It's a job she's dreamed of since she started at TV3 at just 17 years old, but before accepting the coveted six o’clock news anchor role last month, Samantha Hayes made a series of calls to her biggest supporters in the far South – her parents Paula and Sheena Hayes and her beloved Aunt Sonia Lyders.
“I had to stop and take stock of the situation and I needed my family to do that,” Sam told The Australian Women’s Weekly.
Because while she may look every inch the city glamour girl, the Milton-raised journalist remains deeply connected to her South Island roots.
Behind the perfectly polished newsreader - who has forged a successful career in news and current affairs at just 32 - is a country girl who grew up in South Otago’s beautiful natural surrounds.
Watch: Samantha Hayes on her new role and working alongside Mike McRoberts
It’s a side to the familiar face, that viewers know less of – the outdoorsy Sam who spent her childhood bush walking, hunting and fishing with her father, and the horse-mad Sam who grew up riding on her Aunt Sonia’s 650 acre farm in Lawrence, where she still retreats to whenever she can.
“I have to be in Auckland because that is where the studio is, but if I could beam the news up from somewhere in South Otago I probably would do that,” she says with a warm smile.
“I almost feel as if I have two different lives,” she continues. “I have this life in Auckland with the perceived glamour of television, and there’s this other side of me that would like to own a couple of horses, dogs and a little shaggy Shetland pony, not wear make-up and live in gumboots. How beautiful would that be?”
The Australian Women’s Weekly joined Sam and her family in Lawrence, where they opened the doors to their family farmhouse and 650 acre property - and spoke to the media for the first time about their celebrity daughter and niece.
For the full story and stunning images of the news anchor’s private world see the July issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.
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