Our hopes for 2017: Judy Bai­ley, Kerre McIvor and Irene van Dyk talk about what’s most im­por­tant to them this year

It’s that time of year again when we look ahead and think about what changes, if any, we’d like to make to our lives. Ni­cola Rus­sell and Suzanne McFad­den spoke to three well-known Kiwi women about their hopes for 2017 and found they share very sim­i­lar asp


Judy Bai­ley Judy Bai­ley is a tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter, an Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly colum­nist and travel writer, and a grand­mother of six.

Cur­rently liv­ing at Judy Bai­ley’s fourbed­room Auck­land villa are four adults, two chil­dren, a baby and three dogs. When her son-in-law Sam be­gan ren­o­vat­ing the house he shares with Judy’s daugh­ter Gemma, Judy un­der­stood the dis­rup­tion they and their three chil­dren would be fac­ing – her own hus­band, Chris, had done the same when Gemma was a baby. “It was the wettest win­ter on record and we had holes in the ceil­ing of ev­ery room!” she says, re­call­ing the chaos with a laugh. So Judy came to the res­cue and in­vited the young fam­ily to live with them while the re­build was be­ing done. This good na­ture is get­ting her through the dis­or­der that has de­scended on her home. The newly cov­ered lounge suite is wear­ing peanut but­ter “and God knows what”; five-year-old Mila has a mat­tress on the floor in Judy and Chris’ bed­room; and two-year-old Macy has a bed­room to her­self but in­evitably ends up in her par­ents’ bed, where four-month-old Bil­lie sleeps in a bassinet be­side them. As a re­sult, Judy’s days have been filled with wash­ing and cook­ing, play­ing with Mila and Macy and cud­dling her “scrump­tious” youngest grand­daugh­ter – and she says she couldn’t be hap­pier. It’s been 11 years since Judy left our tele­vi­sion screens, but her voice is like that of a fam­ily mem­ber, her fa­mil­iar tones locked deep in the sub­con­scious from years of bring­ing the day’s news into liv­ing rooms around the coun­try. While still lauded as a celebrity fig­ure­head by New Zealan­ders and “the mother of the na­tion”, Judy says she is ac­tu­ally much hap­pier be­hind the scenes, be­ing a mum of three and grand­mother of six in her own fam­ily. “I’m quite shy,” she says, an ad­mis­sion that might sur­prise many. “You’ll find that in lots of per­form­ers, be­cause we can as­sume a per­sona in our work,” she ex­plains. “I am so much hap­pier out of the lime­light.” But she says news is in her veins, and ev­ery now and then she gets an itch to be part of it. “When the big sto­ries hit, like John Key re­sign­ing and Don­ald Trump be­ing elected, I do feel the need to be in there, know­ing what’s go­ing on. I don’t miss the day-to-day stuff though. I think it has changed enor­mously and it must be even more re­lent­less now with so­cial me­dia,” she says, con­fess­ing she is also a bit of a so­cial me­dia phobe. “I am on Twit­ter, Face­book, In­sta­gram and LinkedIn – but I must be the least linked in per­son on there!” Judy says she is in her el­e­ment be­ing en­sconced in fam­ily life, work­ing for her char­i­ties of choice and writ­ing for The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly, and her New Year res­o­lu­tions for 2017 re­flect this. Her year will be­gin sur­rounded by fam­ily in her bach in Flaxmill, where the “kids” still jockey for the best bed­rooms. “They all love it there. Chris and I ended up in the tent last year be­cause we thought we might get a bit of a sleep-in, but no, they came down the lawn – you could hear them com­ing, the pit­ter pat­ter of tiny feet in the morn­ing,” she says, grin­ning and tap­ping the ta­ble. Some nights there will be 20 around the ta­ble and they have an an­nual long Ital­ian lunch. When they’re all to­gether, they vow to do those big fam­ily din­ners more of­ten, but it’s a prom­ise that in­evitably gets bro­ken in the busy year ahead. This year, how­ever, Judy plans to keep that res­o­lu­tion. Fam­ily is her num­ber one pri­or­ity – both in the im­me­di­ate sense

“It is re­ally im­por­tant to give young par­ents a break be­cause it is so hard.”

and in a broader ca­pac­ity in her char­ity work. As a trustee of the Brain­wave Trust she is pas­sion­ate about the im­por­tance of nur­ture in a child’s early de­vel­op­ment, and she wants young fam­i­lies to be bet­ter sup­ported so they can pro­vide that. In 2017 she would like to see the govern­ment ap­prove paid parental leave for at least six months – ide­ally a year. “I know it is ex­pen­sive,” she says. “But can we af­ford not to,” she adds, more state­ment than ques­tion. “The so­cial bud­get is much more pro­duc­tive if it is spent in the early years. Then you avoid a whole bunch of spend­ing on so­cial wel­fare, jus­tice, polic­ing, health and men­tal health later on.” Judy and Chris, who is the gen­eral man­ager of South Pa­cific Pic­tures and cur­rently pro­duc­ing 800 Words, may be busy with their own projects but are pas­sion­ate about find­ing time to sup­port their chil­dren in rais­ing their fam­i­lies. They have been mar­ried for 46 years and, as well as Gemma’s fam­ily, there is son James and his wife Deirdre, who have Harry, 10; and son Sam, who is mar­ried to Maya and they have two chil­dren, Sadie, six, and Hudson, three. Sam and Maya both work in the film in­dus­try, and when they are in the midst of film­ing, Judy and Chris are reg­u­lars in Sadie and Hudson’s lives. “We make an ef­fort to go up to their place and clock in with the kids and give them fam­ily cud­dles when Sam is away and Maya is work­ing late.” This year she wants to spend even more time with her six grand­chil­dren. “I think it is re­ally im­por­tant to give young par­ents a break be­cause it is so hard. “I am a much bet­ter grand­par­ent than I was a par­ent, but it is eas­ier to be, be­cause you are not try­ing to peel the

spuds, think about work, clean the house and feed the baby all at the same time – you can just fo­cus on the child.” She feels she has now de­vel­oped an en­hanced re­la­tion­ship with her chil­dren. “I think as they get older they un­der­stand you a lot bet­ter than they did when they were kids, and cer­tainly when they have their own kids they un­der­stand why you were so fraz­zled from time to time!” This year will see Judy con­tinue her work as a pa­tron for the Women’s Refuge, an or­gan­i­sa­tion she is pas­sion­ate about. “We need to be kin­der to each other,” she says of so­ci­ety. “We need to care about other peo­ple in this coun­try of ours. There are way too many fam­i­lies where vi­o­lence is the norm. It is ev­ery­body’s busi­ness – if you think some­body may be be­ing abused, you have to do some­thing about it, talk to them, point them in the di­rec­tion of Women’s Refuge.” Her rea­sons for work­ing with Refuge are in­trin­si­cally con­nected to her work at the Brain­wave Trust. “Refuge’s work is about get­ting women out of vi­o­lent sit­u­a­tions and keep­ing chil­dren safe. Of­ten women say, ‘It’s okay, he is only hit­ting me, the chil­dren are fine,’ but if a child is grow­ing up in vi­o­lence and chaos, the brain will adapt to ac­com­mo­date that, so you of­ten end up with a child who is wired for fight or flight and they can ei­ther be­come dis­so­ci­ated from what is go­ing on around them or they can be­come overly ag­gres­sive.” She is ar­dent about get­ting peo­ple to look out for chil­dren in their com­mu­nity. “Some chil­dren might have only one pos­i­tive con­tact in their life and that might have been the per­son who smiled at them on the way to school. That shows you even a per­fect stranger can make a dif­fer­ence.” Po­lit­i­cally, she wants to see more fair­ness. “I would love to see a nar­row­ing of the gap. I’ve just done a TV se­ries called Decades in Colour for Prime and it is a snap­shot into our his­tory. The sec­ond se­ries cov­ers the 1940s to 1980s and when you look back at how we were liv­ing in the 50s, 60s and 70s, it was quite a sim­ple way of life and, I don’t know whether this is just me be­ing nos­tal­gic for my child­hood, but I won­der if we were a hap­pier na­tion then.

“We need to be kin­der to each other, we need to care about other peo­ple.”

“Some­times I feel a bit like a di­nosaur but I think the sim­ple things are re­ally im­por­tant and the older I get the more I be­lieve that.” On the work front, Judy is look­ing for­ward to more travel writ­ing. On the agenda is a trip to see the go­ril­las in Uganda. “That is big on the bucket list! I have en­joyed travel writ­ing enor­mously. It is my dream job re­ally – travel and words,” she says. “I love go­ing off the beaten track and dis­cov­er­ing new things and chal­leng­ing my­self. So they tend to be places like In­dia, Cuba and Africa. I am drawn to these places be­cause I trav­elled quite a bit with World Vi­sion in the early days. The peo­ple are in­cred­i­ble. They can teach us a lot about find­ing joy in the sim­ple things and about find­ing a sense of com­mu­nity.” Part of the ap­peal is trav­el­ling with Chris, who she af­fec­tion­ately calls Bails. “I am so lucky. He is re­ally ex­tra­or­di­nary,” Judy says of her hus­band. “He is clever and funny and he makes me laugh. We have such a great time to­gether, we re­ally do. He is also a crazy do-it-your­selfer and al­ways has projects on the go. It drives me in­sane but it keeps him off the streets! He has very much bonded with his son-in-law over power tools,” she says, laugh­ing. Like many of us, Judy also wants to con­cen­trate more on her fit­ness in 2017. “I have two dogs, so I walk ev­ery day, but I love Pi­lates, and would like to be more con­sis­tent with it. I seize up oth­er­wise, and I like to be able to get down on the floor and mess around with the kids. “Sixty is the new 40 you know!” she says of be­ing 64. “I just think it is all a state of mind re­ally – if you are in­ter­ested in the world and peo­ple around you, and if you are read­ing and con­nected, then age doesn’t mat­ter. As long as you can be healthy, that is the great­est gift – so it’s a re­ally good rea­son for ex­er­cis­ing, eat­ing rea­son­ably and not drink­ing too much.” But she says ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing res­o­lu­tions. “I said to Bails on the week­end, ‘I don’t think I am go­ing to have any­thing to drink this week,’ and on Mon­day night I said, ‘Where’s the chardon­nay?’”

Judy Bai­ley puts fam­ily at the top of her list of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions.

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