One of the country's most well-known faces on television current affairs and considered a trailblazer in journalism has died.

Genevieve Westcott, former journalist and television presenter, was hugely popular and a well-known face on New Zealand screens in the 1980s and 1990s.

She died this morning after a battle with breast cancer - a disease she had beaten a few years ago. She was 65.

Close friend and former colleague, Herald reporter Carolyne Meng-Yee, paid tribute to a woman who was highly regarded within the media industry - and known for being an overall kind person who carried out her job with empathy.

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"She had a great sense of justice and she really hated injustice. It was always about being loyal and standing up for everyone.

"The saying 'without fear or favour' really applied to Genevieve. She treated everyone the same."

Genevieve Westcott has been hailed a trailblazer in journalism in New Zealand. Photo / File
Genevieve Westcott has been hailed a trailblazer in journalism in New Zealand. Photo / File

The fourth of nine children, Westcott grew up in Canada, starting her career as a journalist at the Vancouver Sun newspaper as a financial reporter.

Kiwi cameraman, Ross "Roscoe" Kenward, working there at the time would eventually become her husband and the couple moved to New Zealand. He died in 2014.

Broadcaster Genevieve Westcott pictured at her home in Castor Bay, Auckland, in 2014. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Broadcaster Genevieve Westcott pictured at her home in Castor Bay, Auckland, in 2014. Photo / Brett Phibbs

In New Zealand, Westcott's Canadian twang was often mistaken for an American accent - something she did not like, Meng-Yee said - and her often big but immaculate hairstyle made her easily recognisable by the public.

She reported and anchored for some of New Zealand's top current affairs programmes, including TV3's A Current Affair, 60 Minutes, 20/20 and TVNZ's Eyewitness News.

She also did radio work on Newstalk ZB.

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During a career that spanned more than 20 years, Westcott won several accolades and awards for journalistic excellence; including for Best Television Current Affairs and Best Television Investigative Reporting.

She also brought home international media awards including from the New York Film and Television Festival and from her homeland.

'A brave journalist'

Former colleague and media commentator Bill Ralston said Westcott was a "very able journalist, a real character and did some cracking yarns".

"She was tough as old boots and was very brave - as a journalist and brave in her private life."

Later, Westcott hosted real-life disputes show You Be The Judge.

One of its episodes, involving a paternity test to figure out exactly who had fathered a young boy, proved to be controversial with viewers and some commentators.

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That kind of thing is arguably more normal in today's world of television, but not so much when it aired about 20 years ago.

"She was very, very ahead of her time," Meng-Yee said.

"She was a trailblazer in journalism and for women in journalism. She was very intelligent, sassy - but loya."

Genevieve Westcott is survived by her son Jamie Kenward, who is married to wife Izzy, and her grandson, 2-year-old Chance.