Michael was raised and educated in Wanganui. He attended Tawhero, Wanganui Intermediate and Wanganui Boys College before a stint at Whakatu freezing works and then on to Otago University. Graduated with a First Class Honours degree from Otago and a UGC Postgraduate Scholarship. Would later graduate Master of Arts from Victoria University, completing the Bill Manhire Masters writing course (2000). Worked as a university tutor (Otago) and parliamentary researcher (1985-89) before serving two terms as National MP for Hawke's Bay (1990-96). Resigned from Parliament April 1996 but returned to be campaign director for NZ First's 1996 campaign that delivered that party the balance of power. Retired from all politics at end of that campaign. Worked as a political consultant/public relations (1997).
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