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Graeme Hunt dies

Author, historian, anti-MMP campaigner and former National Business Review news editor Graeme John Hunt (58) died at his Auckland home on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt, an independent North Now candidate for the Albany ward of the new Auckland supercity council who had earlier been diagnosed with heart problems, was found dead after he failed to turn up for a campaign meeting.

Sources said a recent poll indicated he was leading in his ward for the council election.

He was an NBR journalist for a number of years, edited the Rich List and was news editor from 1998 to 2000 before becoming the paper’s first editor-at-large.

In many respects a man larger than life, he was acknowledged for his accurate encyclopeadic knowledge of New Zealand history and a huge network of contacts.

A journalist and commentator with a prolific output on business, financial and political topics, Mr Hunt was an unrelenting opponent of MMP and more recently fronted a revived campaign with Peter Shirtcliffe called Put MMP to the Vote.

The campaign is aimed at encouraging the public to reject MMP when it is put to a binding referendum at the time of the 2011 general election.

Mr Hunt wrote no fewer than 15 books covering a range of topics including a history of his beloved Penrose High School, the stories behind those who made the Rich List, a biography of legendary trade unionist Fintan Patrick Walsh, the Cave Creek disaster, white collar mischief, and a history of New Zealand subversion.

Arguably Mr Hunt’s most controversial book was Why MMP Must Go, a title and slogan he adopted with vigour and tenacity.

He started work as a trainee accountant in 1969 before pursuing journalism from 1974.

He worked in newspapers in Britain for many years and was the Auckland Star’s youngest business editor.

Educated at Penrose High School he held a history degree and business studies diploma.

A winner of numerous journalism awards, Mr Hunt attended programmes for senior journalists at Columbian University, New York, and Oxford University where he was a David Low/Chevening fellow.

He had a passion for New Zealand history and genealogy, aptly displayed in the diversity of books he wrote.

He was deputy chairman of the One Tree Hill board of trustees, a role he earlier fulfilled at Kelston Girls’ College board of trustees.

A longtime advocate of enterprise education in schools he was a member of the Young Enterprise Trust supporters’ council.

Mr Hunt is survived by his wife Saluma, and son Robert (21) and daughter Ellen (19) from his first marriage to Jennifer.

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Comments and questions
21

What a great loss to NZ Mr. Hunt will be .Amongst his many attributes the one that stuck out the most was he always talked COMMOM SENSE.

A truely great journalist.

Why did the NBR let him go?

A terrible loss, Graeme was a great man and a very dear friend to many.

Sad to hear about the death of Graeme - from a pr perpective he was always good to deal with and enjoyed healthy debate especially over a class of wine

What I'll always remember is his encyclodeic knowledge, his joy in sharing this with others and his enormous generosity and warmth. I'll also remember how happy he was with Salume.

Thanks for your comment Yvonne. He held you in very high esteem.

Liz

I was due to go to lunch with my old mate today.

He was always there for a chat when the job ws getting you down.

A real loss...very talented, passionate, and one of life's great characters. Very sad to hear he has passed.

They're trite words, but it is a great loss. I can think of no other with his combination of skills, courage, integrity of purpose and generosity of spirit

Stephen Franks

It's good to see the tributes to Graeme, and to realise to how many he was a warm-hearted, kind and exceptionally generous friend with a very fine mind who loved a good conversation. It wasn't only Graeme's intelligence that was exceptional: his integrity was, too.

He's going to be sadly missed on so many fronts. Vaya con Dios, Graeme, bless you.

What a talented guy.

What a great loss.

Words escape me.

I remember the times running along Tamaki Dr with Graeme training for Rotorua marathon. Great fun, great conversationalist and easy training. Great guy sorely missed.

Regards
Gary Erceg

I remember the times running along Tamaki Dr with Graeme training for Rotorua marathon. Great fun, great conversationalist and easy training. Great guy sorely missed.

Regards
Gary Erceg

Graeme had the finest of minds and an astonishing memory and recall of facts and trivia. He was a wonderful friend with outstanding integrity and values. Graeme had reached real happiness in recent years with his marriage to Saluma, pride in his children's achievements and an array of business successes. He will be missed by many.

Thank you for your appropriate and heart warming comments Jennifer.
Its a peity that we seem to have lost contact in recent years.

Regards
Liz

A giant of a journalist passes.
As a friend and co-author, Graeme was the best.

Heard Graeme at Campbells Bay Meet the Candidates. He had my vote. So much insight & perspective goes with the man. Blessings to the family.

Graeme was a huge influence to myself and others at NBR for many many years. A top bloke, great journalist and teriffically entertaining speaker. I learned a great deal about business in those after-deadline yum cha lunches.

Thanks for everything Graeme, you'll be missed greatly (although you'd have pulled me up for splitting my infinitives!).

Sadly I can't make the funeral due to work committments here in Welly. But I will be thinking of his friends and family on Wednesday.

I just wanted to add my voice to those who are recognising what a loss Graeme is to journalism. He wasn't always easy to work with, but he was always challenging. And he wasn't scared of conflict. He could go from thundering outrage one minute - he was quite good at that - to just having a cheeky laugh the next. When I last saw him a few weeks ago he seemed to have mellowed in a really nice way - he just seemed so happy.

Graeme, you taught me so much and will be very much missed.

Deborah

I admired Graeme for his ability to ferociously disagree with someone, and not let it get personal. He seemed to me to lack any kind of mean streak - quite an achievement for a polemicist! I'll miss him, and my heart goes out to those he leaves behind.