Billionaire ex-mayor relishing first break after 12 years in New York's top job.
His 12-year tenure as the mayor of New York City has just expired, but 71-year-old billionaire Michael Bloomberg is escaping to New Zealand with longtime girlfriend Diana Taylor to go golfing, kayaking and white-water rafting.
Bloomberg, the world's 13th richest man with a fortune of US$31 billion ($37 billion), attended the inauguration of incumbent mayor Bill de Blasio last week, then departed freezing New York for a 10-day holiday in sunny Hawaii and New Zealand.
"On January 2 my girlfriend and I are going on our first vacation in 12 years, to Hawaii and New Zealand, to play golf. We'll be playing with Julian Robertson - on a good day I shoot a few strokes under 90," he told Forbes in an exit interview.
Robertson, the hedge fund manager and owner of Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers golf courses in the Bay of Islands and Hawkes Bay, will host Bloomberg and Taylor, the 58-year-old managing director of a fund management company. They are old friends. Bloomberg attended Robertson's 80th birthday party last year at New York's Lincoln Centre. Then it's on to the South Island to explore glaciers by kayak and white-water raft.
"I haven't had [a holiday] in 12 years, so it'll be good. Whether I can go 10 days without getting fidgety, I have no idea. We're gonna find out," Bloomberg told the New York Observer's Politiker blog last week.
"I used to do a lot of kayaking and white-water rafting. Took my daughter [Emma] to the Rogue River in Washington State and learned to do an Eskimo roll down the rapids ... You roll the boat all the way over, upside down as you go down the rapids," he said.
Jay Robertson, son of Julian Robertson, told Summer Diary yesterday his father has no plans to play a round of golf with his old friend, but would welcome it.
That golf game might raise some eyebrows, the New York Times reported, as Robertson fought a multi-year legal case to avoid paying $26.7 million in New York City income tax. He won the case in 2010 by illustrating he spent 183 days outside the city in the year in question, 2000, at his various homes in the US and New Zealand.
Bloomberg left office last week after three terms as mayor, but the business mogul has quashed rumours about a run for the White House. The billionaire, who famously took the subway to work and opted not to live in Gracie Mansion, took a $1 salary as mayor, saving New York City US$2.7 million over his 12-year tenure. He has said he will now focus on his charitable foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and remain active in public health, gun control and government innovation. He has donated US$2.8 billion to various causes.
There's grandpa duties, too - a newborn grandson, Jasper, born on Christmas Eve in New York.
Wright role needed
The forecast is cold for weather girl Renee Wright who has been dumped from her role on late-night news show Tonight.
TVNZ says they no longer need a dedicated weather presenter on the programme, but insist they will find a role for Renee ... somewhere.
Alas, what that will be is not yet clear.
"While Renee won't return to present the weather on Tonight, there will be plenty of opportunities to use her talents on our other news programmes, like Breakfast or the 6pm news," a TVNZ rep told Summer Diary. "We're committed to continuing to work with Renee. She is a valued member of TVNZ and viewers can definitely look forward to seeing her onscreen in the course of the year."
The outlook, it seems, is frosty turning to foggy with chance of sunshine.
Parties chase Chuang
Bevan Chuang doesn't want to become an MP, but says she's been offered the opportunity "many times by political parties looking for an Asian woman".
Chuang, who infamously had a two-year affair with Mayor Len Brown, told Wallace Chapman on RadioLive yesterday she's been approached by three different political parties to run in the past two years, including talks with Pita Sharples and the Maori Party, and a representative from Colin Craig's Conservative Party.
"There's a demand for young Asian female MPs. I think it's the connection with the younger community and the population," she said.
She said 2013 was a tough year, but she credits pop star Madonna and ex-lover Brown as personal heroes.
"This will sound really ironic, but I did really respect the mayor a lot. I looked up to him in a lot of ways. He was a really great mentor. He was able to teach me things about life."
However, asked if she misses him, Chuang scoffed: "No, not really."