Bernie on the go:
Since leaving TVNZ, Bernadine Oliver-Kerby has been swamped with work and is now fronting the weekly sports opinion show New Zealand Press Box. Kerry Harvey reports.
Bernadine Oliver-Kerby is relishing her new roles with Sky TV.
It doesn’t take long to realise that Bernadine Oliver-Kerby operates only at top speed. “I remember someone saying they saw me walk past a shop they were in, stuck their head out the door and I’d gone,” she says, laughing. “They said, ‘My god, you talk fast and you even walk fast’. I am always on the go. I don’t sit round and flick through magazines or paint my nails. I’m always doing something. That’s just the way I’m wired.” Which is why it should come as no surprise that the experienced broadcaster didn’t sit around twiddling her thumbs when, in 2017, TVNZ failed to renew her weekend news-presenting contract – despite her 25 years with the network. Oliver-Kerby was snapped up by Sky and the move has proved a winner. “The doors that have opened post-TVNZ have been incredible,” she says. She has covered the America’s Cup and the Winter Olympics and swapped a 12-year news-reading stint on Newstalk ZB’s morning show for a job co-hosting the Breakfast show on the Coast radio station. Then, in March, she started presenting Sky’s new monthly half-hour sports entertainment show New Zealand Press Box. It has proved so popular, it is now going weekly and Oliver-Kerby is stoked. “We had an incredible response and
feedback from journalists wanting to be on the show but also a fantastic response from athletes, who love the format, love the banter and that the spotlight is on their sport,” she says.
“There is nothing like it on TV. There are various sport codes that have their own shows but this covers all of them and the issues and opinions surrounding those various sports so it’s quite unique.”
It is Oliver-Kerby’s job to wrangle a bunch of the country’s leading sports journalists, all eager to voice their opinion on whatever sporting event or code is under discussion.
“I think I’ve definitely earned my referee’s stripes,” she says. “They are such professionals, seasoned journalists who have a passion for sport and are never short of an opinion.
“It can be explosive. It’s raw and it’s honest and what makes it refreshing, is that we’re not tiptoeing around issues. People have widely differing opinions on things and that’s life isn’t it?”
While Press Box does not screen live, it is filmed the same day and there is no script and no editing.
“You never know what is coming next. Not only do you have to be informed on all your topics, you have to be pretty quick off the mark with reactions,” she says.
“I quite enjoy that part of it. I quite enjoy having a laugh and having that quick banter. You can’t be anyone else. You’ve got to be you. That’s fake. Don’t do fake news, don’t do fake presenters.”
It’s a perfect fit for Oliver-Kerby who was a sports reporter long before she took up reading the news.
“It’s a passion for me. I’ve always got a close eye on what’s happening in the sporting world,” she says.
“My husband (policeman Mark Lendrum) is a sport fanatic so I’ll often find him in his spare time – which is quite rare – watching NFL, AFL, snooker, anything. He’d probably watch marbles.
“We’re a family of sports fans so it’s not a hardship to keep an eye on what’s going on in the sporting world.”
And while she admits the couple’s work hours are a bit of a nightmare, their opposing shifts mean there’s lots of time to spend with their equally active children – daughters Maisey, 10, and Scarlett, eight. “I coach two netball teams at school, my husband coaches the Rippa team. We are fully hands-on and we are probably at school almost as much as the kids,” she says.
“We love being involved with the kids and because we have shiftwork, it means we can be the parent help, helping at swimming sports, helping at Waterwise, helping on all those extra curricular things.”
But there is a catch. When New Zealand Press Box goes to air, Oliver-Kerby will not be watching.
“After a friend’s 40th birthday party – and perhaps one or two vinos too many – we thought it would be a great idea to get the mums of our primary school children to get a netball team together,” she says.
“No one thought it was going to happen but someone registered us as a team and all of a sudden we got a reminder to say your first game is at 8pm at court 12 so we had to scrap together eight players. Not only did we do that, we’ve got a wait list and we’re doing not too bad for old girls. But it is the same night as Press Box.”
“It can be explosive. It’s raw and it’s honest and what makes it refreshing, is that we’re not tiptoeing around issues.”
– Bernadine Oliver-Kerby