Michael Gunner was born in Alice Springs in 1976, the eldest of four children, to Mick and Jane Gunner.
His great-grandfather settled in Tennant Creek in the 1930s from Tbilisi in Georgia, fleeing the country after the Russian Revolution.
He supported himself by working at retail chain Big W and as an electorate officer. He has represented the Territory in rugby union. Gunner went on to work as a senior government ministerial and policy adviser between 2001 and 2008 to former Chief Minister Clare Martin
He is currently engaged to ABC journalist Kristy O'Brien.