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Stalwart of screen


With brains, brawn and beauty by the bucketload, few would be better suited to a broadcasting career than Stacey Morrison.

PHOTO NGĀI TAHU POUNAMU

 

Then known by the surname Daniels after her father, prominent radio personality and now Councillor for Coastal Ward – James Daniels, Stacey was just 18 when she got her first gig – as a presenter on What Now?

“I love that people still remember me from What Now?,” she laughs when I point out I have followed her career since then.

“It blows me away really, I was still a student at Aranui High School at the time! I still work with Whitebait Productions which makes What Now?”

She is today one of Christchurch’s most beloved exports and her 25-year career has taken her around the country. She’s now settled in Auckland with husband, another veteran of the Kiwi screen, presenter of current affairs programmes Te Karere and Marae – Scotty Morrison, and their three children – Hawaiki, Kurawaka and Maiana.

And while mum to those three children is undoubtedly her most important role, she has been lucky to be able to combine whānau life and work at times. “Making Whānau Living for five years, with all of my kids and husband Scotty involved, really was a joy and a highlight,” Stacey says.

“The producer, Brad, and I came up with the idea for the show when he noticed how we live our lives and how it reflects many busy whānau, so I felt proud that it was a continuation of our lives and many of the cast and crew are still close friends of ours.”

Scotty and Stacey are teaming up again professionally, with a new show National Treasures hitting the small screen soon.

“It’s about keepsakes and personal treasures that people have at home, that unlock a story of a time in the last 100 years in New Zealand history,” Stacey explains.

“I’ve done some filming already and some of the stories from Christchurch are deeply moving and inspirational.”

Co-hosting The Hits Drive Show alongside Mike Puru and Anika Moa makes for a busy life, but Stacey ensures there is always quality whānau time.

“I loved the lockdown for that reason – everyone at home! The second lockdown in Auckland, that was a little more challenging,” she laughs.

“We have set whānau time in lots of ways, whether it’s family movie night – currently episodes of Cobra Kai, which is great for the other four who all do karate together – sit down mealtimes and board games and travelling or working together when we can, too.”

Stacey and Scotty kept busy even through lockdown, co-creating a new all-ages activity book Māori Made Fun, featuring crosswords, word-finds, colouring, riddles and a bit of maths and science.

“This is Scotty’s seventh book and the success (which even surprised us) of his Māori Made Easy series and our other co-written book, Māori At Home means we had the opportunity to look at a different approach, that we don’t have many of on the market,” she explains.

“We wanted to make something that people of all levels of understanding – from beginners to fluent speakers; something you can pick up and do for just five minutes, or an hour, but offering some fun and reo in your day.”

One of the most special roles she has had over the years has been an unofficial advocate for te reo Māori revitalisation, after learning the reo as an adult.

“I had a very stumbling, long-winded path of learning te reo, over maybe 10 years,” she laughs. “But once I really concentrated, it took a couple of years of exponential effort to be comfortable to say I’m a fluent speaker.”

It’s a subject she is passionate about. “At the time that I started learning te reo Māori, in the 1990s, it wasn’t as widely supported, yet it felt important to me,” she says.

“Te reo Māori can unlock knowledge about where we live, what the history of that place is, express our feelings such as aroha (compassion, as well as love), connect us all and express our unique identity.”

So what would she say to someone who was interested in learning but is perhaps shy, embarrassed, or self-conscious?

“That all of those feelings are valid and yet it’s still worth pushing through, attempting and enjoying your reo learning journey. No one is judging you as harshly as you imagine, so try to stay out of the over-thinking zone of your brain, it will slow down the part of your brain, ears and heart that are trying to stay wide open!

“Kia kaha rā koe, keep going hard, you’ve got this!”

Clearly, it’s a motto Stacey herself lives by.


 

Making moves


Brodie Kane has been a fixture on New Zealand television screens and radio waves for the past 13 years, earning her success and respect for being relatable, unfiltered and unashamedly herself. Metropol catches up with the much-loved local about losing her radio job just before a global pandemic, starting her own media business in the middle of one – and everything in between.

 

 

Losing a job can be one of life’s toughest challenges – let alone doing so in the public eye. But that’s exactly the position much-loved broadcaster Brodie Kane found herself in when The Hits’ Brodie and Fitzy was cancelled in February.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but it is the nature of the beast. I made the decision to work in the public eye and this comes with the territory.”

Brodie has taken her shock redundancy, like most things, in her stride.

“There’s no shame in being made redundant, I think a lot of people think you should be embarrassed or feel like you failed, but sometimes you’re just a cog in a wheel.”

Instead of ruminating, she took the opportunity to fast track a long-held career goal.

So, using her 13 years of experience at the country’s largest media outlets including TVNZ, NZME and Mediaworks, she launched Brodie Kane Media.

“I always wanted to try and create a business which is just me and focuses my skillset in other professions, not just traditional media.”

So far, she has worked with the likes of My Food Bag, Interislander, Heritage Hotels, and Duco Events.

“I still want to broadcast, it just looks a little different now.”

As well as her Kiwi Yarns podcast, Brodie also co-hosts The Girls Uninterrupted, with Gracie Taylor and Caitlin Marett.

The show has gained a strong following for its discussions on everything from pop culture and politics, to sex, relationships, navigating single life in your 30s, and mental health.

“Women have, for a long time, felt uncomfortable or uneasy to talk about certain things,” she says. “What we have found is, the more we have talked and jumped into difficult subjects, the more support and positive feedback we have received.”

A recent sold out tour in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch highlighted the importance of creating space for such conversations.

“We had women coming up to us saying we had changed their lives, that they finally left an abusive boyfriend or quit their job and gone back to uni.”

One area Brodie – a keen runner and endurance athlete – has been particularly outspoken on is body image and self-acceptance.

“Health, fitness, and body image – it is such a tricky one, and at the moment the term is ‘self-love’.

“I find self-love interesting; I think that every one should absolutely embrace and love and celebrate themselves and all that, but it is almost just repackaging the fact that women still have to always think about their bodies.”

She says the conversation is still dictating to women how they should operate their bodies, with the potential to introduce even more pressure or feelings of failure should they not love every part of themselves.

Instead, she wants women to focus on their bodies “for themselves, not for anyone else.”

Brodie has been candid about her own use of cosmetic injectables and is one of a growing number of public figures dismantling the stigma around such procedures.

“You can want to be better, you don’t have to beat yourself up. If it’s for you – fill your boots!”


 

City’s newest super sleuth


A day at the office can mean interviewing gang members or quizzing politicians for young journalist Katie Harris, one of the city’s newest super sleuths.

 

Katie, who grew up in Hillsborough, Christchurch, has just won the DW Bain Prize as the top student in the University of Canterbury (UC) Postgraduate Diploma of Journalism class.

She first broke a story about the first all-female chapter of Waikato’s Mongrel Mob Kingdom while she was still a student.

UC Media and Communication Senior Lecturer, Tara Ross, says Katie was outstanding from the beginning.

“She stood out early for her curiosity, drive and hunger for news. She was unafraid of tackling hard stories and, I don’t doubt, can go far in journalism.”

Katie has already found work as a journalist for New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) at Newstalk ZB in Wellington, and this month she is travelling to Jakarta, Indonesia to work for six weeks after being awarded a media internship through the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

“I knew I wanted to be a journalist as soon as I started studying Media Communications at UC,” she says.

“I don’t know what other job I could do because I think I would get bored. This job is always changing and it’s always exciting. It’s definitely a tough industry but it’s good.”

Katie is drawn to “hard news” and first made contacts with Mongrel Mob Kingdom members from Hamilton when they came to UC to give a lecture to Criminal Justice Programme students in September 2019.

“I was never really an academic person before but I feel like I’ve found my niche and it shows anyone can succeed at what they do if they find something they’re passionate about and they work hard.”

Her dream is to one day work as a foreign correspondent and, with that in mind, she has been learning Arabic in the hope that she might one day be based in the Middle East.

She spent a month in the Czech Republic in August 2018 studying a paper in foreign correspondence journalism.

The adventurous young woman is also a keen surfer and she edited a youth magazine launched earlier this year called Yo, Vocal.


 

Changing Lives


It was once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Renowned journalist Paula Penfold has taken a very literal approach to this adage.

 

 

From fighting to free wrongly imprisoned Teina Pora to uncovering the Kiwi link to the death of seven Afghan babies and opening up about her own decision to have an abortion at 21 as part of her Stuff Circuit investigation into the abortion law reform bill, Paula Penfold is fighting for justice.

We catch up with 2019’s Reporter of the Year about changing lives.


What attracted you to journalism?

I was 14, at high school, when a reporter from the Waikato Times came to visit our English class.

I found her utterly inspiring. Her job sounded hugely interesting; it was a mixture of fact and creativity, and it also meant the opportunity to sometimes make a difference.

I immediately loved the idea.

You’ve worked on some of the country’s most high-profile stories, notably the Teina Pora case and more recently fraudster Joanne Harrison’s hidden history. What do you consider to have been some of your own personal career highlights?

The Teina Pora case would be right up there.

We worked on that investigation over five years and it’s some of the most difficult but most satisfying work we’ve done.

There are other stories though which have less of a profile but are also important to me, though now that I think about it, the ones that matter almost always involve an injustice of some kind.


News organisations throughout the country have been cutting back on investigative journalism, meanwhile Stuff Circuit has been leading the country in this area. How exciting is it to be involved in something which has the power to change – and improve – lives by uncovering critical information?

I feel really lucky that I love my job! I’ve been a journalist for a long time but every story is different, so it never gets old.

I feel very fortunate that at Stuff Circuit we’re given the time and resource to properly dig into a story and uncover information that should be in the public domain, but for whatever reason has been kept secret or gone unreported.

It’s really satisfying trying out new creative ways of telling stories: investigative journalism done in new, multimedia ways, combining documentary with interactivity, text and whatever else we think fits the story.

So yeah, it’s hugely exciting, but it often comes with a fair amount of stress too, so we need to be careful about that.

I also feel really lucky that I work in an incredible team within Stuff Circuit; people who push each other creatively and journalistically, while also having each other’s backs.


How incredible was it to get named Reporter of the Year at the New Zealand Television Awards in November?

I know people always say this when they win awards, but it truly was a surprise – the other finalists in the category are journalists whose work I really admire.

I think, especially when I’m working in a relatively new venture like Stuff Circuit, winning something like that is useful to draw attention to our stories and the type of journalism we do.

And yeah, it did feel good as well!


How important do you think investigative journalism is to democracy?

I would say this, of course, but I believe it also.

I think investigative journalism and journalism in general is crucial to a healthy democracy.

Democracy is about more than just the right to vote; it’s about being fully informed and about being able to have proper conversations about our priorities and values as a society.

It’s the role of journalism to hold up a mirror to society, and to keep the powerful accountable by examining and questioning what they’re doing.

It’s so fundamentally important that it’s hard to imagine a functioning society without it.

The type of journalism we do is expensive, and time and resource-heavy, so if it wasn’t done by journalists with the backing of a major media company, it wouldn’t be done at all.


What have been some of your most memorable experiences in your career?

Driving up the coast of Leyte in the Philippines in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. It was apocalyptic and I will never forget it.

Making a rookie error by thinking we could cross the border from Texas to a Mexican border town and then sit back for a couple of mojitos!

We completely under-estimated the risk of trying to film in a town controlled by drug cartels. We were in and out of Mexico within an hour.

Filming at a mountaintop cemetery in Bamyan, Afghanistan, just a few months ago, with three mothers who between them had lost seven children, killed in an explosion.

The enormity of their grief, combined with the eerie beauty of the place, made it an unforgettable scene.

Being gathered in front of the TV with Teina Pora’s supporters watching as the Privy Council law lords delivered their decision, quashing his convictions (Teina couldn’t watch!).

The reactions from Malcolm Rewa’s other victims as the verdict came in finding him guilty of Susan Burdett’s murder.

On a lighter note (sometimes in this job there aren’t enough of these!), being with Tiki Taane in Vanuatu, as he sang, with his acoustic guitar, to patients waiting to get their sight restored, at a clinic run by the Fred Hollows Foundation. It was gentle and magical; soothing and beautiful.


What is the most fulfilling part of what you get to do?
Honestly, it’s giving a voice to people who might not otherwise have one.

Putting them in a position where they can tell their story or their side of the story, which has never been heard.

It’s really satisfying when that leads to change.


What does 2020 have in store for you?

A documentary which is very much a ‘story’ as opposed to an investigation and which I’m really looking forward to, and some more investigative work – we have some big stories in the pipeline.

And my youngest will be finishing her last year at school, so that’ll be the end of an era – and the beginning of a new one.