonui Gold Radio station – he had found his metier. Part time work at the station followed and Mike was quick to volunteer to fill in when someone was off sick or to do holiday cover.
In his final year Mike became Head Boy and looks back on his time at school with happy memories. He acknowledges that as a Maori student he found the first few years hard, but while at school, he learned how to relate to other people and treat them with respect and those lessons have stayed with him ever since. His experience at school and in local radio meant that he was accepted at NZ Broadcasting School and he spent seven years in Hamilton before moving on to Auckland.
Today he is one of the morning presenters on The Edge music station. He’s appeared in a variety of TV roles and met and interviewed a host of world class celebrities. Looking back he sees a clear path from that first audition for the Wizard of Oz and having the confidence for school radio and being Head Boy. From there it was a natural progression to national TV and radio. He made it happen.