Paula Ryan has been a household name in New Zealand since her teenage modelling career, but the former magazine publisher and owner of her own fashion label says she now prefers life out of the spotlight.
1. How is ageing treating you?
I relate to Gertrude Stein who said "we are always the same age inside". I feel in my mid 30s but I'll be 66 in a few months. I'm not obsessed with ageing. It doesn't faze me at all. I think women should accept it - no one ever died as a result of having wrinkles. I don't do cleavage anymore because old cleavage is not good cleavage but I'm not about the face lift and that. I would never bother. I used to religiously once a year have a couple of Botox injections but I haven't had any for three years. I had a bit of collagen in the past but just a little. No big puffed up lips. I don't care about the number [of years] - my mother lived until she was 94. I look exactly the same as her. Mirror, mirror on the wall I am my mother after all.
2. Has appearance been important to you in life?
When I started wrinkling 20 years ago I thought 'oh bother' then I got over myself. It's small stuff. People that are perceived as overweight or old, your friendship with them has got nothing to do with that. It's to do with their energy and effervescence and character and sense of fun. People get too caught up with their appearances. Look at Charlotte Dawson. It was so sad that she was caught up in her appearance and being approved of.
3. Is fun important to you?
I'm so into fun. Into my family and friends and having fun times together. We're going with a group to Christchurch this weekend for the rugby and we have every lunch and dinner planned, we'll do every restaurant in the city. The craic will be extraordinary for the whole weekend. And that's what I like. The craic.
4. Was your family fun growing up?
Oh, so much fun. My father was a very funny man and he always used to say "In life there's only people. All the rest is stuff." We would have these big Sunday lunches, five siblings, four girls and two boys, and my mother would make this beautiful food - entrees, mains, desserts - and we'd sit there for hours laughing, drinking Tia Marias. The lot. We were a country family and very tight knit. We're still very close now. My sisters and I call ourselves the Ya Ya Sisters and every year we go on a big trip together. This year it was Palm Springs.
5. Do you like stuff too though? That's a very nice Jaguar outside your office.
I've worked for it and I've treated myself. I used to feel guilty about treating myself with something but I don't anymore. Dad was right though. You enjoy people more than you enjoy the stuff. A motorcar is never going to give you what your friends and family do.
6. Your jewellery is beautiful: where did you get that ring?
I had it made with all the diamonds the men in my life have given me. [Husband] Rob's ones are there too they are the ones closest to me. How many engagements? Oh no, no one wanted to marry me.
I'm a great place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there.
7. When have you felt at your lowest in life?
After my divorce [from first husband Don Hope]. I had the children with me, they were 7 and 10 because Don moved to Singapore. I doubted everything then, questioned my ability in everything. I went through a period where I had a kind of personal depression and I felt so guilty for leaving. I knew the kids would be fine but I felt like I was responsible for destroying the family unit. It lasted for a few years then you have to say "stop wallowing in self-pity" and you give yourself a shot in the arm. I started reading [writer] Napoleon Hill and living by his philosophies professionally.
He said "The starting point of all achievement is desire;"
"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way" and "Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat."
8. What kind of a mum were you?
I probably "under-mothered" and was quite strict. My two children had a nanny until they were 13 but she became an extension of our family. Simon and Bridgy have grown into fabulous adults with great personal values. They're also quite "driven" professionally. And if our relationships now are any reflection, I was probably an okay parent.
9. Did you have many years as a single mum?
Yes I did. I was fairly particular in terms of relationships and didn't want a permanent relationship for quite a long time. Once they went to university I was totally on my own for five or six years and it was great really. You have the freedom of making your own decisions, of having sardines on toast for dinner if you want. It's selfishness I suppose but I've always been a very independent person, because of the way I was brought up, because of boarding school.
10. You went to Teschemakers College: what did the nuns teach you?
Survival! They were Dominican nuns and tough but it didn't faze me like it did some of the girls. I'm not super-religious - going to church wasn't exactly my favourite pastime. I avoided it at all costs. I was the ringleader of fun, and was never going to make prefect. Some of my family now are quite religious and I'm sure they pray for me on a daily basis. Ha.
11. Have you always been disciplined?
Yes, always disciplined and determined is another strong word for me. I'm quite positive when faced with negativity. Having things ordered and tidy is pleasurable for me. I eat everything when I travel and will put on a few kilos and come back and go right into discipline time. I'll eat protein with every meal but just small portions and I don't stop drinking wine. I'd rather give up the food than the wine.
12. What advice would you give to other women?
I find that women get complacent and bored if they don't have something that's a project. It doesn't matter what it is - playing the piano or charity work or, for me now, it's painting again after a 45-year break. Something that you love to do to maintain fresh personal enthusiasm. Live your life as you want to, not as others expect you to. Accept the ageing process as no woman ever died as a result of having wrinkles. She is more likely to die from worrying about them.