Twelve Questions
Jennifer Dann poses 12 questions to well-known faces

Twelve Questions with Judy McGregor

Judy McGregor has an emotional attachment to the 1960s but absolutely none to housework.  Photo / by Natalie Slade
Judy McGregor has an emotional attachment to the 1960s but absolutely none to housework. Photo / by Natalie Slade

Dr Judy McGregor was a rebel with a cause from an early age and had a keen sense of fairness. As a prefect, she was suspended from school for speaking out. As the Equal Opportunities Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, she went undercover in a residential aged-care home. Her experience formed the basis for a damning report on workers' conditions, "Caring Counts". When asked what restores her faith in humanity, Dr McGregor replies: "Its astonishing ability to be creative and innovative at unpredictable times."

Why are we still talking about pay parity for women?

Because government departments like Treasury were in 2010 reporting a 29 per cent gender pay gap.

What is the most over-rated quality?

Modesty, the woman's curse.

What single, most important thing did you learn from your experience going undercover as a carer for the elderly?

The enduring emotional attachments that carers develop with, and for, their older clients. And the need for decent footwear.

What do the elderly have to teach us?

Almost everything - wisdom, humour, companionship and love.

What single word best defines you?


How would you describe contentment?

Cats, and/or being five minutes from the DoC hut after a hard day's tramping.

Who would you like to apologise to?

Old boyfriends.

What material thing can you not do without?

It's a toss up between my hair dryer and my new Geneva sound system.

What advice would you give yourself, as a young girl?

Try not to be suspended from school. As a prefect, at 16, I was required to patrol the grounds at lunchtime to prevent "Maori girls from putting their arms around each other". I wrote a letter to the local paper suggesting this was a waste of time. The newspaper published it. I was suspended and never returned to that school.

Can you crack a joke?

No, but I can pinch one from Joan Rivers. "I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again."

If you could live in another time, when would that be?

I'd like to live permanently in the 1960s, long blonde hair, bell bottoms, and inspirational, aspirational music.

If you could play one song loudly and on high rotate - what would that be?

Lucky by Melissa Etheridge.

- NZ Herald

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