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Peta Mathias: ‘I’ve been naughty since day one’

Peta Mathias took 45 years to find her true vocation in life, and she says it's taken her 62 years to be ready to write some of the very personal revelations in her latest book.
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Peta Mathias took 45 years to find her true vocation in life, and she says it’s taken her 62 years to be ready to write some of the very personal revelations in her latest book.

For instance, opening up about your lifelong desire to strangle your mother could be considered risky, especially when the woman in question will read the book.

But this bold redhead isn’t bothered. She expects many other women will understand the love-hate emotions of the mother-daughter bond – plus her mother had been warned.

“I told her I’d written a chapter on her and she said, ‘Darling, I’m 92, I honestly don’t care,'” says Peta.

“My parents are used to me. I’ve been naughty since day one.

“Besides, mum and I have talked and got all that stuff out.”

Peta’s dad, on the other hand, has a different approach.

“My father calls up and says, ‘What page is the sex on?'”

He won’t be disappointed.

In Beat Till Stiff: A Woman’s Recipe for Living, the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly columnist devotes a chapter

to the topic, sharing some of her life’s romances.

Although she’s never been shy and retiring, Peta admits it took some courage to speak so freely about herself.

“I actually refused to talk about anything personal at first but my editor told me I had to,” she recalls.

“She said, ‘Your story is interesting but there are lots of holes in it.’

“I’ve been blabbing about myself ever since.

“obviously I don’t tell everything, or I wouldn’t have any friends. But I’m not saying anything that other people don’t talk about.”

The book is full of Peta’s many adventures and, at 62, she’s still having them.

on the day of her photoshoot she has just arrived back from India, having been away on a five-month trip that also took in France, oorocco and Indonesia.

Peta has an enviable lifestyle, each year hosting culinary tours in exotic locations, although it also has its harder moments.

“The only time I really suffer from loneliness is when I’m travelling, because you don’t have any friends,” Peta explains.

She says she learned early how to cope with her nomadic life.

“There are a lot of decisions you make young in your life.

Am I going to have a husband, am I going to have children, or am I going to be a wanderer and go off and do things that you can’t do with a family?”

As the eldest of six children, Peta says she knew she should have got married first, but by her early twenties she was sure that wasn’t the path she wanted to take.

“And thank God I didn’t! I had a serious boyfriend lined up and suddenly I stopped and said, ‘I think I’ll just doa little trip overseas,’ and never came back.”

But, despite having the whole world as her oyster, Peta says she will never stop wanting to spend time in New Zealand.

“I feel so grateful to be a New Zealander,” she says. “You come home to cleanliness, polite people, great culture and a physically beautiful land. I’d never give it up.”

The one drawback is the fact it’s much easier to get published if you live in Europe.

“Perhaps I just need to split myself,” she says. “I think we all need to have two different lives!”

However, there is one thing Peta thinks New Zealanders lack, which she wishes she could bottle up and bring

home with her – the European attitude to flirting.

“New Zealanders need to lighten up, flirt a bit and not think it’s the end of the world,” she says with a grin. “I think we need to play more and have more fun together.”

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