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Wendy Petrie on the power of letting go

The beloved broadcaster shares how saying yes is opening new doors

One little word has become something of a mantra for news presenter Wendy Petrie recently: Yes!

And as Kiwis said goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022, the mum-of-three plans to keep on responding in the affirmative to everything she’s offered.

“Even if I don’t feel qualified,” she laughs, “I try to back myself, and keep striving to upskill and try different things. You should see the things I’ve said yes to.

“I’ve been doing some hosting and MC roles, which are scary but fun. And I’ve become a keynote speaker, which is definitely outside my comfort zone!”

Life has had its fair share of ups and downs for Wendy since she lost her longtime news presenting job at TVNZ when the Covid pandemic hit in 2020.

“But,” she says, “what people kept telling me over and over is true – there is a silver lining and better things do come along.”

Indeed Wendy, who turned 50 in August, has never really disappeared from our screens, continuing to work at TVNZ as a fill-in presenter.

Last year the star, who was a cheerleader in the late ’80s and early ’90s, regularly delighted viewers by breaking out her fancy footwork on air and in November her teenaged daughter Liv even uploaded a video to social media of Wendy, her husband Ross Peebles and their family dancing up a storm in their Auckland home.

Liv joked in the caption, “Watch for Wendy, stay for Ross.”

“It was fun to do the shoot (“Tees for a Cure” campaign for Breast Cancer Cure) with my daughter Addison, who’s turning 18 and embarking on her path as a young woman.”

Wendy’s new life also includes serving on the board of the charity Find Your Field of Dreams, which works to provide opportunities to help young people in Auckland, and she also recently supported Breast Cancer Cure when they launched the “Tees for a Cure” campaign, selling $59 T-shirts designed by top New Zealand talent.

“I love how all the Kiwi designers have come together for this campaign,” tells Wendy. “Not only are we raising awareness and supporting Breast Cancer Cure, but we are showcasing our talented fashion designers.

“It was fun to do the shoot with my daughter Addison, who’s turning 18 and embarking on her path as a young woman. Every woman, young and old, needs to be reminded to look after themselves.”

The six-week campaign was a success, with Breast Cancer Cure saying they were overwhelmed by the support they received.

Wendy has also started her own podcast, The Word with Wendy Petrie, where she has talked to Olympic rower Emma Twigg, Silver Fern Maia Wilson, Kiwi rally driver Emma Gilmour and many more.

“I’m interviewing some awesome New Zealanders.”

Like many others, Wendy’s summer plans were turned upside down by Covid.

“We were heading to Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne for the first time ever as probably the oldest party-goers there! So when that was postponed, we had no summer holiday plans at all,” she laughs.

Fortunately, a friend came to the rescue and lent Wendy and her family her beach house in Omaha, north of Auckland.

“It was fantastic to get out of Auckland finally after so long in lockdown!”

Her favourite summer spot is Coromandel, where she spent holidays as a child.

“My mum usually took my brother and I away to the Coromandel for your typical Kiwi summer holiday,” she recalls. “We’d spend days playing around on the beach with our cousins and surfing the giant waves at Tairua.”

Aucklanders, she says, are lucky to have the Coromandel so nearby, but Wendy also loves to head north.

“I love the beach at Matapouri. It’s absolutely beautiful with lots of great walks, and we spent many holidays with our friends and all our kids there. I love that there is one dairy in the whole beachside community.”

Summer means a complete break from school, sport and work for Wendy’s family, and it gives them the opportunity to think about what they want to achieve in the year ahead. “For me, it’s the best time.”

The hardest farewell: Putting daughter Addison on a plane to the US.

But this year is also tinged with a little sadness as she said goodbye to her eldest daughter Addison, who is heading to the University of San Diego in the US. Sharing a hug on social media, Wendy says, “As a mother it is so hard to let go! But she is off to live her life, and I couldn’t be more excited and proud. Look out, San Diego!”

For now, Wendy is looking forward to a more normal school year, “where I’m not home schooling my intermediate-aged son Zach, and our swimming daughter Liv can get back in a pool again and go to competitions.”

And she hopes to be able to travel overseas once more.

“I’m really looking forward to travelling again! I really hope we can travel and have the overseas 50th birthday trip I had really wanted!”

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