Monday, June 30, 2014

Government heavyweights attend Penguin’s launch of John Key biography

‘Takapuna Town’ always rocks on a Thursday evening, never more so than when the Prime Minister and political heavyweights turn up for a book launch!

And what a book launch. The Booklover was full to capacity with distinguished guests, by the time John Key arrived and was surrounded by security men and quickly engulfed in a wall of TV cameras and media. It was a scene that plays out daily for the PM; a rare one for seasoned political journalist, New Zealand Herald columnist and debut author John Roughan.

Roughan’s biography, John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister (Penguin Group NZ) is a timely publication, the first major analysis of one of New Zealand’s most popular and influential leaders. “It is also unique” said Debra Millar (Penguin’s General Manager, Publishing), in that it is one of the first biographies of a sitting Prime Minister independently commissioned by a New Zealand publisher.”

While Roughan had access to the PM, his family and closest advisors in order to write John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister, one of the conditions was that Key would not see it until just before publication. “And he never asked to see it”, said Millar. “As for the timing of the book’s release, well, that was purely for commercial reasons. When the election date was announced a little earlier than we had anticipated we simply had to speed up our internal processes to capitalise on the public’s heightened political awareness.”. And it was worth it, not least because Penguin pushed the reprint button on the day Roughan’s book hit the shelves.

Facing the Prime Minister as he spoke, Roughan thanked Key and his family for agreeing to be interviewed for the book. Their co-operation allowed him to delve a little deeper into the man behind the politician, and to share fresh background on Key’s childhood and formative years as a currency trader. With full access to the Herald’s archives and leave of absence from his ‘day job’ Roughan was able to turn around a book in just over six months that offers new insights into the life of the PM, including that memorable moment at the end of 2012 when after a particularly taxing year Key and wife Bronagh talked about whether it was worth carrying on. 

At the launch, which was also attended by senior cabinet ministers Bill English and Steven Joyce, as well as former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, Roughan invited Key to respond, which he did with a witty off-the-cuff speech that started by saying how weird it was to be talking at a book launch when you’re the subject of the book. He went on to say that he’d been wondering what to buy Bill English and Stephen Joyce for Christmas, and now he had just the thing. English quipped “good, because I wasn’t going to buy a copy!”

Key paid tribute to Roughan’s research, and said he was yet to finish reading the book, but already he’d found out things about himself that even he didn’t know!
Once he’d finished talking to One News and Australia’s ABC about the latest opinion polls, the PM unexpectedly offered to sign copies of the book and mingled with the crowd for well over an hour.
A light rain fell as guests slowly evaporated in to the night, leaving behind a happy author, publisher and booksellers Tom and Helen, who had a bonanza night of book sales.

 The Prime Minister entertains
 Author and publisher

Author and Prime Minister

Photographs - Paul Mason

Report by Sarah Thornton

No comments: