16 July 2020

The passing of a true media professional

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Paul Hemsley

Tomorrow, July 17, the family and friends of former journalist Genevieve Westcott will say their final goodbyes to her in a Hastings chapel.

Genevieve was one of our first, if not THE first, women investigative television reporters. She was not a friend as such, but someone for whom I had great respect.

I met her initially in the second half of 1983 at the Marsden Point Refinery, at the time the site of a somewhat violent scaffolders dispute and picket. I was up there as media liaison with the NZ Police, who were there to protect a group of working scaffolders.

While this must have been one of her early assignments, Genevieve’s reputation as the kick-arse reporter proceeded her. Yet this is not how I found her. She was a true professional, an excellent relationship-builder and a fair reporter. I could not have had greater respect for her.

She was no ‘gotcha’ merchant. She was there to do a story and knew what she wanted. I was there to help her with that. Jobs done.

As I reflect on Genevieve’s approach and professionalism, I can’t help but contrast these with what I occasionally see and find today. She did not need to kick down any figurative doors, was never rude or presented herself with a sense of entitlement. Oh, how things have changed.

Incidentally, her father was a police officer in Canada. She gave me a lapel pin from the Canadian police, and with her passing I will treasure that memento even more.