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PM phones for a chat

Mark Rogers of Bear Flag Books and Retro, Masterton. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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When Masterton retailer Mark Rogers was asked if he was up for taking a call from a government representative about how he was getting on post-lockdown, he never imagined the call would be from the prime minister.

On Wednesday, Rogers answered his shop phone at Bear Flag Books and Retro, and a conversation began:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spent 30 minutes talking to Mark Rogers on Wednesday. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

“Hello, is that Mark? This is Jacinda Ardern.”

Apparently, she had just rung to see how he was doing at the shop now he was open again after a covid-19 enforced closure.

Rogers said the lockdown presented a good chance to have a rest, but having the wage subsidy made it survivable. He told Ardern that it was good to be open because he didn’t have much of an online presence, like Amazon does for example.

“I told her I was impressed at how fast the subsidy came in,” Rogers said. “It gave us breathing space and there was no dithering by government.”

Rogers’ phone call with the prime minister was about 30 minutes long.

Wairarapa Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty put Rogers’ name forward but didn’t let on who he was giving his name to.

“She’ll be in the shop to buy a second-hand book later in the year I am sure,” Rogers said.

“I let her know she would get a discount but that she would have to show ID – she laughed.”

Rogers said Queen’s Birthday weekend was great for the shop and it was a delight to see so many people shopping local. Masterton was “heaving with shoppers”, he said.


  1. Awww everyday I kept getting reminded of how so fortunate we are in NZ to have Jacinda Adern as our leader. I mean where in the world do you hear of a PM – a new one at that too – or so called Presidents of big countries do that, i.e ringing its residents to see how they’re getting on. And on top of all that coping with an out of nowhere pandemic that obviously is new to her and most world leaders I would think, facing unreasonable critics, being a new Mom as well as putting up with a self-centered Deputy leader at home and still comes out tops in every way. We love you Jacinda, especially for your empathy and kindness. I pray God keeps giving you great health and strength to keep being the best leader in the world. People in the world should learn from Jacinda, that no matter what tragedy or challenges they face, if you have kindness and empathy in your leaders, you can conquer it all And only way that happens is to vote those people in. And we can see from what’s been happening during the pandemic that its countries with women leaders too who conquer.

  2. Great story, but I did know Mark does a regular programme on National Radio called Nashville Babylon and your readers might have been interested in knowing that, too. He’s a man of many parts.

  3. Local? Shopping local?! Come on, if you’re writing about a bookshop, perhaps you out to study sentence construction.

  4. Perhaps Jacinda could make a call to someone not specially selected. That can often happen in research. Selection of someone who will say the right thing often leads to false impressions and a rosier picture.

  5. A really good human interest story thank you karen Coltman and so good to know jacinda is taking personal interest in individuals.

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