The news that a number of New Zealand companies are using sophisticated software technology to help crack down on shoplifters has me a little concerned.

It's been revealed that Foodstuffs, New Zealand's largest supermarket company, has rolled out facial-recognition CCTV technology in some of its North Island stores.

And another system, Auror, which captures information like people's images and license plates is being used in many of its other stores.

Z Energy also employs the Auror system to identify the license plates of petrol thieves in a bid to prevent drive offs.


The Auror system, incidentally, was made and developed in this country, which is a good thing given that technology to combat shoplifters is big business globally.

But this sort of identification is just about everywhere, even if its not being used to fight crime.

If you're tagging people in photos on social media, you're using facial-recognition technology.

It's a fact of modern life. My concern, however, is that I look like a whole lot of other people.

In fact, I was once a whisker away from being charged with a serious offence because I looked like someone else.

Generally, having a face with generic features isn't a problem, as the women I look like are lovely.

I was congratulated on my New Year Honour at the Ellerslie races once – it was well deserved, I was assured, and the woman with the hydrangea on her hat was thrilled for me.

It's always hard to know what to do in those moments – do I accept the good wishes graciously even though the good wishes aren't mine to accept?

Or risk embarrassing the kind person who only wants to be nice? In the end, I agreed it was wonderful for Dame Trelise Cooper to get a gong and I'd be sure to pass on the woman's congratulations.

I don't get mistaken for Dame Trelise as often as I used to since she slimmed down into a teeny, tiny pocket rocket, but I still get asked when I'm going to get the band back together from men and women who used to groove to Kim Willoughby and When The Cat's Away back in the day.

I have had numerous messages from women who get asked if they are me – probably 10 to 15 over the past few years – and for the most part, it's a bit of fun.

I'm enormously flattered to think there's some resemblance between me and so many lovely women but once it could have had very grave consequences.

Nearly 25 years ago, I was in Wellington, working at Café Paradiso. I had recently been convicted of drink driving and I'd given my car to one of the young waiters to use while my license had been suspended.

I was having lunch with a group of friends when my mobile rang and it was the police. They wanted me to report to the station at my convenience and, no, they wouldn't tell me what it was about over the phone.

My Catholic guilt went into overdrive even though I was sure I hadn't done anything that could warrant the attention of the constabulary – well, not since the horror of the drink-drive conviction.

I made my way to the station immediately and was shown a photo of myself, driving my car.

The photo had been taken by a speed camera and, yes, I was speeding. I was shocked. I KNEW I hadn't driven the car – I'd given it away the day I was charged – but what if I'd had a disassociative fugue? How else to explain it?

I rang the boy I'd lent the car to, and he was just as confused as I was. We checked the date on the photo but that was no help. And then, mercifully, his girlfriend, who was listening to his end of the conversation, realised what had happened. She had borrowed the car to go up to Levin for a job interview.

She was the one who'd been snapped speeding. She explained all this to the police officer, but it still took a signed statement from her before I was off the hook.

She was way better looking than me, and nearly 10 years younger, but at 120km/h, she was a dead ringer. It's funny now, but it was terrifying at the time.

Hence my reservations about the new technology. I'm sure it's a whole lot more sophisticated than the old speed cameras but mistakes do happen.

And while my doppelgängers so far have been lovely, law-abiding citizens, it will only take one of them to go rogue – and then we'll all be in trouble.