Hamilton-based freelance journalist and advocate for the disabled community Michael Lewis Pulman, died in Hamilton on September 8, 2021 in his 30th year. His funeral service was in Te Kuiti on Wednesday, followed by burial at Te Kuiti Cemetery. The following tribute is by TOM ROWLAND a friend and colleague of Michael at Wintec, in journalism, and in the world of online gaming.
Dream. Believe. Achieve.
That was the mantra of Michael Pulman in both his job as a journalist, his work as a disability advocate, and in his life as a much loved son, partner, colleague, and friend.
Last week the world lost one of its most passionate and kind human beings in Mike. A man who simply wanted to share stories in sport and stand up for the communities that he represented.
On Wednesday afternoon in his home town of Te Kuiti, Mike's closest friends and family gathered - under the limits of level 2 restrictions - to farewell a man who had a passion for telling stories, a passion at which he excelled. At the request of Michael's family, the dress code for his send off was sports attire, with cricket and rugby shirts a favourite choice.
These were the two codes to which Mike devoted much of his personal and professional time, with Hamilton's Seddon Park or FMG Stadium being his frequent haunts - depending on the season.
The impact Mike has had on both the New Zealand disabled and sporting worlds has been clear to see in the days since his peaceful passing at Waikato Hospital. Across social media, tributes have been paid to Michael, from the Chiefs to the Black Caps, and many, many more across the sporting, journalism and disability communities.
A death noticed announcing Mike's passing described him as: "Dearly loved and cherished son of Lew and Nanette (Basil), brother of Jenna, partner of Jess and adored uncle of Hunter, Xander and Akasha."
The local Waikato sporting community came together for Mike this week in making his final wishes come true. On Tuesday morning Mike was driven for one last circuit around the turf of both Seddon Park and FMG Stadium, while a small group of family and friends said their farewells.
Mike was a man like no other.
His spinal muscular atrophy did not hold him back from reaching his goals of wanting to become a sports journalist. Since 2011, Mike has been making his own foray into the world of media and journalism. From early YouTube videos reviewing sports matches and video games to writing for publications such as the Hamilton News, Waikato News, NZ Herald, Rugby Pass and others.
He also had regular spots with FreeFM Radio while growing a steady audience of followers on the online streaming platform Twitch TV.
It was not always easy for Mike, and his sheer determination to get to where he wanted to be was an attribute many admired in him.
I first met Mike in my last year of journalism school at Wintec in 2017 and immediately I could tell he would make a great journalist. Mike's challenges in life made him ask questions I would never have thought of, find another angle that didn't occur to me, more often than not asking the questions about the disability community he represented and wanted to fight for.
To those that gave Mike those opportunities, thank you. Those who knew him could see how much it meant for him to be working among others in the sporting world and making him feel at home.
What I admired about Mike the most, and it is a comment that many have been repeating this week, was Mike regularly checked in on you. I regularly received a "Hey Tom" in my Facebook messages from Mike expecting a question from Mike but it was always a "Just checking in on how you are."
I loved that about Mike. He worked twice as hard to get where he wanted to be but always found the time to stop, take a break, and check in on his friends and colleagues.
In Mike's final post on his personal blog in June 2021 he spoke about the return of "The Black Dog." Mike often expressed his battle with his own mental health issues to help normalise discussion around it, and in his last paragraph Mike asked his readers if they could make a promise to themselves.
"Please, just be kind. If you feel the need to, reach out and talk to somebody, put your arm around them and tell them it is going to be okay. My partner does this for me, and trust me, it helps. Be a friend to people, not just a colleague or a work partner. Be a good person. The best person that you can be," he wrote.
Mike was the very best of a person for many of us. He made us smile, he made us laugh and he taught me to make every day count. He will be missed by many.