The clock has just struck nine in the morning when Woman’s Day arrives at Gilda Kirkpatrick’s grand abode. We’re due to trail her for an exclusive peek into a busy day in the life of Auckland’s most glamorous socialite and she’s running late.
With her glossy locks and extra-long lashes curled to perfection, and her foxy figure on show in a glamorous Gucci power suit, the Real Housewives of Auckland star is squeezing in some quality time with her adorable sons, Lucan, three, and 11-month-old Kyan, doing a spot of colouring-in at the dining table before dashing out the door.
“I usually try to sneak out of the house in the mornings because if Lucan sees me leaving, he gets really upset,” admits Gilda. “I’ve mastered this escape-artist thing where I’m as inconspicuous as possible. My little boy used to be OK. I could kiss him goodbye and he’d have a big smile on his face. But now he’s a bit older, it’s a different story. He’s like, ‘Mum, Mum, Mum!’ It sounds like a car alarm.”
After Gilda downs her second long black coffee, two nannies take over and we rush out of her Oraeki mansion. Though her glitzy gig on Real Housewives might have you thinking she’s simply late for a fancy breakfast or a manicure, Gilda – who divorced her wealthy husband, property and investment tycoon James Kirkpatrick, last year after 15 years of marriage and a very amicable separation – is actually racing off to work.
“It’s how I pay my bills,” she later explains, sitting at her desk at the inner-city digital creative agency Us&Co, which she partially owns and where she works as a creative director. “I’m at the office during the day, designing, planning and meeting with clients. And because I don’t have a night nanny, I’m always with the boys in the evening.”
There are no long lunches or lavish parties, Gilda insists. Whenever she does have spare time at the end of a day, she simply sits down to watch any movies or TV shows she’s downloaded. “I know it’s not really what you want to hear, but my life’s just not that glamorous,” she tells.
Watch Gilda and Angela face off in a sneak peek from tonight's episode. Story continues below.
Once the undisputed queen of Auckland’s social scene, Gilda still has all the trappings of a girl about town. She drives a gleaming Rolls-Royce, dresses top to toe in Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and has a four-strong team of staff who mind her boys and run her lavish home on Paratai Drive, one of New Zealand’s most expensive streets. Yet Gilda claims since becoming a mum, she’s no longer materialistic.
“People see what they want to see. They remember me as the party girl with blonde hair, but that’s not my life any more. It’s funny because when I was younger, I never saw myself becoming a mum. When I met my husband, I never wanted to have children, although there was the possibility of adoption. But as I got older, my ideas about motherhood changed.”
Smiling, Gilda continues, “Having my boys changed my life forever. Lucan and Kyan are my greatest achievement in life. Now everything I do, I do it because I want my children to be proud of me and because I want to make sure they have a secure future.”
As well as running a digital creative agency, Gilda is also a successful children’s author, having released two astronomy- focused educational books in her series Astarons since giving birth to her boys. She makes it clear that she only signed up for Real Housewives in order to promote her literary line.
“We wouldn’t be sitting here talking about my books if it wasn’t for this show,” she says. “The concept is designed to bridge the gap between education and entertainment to help young children learn about astrophysics. I’m very passionate about making the field of cosmology more entertaining for kids.”
When we tell Gilda it looks like she’s got this single-parent thing sussed, she laughs off the suggestion. “It’s a team effort,” she declares, although she keeps her current relationship with the children’s father private. “If I didn’t have the right staff at home, I wouldn’t be able to come here to work.
I have absolute trust in them. They are my replacement, so I make sure they are the best.
“I want to be able to provide for my boys so they can pursue any or all of their dreams. I don’t want them to have to fend for themselves because juggling too many balls can limit your possibilities. I don’t want them to ever put their dreams on the back-burner. I don’t want Lucan and Kyan to go through some of the stuff that I had to go through.”
“When I was around six, the whole country was turned upside down. There was a war that lasted eight years and it practically crippled Iran. My family went from leading a very comfortable life, travelling overseas and wearing beautiful clothes, to having to stand in queues to get milk and bread.
“That’s why I’m never comfortable where I am because I know things can change so rapidly. When I got married to my husband, who was very wealthy, I was like, ‘If I wanted to, I wouldn’t have to worry about earning money.’ But that was never me. People saw me partying and attending events, and probably assumed otherwise, but I did it all. All through my marriage, I worked and achieved things on my own. I never became just that typical housewife.”
Despite what some people might say, Gilda, whose husband was 43 years her senior, insists she was never a gold-digger. “I love gold,” she grins, “but I also like to work hard. My objective was never to marry for money. Yes, I did happen to get married to someone who is extremely wealthy, but he’s also extremely intelligent. He’s a pioneer and his thinking is so outside the box.
“James is one in a billion and for that reason, I connected with him and he connected with me. We decided to have a union together because we felt that we completed each other. We gave each other hope and drove each other to achieve.
“Our divorce was a mutual decision and we are still best friends. There was never any talk about money or going to court, or any of that. If I was a gold-digger, then where was the big fight? Where was the news all over the papers? Nothing stays secret in this town, so there you go.”
And with that, Gilda struts out of the office in her ultra-high heels, posing for a few quick pictures in the luxury shopping district of Britomart before heading home. And no, she’s not stopping for a spending spree or a glass of bubbles on the way back.
“If I do go out, it’s only one night a week and I make sure it involves a client,” she insists. “If it’s not about work, it’s about my boys. They’ve changed my world.”