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The women of Newshub share their hardest goodbye yet

The women of Three’s soon-to-be-defunct Newshub share their memories, both hilarious and heartbreaking.
The Newshub women standing in front of the news deskPhotos: Emily Chalk

People who deliver the headlines never like to find themselves at the centre of the news, so when the story broke that Newshub would be shutting down for good, no one was more devastated than the passionate and talented men and women whose job was to ensure, day in and day out, that everyday New Zealanders were kept informed on the stuff that matters.

It’s an end of an era for the Three network that has always battled against the odds to be successful since it first launched in 1989. Ultimately, a fall in advertising revenue, coupled with evolving viewer habits and an unsustainable business model, determined the sad outcome.

Newshub’s beloved lead presenter Samantha Hayes described the closure as “heartbreaking”, a sentiment echoed by many of her colleagues. For many of the team, the closure of the newsroom is like the break-up of a family. Some of the channel’s most recognisable faces have been together for 20-odd years, sharing each other’s greatest triumphs and epic fails. Team members like Samantha, Amanda Gillies and Janika ter Ellen have literally grown up on screen, going from nervous rookies to respected, award-winning journalists and presenters.

While some from Newshub will join the new-look offering that website Stuff will produce, including Samantha, who will present the bulletin from July 6, others will go in different directions, but they will never forget their time at Three, and no doubt their skills will shine through in new places and in new ways.

With their final Newshub broadcasts not far away, we wanted to let the leading ladies do what they do best and tell a story, in their own words, about their time making the news.

Melissa Chan-Green

AM presenter

Melissa Chan-Green standing in front of  a Newhub camera

What is it about those giant farewell cards that get passed around an office that make your mind go completely blank when it’s your turn to write? Is it the comic sans font on the front screaming, “Goodbye and good luck!” that wipes your ability to think of anything intelligent, witty or even remotely unique? I’ve read many of them. I will soon read (and write) many, many more. Although I hope we don’t get them. I’m not sure I can deal with seeing the stack. If we do, I suspect I know what I’ll write. It’s what pretty much everyone writes: “It’s been lovely working with you! Wishing you all the best for your new adventure!”

It’s a sentiment that does now seem more appropriate than ever, though. Whatever comes next is such an adventure into the unknown for so many of us, not just for our Newshub family, but across many industries facing job losses right now. Some of us will choose to leave news media altogether and some will stay. Media will still exist, but the way we consume it will continue to evolve through
new forms and formats.

I’m proud that AM’s format has been hugely successful – built on the grind of TV3 morning show teams that have come before it, we have enjoyed a share of more of the morning TV audience than ever before. It makes financial sense now but is not immune from future trends. But I’ll save my “farewell card” for the final show on July 5. What I’d actually like to write now is a giant thank you card to everyone who has let me tell their story.

My primary school report card describes a girl who loved writing but was extremely shy. “Melissa speaks very quietly and is often hard to hear. More volume would enable everyone to hear her ideas.” I was enrolled at the local drama club and, though very reluctant at first, I did find confidence and enjoyed telling other people’s stories.

What a privilege to eventually get to do that as a job. A huge responsibility too. I was acutely aware of the imprint my words could have on someone already going through unimaginable trauma.

There were the Topperwiens, who I met in London, where they’d taken three-year-old Chace for a drug trial to treat his leukaemia.  

The Longleys, I met at the UK trial of the abusive, murderous low-life who took Emily’s life when she was just 17.  

Terri Friesen, who lived much of her life wrongly accused of killing her baby, even despite a confession from her former partner.  

Alistair Harford, whose wife died of meningitis on their wedding night.  

The family of promising Warriors player Sonny Fai, who was lost at sea 15 years ago.  

News bulletins come and go, but these stories stay with their families forever. Many of them used their own experience to warn others – the signs of abuse, the symptoms of meningitis, the dangers of rips.

To the teacher who wrote that primary school report, I did find some volume and, through journalism, I’d like to think others did too.  

And so now I say to everyone reading this, whether you’ve told your story with Newshub or shared with us in watching those stories, thank you so much.

I just don’t know what else to say, except that it’s been lovely working with you. Wishing you all the best for your new adventure. 

Samantha Hayes

Journalist & 6pm anchor

Samantha Hayes sitting at the Newshub desk

Dear Newshub,
When I think of you, I will always think of the kind and brilliant people who I’ve been so blessed to work alongside for the past 18 years. I’ve grown up in this place and you’ve all helped me to become the woman and journalist I am today. You have given me the career – and life – of my wildest dreams. In many ways, Three has been my home. The place I am happiest, most at ease and yet also challenged. Years spent learning, making mistakes and trying again, quietly observing the masters and absorbing all the feedback I was given.

I moved out of home at 16 to study journalism in Dunedin. That course sent me, as a 17-year-old with bright red hair, questionable fashion sense and a stomach full of butterflies, to the Nightline evening news show for a month of work experience. Why I had the audacity to choose 3 News in Auckland, when others were going to the local newspaper, I don’t know. But it was a sliding-doors moment that has shaped my life.

I vividly remember walking into the building, my eyes like saucers and mind racing – imagine being one of the lucky ones who gets to work here! John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld were huge on the billboard outside. There, I met Nightline’s producer Angus Gillies and his cousin, reporter Amanda. Angus was surprised to see me. “How long are you here for?” he asked. I replied, “A month.” He laughed, “A month? Jesus, I thought it was a couple of days! Well, we’d better get you a desk.”

Angus taught me the craft of writing to pictures, and the importance of checking every detail and every word. He likes to get things done in a hurry. True to form, he had me on air in a matter of days with my first story – I’d stumbled upon an international scoop about a visiting heavy-metal band. Meanwhile, Amanda graciously let me tag along on her shoots. In the back seat of the crew car, I remember looking at her and thinking, “She’s so smart and beautiful, and she knows exactly what she’s doing.” I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved every second.

Their generosity with their knowledge and the coaching they gave me over that month is why I’m where I am today. Had you told me back then that more than two decades later, we would still be working together, putting out the 6pm bulletin every night, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Oh, the adventures I’ve been on! Trips into the Costa Rican jungle, sliding through a maze of mangroves in a small canoe and trekking for hours to find our interview subject. On helicopter rides above Mt Erebus in Antarctica, where we camped for a week in -30 degrees with some ground-breaking Kiwi scientists. And into Kenya, where we drove for eight hours to find two rare southern white rhinos and tell the story of the rangers who protect them.

There have been countless other trips too – India, the US, Tanzania, Jordan, Lebanon, Denmark, the UK, Australia and the Pacific Islands. To the news bosses who said yes every time I came to you with a plan to hop on a plane, thank you. You’ve made my life rich and wondrous.

Now I’m 40, I still have that same red hair and that same sense of excitement as I walk into the newsroom. But these days, it’s my face on the giant billboard outside, alongside generous, humble Mike McRoberts, and instead of nerves coursing through my veins, there’s only warmth and love, and a confidence that comes from being part of a team that truly cares about what we do and about each other.

I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss everyone. There’s been a deep sense of loss and grief since the news of Newshub’s closure in February. I’ve cried and raged, and tried to walk, run and cycle it out of me, but it’s there – and you know what? That’s okay. It tells me that what we built together mattered. Who we are, together, matters.

This next chapter will be different. There’s still a lot of grieving ahead for the family and news service we’re losing, but I’m grateful our legacy will continue in the new 6pm bulletin. Just like we did with Newshub and 3 News before it, we’ll build something that matters, means something to Kiwis and that all of my colleagues can be proud of.

Arohanui and for one last sign off …
Samantha Hayes, Newshub.

Amanda Gillies

Journalist & presenter

Amanda Gillies standing in front of a technological control board

Dear 3 News, aka Newshub,
It’s been 27 years since we first met. I was 20, young, naive but ambitious, fresh off the boat from Gisborne and booked in for one week’s work experience. I was excited.

When I walked through your front doors at 3 Flower Street, I took the lift down to level two and stepped into a noisy, bustling, crowded newsroom – a cheese factory in its former life. Instantly, I was overwhelmed.

John Hawkesby appeared out of nowhere, extended his hand and shook mine firmly, with a twinkle in his eye and a big smile on his face. “Welcome to TV3,” he said. I was in awe.  

I wrote and voiced my first story at the end of that week. It was my 21st birthday, August 15, 1997. I sounded like I was 12, nasal and unsure. The boss, Mark Jennings, told me to work on my voice and get some journalism experience. I was humbled.

But I took his advice, returning three years and 10 months later – June 4, 2001 – to take up the role of Nightline reporter. Carolyn Robinson was the anchor and my cousin Angus Gillies the producer. I was ready.

I planned to stay for three years, but you held my heart and attention for 23. Every year was an unforgettable adventure, reporting first in Auckland, then Christchurch with Phil Corkery, Wellington with Gordon “Flash” McBride, then Auckland again. Nightline, 6pm, Campbell Live … Then to Sydney in 2008 to be your Australia correspondent, a career highlight.

Within weeks of arriving, I was in Victoria, covering the Black Saturday bushfires, which killed 173 people and injured more than 400. The distinct smell of burnt flesh still lingers 15 years on, as does the image of arriving at a Kiwi resident’s rural property – after hiding in their back seat to get past police cordons – only to see their home razed to the ground. From the ashes, I recovered a delicate china cup, still intact, and a pounamu necklace belonging to the home’s owner. I was heavy-hearted.

I returned home in 2011 after covering the Queensland floods, which killed 33, and immersed myself in news and current affairs, wearing out my passport travelling to Europe, the States, Asia and the Pacific Islands, even Palau. A microphone was punched out of my hand by an international prime minister, I flew over erupting volcanoes, was trapped by killer cyclones, came face to face with murderers, shared a laugh with celebrities and chased rogue rugby players around tropical islands. I was content.

But at 40, I switched from “out in the field” reporting to co-hosting The AM Show with Duncan Garner and Mark Richardson. I was terrified. This was foreign ground. I had barely read an autocue in the studio and never presented a news bulletin before. Now it was five times a week with a 3am alarm. I was discombobulated.

But I found my place back out in the field, covering the Christchurch mosque shootings of March 15, 2019. The city’s sense of safety, innocence and naivety were gone. But the strength and united front that grew from that very dark day was powerful. Strangers hugged, bouquets with messages of hope were mounted along the memorial wall, and women of all backgrounds wore headscarves as an act of compassion and support for the Muslim community. I don’t often shed a tear while covering stories, but I felt them fall freely on that final day there. I was emotional.

And I hold back tears today as I prepare to say goodbye to you. I grew up at Three. I have loved every moment, every bureau, every story and, most importantly, every workmate. It’s been the most incredible adventure. Today, I am grateful.

Lisette Reymer

Europe correspondent

Lisette presenting on a Newshub screen

To my Newshub friends,
When I was 13, I begged my mum for a laminator so I could protect my high school study notes. Yes, I was that student. She caved in and bought me one by the time I was 15. But by 25, she was sick of it cluttering up the house, so I found a new home for it, at Newshub.

Our Newshub team put it to work straight away, printing off photos of journos in the newsroom, which we laminated and stuck to a stretch of paper that was numbered one to 10. We dubbed
it the “Vibe-o-meter”.

For years, the Vibe-o-meter has adorned our newsroom wall, where reporters’ photos are moved up and down according to our moods. No one taking your calls? Your photo slides down. Michael Morrah is cooking up an exclusive? Photos are bumped to a minimum of eight in anticipation.

It’s the New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards and we get sent free pies? A nine, falling just short of a perfect vibe because the AM team eats all the winning flavours before anyone else in the office. Forget your gumboots and now you’re covering a major flood in ballet flats? Two.

Mitch McCann is running a “how to tie your tie” tutorial with the guys while you’re hastily trying to finish your script at half past five? After a lot of huffing and puffing, you drop to six. Realising Mike McRoberts was Orange Roughy on The Masked Singer NZ? Straight 10s for everyone all week!

But it was the stories that made waves, that changed lives and that prompted feedback from those in them or watching them that lifted the vibe like no other.

Newsrooms deliver dizzying highs and lows. It comes with the rollercoaster rush of hunting stories, chasing deadlines, chugging obscene amounts of caffeine, the trolls on social media, breaking news, tragic events, heartbreaking interviews and once-in-a-lifetime pinch-yourself experiences. We have seen each other at our absolute best and very worst.

But this newsroom has proven time and time again to be a place where people are more worried about their desk mate’s vibe than they are their own, and I’ll always be grateful for how this job and these people have turned around even the toughest days.

Thank you for the laughs, the life-long friendships and for making me feel brave in places I still can’t believe I’ve actually been. Thank you for trusting me with the best job in the world. It has been the privilege of my lifetime to add to the legacy of European correspondents before me. The war in Ukraine, the suffering in Gaza and Israel, and the Queen’s death are stories that have all defined my own.

But my biggest thank you goes to those who watched and shared their stories with us. I’m so proud to have ever signed off “Lisette Reymer, Newshub”. I truly never imagined I’d be signing off for good.

I’ll keep the Vibe-o-meter in storage and I’ll dust it off for old time’s sake at the first Newshub reunion. Although does it count as old times if it’s a week after we close?
Love always, Lisette.

Kate Rodger

Entertainment editor & film reviewer

Kate Rodger leaning against a wall

So many years, so many tears, too many cuss words to count … Seconds to spare sending edited stories live to air at 6pm, live crosses from Hollywood red carpets that fail as you go to air and engines that fail mid-air on a flight to Tokyo.

Bursting into tears in front of Hugh Jackman, losing my ability to string a sentence together in front of Matt Damon, getting hangover-cure advice from Eva Mendez and parenting tips from Sandra Bullock, getting photobombed live on air by Quentin Tarantino and receiving effusive manicure appreciation from Pedro Pascal. 

These are just some of the countless memories from a job that has never been just a job because of the phenomenal people I’ve worked alongside – my friends, my Newshub whānau, “Hubbers” to our core.

For every 3 News or Newshub programme, online story or live cross that Kiwi audiences have watched or read – everything that they’ve been informed by, moved by, shocked by, comforted by or entertained by – there has been a battalion of broadcast and digital newsmakers collaborating across newsrooms, across the motu, across the world, working their butts off to intense daily deadlines to deliver.

You see presenters and reporters, but behind us are gifted camera crews, lightning-quick editors, visionary graphic designers, media exchange operators, genius make-up artists and stylists, laser-sharp digital editors, a stable of support crew sourcing library footage, booking last-minute flights and pulling resources out of thin air, and a control room full of directors, assistants, sound operators, vision switchers, engineers, autocue operators and studio crew – all of them keeping the news machine on the air.

And conducting this storytelling cacophony is Newshub’s incredible posse of world-class bureau chiefs, chiefs-of-staff, news leaders and producers, who shape the day’s stories and make critical decisions in a heartbeat, massaging and subbing scripts, and crafting an hour’s worth of news every single day. It’s awe-inspiring.

Twenty years of telling stories across 3 News, Newshub, Newshub Digital, Nightline, Sunrise, Firstline, The Paul Henry Show, The AM Show, Campbell Live, Story, The Project, 60 Minutes, Paddy Gower Has Issues … What a goddamn dream!  

Throw in the multitudinous number of inspirational interviews, insane red-carpet premieres, Oscars live crosses and movie set visits, and there’s nothing I would change. Except for one thing – the fact our Newshub journey is coming to an end.

Jenna Lynch

Political editor

Jenna Lynch standing in the newsroom

Dear Newshub,
You gutsy little go-getter, it’s so hard to say goodbye. We began together when you were still 3 News, where the late, great Gordon McBride sent me out to tell a story about ultimate frisbee. I’m still waiting for my call-up to the sports department.

From frisbees, we went everywhere. Reporting from the tiny island nation of Nauru to the Great Hall of the People in China. From watching President Obama shake hands with President Putin in Peru, to the UN General Assembly in New York. Though I must confess, I may have very, very briefly nodded off during President Trump’s address. I’m sorry, but the jet lag and 18-hour days kicked my butt. Let’s just write that one off as a moment of deep contemplation.

Most of my time with you was spent in the greatest little Parliament in the world. My second week in that place, I got lost in a stairwell. Now it’s my second home. My family’s too. My little boy Alfie learned to crawl on the fleur-de-lis carpets. Every morning, he comes into Newshub’s office before daycare to play with his favourite people.

During the first lockdown, Tova O’Brien and I basically became parliamentary flatmates. Our office served as a workplace, makeshift café, therapist’s office and occasional post-6pm bar. We only really left to sleep.

I feel like the blueprint of the building is seared on to my retinas, which is handy for staking out politicians – there is no secret entrance we don’t know about! If politicians in hiding wanted to get into the building, chances were they’d have to pass a Newshub crew first.

Gosh, all the things we have witnessed. Five prime ministers! When Sir John Key resigned, I was in my civvies at Parliament’s Copperfields café on my day off, but I sprinted back to our temporary office in the (maybe haunted) Parliamentary Library. Paddy Gower was just saying “wow” repeatedly.

In 2017, I remember being bowled over by the Diplomatic Protection Service amid the swarms of Jacinda-mania. People clamoured to get a glimpse of the future PM, while National cycled through leader after leader. The night Judith Collins was rolled, Tova and I had just left the building. Our phones started pinging. Both of us dropped everything and rushed back. We had the run of the place and stayed past midnight interviewing bewildered National MPs. We were back at 5am to get the rest as they arrived for work.

When Dame Jacinda Ardern resigned, I’d spent the day in a tizzy, pleading with her team to give me an inkling of what the upcoming announcement was. I called the producers and almost cancelled my slot in the news. “I don’t have an angle,” I told them.

And then: “The impending election has also given me time for reflection.” I grabbed reporter Amelia Wade’s knee. She grabbed mine. I spoke that night about an audible gasp in the room. Confession: It was mine. My phone flooded with one-word expletive texts. Jacinda had hardly uttered the words before the slightly longer text came: “Get in front of a camera. We’re breaking into programming.”

That sense of alertness and excitement, of being so alive and wild, are hallmarks of Newshub I’ll always cherish.

I can’t imagine not hearing that electro-synthetic sound of the opening titles thumping in my ear at 6pm sharp, smashing adrenaline through my body. I can’t imagine not sharing a quick little joke with Sam and Mike before I put my serious face on and go live. What a sense of calm that brought to chaos. Most of all, I can’t imagine not working alongside my best friends every day. But for all the unknowns of the future, we can find comfort in the past, in the glorious memories that you gave us all.
Thanks, Newshub

Janika ter Ellen

Journalist & presenter

Janika ter Ellen sitting beside a Newshub camera

I’ve fallen in love at first sight twice and the first time was with Newshub. My first day there is burned in my memory. It was 2007, and Sam Hayes and I were studying media together at Victoria University while she was reporting for Nightline. She’d arranged for me to come and see her workplace in action. “They’ll love you,” she assured me with her subtle, twinkly smile. “It’s not scary at all. They’re just … a tiny bit unusual, that’s all.”

With a dry mouth and a bucketload of self-doubt, I turned up on a Friday morning to the Wellington newsroom, where reporter Rachel Morton met me in reception and handed me a coffee. “You’re going to need this,” she said with an amused look. She and Michael Morrah let me follow them around for the day. They were smart, brave, warm and kind. I loved everything about them and I loved their work.

When 4pm rolled around and the coffee had worn off, there was breaking news – the Interislander ferry had broken down. The mood shifted from jovial to hyper-focused. Typing taps sped up. Chatter died down. The legendarily tough-but-really-a-quite-a-softie Wellington bureau chief Gordon McBride walked over, pushed his glasses to the end of his nose and quizzically peered over at me. “Samantha tells me you’re clever. Let’s see. I want you to write 30 seconds on this shit-box ferry going absolutely bloody kaput.”

My hands shook as he read it. My eye even pulsed. He was silent for 10 full seconds after he finished. I held my breath. “What is this shit?” he said finally, shooting me a tiny smile to let me know my failure wasn’t unexpected. “It sucks. I’ll do it and you watch if you want to get anywhere around here.”

At 5pm, he threw me my next test: “Okay, pretend the Interislander shitting itself is a live cross. I’m the camera. And speak up!” I did it, but I could barely breathe. Another fail. “No. Absolutely not. Talk normally. You are a Kiwi talking to Kiwis. None of this ‘announcing’ shit. Just tell me what the f*** is going on!”

As I said, love at first sight. It was tough, but it was exciting and impactful work with an amazing team. I wanted to be part of it. And I was overjoyed to land my first real job back in that very same Wellington newsroom in 2010.

It was then I fell in love at first sight for the second time. New sports reporter Ross Karl arrived in the office and his perceptive, gentle energy immediately made me feel safe. We’ve been married eight years now and through all life’s curveballs, our love has only strengthened.

It’s the same with Newshub. Even though I’m saying goodbye, I feel more connected to it than ever and thankful for all of it. For all the stories, heartbreaking or uplifting. The countless people who told me their truths and for those who took me under their wings to help me tell it better. For the talented, helpful team members committed to getting the best news to New Zealanders day after day.  

Last year, Sam, Michael and I went to Napier together to cover Cyclone Gabrielle. As we huddled in torchlight in the carpark of our powerless motel, watching the news together on our Starlink satellite, I felt strangely content.

Amid the devastation, I knew we’d done our interviewees justice. I knew this was important news to get out. I was proud of my friends’ work and their empathy toward the incredible, hard-working people who spoke to us. Still, I remember thinking in that moment, “If this all ends tomorrow, I’ll still be grateful.”

Heather Keats

Weather presenter

Heather Keats standing beside a big camera

For 22 years, I was a voice behind a microphone. Radio was familiar, comfortable and full of like-minded quirky humans. TV was the glamorous older cousin who lived in a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park.

I had no intention of ever joining Newshub. No desire to learn how to walk in high heels, and no inclination to trade my tracksuit pants for Spanx and stockings. But in July 2019, after a lot of arm twisting, I set foot in the Newshub studio for a screen test. It took all of three minutes for me to fall in love and reconsider everything. My glamorous older cousin turned out to be just like radio – full of amazing humans and supportive cheerleaders.

I was very green at the beginning – unsure of TV lingo, who was who and who did what role. But I was never short on help. Our amazing stylist Sarah Stuart helped shape my wardrobe so I felt comfortable. Samantha Hayes taught me how to walk in high heels. Mike McRoberts and Andrew Gourdie eased my nerves with inappropriate studio banter. It didn’t take me long to realise that every person in the newsroom wants every other person in the newsroom to succeed. It’s a family and a team.

My time with Newshub has been life-changing. But I’m not talking about personal achievements or self-growth. I’m talking about events that have changed lives. Following the Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods, the spotlight on weather organisations and forecast modelling was fierce. The floods had defied belief and the devastation was widespread.

Only one week later, my heart sank as I started to track what had all the makings of a devastating storm. Cyclone Gabrielle was on the way and, even five days out, I could see that this storm had the potential to be one of the worst in living memory. I remember walking over to the producers with nothing but pure dread and saying, “I think we’re in trouble. I’ve never seen a storm like this.”

From that moment, news and weather became a collaborative approach for weeks. Liasing with journalists on the ground, presenters in the studio and producers in the control room, we had rolling coverage across the day.

It was critical to get the message out and ensure accuracy. That storm impacted so many lives. Mine was secondary. I witnessed the death and destruction of weather through the lenses of our cameras and the words of my colleagues.  

Presenting the weather is so much more than standing in front of a huge electronic wall and reading the words. I’m able to apply my science degree in a way that’s relatable to everyday viewers – to research climate drivers and weather phenomena, and deliver the forecast in an engaging and helpful way. The daily turnaround is rewarding, exciting and always different.

I’ll never take for granted the privilege and trust of being a part of Newshub, and I’m grateful for every single person out there who has supported us, watched us, emailed in and, of course, sent in weather photos.

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