Charlotte and I would sit on the floor in the lounge at her Parnell apartment and, bottle of wine within easy reach, watch videos most of the night.

I got to know Charlotte Dawson when I appeared as a regular panelist on the How's Life TV show in 2002.

Charlotte was the show's host. It screened five nights a week, half an hour before the six o'clock news. We would shoot three, sometimes four shows in half a day, so I could fly in and out of Auckland on the same day. But sometimes it was necessary to stay in town for the night. Charlotte always made a point of asking me to go home and stay with her. I did. I got to know and like her.

Charlotte had a wicked sense of humour that I admit I enjoyed. She laughed often and gave great accounts from her extraordinary past.

Even when she had other things planned for the evening, she would take me along, although I would have been very happy to make myself at home in her lovely apartment.


Charlotte couldn't believe it when I said I hadn't heard of her before the How's Life show. But it's true. Why would I?

I don't buy women's magazines, have no interest in celebrities, real or imagined on their part, and had no idea what an IT person was.

Charlotte, on the other hand, had heard of me. We laughed at that. She once suggested there was "a brand called Merepeka" and thought it should be developed. She explained what this would involve. An agent would crawl all over my past, extracting any little human story that could be used as a hook for a story line.

The agent would work to ensure I was regularly featured in the very magazines I never bothered to buy myself. I was mildly interested but when I told Theo, he promptly put his foot down and told me to "grow up".

According to him I did a reasonable job of attracting media attention myself, not always to his liking.

I must have seen every video tape of shows Charlotte appeared in over the years. This is how we spent the evenings at her apartment. She had a whole library of tapes.

Because I didn't know Charlotte's career and background she delighted in spelling it out for me. And I marvelled at it. She did acknowledge that her career really took off once she left New Zealand. She seemed more at home in Australia too.

Even as a young girl Charlotte was beautiful. She travelled widely and there were many tapes showing her modelling and on travel assignments overseas. Charlotte wanted to write too.


She showed me transcripts she was working on and I think she would have been happy at some stage in the far distant future to be behind the camera.

Charlotte had a wicked sense of humour that I admit I enjoyed. She laughed often and gave great accounts from her extraordinary past. A life well lived. She talked often of "tits and bums" and her jokes were risque and borderline. She didn't dwell on her failed marriage to Australian Olympic swimmer Scott Miller, other than to say she thought they could have made a go of it, if it hadn't been for her father-in-law. I gather there was no love lost between them.

Often during the evening a number of young men would stop by the apartment to say hi. Charlotte enjoyed these visits. The young men certainly did. It must be great for a young man's ego to say to his friends "hey, let's swing by Charlotte's and say hello".

On the TV set I found Charlotte the consummate professional. Her ability to ad lib, on any and all occasions, confirmed that.

And rarely did we have to do a retake of any segment of the shows. She knew the demands of TV producers and directors and was respected by those she worked with. Charlotte always treated me with respect and kindness.

There was no need for her to ask me to "stay over" when I was in Auckland, but she always did. I think she sensed I felt a little out of place among the celebrity panellists. People we still see on our screens today.

From time to time I would hear from Charlotte "keep in touch my friend". I meant to but life gets in the way.

Theo always told me "a woman, who is completely loved, remains beautiful".

There are people who truly loved Charlotte.

She remained beautiful right up until her untimely death last week.

This is how I will remember my friend Charlotte Dawson.

Merepeka lives in Rotorua. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart the spread of political correctness.