“We’re equals…We are each other’s rock” says Michelle Muller

michelle muller

Michelle Muller has known since the night she met her husband that, if he got his way, she would end up the wife of an MP.

Todd Muller is the Bay’s newest National MP and told his wife of his political aspirations at their first meeting in 1998.

“He told me that one day he wanted to be the MP for Bay of Plenty,” Michelle says. “I just sort of went ‘oh’.”

She was 23 and “not overly interested in politics”; he was 30 and already a National Party stalwart after years of working behind the scenes, including as Jim Bolger’s secretary.

But Michelle Muller insists her attitude changed as she got to know Todd and he taught her “the real side of politics”.

“People have the perception that politicians are there for themselves, but they’re not,” she says. “Todd’s passion and enthusiasm and desire to serve the community rubbed off on me.”

Despite knowing political life was likely to be on the cards, the 38-year-old mother-of-three says the week since her husband’s election has been surreal.

Speaking to Bay of Plenty Times Weekend at a Te Puna cafe, she says seeing her face on the front of the newspaper at the supermarket made her realise her family had lost their anonymity.

“I’m a very trusting and very open person. I’m probably going to have to be a bit more measured in what I say and do, but not lose my identity because first and foremost, I’m a mum and I’m a wife.”

Friends joke that she will no longer be able to go down the road in track pants, but she hopes people will remember she is a mother and judge her accordingly.

“You might not always be on your finest form,” she says.

The day of our interview, though, she is poised and chic in a floral blouse, jeans and boots. She arrives wearing a collared black jacket, but removes it for the photo, quipping that she is “not really a jacket person”. Her posture is perfect, thanks to years spent as a competitive figure skater.

She describes herself as the “calming influence” to Todd’s “hamster on a wheel”, and says their marriage is “an absolute partnership.”

“We’re equals in it. We’ve got really good communication. We are each other’s rock.”

Faith is an important part of their bond, with Michelle trading in a “lukewarm Presbyterian” upbringing for Catholicism after meeting Todd.

His family church, St Joseph’s in Te Puna, rallied her enthusiasm, thanks to a down-to-earth priest who hunted and fished, Maori songs, guitar players and even dogs at mass.

She was baptised when pregnant with their third child, Amelia, 6. Her elder two, Aimee, 10, and Bradley, 8, were baptised as infants and she followed suit in part to give consistency of message to her children. Continue reading

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