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.